Back in March, I was asked by Jay to be his plus one for a wedding in Adelaide and I didn’t exactly jump at the opportunity to visit Adelaide. Adelaide is probably not one of the top 3 cities to travel to in Australia or even on top 5 for most people. Admittedly, I didn’t know a lot about Adelaide or South Australia aside from Adelaide being the 5th largest city in Australia. Nonetheless, I was curious to explore this new city and excited to spend the weekend outside of busy Sydney.
Below was my Adelaide itinerary that allowed me to view the major highlights of Adelaide:
Day 1 – Adelaide
On our first day, it was pouring rain and we both didn’t bring an umbrella. The weather was forecasting sunny with chances of rain for the whole weekend. It actually rained MOST of the time we were there but the periods of sunshine that were picture perfect (literally, you will see).
First meal in Adelaide was Ajisai. I know it wasn’t exactly local to Adelaide but I was really craving ramen.
Every time I visit a major city in Australia, I always visit three places:
- State library
- Art gallery
I always visit these places because they are usually in close proximity of each other, I learn a lot about the city just by visiting these places and I’ve already visited these places in other major cities so why stop now? It’s also nice to be able to compare to other cities as well.
The State library of South Australia, Art gallery of South Australia and the South Australian Museum were actually right next to each other so the logistic was easy to dodge the rain that day.
View from the main entrance of the State Library of South Australia
State Library of South Australia has to be the second most beautiful library I’ve been to in Australia. The old library was actually attached to the new modern library but I will just focus on the old library. When I first walked through the front door of the library, I was immediately greeted with a view of an eagle sitting on a classic looking globe, how epic was that? There were three levels, the second and third level (or 1st and 2nd floor if you are counting like an Australian) was lined with old books and in the middle, you would be able to peer down to the main floor. The main floor was filled with history of South Australia and artefacts.
View from the second floor of the State Library of South Australia
Art Gallery of South Australia had a mixture of historical art and modern contemporary art. The exhibit I was most interested in was the Chinese history art, not that I am biased or anything…
View from doorway of one of the art exhibits at the Art Gallery of South Australia
South Australian Museum had highlights of the typical Australia stuffed animals that can be found in Australia and I think they had a dinosaur exhibit happening at the same time. One of the thing I found most fascinating was the red back spider, it is the only spider in South Australia that can kill you. Well I guess that is one good reason to live in Adelaide.
When we arrived at Adelaide Botanic Garden, it was still raining. Surprisingly, we still had so much fun because it felt like we had the whole garden to ourselves to explore. One thing about me is that I am not a huge flower person but there is something about wandering in the rain in a beautiful lush garden seemed so magical.
Adelaide Botanic Garden
The rain finally relented at nightfall and so we decided to check out the Fringe festival. Now prior to going to Adelaide, we didn’t even know the Fringe festival was happening until we spoke to some of the locals. The locals explained to us that we came at the best time because that was when the city of Adelaide comes alive. As we started walking towards the Fringe festival grounds, there were roads that were blocked off for restaurants to set up tables for people to gather and we were greeted with sounds of music. There were live performances happening and colourful lights shining, it was truly festive.
Walked passed this busy street while heading towards the grounds at the Fringe festival
We eventually arrived at the gate of the Fringe festival grounds where there were several tents set up with different live performances that you buy tickets for and book ahead of time. I can’t speak for the shows inside the tent as I didn’t buy tickets but the feedback I received was that there was something for everyone. Jay and I made a beeline towards the food trucks and got ourselves a cup of mojitos to start off our night. There was so much to see and live music to listen to. It was a great way to end the night!
Adelaide’s iconic spheres sculpture or some people may call it, “the balls” in the middle of main street in the CBD. There are stories of drunk people walking by and attempting to climb it. Usually the story ends with an ambulance…
Day 2 – Adelaide –> Strathalbyn
One of the things I love doing when I am traveling is to take advantage of the free walking tours. It is the best way, in my opinion, to see the city as a local and learn about history that wouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. These tours are operated by friendly local tour guides and the tours are usually around 2-2.5 hours long. Too good to be true? At the end of the tour, you are welcome to tip your tour guide but it is not mandatory. Some of these walking tours require booking in advance while some you can just show up. The free walking tour company we used was Tours around Adelaide that operates three times a week at 10AM and it is recommended that you reserve two weeks in advance.
