7 DAYS IN // Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide is Australia’s fifth largest city and off the well-beaten Australian tourist track. I like Adelaide, having lived there for all of the 1970s.

Adelaide has a dry heat. Summer in Adelaide is December- February and it can get into the 40s°C. January is the hottest month (usually18°-28°C); the most daily sunshine hours at 10 is in February. The wettest month is July (8°-14°C). I love visiting in February due to the Adelaide Festival and Fringe, but it can be very hot in the sun, so caution is necessary.

So get out the flip-flops and put on the shades; here are my top things to do with 7 days to explore.

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Magnificent 7 // Adelaide, Australia

1. Sample the Garden of Unearthly Delights

2. Go to a beach or two

3. Taste test local wines

4. Stroll around the city and riverbank

5. Take to the hills

6. Meet the wildlife

7. Check out a major event


Getting there –

Adelaide is in the middle of Australia, on the south coast. Australia is a long way from anywhere else and Adelaide is a long way from other parts of Australia. It even has a different time zone to Sydney and Melbourne on the east coast and Perth on the west coast. We have travelled to Adelaide a number of ways.  From Melbourne, we have taken the Great Ocean Road with an overnight stop at Lorne which was absolutely stunning. This trip we flew from Auckland, New Zealand and the flight was the best part of five hours long.  Just think how far you can get from London in five hours!

Where we stayed –

We stayed with family in Semaphore, a short walk from the beach. There are plenty of Air B&Bs as well as more traditional places to stay. Think about what you want to see and do as some areas, e.g. Hallett Cove, Port Noarlunga etc. are a fair drive to the city centre.

To Eat and Drink –

As we stayed in the Semaphore area, the following are all within striking distance of the beach.

Swedish Tarts – how can you resist a pun or two about sampling a Swedish tart? The tarts are good though, as are the fruit smoothies and the coffee. They even have Swedish meatballs and other Nordic delights. You can park outside on Semaphore Road and sit outside in the shade. Very enjoyable.

The Palais – situated right on the Esplanade overlooking the beach, this is a terrific spot for a lazy lunch or to watch the sun set. An added bonus is you get a great view of any event on the beach. We were lucky enough to see the Adelaide Kite Festival displays. There are many seating options. We chose the upstairs dining area for our meal and then moved on to the sun terrace for coffee. Good selection of food and a nice salad bar. Recommended.

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The Palais

Birkenhead Tavern – just up from Semaphore is Port Adelaide (you can walk from Semaphore, but most locals drive). The Birkenhead Tavern has plenty of parking and is a nice setting with dining on an outside deck. We have eaten here a few times and we like it. Normal pub fare, burgers, schnitzels, seafood, salad bar etc.

Estia Greek restaurant – a 10-minute drive from Semaphore, this restaurant is on the square at Henley Beach. One of the nicest Greek meals we have eaten anywhere in the world. Fabulous food, great setting and superb service. Do not remember the price, whatever it was, it was worth it!

Saigon Gate restaurant – Situated just north of the city centre in O’Connell, this Vietnamese restaurant has an extensive menu and is reasonably priced.  We ate in a big group and the food was excellent.  BYO with $10 corkage charge.  Recommended.

To note –

  • Beaches – As much as you think you can swim well, please swim only where there are lifeguards. Some Aussie beaches have strong riptides that will drag you out to sea before you know it.
  • Protection – Do not forget sunscreen and a hat.  You will need them. I remember radio campaigns in the 1970s with the slogan ‘Time to turn, so you won’t burn’. The sun is hot and many visitors do not appreciate how damaging the sun can get.
  • Great Aussie Salute– Australians waving their hands in front of their faces to ward off flies is the Aussie Salute. To avoid doing this repeatedly you will need insect repellent. The flies will love you and are irritating insects. Swatting a fly is an art. It is not true that a fly always takes off backwards; they have 360-degree vision and take off in the opposite direction a threat is coming from.

Road Safety – Don’t even think about driving after a drink. Apart from the obvious public safety logic of not drinking and driving, if you are tempted the legal limit is less than the UK at 0.05 and there are more mobile speed checks on SA roads than in the UK.


Magnificent 7

1. Sample the Garden of Unearthly Delights

This has nothing to do with the famous painting or the book. Think Edinburgh Fringe. This is an annual month-long event from mid-Feb to mid-March, starting with a parade on North Terrace. Events take place in the “Garden” located in Rundle Park at the end of North Terrace. This is a busy event with around 750,000 people visiting annually. The first act we saw was a chap juggling a running chainsaw! There are pop-up theatres featuring comics, cabaret acts, live music and family-friendly shows.

