Sophisticated, cultured, neat casual − this is the self-image Adelaide projects, a nod to the days of free colonisation without the 'penal colony' taint. Adelaidians may remind you of their convict-free status, but the city's stuffy, affluent origins did more to inhibit development than promote it. Bogged down in the old-school doldrums and painfully short on charisma, this was a pious, introspective place.
But these days things are different. Multicultural flavours infuse Adelaide's restaurants; there's a pumping pub, arts and live-music scene; and the city's festival calendar has vanquished dull Saturday nights. And, of course, there's the local wine. Residents flush with hedonism at the prospect of a punchy McLaren Vale shiraz or summer-scented Clare riesling.
That said, a subtle conservatism remains. 'What school did you go to?' is a common salvo from those unsure of your place in the social hierarchy, while countercultural urges bubble up through Adelaide's countless sex shops, kung-fu dojos and huge bottle shops.
Just down the tram tracks is beachy Glenelg, Adelaide with its guard down and boardshorts up; and Port Adelaide, a historic enclave slowly developing into SA's version of Fremantle. Inland, Adelaide's winking plains rise to the Adelaide Hills, just 12 minutes up the freeway. The Hills' gorgeous valley folds, old-fangled towns and cool-climate vineyards are all close at hand.
Best places to stay in Adelaide
Top 5 reasons to head to Adelaide in 2014
Having always lived in the shadow of its gregarious eastern-seaboard cousins, the ‘City of Churches’ has been quietly loosening its pious shackles and embracing its liberal foundations. Like a perfectly cellared red, this effortlessly chic city is ready to be uncorked and sampled.
Adelaide destination guides
Riding the rails: classic train journeys of the world
Hand the porter your luggage, climb aboard and relive the golden days of railroading on these spectacular journeys. Copper Canyon Railway, Mexico The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico (Copper Canyon Railway) features 36 bridges and 87 tunnels along its 655km length.
Great Ocean Road West—Melbourne to Adelaide
This might be a quick trip along the Great Ocean Road—but you’ll never feel rushed. Geared towards budget-conscious travellers looking to hit the highlights of the south coast, this itinerary features lots of inclusions at a great price. What’s more, you’ll have lots of options to get active when you head inland to Grampians National Park.
Australia in Style
It's tough to cover all of Australia in a single trip, but believe us, we've tried. This three-week extravaganza incorporates all the absolute must-do bits of Australia into one legendary—yet stress-free—adventure.
Australia: Ashes cities minus the cricket
The Ashes, international cricket's most high profile event, played out between Australia and England, are in full swing across Australia right now and both nations are gripped.