Move over Sydney, there’s a hot new kid on the Australian block.
Not only is Adelaide full of foodie treats, it’s also rammed with awesome attractions of its own – and it’s the gateway to other South Australia attractions including Kangaroo Island and Flinders Ranges.
Flying direct from the UK on Malaysia Airlines is the best route and I checked in to the Mayfair Hotel, Adelaide’s newest luxury establishment, to spend 72 hours exploring the city’s delights.
Pier pressure: Stop at Glenelg (above) for some beach time or explore its 1,250ft pier
DAY ONE – MORNING
Get your bearings on a 60-minute EcoCaddy Experiences City Sights tour, which costs A$120 (£68) for two. Sit back while your driver pedals his bamboo-bodied pedicab along the footpaths, cycleways and lanes of Adelaide and the surrounding area (ecocaddy.com.au).
Get dropped off at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens (botanicgardens.sa.gov.au) – admission is free. After enjoying a leisurely amble around the 125 acres, treat yourself to chef Paul Baker’s excellent food at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant (botanicgardensrestaurant.com.au). A three-course set lunch costs A$70 (£40).
Explore the South Australia Museum (samuseum.sa.gov.au), a 20-minute walk from the restaurant and home to the world’s largest collection of Australian Aboriginal artefacts. Don’t miss the megafauna, too – fossils of ancient animals include a giant kangaroo and a 20ft snake. For some retail therapy, cross the road to Rundle Mall, home to 600 shops and four department stores. Buy chocolates at Haigh’s, founded in 1915 – the Milk Macadamia Crunch Bars are amazing. You won’t have to carry your purchases far as the Mayfair Hotel is just across the road from Haigh’s in King William Street. The city’s newest luxury hotel is set in an Art Deco building.
Sit back and relax: A handy way to see Adelaide and get your bearings is in an eco pedicab
Tuck into a plate of delicious food at Peel St (peelst.com.au), a few minutes’ walk away and one of dozens of small restaurants and bars that have sprung up in the city’s backstreets. Don’t miss the caramelised pork belly, peanut caramel, prawn, green mango and crispy shallot at A$27.50 (about £15.50).
Enjoy the views over a nightcap at the 13th-floor Hennessy Rooftop Bar at the Mayfair. The Pago Pago, – a pineapple, ginger and Adelaide Hills rum cocktail – is so good they named it twice.
DAY TWO – MORNING
Get your boots on for a walking tour of Morialta Conservation Park, a 20-minute drive from the city centre. We saw six koalas, including a baby, and some roos. PureSA’s Bushwalk, Wine and Barbecue Eco Tour (puresa.com.au) includes transport to the park and barbecue lunch for A$149pp – about £85.
Alternatively, take a 40-minute tram ride from the Rundle Mall stop to Glenelg for some beach time or explore its 1,250ft pier, or swim with dolphins with Temptation Sailing (dolphinboat.com.au).
The Central Market was founded in 1869 and has around 80 stalls selling delicacies such as kangaroo sausages
Head back to town and grab lunch at the foodies’ paradise Adelaide Central Market, which was founded in 1869. Book the Market Highlights Tour with Food Tours Australia (ausfoodtours.com) to learn all about the 80 or so traders and enjoy some samples on your way round.
Don’t miss the Something Wild stall for delicacies such as kangaroo sausages, and The Smelly Cheese Shop, which has more than 300 varieties to choose from.
Experience a gourmet dinner at Orana (restaurantorana.com), one of the world’s top restaurants. Scottish-born owner and chef Jock Zonfrillo serves extraordinary food – up to 25 small courses, featuring indigenous ingredients, from green ants and kangaroo tail to bunya nuts and strawberry eucalyptus. It’s not cheap, at A$175 a head – about £100 – without wine, but it is pretty memorable.
If your tastes are more simple, choose sister restaurant Bistro Blackwood (bistroblackwood.com.au) which offers less revolutionary – and cheaper – fare such as fire-pit beef rump and Berkshire pork chop.
Hop to it: Watch kangaroos and their young in the countryside near Adelaide
DAY THREE – MORNING
Check out of the Mayfair, collect a hire car and head to the McLaren Vale vineyards, about a 40-minute drive away. The wine region is now home to the d’Arenberg Cube (darenberg.com.au), a striking new five-storey Rubik’s cube lookalike tasting room, restaurant and art gallery, designed by Chester Osborn, in the middle of the vines.
Eat lunch at Mitolo Wines’ superb new restaurant, Bocca di Lupo (mitolowines.com.au) – two courses costs A$75 (about £45). The truffle mashed potato is awesome. Then head through a cellar door for a tasting or two.
Stay the night at the gorgeous Hotel California Road (inkwell wines.com/hotel) for a touch of luxury. One of the three suites costs from A$260 (£145) a night, with king-size bed, private decks and a huge tub overlooking the vines at Inkwell Wines – look out for kangaroos hopping around in the morning. If you prefer to stay closer to the city on day three, head for Penfolds’ Magill Estate, just 15 minutes away, for a wine tour, tasting and lunch (penfolds.com). The Iconic Penfolds Experience, including a three-course lunch with matching wines, costs A$295pp (£170).
A must for cricket fans is a tour of the revamped Adelaide Oval (adelaideoval.com.au). The more adventurous can go for the RoofClimb experience on one of the new stands for A$104 (£60).
Finally, check in to the incomparable Fire Engine Inn (adelaideheritage.com). The inn is in the old fire station and the Fire Engine Suite has a full-size fire engine at the bottom of the bed. Double rooms cost from A$340 (£190) a night.
Quirky: The Fire Engine Suite at the Fire Engine Inn offers something a bit different with its unusual decor