101 GuidescityTravel

adelaide, australia guide

by Stephanie

Illustration by Julia Rothman

Today’s city guide comes from Adelaide local Alicia Parsons. When she’s not feeding her paper addiction at her stationery business Akimbo, Alicia can be found sharing pretty and practical ideas for home and life on her blog Atypical Type A.

Adelaide may be smaller than the bigger cities in the eastern states, but Alicia shows us the amazing food and wine, vibrant cultural scene and eclectic shopping that this small but amazing Australian city has to offer. Thanks, Alicia, for this wonderful guide! — Stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!

Hello, Spongers! A huge thanks to Grace and the team for allowing me the opportunity to share a taste of what I love about my home town of Adelaide, South Australia.

South Australia is known as the country’s Festival State for good reason. Adelaide plays host to some of the best arts festivals, including the biennial Adelaide Festival of Arts and annual Adelaide Fringe Festival. These two festivals coincide with several other major events in the city, leading the season to be dubbed ëMad Marchí by locals. It is a fantastic time to visit (if you can find accommodations), but there is plenty to do all year.

Here is my perfect long weekend in Adelaide:


Start the day with an award-winning breakfast at etc. Despite the extensive menu, I can never get past Adelaide’s best eggs benedict.

6 East Terrace, Adelaide

From there, you’re just around the corner from Adelaide’s premier retail precinct. Rundle Street is home to designer brands as well as independent boutiques. Take a slight detour to Ebenezer Place for innovative local fashion up-and-comers.

279 Rundle Street, Adelaide
Fun and funky gifts and jewellery.

8215 0003
257 Rundle Street, Adelaide
An eclectic mix of Marimekko prints, contemporary accessories, religious relics and Middle Eastern homewares.

Two 8 Four Rundle
284 Rundle Street, Adelaide
Guilt-free vintage shopping at this not-for-profit Red Cross Concept Store.

231 Rundle Street, Adelaide
A kaleidoscope of handbags, purses and luggage.

Mary Martin Bookshop
249 Rundle Street, Adelaide
Adelaide’s oldest bookseller, independent and proud for 65 years.

Miss Gladys Sym Choon
235A Rundle Street, Adelaide
An Adelaide fashion institution since it was opened in 1928 by the state’s first female business owner.

Midwest Trader
Shop 1, 4-10 Ebenezer Place, Adelaide
Specialist in punk fashion.

Clubhouse Lane Boutique
13 Frome Street, Adelaide
Vintage and edgy new fashion for men and women.

Urban Cow Studio
11 Frome Street, Adelaide
A celebration of all things handmade and local. Take a good look at their signature range of ceramics.

The extension of Rundle Street is Rundle Mall. It’s mostly department and chain stores, but there are a few gems. Oh, and you’ll see proof that Adelaide has balls.

134 Rundle Mall, Adelaide
Fun, colourful stationery.

132 Rundle Mall, Adelaide
It’s like Smiggle’s big sister.

Irving Baby
33 Twin Street, Adelaide
Head slightly off the beaten path for new and vintage fashion.

Shop T23, City Cross Arcade, Adelaide
A treasure trove of eclectic homewares and pretty trinkets. Stockist of iconic Bison ceramics.

Head to one of these great coffee shops for a caffeine break:

261 Rundle Street, Adelaide
Find out the local goss with a newspaper under the funky lights.

283 Rundle Street, Adelaide
If you need some serious indulgence with your coffee.

218 Rundle Street, Adelaide
112A Rundle Mall, Adelaide
An Adelaide icon.

At the end of Rundle Mall, hop on a free bus or tram to the Adelaide Central Market, where you’ll find an amazing array of fresh local produce. There are too many fantastic stalls to mention by name, but wander around enjoying the sights and smells and you’ll find some bread, cheese and antipasto for lunch.

