Two hours by plane from Sydney (and one and a half from Melbourne), Adelaide is generally known as a quieter, more rustic alternative to Australia's bustling metropolises. Set along the gentle River Torrens, Adelaide has fashioned itself into something of a sports capital (its main cricket and football stadium, Adelaide Oval, recently completed a $535 million renovation), but it's not just cricket fans who are showing up to enjoy Adelaide's bucolic charm. Adelaide Hills and Cleland Wildlife Park – two of the city’s most popular and accessible public parks – showcase a wide range of native Australian wildlife, making Adelaide perfect for nature-lovers. Plus, the city is incredibly easy to navigate. A bus and tram (both free) help visitors get around the city center, while a basic grid system allows visitors to explore without worrying about getting lost.
In short, whether it's adventure, cricket, or a quiet afternoon at the beach that you're after, Adelaide hits all the marks, and, even better, you won’t spend a fortune while you’re there. Here are five places worth checking out:
1. Central Market ranks at the top of most travelers' to-do lists, and once you get there, it'll be clear why. The quirky covered market (which happens to be the largest in the southern hemisphere) offers so much to see, smell, and taste, that many people opt for a guided tour. Of course, you'll be perfectly fine perusing the stalls on your own, for free. Stock up on picnic essentials (Smelly Cheese is a local fave) before heading to the beach. Or, if you haven't planned your day, simply strike up a conversation with one of the local vendors, who will be glad to make suggestions.
2. Nobody swings by Adelaide without a visit to Cleland Wildlife Park (admission $17.54), where kangaroos, wallabies, emus, potoroos, and water birds can be seen roaming in their natural habitat. The park cuts down on enclosed spaces as much as possible, and is open year-round. In addition to general admission, visitors can purchase add-ons like a "koala close-up" exhibit or attend a NightWalk. Best of all, the park can be accessed from Adelaide city center in under twenty minutes.
3. Want to get a view of the city skyline? Try an early-morning mountain bike ride down Mount Lofty. Adrenaline junkies can sign up for a half-day tour ($88, approx. four hours long), which involves coasting downhill from the mountain's 2,329-foot peak through bushland, forests, and grassland.
4. Beach bums should head straight to Glenelg Beach, where locals like to splash around with bottlenose dolphins, who show up at the beach on a daily basis. To get there, simply ride the (free) tram out twenty minutes from the city center. And be sure to plan ahead: a quick stop at Central Market (above) will have you equipped for one of the most memorable sunset picnics of your life.
5. To explore some local culture, check out the Aboriginal Cultures Gallery, made up of two floors inside the South Australian Museum. One floor consists of exhibits on Aboriginal technology and culture, while the other is themed around art and design. Free guided tours are available of this collection, which is considered the world's largest display of Australian Aboriginal artifacts.