A local’s guide to Adelaide

Our ‘Local Insider Series’ focuses on bringing you the lowdown on various cities across the globe, straight from the mouth of the locals. So you know it’s not bull.

To launch the series, we asked Kate Beveridge, one of our Travel Experts down in Adelaide, to tell us everything we need to know about this little slice of Australia. Step out of the shadows Adelaide… it’s your time to shine!

One of the most underrated Australian capital cities, Adelaide has long been the butt of national jokes; a common conversation when growing up there is when you’re going to move to Melbourne! However, Adelaide is making strides on its reputation, with loads of new bars and restaurants, as well as the best festival scene in Australia. The city is liveable, affordable, and within a stone’s throw of both the ocean and the rolling Adelaide hills.

Adelaide in one sentence

Small town feel with big city convenience.

Things to do in Adelaide

Places to visit

For music lovers:

At first glance, The Gov is nothing special: a large pub with a stage, long bar, and ample beer garden. Despite its appearances, it is the beating heart of the music industry in Adelaide and has been a staple for local and international sets since 1993. Just on the outskirts of the city, The Gov hosts a variety of gigs that range from local Latin fiestas to national punk-rock favourites like Trophy Eyes and Hockey Dad.
The Gov, 59 Port Road, Hindmarsh, 5007.

For art and culture:

In February/March the city of Adelaide comes alive with a full schedule of local and international performances that range across comedy, musical, theatre, circus, and more. The parklands on East Terrace are transformed into The Garden of Unearthly Delights and Gluttony respectively, where the grounds are filled with food trucks, performance tents, and roving performers in a carnival atmosphere. This is the Adelaide Fringe Festival, where for a month the city becomes the envy of Australia and showcases the best that Adelaide has to offer..

For fashion fiends:

Adelaide’s east end is home to various high-end boutiques, but some of the most interesting fashion pieces can be found at Miss Gladys Sym Choon. Since 1928, the store has comprised an eclectic mix of vintage, whacky, and fashion-forward pieces in equal measure. Every way you turn is bright and vibrant, with clothing to match all styles and tastes. High quality leather shoes can be found in one section of the store, as well as the dedicated offshoot shoe store just further down Rundle St. The rear of the shop backs onto street-art adorned Sym Choon lane, where you can find the entrance to Mr Choon, the male counterpart to Miss Gladys.
Miss Gladys Sym Choon, 235A Rundle St, Adelaide, 5000.

For lazy Sundays:

Adelaide’s most popular beach suburb is Glenelg, where a short tram ride from the city can take you straight to the ocean. The beach itself is a wide yellow stretch that kisses the gentle warm ocean, protected from dangerous waves by the shape of the coastline. Aside from swimming and sunbathing, you can people-watch in cafes and dog-watch along the coastal footpath. For more energetic activities, the Beachouse boasts waterslides, arcade games, and a mini golf course.
Glenelg Beach, Glenelg, 5045.

Places to eat in Adelaide

Breakfast spot:

Located in Adelaide’s inner west, Mister Sunshine’s offers a relaxed cafe environment that spreads outwards into a picnic-table courtyard under the shade of a giant eucalyptus tree. It is characterised by a bright yellow door, vintage decor, and a varied menu with a dedicated section of vegan options. Meals range from humble eggs on toast to french toast with cinnamon cream cheese, mango passionfruit compote, and salted raspberry popcorn.
Mister Sunshine’s, 32 George Street, Thebarton, 5031.

Brunch spot:

Further afield in beachy suburb Semaphore, Sarah’s Sister’s Sustainable Cafe delivers delicious vegetarian/vegan food with a focus on minimising environmental impact and maximising local produce. The cafe’s exposed terrace backs onto next door’s garden centre, where your coffee will be accompanied by the smell of fresh flowers and the light trilling of sparrows hopping between punnets of herbs. The signature dish is simply called ‘The Pastry’, which is a mushroom, broccoli and cheese pastry with a lemon and herb sauce. Sarah’s Sister’s focuses on simple flavours and a simple message, but delivers it so well that even meat-eaters will delight in it.
Sarah’s Sister’s Sustainable Cafe, 117 Semaphore Road, Semaphore, 5019.

