Luxury Escapes Guide to Adelaide CBD
The Festival State has had a glow-up. Iconic landmarks sit by world-class restaurants and a lively music and arts scene can be found year-round.
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Discover Adelaide CBD
Things to see and do
Discover Adelaide’s art scene at MOD. and the Art Gallery of South Australia
Discover science and technology – but not as you know it – at MOD. at the University of South Australia (UniSA). Dynamic exhibitions bridge art and science, with interactive elements aimed at 15 to2 5-year-olds. Expect to be challenged as you wander through the seven gallery areas – there’s more than one moral quandary presented over the two floors. Dive further into the art world with a visit to the Art Gallery of South Australia, which houses one of the country’s largest collections. 45,000 pieces of art from Australia, Europe, North America and Asia stretch from ancient works to the modern day, with something to learn in every room. Free tours, twice daily, are a great way to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Chase waterfalls at Morialta Conservation Park
Explore the natural playground that is Morialta Conservation Park, a wonderland of waterfalls and woodlands just 10km from Adelaide. Follow the comprehensive walking trails to discover the three spectacular waterfalls along Fourth Creek, which flow at their strongest in winter and spring, or keep an eye out for koalas and kangaroos amongst the gum trees. Little ones will love Adelaide’s largest playground – Mukanthi – found in the Stradbroke Road picnic area. With five areas to choose from, all with a focus on natural materials, they’ll be entertained for hours.
Shop til’ you drop at Rundle Mall
Discover global brands and local boutiques, delicious dining and endless entertainment at Australia’s first and longest pedestrian mall, Rundle Mall. Home to more than 700 retailers and 300 services, this lively street is perfect for a leisurely ramble, pausing to catch a busker or two, or take a snap with the iconic Rundle Mall pigs. When hunger strikes, stop for coffee and cake (or something a little heartier) at one of the numerous restaurants and cafés, or pop in for a wine on the rooftop of 2KW.
Enjoy a city tour with a difference with EcoCaddy
Dive deeper into Adelaide’s laneways and landscapes with an EcoCaddy Experience. Allow experienced local guides to peddle you around town in bamboo-bodied pedicabs, winding through intricate laneways, along bike trails and over green squares to discover the city’s iconic architecture, rich history and landmark attractions. Tour Adelaide’s gorgeous graffiti on the Street Art tour, or cruise through the streets on the hunt for the city’s finest coffee on a caffeine-themed adventure. For something truly unique, opt for the three-hour City & Vines, popping by the National Wine Centre of Australia and LOC Bottle Bar for a tasting or two, in between your two-wheel city tour.
Get your adrenaline pumping at West Beach Adventure Park
Take the whole family on an adrenaline-pumping adventure like no other with a visit to West Beach Adventure Park. Perched on West Beach, this activity-filled fun park is home a Sky Challenge obstacle course, where 70 activities are waiting to be conquered at your own speed – manoeuvre your way past floating eskies, play a round of totem tennis in the sky or test your strength on the monkey bars. Finish with the ultimate test in bravery: a leap of faith from the MegaJump. Support crew can take in the view from the -SkyWalk, or follow along little ones as they conquer the Kids Course, complete with ten mini challenges and a zip line to finish.
Come up close and personal with dolphins with Temptation Sailing, Glenelg
Get up close and personal with Adelaide’s curious dolphins with Temptation Sailing, a 58-foot catamaran that sets sail just 15 minutes from the city’s CBD. As the first vessel in the state to be licensed to swim with and study the magnificent mammals, the craft’s Swim with Dolphins tour presents your best chance at frolicking and playing alongside the animals in their natural habitat. Over a thousand common and bottlenose dolphins call the gulf home, meaning your chances of spotting a fin or two is incredibly high – and if you don’t, there’s a money-back guarantee.
See the best of Adelaide on a City Sights tour
Don’t miss a thing with the Adelaide City Sights Tour, taking in some of the city’s best-known landmarks, as well as iconic towns on its fringe. The private half-day experience starts at Victoria Square, before venturing to Parliament House and Morphett Street Bridge to learn more about their significance to the city. From there, you’ll head north for some brilliant snaps of the Adelaide skyline and views of the newly-renovated Adelaide Oval. Leaving the city, you’ll then travel to the Adelaide Hills to the town of Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. Learn about its rich history before finishing the day at the historic Beerenberg Farm, known for its diverse range of jams, home-style pickles, chutneys and sauces.