Adelaide Central Market
Gouger Street, Adelaide

Adelaide was a planned city with a grid layout surrounded by a ring of parklands. Inside the Southern Parklands, you’ll find the underrated Himeji Japanese Gardens. This secluded oasis is the perfect place for your romantic picnic with the yummies you picked up at the market. It’s surprisingly quiet, but on weekends, you’re likely to spot a wedding party having their photos taken.

Adelaide Himeji Garden
Corner South Terrace and Glen Osmond Road, Adelaide

Once the seedy side of town, the West End is now the heart of Adelaide’s thriving arts scene. A recent initiative has offered vacant shops on Hindley Street to artists and fashion designers for free as temporary shopfronts to kick-start local creative businesses. For more established wares, don’t miss the Jam Factory, which hosts an ever-changing collection of amazing arts and crafts for exhibition and sale.

Jam Factory
19 Morphett Street, Adelaide

If you’re after a more traditional cultural experience, take a stroll down North Terrace, Adelaide’s historic boulevard. I have a soft spot for the Mortlock Wing of the state library, having recently married there, but the classic architecture and world-class exhibitions at the art gallery and museum are also worth checking out. If you have time, pay a visit to Wang Wang and Funi, the only pandas in the southern hemisphere.

State Library of South Australia
Corner North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, Adelaide

Art Gallery of South Australia
North Terrace, Adelaide

South Australian Museum
North Terrace, Adelaide

Botanic Gardens
North Terrace, Adelaide

Adelaide Zoo
Frome Road, Adelaide

Continue along North Terrace and you’ll discover the striking exterior of the Wine Centre. It’s a great way to learn about, sample and buy the amazing wines that South Australia has to offer if you don’t have time to venture out to the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale wine regions.

National Wine Centre
Corner of Botanic and Hackney Roads

We locals are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options. If you’re in the mood for cheap and cheerful Asian, take your pick along Gouger Street.

Jolleys Boathouse
1 Jolleys Lane, Adelaide
Enjoy a special meal with views of the city lights reflecting on the river.

Mesa Lunga
Corner Morphett and Gouger Streets, Adelaide
Share some tapas and sangria.

The Benjamin on Franklin
233 Franklin Street, Adelaide
Upmarket pub fare in the quaint courtyard or old-world dining rooms under the stunning crystal installation.

Kick on into the night at one of these bars:

21 King William Street, Adelaide
Eastern-style tea room in the imposing marble surrounds of a former bank foyer.

Apothecary 1878
118 Hindley Street, Adelaide
A charming French-bistro-meets-apothecary wine bar.

Sangria y Pintxos Bar
Corner Morphett and Gouger Streets, Adelaide
Who knew there were so many different types of sangria?

Botanic Bar
Corner North and East Terrace, Adelaide
Relax with a brew under the lantern-lit verandah of a historic building.

Hotel Richmond
128 Rundle Mall, Adelaide
Watch the world go by from the first floor balcony, or park yourself on a Bentwood chair under the art deco windows.



Pick up a free city bike and ride along the Linear Park Trail east from the city.

Linear Park Trail
Scenic pedestrian and bike route from Henley Beach through the city to northeastern suburbs.

Magill Road is not the most popular shopping area, but the antique stores, art galleries and cool homewares stores make it my favourite.

Louis Bond and My Friend Louis
133 Magill Road, Stepney
A modern baroque collection of art and homewares, plus an adjacent cafe.

Places & Spaces
7226 0764
129 Magill Road, Stepney
Contemporary gifts and homewares.

Two Pairs
0402 948 961
145 Magill Road, Stepney
The good kind of shabby chic.

147 Magill Road, Stepney
Local artisan jewellery, objects and art, and home to retro-inspired Umbrella Prints.

Khai Liew
166 Magill Road, Norwood
Award-winning artisan-made furniture inspired by Danish design and Eastern techniques.

Danish Vintage Modern
148 Magill Road, Norwood
Just as the name suggests: all the mid-century furniture you can handle.

