Artsy Adelaide and Its Cultural Capital
Once overlooked and outshone by its larger urban neighbours, Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide has had a busy few decades raising the bar.
This cute capital city of South Australia has become a cultural titan in recent years, far out-performing its competitors pound for pound. Not only has it been dubbed the festival state for its eclectic calendar of non-stop events all year round, it now produces some of the best food and drink in the whole country. South Australia contributes over half of the country’s total wine production and has gained world recognition for its gastronomic achievements. Home to global names such as Penfold’s and Orana, Adelaide has carved its name out as a culinary Mecca for many Aussie foodies.
Inhabited for thousands of years by Indigenous Australians, Adelaide as a colonial settlement wasn’t established until 1836, when it became the first region in Australia where citizens were ‘free’.
The city was also one of the first in the country to be geographically planned out, which today has led to its easy transport links and simple navigation. Its considered mapping may be a key indicator as to why it’s now one of the most centralised state capitals in Australia, which only feeds the intensity of Adelaide as a cultural hotspot.
The city’s progressive nature continued throughout its recent history, and this approach continues to permeate its state values today. Adelaide remains one of the most liberal cities in Australia.
So, what are the best things to do in Adelaide?
Live Music & Events
As a city built on its events calendar, this is the obvious place to start. Depending on the time of year, take a look at the Adelaide Festival Centre, which was one of the country’s first ever capital city arts venues. It welcomes over one million visitors every year and is home to a variety of theatres, galleries, restaurants, events and exhibitions. If you’re there in March, you must attend the Adelaide Festival. Now celebrating its 60th year, it’s one of Australia’s most celebrated multi-arts festivals. Other great events include OzAsia, WOMADelaide, Adelaide Film Festival, Feast Festival, Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Guitar Festival & Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Some of these sell out fast, so you should make plans before you’ve touched down in Adelaide Airport.
Situated on the Karrawirra Parri (River Torrens), Adelaide Zoo is a great day out with kids. Home to over 2500 animals and 250 species, the zoo includes baboons, lions, tree kangaroos, pandas, giraffes, monkeys, wolves, hippos, orangutans, tigers, Tasmanian devils and more.
Whilst you’re enjoying a day learning about the natural world, stop off at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens which sits next to the zoo. Made up of three separate public gardens, the botanic gardens includes stunning displays of both domestic and international plants. If you’re walking to the zoo and gardens from the city, pass through the historic buildings in the University of Adelaide campus, Australia’s third oldest university.
Home to over 47,000 works, this art gallery was first founded back in 1881. Situated in a beautiful old building off North Terrace, the variety of exhibitions takes you on several global and local journeys, challenging ideas, providing new perspectives and commenting on culture through the ages. A guided tour is recommended to get the most out of the experience.
Home to some of the oldest vines in the southern hemisphere, Barossa Valley is arguably Australia’s most famous wine region. Just an hour from Adelaide, this beautiful area is home to some of the most respected wineries in the world. Rolling hills and stone cottages line your way as you drive through this little slice of vino heaven. We’d suggest taking a tour or why not try hitting all the spots on Epicurean Way through the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley. While you’re there you must try the Shiraz – it’s what the area is known for.
If you’re in the city centre and want to stock up before you leave, you can also hit the National Wine Centre. This breath-taking building is the meeting place for all things wine in SA. Think tastings, open air events and a beautiful garden bar which regularly hosts wine gatherings.
Two destinations are a must if you’re shopping in Adelaide. Firstly, Adelaide Central Market is a celebration of local produce with the very best sourced from around the state. Their incredible spread of tasty things to eat and drink is only topped by the super friendly vibe and charming market trader bustle that accompanies it.
Second destination of note is Rundle Mall. Situated south of North Terrace, this will come up time and time again on lists of things to do in Adelaide. This precinct was adapted years ago to attract shoppers, and it has worked very well. Though you’re likely to see chain shops you see elsewhere, the street is worth a stroll to peruse the boutiques and get a real feel for the city centre. All walks of Adelaide life will pass you here, so it’s a great people watching spot.
Whilst Adelaide isn’t as famous for its beaches as other Aussie cities, it’s still worth mentioning a few of its sandy spots. The best thing about Adelaide’s beaches is how accessible they are from the CBD. Some of the most popular ones are Glenelg beach for families, Henley beach for sunset dining, Port Noarlunga beach for snorkelling and Maslin beach for nudists.
Sports are an integral part of Aussie life and you can tell by how much effort w put into our local stadiums. The Adelaide Oval is no exception to this rule. The Oval is often praised by visitors for its stunning architecture and beautiful setting. Whilst you’re in Adelaide, we’d recommend trying to catch an AFL game or a cricket match there!
Kangaroo island can be found south of Adelaide and is a must visit for nature lovers. Most of the island is protected park land with regular sightings of koalas, sea lions, birds, penguins, eagles and falcons. Expect to trek over sand dunes, rocky coasts, bush lands and caves. Everyone who goes to Kangaroo Island highly recommend it.