Some of the interesting facts I learned about Adelaide from this tour:
- South Australia is the only state that was NOT colonized by convicts
- Due to the fact above, they have a more “posh” Australian accent
- Adelaide is known as the ‘city of churches’ because there are churches in every corner with beautiful designs
- Finally, even the infamous Beatles have visited Adelaide
After the walking tour, we were headed off to Strathalbyn, a small town SE of Adelaide, for the wedding which was less than an hour drive away. The wedding was actually held in Milang but Strathalbyn motel was the closest motel we were able to book. We had to book a taxi to Milang so we went to the front desk of the hotel to arrange for a taxi. The front desk just gave me a business card and told me to call the number. The number on the card appears to be a mobile number. I was confused but called anyways and a guy picked up. We requested to be picked up half an hour prior to the wedding start time but instead he had advised he has a client at the time so he will need to pick us up 15 minutes earlier than the requested time. When our taxi driver eventually picked us up, he advised that when we call for a taxi after the wedding, it will be his wife picking us up because they both own the company and takes turns with the shift. We eventually figured out that there was only one taxi that serviced the town of Strathalbyn and it was a huge culture shock for me. How does one taxi service a whole town? I guess the town must be smaller than I realized.
When we arrived at the wedding, it was 33 degrees and cloudy but that didn’t put a damper the wedding. It as a small wedding held in the bride’s parent backyard with a close group of people and it was beautiful. I’ve never been to a small backyard wedding before and I found it really cute and welcoming.
Day 3 – Strathalbyn –> Hahndorf
In the morning, Jay and I stopped by the local café, Appleseed Café, for brunch. After brunch we decided to explore the small town. Most of the stores were antique shops which is great for collectors or someone looking for decorations for their new home. For me, I am not really into antiques so we didn’t go into the shops. The downtown street of Strathalbyn was quiet on a sunny Sunday morning which I find rather charming.
When driving to the wedding, our taxi driver recommended we visit State Memorial Garden. We walked through the garden and enjoyed some beautiful sunshine.
After our walk through the park, we jumped into our car and headed towards Adelaide Hills to a small town called, Hahndorf.
Main Street Hahndorf, SA
Hanhdorf is famous for its German architecture and food. Hahndorf is recognized by the South Australian government as a heritage site and is the oldest surviving German settlement. You can learn more about Hahndorf here.
Of course, when you’re in a German town, you have to get German food! We had lunch at The Hahndorf Inn which I would recommend making a reservation because they can get pretty busy. We had the chicken schitzel and Bratwurst.
When I travel, I always try to fit in at least one bush walk, coastal walk or hike in my trip. This time, it wasn’t going to be any different. After our lunch, Jay and I decided to embark on a hike from Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty summit, a 7.8km 3-hour hike there and back.
The hike started out relatively flat with a nice view of the water gully. After we walked passed the water gully, we started a direct incline of climbing the mountain.
At the top of the summit
I’m not going to lie but this hike was classified as a hard hike for a reason. My calves definitely got a workout out of this. Although the hike was hard, it was short and I am always rewarded with the view at the top. I wouldn’t suggest going on this hike if there is fog because you wouldn’t get much of a view.
We made it!! The rewarding view from the top of the Mount Lofty Summit.
If you are interested in doing the hike yourself, click here for more information.
The last night of our trip, we met a university friend of mine from Canada that is going to law school in Adelaide. He took us for a few beers and showed us the highlight of Adelaide city business district (CBD) aka downtown. We were lucky to catch the last day of “The Parade of Lights” which I believe were part of the Fringe festival. The Parade of Lights had changing lights and sometimes videos that were projected onto the old building. It was really interesting to see how interactive the lights were to the building. It reminded me of a less busier and smaller Vivid in Sydney.
Looking back at the end of my trip, I was surprised how much fun I had exploring the city and the small towns in around Adelaide. I was even more surprised how much we managed to fit into three days. The only thing I would do next time is to visit Barossa Valley for wine tasting since South Australia is famous for their Shiraz wines. All in all, three days is definitely not enough to be able to fully explore the city and surrounding area but it is enough to get an idea what Adelaide is like. I would highly recommend checking out Adelaide in March during the Fringe Festival.
Leave me comment below if you have been to Adelaide before and what would you recommend to go see.