Cheap eat:

For cheap and delicious Afghan food in the CBD, you can’t go past Kutchi Deli Parwana in Ebenezer Place. Informal dining at its best, a blackboard by the front door details the small selection of simple and delicious dishes. The signature: mantu dumplings. These steamed dumplings are stuffed with sauteed onion and carrot, and topped with a tomato and yoghurt sauce, all just for $13. You can enjoy the Afghan fare on the small wooden tables overlooking the artsy vibe of the street, or inside the small restaurant, where the walls are adorned with blue mosaic tiles and vintage paintings.
Kutchi Deli Parwana, 7 Ebenezer Place, Adelaide, 5000.

Bit of a treat:

Adelaide boasts a variety of high-end steakhouses, but A Hereford Beefstouw delivers a different kind of dining atmosphere. A Danish institution, the Adelaide branch has a clean Scandinavian aesthetic from the bright airy room, to the light wooden tables and countless wine bottles adorning the walls. There is a delicious minimalism to the food as well, where each table has a menu card to fill out. Here you select your cut of steak, degree of doneness, and accompaniment of garlic butter or alternate sauce. Steaks range from dry-aged rump steak all the way up to chateaubriand eye fillet which is carved at the table and feeds two. You can and should add a grilled lobster tail to any steak for an extra $16.
A Hereford Beefstouw, 143 Hutt St, Adelaide, 5000.

My favourite place:

Just north of the city in trendy North Adelaide, Gin Long Canteen showcases the best of Asian cuisine, drawing influence from Thailand and Vietnam. It is always packed with customers, who squeeze around benches against the wooden interior of the restaurant. The menu provides two options: Eat Small or Eat Big, but ultimately the food is designed to share. The signature dish: really slow braised pork belly with sticky soy and salted chinese mustard greens. The drinks list also draws inspiration from Asia with its eclectic mix of cocktails. Ginger gin, cointreau, thai basil, and palm sugar feature in the Gin Gin. Asian beers are also available for more casual diners, but the vibe is the same: paying homage to eastern influences in the most delicious way possible.
Gin Long Canteen, 42 O’Connell St, North Adelaide, 5006.

Where to drink in Adelaide

For weeknight boozing:

“No pokies, no bullshit” is the motto of the classic Adelaide institution The Exeter Hotel. True to the motto, it is an unpretentious sticky dive bar, where the walls are adorned in tattered music posters, and the majority of beers on tap are local Coopers. Seating is spread along the bar, through the courtyard and spilling outside onto a laneway off Rundle Street. Local bands play sets in a cramped side room, but the main draw of the Exeter is kicking back, drinking a beer with mates, and watching the variety of Adelaide characters that pass through the pub.
The Exeter Hotel, 246 Rundle St, Adelaide, 5000.

For the party animals:

For some, it is the main destination, but for many The Woolshed is somewhere that you inevitably end up during a big night out. It is a super club spread across three levels, seven bars, and rooms that range from R&B, to EDM, to classic Aussie rock tunes. When drunk, it often feels like trying to get through a maze as you ascend various staircases, wind through the beer garden, and get lost along the way. The Woolshed is infamous for its mechanical bull ride and large crowd of mixed ages. It is utterly without pretense, and often class, but is always guaranteed to be a big night out that you may never remember.
The Woolshed on Hindley, 94/100 Hindley St, Adelaide, 5000.

For a fancy few:

Peel Street in Adelaide’s west end has the most Melbourne-like feel of the entire city, with tiny, hip cocktail bars and restaurants lining the street. One of the best is Maybe Mae, a secret cocktail bar that can only be accessed by a hidden door underneath the Bread and Bone Wood Grill. Pushing against the secret door, you enter a dimly lit bar in 1950’s style. The dark wooden bar is the proud centrepiece, where talented mixologists pour delicious (and expensive) creations. You can sit at the bar, or preferably in the dark leather booths, as you enjoy premium cocktails and light jazz music. The signature drink: whisky of choice and freshly squeezed apple juice.
Maybe Mae, 15 Peel St, Adelaide, 5000.

If I only had 24 hours in Adelaide, I would:

Start early with a breakfast pastry at Orange Spot Bakery in Glenelg, then walk along the waterfront to watch the beach come alive. Next, drive up to Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills to sample traditional German fare at one of the excellent pubs and peruse the kitsch gift stores. On the way back to the city, stop by Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens to experience serenity away from the city and breathe the fresh mountain air. Dinner at Gin Long in North Adelaide and short bus ride into the city for cocktails at any of the excellent bars on Peel St. Finish the night with a delicious treat from the 24 hour Bakery on O’Connell back in North Adelaide and then head home.

Why not fly out to Adelaide first on your gap year/working holiday/Australia holiday before making your way over to Melbourne or Sydney? Armed with this handy guide, you’ll be just like a local.

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