Learn all about Australia’s famous export at the National Wine Centre of Australia
Explore the depth and breadth of the Australian wine industry with a visit to the National Wine Centre of Australia, found in the heart of Adelaide’s Botanic Garden. Follow the award-winning interactive wine experience, Wine Discovery Journey, to learn all you need to know about the delicious drop, including the role wine has played in the nation’s history, its importance in international markets and the all-important relationship between food and wine. Follow the process from vine to glass, understanding the challenges along the way, before sampling a few at the Wined Bar. With over 120 wines to taste, dispensed from innovative Enomatic systems, you’re bound to find a new favourite.
Check out one of Australia’s coolest neighbourhoods, the West End
No visit to Adelaide would be complete without a wander through the West End, one of Australia’s coolest neighbourhoods as voted by Lonely Planet. Home to boutique bars, contemporary cafés, remarkable restaurants and lively music venues, all dotted between sensational street art, this vibrant area has something for every type of traveller. Wander down the cobblestone Peel and Leigh Streets to find progressive cuisines from all over the world sitting next to some of the city’s best cocktails, all just waiting to be tasted and enjoyed. Cross over Hindley Street to continue the adventure to Bank Street, known as the gateway to the Casino, Riverbank and Adelaide Oval areas.
Get historic at Adelaide Gaol and Adelaide Old Treasury & Tunnels
Follow in the footsteps of South Australia’s first and most fearsome inmates with a visit to the historic Adelaide Gaol. Wander around at your own pace with a self-guided tour, popping into the interactive exhibition, or opt for a guided tour to learn more about the 300,000 prisoners that spent time within these walls. Head on over to the Old Adelaide Treasury building (now an Adina Apartment Hotel) to continue the history lesson – tours take you to the tunnels below, where nearly 13 tonnes of gold were stored during the Gold Rush.
Immerse yourself in country home splendour at Carrick Hill
Travel back in time at Carrick Hill, a heritage property that houses internationally renowned art collections, manor-style gardens and breathtaking views to Adelaide and the Gulf of St Vincent. Just 15 minutes from the city, this period home offers a unique look at times gone by, with a completely original interior and distinguished art collection of its former owners, Ursula and Bill Hayward. Take to the formal gardens to walk among the roses, or venture further afield to explore the surrounding bushland, modeled on an English country park. Entertain the little ones with a stroll down the Story Book Trail, before stopping for a light bite at the Café.
Top places to eat and drink
Pink Moon Saloon
Blink and you may miss Pink Moon Saloon, the cabin-inspired bar nestled between two behemoth buildings on bustling Leigh Street. Stretching just 3.66m wide, it’s the definition of ‘small but mighty’, turning out seasonal cocktails, fresh tap beer, local wine and a curated selection of spirits from its mountain-hut-esque interior. Take a seat in one of the wooden booths, or find a spot in the central courtyard for an evening of delicious drinking, alongside a menu of fire-inspired snacks, sandwiches, salads and larger plates.
Let the good times roll at NOLA, a New Orleans-inspired bar and eatery that delivers the traditions of the Deep South to an East End alleyway in the heart of Adelaide. A jazz soundtrack sets the tone for what’s to come, with a menu of Creole and Cajun soul cuisine served alongside a 200-strong whisky collection, a rotating list of 16 tap beers and a cocktail list full of Louisiana-inspired concoctions. Settle in for an evening of fried chicken and po’ boys, washed down with a Boulevardier or Sazerac cocktail.
Adelaide Central Market
A bounty of gourmet treasures awaits at Adelaide Central Market, where more than 70 traders offer their delicious produce under the one roof, making it one of the largest covered markets in the Southern Hemisphere. Wander through its aisles to find a huge range of fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, seafood, cheeses, baked goods, small goods and health foods, before stopping at one of the onsite cafés or restaurants for a well-deserved shopping break. You’ll find flavours from all over the world to try, with stalls serving up Middle Eastern, Spanish, Italian and Japanese delicacies.
When walking into Yiasou George in Adelaide’s East End, you’d be forgiven for thinking the front door was a portal straight to Mykonos. The lively restaurant celebrates the best of the Mediterranean culture, with serious food delivered with a side of fun. Rustic yet refined dishes come straight from the wood-fired oven, celebrating the harmony of seasonal, locally grown produce and traditional Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern flavours. The likes of pull-apart lamb shoulder, chargrilled squid and red snapper are best enjoyed with a swipe of pillowy pita, a selection of mezze and a free shot of ouzo, poured out by laidback staff who take a taverna-style approach to hospitality – warm and welcoming.
