How to Spend 72 Unforgettable Hours in Adelaide Including Kangaroo Island
|By Jessica Vincent||As seen in Flightnetwork’s article|
Photo credit: Matthias Harbers
Once a slow-moving place, today Adelaide’s streets are bursting with life. Pop-up art galleries, hip brick-wall breweries, bustling markets, revamped green spaces, and a pumping live-music scene have officially put South Australia’s capital back on the map.
With accessible day trips to isolated, untouched gems like Kangaroo Island and the stunning Adelaide Hills, a 3-day adventure in this city really does offer the best of both worlds: a bustling city vibe with a side order of outdoor adventure.
By day, you’ll be exploring spacious green parklands or mountain biking through the nearby vineyard-dotted Barossa and Clare Valley. By night, you’ll be sipping on locally crafted brews and dancing the night away to live jazz, blues and rock- not to mention tasting the many flavours of Adelaide’s bold multicultural food scene.
With this guide, we’ll make sure you pack your 72 hours in Adelaide with some of the best museums, restaurants, day trips, and nightlife spots. Be warned, though: you may find yourself staying a little longer than planned.
Photo credit: Abbots and Kinney
Kick-start your adventure by treating yourself to a healthy, hearty breakfast at the super cool Abbots and Kinney. From 7 am-11 am daily, they serve up home-made granola, toasted sourdough, and tasty omelette’s made to order in an ultra-modern, laid-back setting. Don’t miss their drool-worthy “Green Eggs and Ham”: a beautifully presented plate of pulled pork shoulder croquettes, soft poached eggs, and a pickled red onion and parsley salad.
Once you’ve fuelled up, it’s time for some sightseeing. And the best way to see the city? By bike, of course! Adelaide has long been the hub for Australia’s high-performance cycling program, meaning infrastructure- including coastal bike-friendly jetty’s and 25km on-road cycling routes – is perfect for cyclists of all levels. Head to one of the many locations scattered across the city to hire your complimentary bike from Adelaide Free Bikes. All you’ll need is a valid ID, and each bike includes a helmet and padlock.
Photo credit: Bikes SA
You’ve got all day on your bike, so you may as well take some well-deserved pitstops. First, make sure you pay a visit to the fascinating Migration Museum. Housed in a former Aboriginal boarding school and asylum, this wonderful social-history museum maps out the story of the 100-plus nationalities who migrated to Southern Australia, using captivating personal accounts to bring thousands of migrants’ culture to life. They also run regular events, programmes and guided tours. Find their full event schedule here.
Next up on your Adelaide bike tour is Adelaide Central Gallery. A not-for-profit contemporary art gallery located within Adelaide Central School of Art, this wonderful space exhibits South Australia’s most esteemed emerging and stablished artists, as well as world-famous international visual artists. Don’t miss their hotly anticipated Graduate Exhibition, where each year talented Bachelor of Visual Art students present their work to thousands of visitors.
Photo credit: Level One, Electra House
Locals and visitors alike anticipate the setting of the sun in Adelaide. World-class food, limitless bars and clubs, and a fantastic live music scene make this vibrant city the place to be after dark.
You’ll be doing Adelaide’s culinary scene proud by eating your first evening meal at Level One, an exquisite Modern Asian restaurant serving Japanese fusion food. Located on the first floor of Electra House hotel, acclaimed Korean/Australian Chef Jamie Kang has created a tapas-style Asian menu, serving anything from Veal Takiki and Shiitake Ravioli to Pan-seared Scallops and Salmon Tartare. Don’t miss the Fried Octopus, served with gochujang aioli, fennel, and yellow beetroot.
Photo credit: The Howling Owl
The night is still young. Continue spoiling yourself with a few after-dinner gin cocktails at Adelaide’s coolest specialty gin hideout, The Howling Owl. Located in the heart of Adelaide’s East End precinct, this laid-back, cafe-style bar serves up more than 120 gin varieties, all of which are lovingly paired with complimenting spices, fruits, herbs and Fever-Tree mixers. Also on offer is a wide selection of whisky, SA craft beers, and local boutique wine. Cheers!
When you’ve had your fill of South Australia’s best gin and tonics, end your night at oceanfront Oaks Plaza Pier. Located in Glenelg, Adelaide’s favourite seaside suburb, guests come here for total relaxation, first-class resort facilities, and killer ocean views. Accommodations include spacious studios or self-contained 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, featuring a full kitchen, laundry facilities, and cable TV.
Photo credit: Robyn Brody
It’s day 2 in Adelaide, and there’s no doubt you’ll be itching for some more adventures. Just over 200km South West of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island offers exactly that- and more. This beautiful, rural, and underdeveloped wilderness is home to native sea lions, koalas, dolphins, stunning rock formations, and, of course, many-a-kangaroo; attracting thousands of visitors each year looking to escape the city for a few days.
