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Sophisticated, cultured, neat-casual − the self-image Adelaide projects is a nod to the days of free colonisation. Adelaidians may remind you of their convict-free status – and of the Kaurna Aboriginal heritage of this land – but the stuffy, affluent origins of the 'City of Churches' did more to inhibit development than promote it.

But these days things are different. Multicultural flavours infuse Adelaide's restaurants; there's a pumping arts and live-music scene; and the city's festival calendar has vanquished dull Saturday nights. There are still plenty of church spires here, but they're outnumbered by pubs and hip bars tucked away in city lanes.

Down the tram tracks is beachy Glenelg: Adelaide with its guard down and boardshorts up. Nearby Port Adelaide is slowly gentrifying but remains a raffish harbour 'hood with buckets of soul.

Note that Adelaide's accommodation prices lag behind the rest of Australia’s capitals – a high season midrange double is under $200.

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