Rock ëní Rustic
187A Magill Road, Maylands
Eclectic range of retro, rustic and industrial furniture and collectibles.

Pedlar’s Antiques
8363 0087
205 Magill Road, Maylands
In addition to the bona fide antiques, you’ll find a huge array of vintage toys, books and collectibles.

Give the retail therapy a break and get inspired.

AP Bond
139 Magill Road, Stepney
Contemporary and Aboriginal art.

After all that cycling, it must be time for a refreshing brew at the Tap Inn in the neighbouring suburb of Kent Town. Once you’ve had your beer in the old-world bar or the multilevel atrium beer garden, check out the mass tap installation or have a round at the indoor driving range.

The Tap Inn
76 Rundle Street, Kent Town

Head to Sparrow, Adelaide’s most stylish restaurant, for dinner. There are mains on the menu, but it’s really all about the tapas. Can’t decide? Ask the chefs to send out their favourites and they’ll be happy to oblige.

Sparrow Kitchen & Bar
10 O’Connell Street, North Adelaide
Inventive seasonal menu in trendy but unpretentious surrounds.

On the off chance that you’ve managed to resist the desserts or sweet tapas at Sparrow, cruise to Elephant Walk for your after-dinner sweets.

Elephant Walk
76 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide
Cosy coffee lounge with tempting desserts and thrift-store-chic decor.



Let’s head west today to two lesser-known areas that are full of hidden gems if you like your coffee organic and your fashion vintage.

First up, we have the historic suburb of Croydon where Queen Street and its extension, Elizabeth Street, are small but worth the visit. Catch the train from the city along the Outer Harbour Line and hop off at the Croydon Station.

What relaxing Sunday morning is complete without a hearty breakfast? Chill on one of the mismatching chairs under the mural at Queen Street Cafe, or take advantage of the Book Swap while tucking into an amazing bacon and egg Turkish roll at a vintage Formica table at The Croydon Store.

Queen Street Cafe
8340 0708
12 Elizabeth Street, Croydon

The Croydon Store
0421 354 419
15a Elizabeth Street, Croydon

Let Them Eat
(08) 8340 8872
18 Elizabeth Street, Croydon
Vegetarian cafe and takeaway. The leek and gruyere tart comes highly recommended.

With bellies full, it’s time to hit the shops!

One Small Room
6 Elizabeth Street, Croydon
An appealing mix of mid-century furniture, contemporary finds and signature range of Sprout Design.

Azalia Boutique
5 Elizabeth Street, Croydon
Vintage and trend fashion.

Hype & Seek
3 Elizabeth Street, Croydon
Vintage clothing, furniture and homewares.

Hop back on the train and continue to the Glanville stop, where you’ll find the beachfront suburb of Semaphore. Less popular than Glenelg, but with its pristine sand and wide, grassed foreshore, it’s hard to see why.

To take full advantage of the view, dine at the Flying Knife on their signature dish: a seafood claypot. Or if you’re after a more low-key lunch, try Sarah’s Sister’s for a vego meal in the courtyard overlooking the neighbouring Semaphore Road Garden Shop.

The Flying Knife
6 Semaphore Road, Semaphore

Sarah’s Sister’s Sustainable Cafe
117 Semaphore Road, Semaphore

Add Character
42 Semaphore Road, Semaphore
Asian and contemporary gifts and accessories.

Le Room
8242 2722
91 Semaphore Road, Semaphore
Country-style homewares, jewellery and toys.

Sumadi Boutique
8242 7717
95 Semaphore Road, Semaphore
Huge selection of vintage fashion.

Once you’re all shopped out, have a game of giant chess.

Street Chess
Corner Semaphore Road and Jagoe Street, Semaphore
Bookings at Sandy’s Sea Change Cafe (8242 4278). (It’s also an internet cafe if you’re overdue for an email home.)

International visitors: you have to get fish and chips on the beach at least once while you are in Australia!