Thanks to SeaLink, the island is now easily accessible from Adelaide. Not only do SeaLink operate the ferry/car service to get to Kangaroo Island, but they also offer a huge range of tours, activities, adventure experiences, and can even help out with finding accommodation on the island. Most would spend minimum of a day on Kangaroo Island but you’ll find plenty to do if you decide to stay on a few extra days.
Photo credit: Adelaide Oval
No visit to SA would be complete without seeing one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the Adelaide Oval; an impressive 50,000-capacity, open-air sports stadium. And the best way to experience it? 50 ft in the air! Book in for the Commonwealth Bank RoofClimb, an exhilarating, harnessed walk along the Western Stand’s roofline with uninterrupted views of the Oval, St Peter’s Cathedral, the city and beyond.
If heights aren’t your thing, opt instead for a fascinating 90-minute behind-the-scenes” Adelaide Oval guided tour, where you’ll discover hidden secrets and relive celebrated moments in the sporting, musical and civic history of this world-famous arena. Finish off your visit with a farm-to-table lunch overlooking the turf at the stunning Hill of Grace Restaurant.
After all that game excitement, you’re probably in need of something a little more chilled out for your next activity. Grab a beer, picnic blanket and a box of popcorn and head to Australia’s favourite outdoor cinema. During Adelaide’s summer season (Dec - Feb), Moonlight Cinema takes over Botanic Park, playing a huge range of films Tuesday through to Sunday. If you fancy going all out, go for the “Gold Grass” ticket, which includes your own comfy bean bed and waiter service!
Photo credit: Nola
Continue treating your taste buds by spending your second night at no-nonsense, back-street gem, Nola. Housed in a former stables, Nola serves up delicious deep-south-inspired creole and Cajun food. Expect all the good stuff: gumbo, jambalaya, oysters, and succulent fried chicken. And if this weren’t enough, the bar boasts 16 Independent Craft Beer taps and over 200 whiskey varieties. Oh, and if you plan your visit on a Thursday, you’ll be greeted by world-class live jazz performances.
Keeping with the theme of live music, continue the fun at spacious yet intimate Governor Hindmarsh Hotel (AKA “The Gov”); home to some of the best local and international performances in Adelaide. The best bit? The HUGE variety of acts. Expect anything from pumping salsa, reggae, and dance to smooth blues, rock, folk, and jazz. Check out their full schedule here.
When your feet can take no more, crash at the stunningly luxurious Sticky Rice Villas. With open-plan rooms filled with dark wooden accents, floor-to-ceiling windows, private landscaped gardens, and deep soaking tubs, it’s easy to feel like you’re holidaying in Bali, Thailand or Japan here. Instead, you’re tucked away in chilled out Sterling, a beautiful town in the Adelaide Hills. An on-site cooking school also offers crash courses in Asian, Spanish and moroccan cuisine.
If you’ve made the trip to Adelaide, chances are you’ll want to check out its stunning wine region. One of the best ways to explore the surrounding valleys and vineyards is armed with a mountain bike.
If you’re up for a thrilling ride, locally-run Escapegoat Adventures offer awesome day trips to the Adelaide hills and McLaren Vale wine regions, where you’ll descend 700m through native conservation parks and stop off at Cleland Wildfire Park, a stunning place where koalas and kangaroos call home. There’s also action-packed multi-day rides, custom private trips, and top-quality MTB hire on offer.
Just incase you haven’t quite got your adrenaline fill yet, spend the afternoon at Latitude, a huge, floor-to-celing aerial entertainment centre. Kids as young as 18 months can play in a supersize soft play park, whilst bigger kids and adults can tackle performance trampolines, rock climbing walls, an 8-meter bungee tower, giant airbag, basketball lanes, dodgeball courts, and a huge foam pit. A great family day out.
After all that jumping around, you’re probably in need of a glass (or two) of wine. Set in a cosy, brick-and-wood setting, Cantina Sociale serve up an ever-changing list of one-of-a-kind South Australian wines straight from the barrel. They also offer the perfect light bites and nibbles to compliment every glass; we’re talking truffle popcorn, pan-fried chorizo, farm-fresh charcuterie boards, and much, much more.
Photo credit: Cantina Sociale
Keeping with the theme of great wine and even better finger food, your next mouth-watering stop is ultra cool Udaberri. Set in a chic, exposed brick and dimly lit industrial space, this bar and restaurant serves up delicious Spanish tapas and wines. Expect a menu filled with scallop and beef carpaccio-topped Pintxos, and other Spanish classics such as mejillones (mussels), albondigas (meatballs) and sardines.
It’s your last evening in Adelaide, so we’ve got to have you spend it in comfort and style. Just a short walk from major sites such as Adelaide Oval, the Convention Centre, and the Central Markets, Chancellor on Currie is the perfect combination of convenience and comfort. A rooftop heated swimming pool, on-site restaurant serving farm-fresh food, and state-of-the-art fitness centre put this hotel at the top of the list.
There’s no doubt you’ll leave Adelaide feeling like 72 hours just wasn’t enough. However, with this itinerary you’re guaranteed to have made the most of every precious minute in South Australia’s most vibrant City.