Being a “Fringe”, there is also a major arts and cultural festival in Adelaide. The Adelaide Festival has been going since 1960 and is internationally renowned, featuring artists from all over the world.

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2. Go to a beach or two

Adelaide has a plethora of beaches to choose from. Glenelg is one of the most popular, served by a tram from the city centre. Jetty Road has lost a lot of its charm, however, is probably worth a visit.  Just down the road is Henley Beach, which we prefer to Glenelg. It has nice sand, a wooden jetty and some great restaurants (see Estia Greek restaurant, above) and good public facilities.

Aldinga Beach is a family-friendly beach. You will need a car as it is a fair distance from the city centre. You can drive on to the beach if you have lots of gear, however there is a sizable car park with toilets next to the beach. We went kayaking here and it was fabulous.

We also love Semaphore Beach and walked to this most days for a swim or a paddle. Semaphore Road has an eclectic mix of shops, eating places and architecture. Much more interesting than Glenelg’s Jetty road, it is about 10 miles from the city centre, but worth the effort.There are lots of terrific beaches around Adelaide. There is a surf school at Middleton Beach around 90 minutes south of Adelaide and Moana Beach usually has good surf.

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Henley Beach

3. Taste test local wines

Aussies take winery tours seriously. There are 18 separate wine regions in SA. In a week you will probably only have time to explore one or two regions. We visited the Barossa Valley North of Adelaide and Maclaren Vale to the South. Wineries are very generous with their samples and sun and excess wine is a dangerous combination. We were lucky in that we had friends who drove. I would recommend taking a tour if you want to sample the wines (and who wouldn’t?). A lot of wineries also offer food platters. An afternoon spent with friends trying local food platters and sampling quality wines is one of life’s joys.

4. Stroll around the city and riverbank

Adelaide is a beautiful city. Have a look around the Adelaide Festival Centre building and then stroll along the banks of the River Torrens. You will see black swans and other wildlife. There are boats to hire and it is an absolutely wonderful setting. The city itself is one square mile bordered by North, South, East and West Terraces. Rundle Street is pedestrianised and there are some charming arcades and green spaces to explore. The Central Market is also worth a visit.

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River Torrens
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Stall at Adelaide’s Central Market

5. Take to the hills

The Adelaide Hills are East of the city and part of the Mount Lofty Ranges. On the way to or from the Hills, it is worth stopping at the Mount Lofty Lookout for a panoramic view of Adelaide. The Adelaide Hills are one of the 18 wine regions of South Australia and boast some charming towns. We visited Hahndorf, which has a proud German heritage. Highly recommended.

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Typical pub in Hahndorf

6. Meet the wildlife

I am not a fan of zoos, however the family run Gorge Wildlife Park in Cudlee Creek was an enjoyable day trip. You can get the photo most tourists want (cuddling a koala) providing the weather is not too hot. Most Australian animals are at the Park and the kangaroos and wallabies were particularly friendly, as they equate visitors with food. I liked the free-range colony of rainbow lorikeets; however felt that some of the larger animals, particularly the camels, could have done with more space.

Other options include the Adelaide Zoo where the star attractions are giant pandas and Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills.

7.  Check out a major event

Adelaide is Australia’s Festival State. Here are a few larger festivals:

Art and culture

Adelaide Festival (Feb-Mar)

Adelaide Fringe Festival (Feb-Mar)

WOMADelaide (Mar)

Tasting Australia (Apr)

Cabaret Festival (Jun)

Film Festival (Oct)

Sport

Clipsal/Adelaide 500 (Motor racing- Mar)

Tour Down Under (Cycling- Jan)

Sport is as big in Adelaide as it is in the other main Australian cities. Cricket and Aussie Rules (Adelaide has two teams in the Australian Football League – AFL) are popular. Going to a “footy’ match is an experience in itself. The Adelaide Oval, the venue for the Adelaide Crows AFL games and test cricket, is a great venue.

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Adelaide Kite Festival

Lessons Learnt!

1.) The Cedars tour.

In Hahndorf we took a tour of The Cedars, the home of one of Australia’s best-known artists, Hans Heysen. Hans Heysen’s landscape paintings are quintessentially Australian. Sadly there was not one landscape picture on display, not even a print! Probably one of the most disappointing tours I have ever taken.

Fun fact: The Adelaide Christmas Pageant is the largest Christmas parade in the Southern hemisphere with approximately 1 in 3 residents of Adelaide attending the event.


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