Soto’s Fish & Chips
8449 1270
23 Semaphore Road, Semaphore
Fast food with friendly service.

Take 2 Ice Creamery
8341 5033
2/14 Semaphore Road, Semaphore
Choose from over 30 flavours, or warm up with pancakes or waffles.

You know what? This has inspired me to take a few weekends out over the summer and be a tourist in my own city. I hope to see you here!

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  • Thanks for this! I lived in Adelaide for a year and absolutely loved it. What a great place to live!

  • It is so exciting to see my hometown featured on DesignSponge. Adelaide is a lovely city and there are hidden gems scattered throughout the inner suburbs.

    Thanks Alicia!

  • What a great guide! It’s definitely inspired me to get out and see some more of the city.

    Mindy, I’d recommend checking out the Clarion Hotel Soho. I haven’t stayed there, but I’ve eaten in the little restaurant – very tasty – and it is definitely design conscious. http://www.clarionhotelsoho.com.au/

  • Thanks for this, it is right on time as we intended to take a few days on Easter break and Adelaide has been on our mind…

  • Hey, Loving this! You’ve pretty much touched on all of my favourite restaurants in Adelaide. The perfect weekend indeed!!

  • So excited to see a fabulous guide for the place I call home… makes me realise how good we have it here! I’ve featured this on my blog too.
    Mindy, I guess it depends on your budget, but I’d choose Hotel Richmond (it’s also listed above for a drinking abode!) http://www.hotelrichmond.com.au/

  • It’s nice to see Adelaide get a mention, particularly Semaphore, where I live. As far as local cafés go, Sarah’s is an institution, but the very best breakfast in Semaphore can be found at a relatively new place, El Toro Espanol (also great tapas of course), & Swedish Tart across the street does fabulous latte served in an enormous bowl for only $5. Another great place to have a coffee is at Largs Bay, either at the jetty kiosk, or across the street on the verandah of the Largs Pier Hotel. The best fish & chip shop in the state is The Stunned Mullet at Henley Beach, & two more great beachside places to eat are Estia at Henley (Greek), & Café Salsa at West Beach (Italian). And far better than Elephant Walk for late night coffee (& the best hot chocolate in town) is Spats on King William Road – a tribute to 1970s/Art Nouveau. I’d also like to mention Imprints booksellers on Hindley Street (at least as good as Mary Martins in my opinion), & the very best way to spend a Saturday morning is to go to the Central Market for breakfast & shopping.

  • What a great guide! I have been living/traveling Australia for the past 7 months and have been to Adelaide a few times. It’s such a lovely city. I need to go back now that I’m armed with this guide!

  • Hello! I live three and a half hours south east of Adelaide SA!!! I am an interior designer and i visit design sponge daily!!! So excited to see our local city on your page – it is truly a fantastic place!

  • For lovers of beautifully designed jewellery, you can’t go past Zu design (upstairs in the wonderful Adelaide Arcade).

  • YAY! Thanks for sharing some of the goodies here! Can I also add a few of my faves…. Cafe Komodo @ Prospect is vegetarian friendly, filled with vintage furniture and comes with Jazz on Friday nights. For wine, Foggo Wines on Foggo Road, Mc Laren Vale & for getting active, the Hallett Cove Conservation Trail is stunning and only 30 mins from the city. xxx

  • Wow! So exciting to see my hometown featured on Design Sponge! Adelaide is a wonderful place to live with so many great things to see and do. Particularly chuffed to see my suburb of Croydon got a mention to! Certainly makes me realise when i dream of travelling to places far and wide that i am actually in a pretty awesome place already to!

  • Radelaide! I love living here, and I’m so excited to see this feature! Everyone should visit!

  • I just realised — there was no mention of Haighs, where you’ll find the. best. chocolate. ever. Another Adelaide icon.