Indulge all your Parisian fantasies at Hey Jupiter, a chic European brassiere dedicated to conquering all your French fancies from sun up to well after sun down. Walk past the exterior tiled façade, reminiscent of Paris metro stations, to find an interior of marble-topped tables, mirrors and a zinc bar, as well as a 150-strong wine list and menu that would make any Francophile smile. Start the day with a croque monsieur or classic continental breakfast, or pop by at lunchtime for oysters, French onion soup, niçoise salad and beef bourguignon. As the sun sets, it’s hard to look past steak frites or confit duck, perfectly paired with specially imported drop from the extensive drinks list.
Sparkke at the Whitmore
As one of Australia’s first female-founded and led brewpubs, Sparkke at the Whitmore is carving out its own place in the history books and inviting you to be a part of it. The fun, family-friendly and inclusive pub includes a nanobrewery, rooftop garden and grill, restaurant and bar, where all and one are welcome for a cold beer and delicious feed. Sample Sparkke’s core beer range from the taps, or taste your way through the female-centric wine and spirits list. Cosy up in the award-winning restaurant to taste your way through the Australian-Asian menu, or head up to the rooftop to sample street food directly off the grill.
Pirate Life Beer
Sample some of the state’s finest brews at Port Adelaide’s Pirate Life Beer, an enormous craft brewery that aims to offer something for every palate – beer lover or not. Housed in the historic Dalgety Woolstores, the 10,000-sqm space includes a 5000L brewery, 20m-long bar with 24 taps, tasting room and expansive courtyard, where the OG Food Truck looks after all your eating needs. Come the weekend, The Firepit is lit, offering beautiful local produce cooked simply over the flame – the perfect accompaniment to any one of the handcrafted beers on offer.
The Sorcerer’s Bar
Embrace the magic of The Sorcerer’s Bar, a wizard-themed bar that also happens to be Adelaide’s smallest drinking den. With room for just 15 inside and a further 10 outside, the petite venue is often overflowing with Harry Potter fans, living out their Three Broomsticks dream by sipping on cauldron cocktails and knocking back Butterbeer shots. The cocktail offering is all about the spectacle – the Polyjuice Potion is served with dry ice, while The Phoenix changes colour as it’s consumed. Beer drinkers need not feel left out – German draft beers, imported specially, can be served in three-litre steins.
GAJA by Sashi
Lead your tastebuds on an adventure through Asia at GAJA by Sashi, a winner of the Australian Good Food Guide SA Readers’ Choice Award for 2021. 2018 MasterChef champion, Sashi Cheliah, is in charge of the pans here, serving a menu influenced by his South Indian upbringing and Singaporean heritage, with touches of Thai and Malaysian thrown in for good measure. The result is hearty flavours that hit from the very first bite – start small with snacks, before moving onto medium plates and bold curries, served with all the sides you need to soak up every dollop of sauce.
There’s pasta you make at home, and then there’s Nido’s pasta – bold and beautiful dishes that jump off the plate, delivering flashes of flavour with every bite. Paired with a glass of Italian wine from the compact menu, it’s the perfect way to escape to the Mediterranean without leaving Adelaide’s CBD. Run by husband-and-wife team, Max and Laura Sharrad (the latter of MasterChef fame), this community-minded bar and kitchen combines classic Italian flavours with Australian ingredients, resulting in dishes like ‘rootello bonnato’, a version of vitello tonnato that uses kangaroo and bonito mayonnaise. While pasta reigns supreme, only fools would forgo starters or snacks, with gnocco fritto or plates of salami on offer.
Sample Adelaide’s finest produce at the restaurant of Penfolds vineyard
Book in for one of Australia’s finest food and wine experiences at Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant, the fine-dining arm of one of the country’s best wineries. Nestled into the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges, just 8km from Adelaide’s CBD, the iconic restaurant looks over Penfolds’ very first vineyard and sits alongside the Magill Estate Cellar Door and Winery. The contemporary tasting menu, spread over seven courses, takes its cues from the seasons, with refined dishes that pair perfectly with the extensive collection of Penfolds wines on offer. Coupled with exemplary service and a sensational setting, it’s a fine-dining affair you won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
Get a birds-eye view of Adelaide from the roof of the Oval
See the Adelaide Oval in a completely different light with a RoofClimb experience, taking to the skies for unbeatable views of the iconic ground and the surrounding landscapes. Follow a RoofClimb leader across the rooftop of the Western Stand before moving towards the Riverbank platform, perched 50m over the turf. You’ll get the chance to sit in the world’s first rooftop seats, all while listening to the stories that make Adelaide the city it is today. With the choice of three different climbs – Day, Twilight or Night – as well as the chance to catch a quarter of an AFL game from directly above the southern goals, there’s every opportunity to see the city like never before.