  • Agreed! I was away from my hometown for many years and am happy to be back and creating new memories in good old Adelaide. So glad that Alicia picked all the best spots… xx

  • Yes Adelaide definitely has some great spots! Queen Street Croydon is a must if you love great food and great design/shopping. Good to see my suburb of Croydon mentioned. I would definitely reccommend Komodo Cafe at Prospect, as well as the Deli Cafe at Thebarton – best pizza’s in Adelaide (and live music on weekends)… There is also a great retro restaurant at West Beach – called Salsa, old style Italian food with open fire and awesome decor/atmosphere….

  • So happy to see Radelaide well represented on this fabulous site. Just have to mention two other uber cool locales in the inner west (Hindmarsh): El Choto for fabulous coffee and Spanish foods and Susie Wong’s Room for night time drinks and snacks.

  • Thanks for featuring my home town in Design Sponge…Alicia Parsons has done a great job highlighting many of the places of interest and leisure in Adelaide. I would like, if I may, add a few more. Before heading off to Semaphore Road to have breakfast check out the Fisherman’s Wharf Market right next to the big red lighthouse in Port Adelaide which is open every Sunday and if you are visiting on the 1st Sunday of the month pop into the Semaphore Community Makets on Military Road. There is also The North Adelaide Vintage & Fashion Fair at the Estonian Hall in Jeffcott Street is on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month with Adelaide’s best selection of Vintage and Retro Clothing and Wares. The Gilles Street Market for fashion on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. The new Norwood Community Market at the Hungarian Hall, Osmond Terrace and the new Market Square in Hindmarsh Square in the city for handcrafts…..thought I would mention these as many people travel and exclusively look for markets rather than retail shops….Love Design*Sponge!!

  • Thanks everyone for adding your recommendations for Radelaide.

    @silverblue: How remiss of me to forget Haigh’s! For anyone looking for it, look for the illustration at the top, it’s in that building (cnr Rundle Mall and King William Street).

    @Karena: I adore Spatz too. I was trying to keep it themed by area and sadly couldn’t squeeze in King Willy Road.

    @Jenny: Thanks for all your beachside suggestions. It’s definitely not my ‘hood so great to get a true local’s opinion.

  • What a lovely surprise to be greeted this morning with a city guide for my very own hometown of Adelaide! (It would’ve been even more lovely to have had some photos included so we could really show off our beautiful city!)

    Great mentions all round, but us Adelaideans are very city-proud and always need to add a few more of course… :)

    I definitely agree with making time for Magill Road. While in the area, stop for coffee at Espresso Royale – a cute little organic coffee shop just a short drive down the road. Croydon is one of my favourite areas to visit and a regular weekend stop.. also on Queen St is Red Door Bakery who make delicious meat pies, sausage rolls, tarts and pastries using local ingredients – very tasty! I highly recommend the Angus beef pie and creme brulee tart. As a dessert fiend, I personally think Elephant Walk, and Spat’s (as mentioned by someone else in a comment above), have fun atmospheres but have very mediocre food – I would suggest staying on for dessert at Sparrow, or having churros at Mesa Lunga. And if you have a sweet tooth, do pop into Au Matin Calme on Hutt St for delicious French pastries! Another great place to drink at night is at the Gallery rooftop bar on Waymouth St. I agree with other commenters about El Choto on Port Road for yummy coffee and Spanish goodies, and Swedish Tart at Semaphore. For breakfast, go to Tincat Cafe in Kent Town – they have local art on the walls for sale and a gorgeous little sun-filled courtyard out the back.

    I could go on for ever! Adelaide is rad :)

  • I love this wonderful tour of Adelaide! I was only there to visit for a few days, but found some amazing local shops and the people are so friendly. The botanical gardens are beautiful. And it’s so close to the amazing Kangaroo Island!

  • Who would have thought Adelaide would ever make it to design*sponge! I’m so exicited, I have lived in this little city for over 10 years and adore it! Great work!

  • So lovely to see Adelaide highlighted for what it is – and not what it isn’t! Such a great city with so much to offer – I’ve been here for 2 years and look forward to being here forever. What a shame the secret it out!

    Definitely worth including in your EAT section is The Mac Factory on Hutt Street. Not long opened and bringing innovative flavours to Adelaide in the form of brightly-hued macarons.

  • For vegan friendly and VERY yummy desserts, go to Eggless on Goodwood Road. Go early, there’s always a line up! http://www.eggless.com.au, while you’re in that neck of the woods, check out the vintage Capri theatre across the road, it is beautiful inside, very art deco! (I got married there.) OH and Patisserie Jin –
    241 Unley Road, Adelaide, awesome for the sweet tooth as well, more upmarket, sweets made by a lady who studied at Cordon Bleu..oooo. :)

  • I have to put my two cents in – I too was thrilled to see my home town featured on one of my most favourite websites! Melbourne Street is one of my favourite places and there’s so many options for a quiet Sunday brunch. The one I love the most though is Wild Thyme Organic – the bacon & scrambled eggs are the best and there’s even a shop in the back where you can buy all the ingredients you see on the menu! And don’t forget to visit our beautiful parklands – and if you’re here in the warmer part of the year, you have to go see a movie at the Moonlight Cinema! That’s all I have to say. Come visit Adelaide! It’s HEAPS GOOD!

  • Red Door Bakery in Croydon shifts the goal posts for bakeries in Adelaide. The owners Gareth and Emma are salt of the earth and always up for a chat.

  • I was also delighted to see an Adelaide guide. I live in the CBD, so plenty of time to check out the list! Alicia has done a great job. I second the other suggestions of Au Martin Calme (amazing french patisserie on Hutt St), Estia at Henley Square overlooking the sea (be sure to book in summer, but great location, atmosphere and food) and the Deli at Therbarton, which does amazing pizza, a cute courtyard like being in someone’s backyard (I had my 30th there recently). Some other suggestions: Henley Square is another great beach with a handful of good bars/restaurants/cafes and is better than Glenelg in my opinion. Also across the road from the Deli at Thebarton is the Wheatsheaf, which is a great pub with great atmosphere, artwork and huge range of boutique beers and wines. Some great pubs to drink at in the city are The Exeter or The Austral on the already mentioned Rundle Street and also the Crown and Sceptre (my local and favourite) on King William St on the south side of Victoria Square – great cocktails, cool pub, live music and Adelaide’s biggest back-bar. La Boheme on Grote Street is a cool bar for a drink, as is Dragonfly on Victoria Square. The Grace Emily on Waymouth St is a quirky pub full of vintage op-shop finds. For dessert, we love Sugarbowl, on Gouger St on the other side of Morphett St from Mesa Lunga for quirky-kitch Asian desserts.

    Finally, if you are visiting Adelaide, daytrips from the city that are well worthwhile are wine tours of the Barossa (Rockfords is a must) or McLaren Vale (I love Samuel’s Gorge and D’Argenbergs, who also have a great restaurant). I also made it to Kangaroo Island for the first time the other week – it is a bit of effort, but blew me away – well worth it!

  • Hey thanks Alicia!! this is brilliant.. and it even has us on it (Nest Studio) thanks for that…
    Adelaide it such a rich diverse little city… I love it. ssshh! we don’t want too many people to cotton on. I also love eating at The Organic Market in Stirling and buying a book across the way at Matilda’s Bookshop… ooh and Haighs chocolate on Greenhill Road


  • Many thanks Alicia for including for including “add character” on the shop list. We love being in Semaphore, there a beautiful beach, lots of individual shops and cafes and a great community. It’s great place to bring your dogs, best place for them to socialise!! Watching the sunset on the jetty is truly amazing.

  • So many good things come out of Adelaide!!! I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world…good to see you gave my sister Amelia’s shop (Danish Vintage Modern)a mention too Alicia!