Adelaide City Guide


Although Adelaide is best known for its churches, parks and wide boulevards, it has firmly established itself in recent history as one of Australia’s most eclectic and relaxed cultural destinations. It was one of the few colonies to be originally settled on unoccupied land and today the Indigenous Kaurna people of the region are a strong part of the city’s community.

Adelaide has more than 2000 heritage listed buildings in its inner metropolitan area and this certainly gives the place a character all of its own. With its grand sandstone buildings, elegant architecturally designed churches and low stone bungalow style houses with rambling gardens and shady porches to keep things cool during the sweltering summer months, it is cultured and refined yet still offers the feeling of being a big country town. As a planned colony for free settlers, more care was put into the design of the city than the penal colonies and as such its central grid structure surrounded by parklands, has been acclaimed as one of the great historical innovations in urban design. So much so that it was put on Australia’s National Heritage List in 2008. Wide streets are lined with towering gum trees, bird calls filter through the sounds of moderate traffic and the weather is much better than its neighbour to the east – Melbourne.

The city has more of its state’s population (1.7 million people) living in the metro area than any other Australian city (1.3 million people) and is relatively small with just 20 kilometres distance between the sea and the hills. However, it’s not all trees and churches, with Adelaide hosting major sporting and cultural events throughout the year, as well as a regular schedule of cricket and football, theatre and concerts. Adelaide has a fabulous variety of local music and of course excellent wine, with more than half of Australia’s total wine production coming out of South Australia alone. Adelaide has wonderful food from all corners of the globe and everyone is catered to – from hipsters to teenagers, families to fine dining. It’s also home to some of Australia’s best pub meals. Many of the state’s biggest cultural events are held every summer and millions flock to the city centre and the Botanic Gardens to experience them.


Adelaide is not the world’s 5th most livable city (according to The Economist) for nothing! It has an elegant charm and a relaxed attitude, with a Mediterranean style climate. It’s a great place for families and supports student life well. The eastern suburbs are a little more affluent while the southern suburbs cater well to a more middle class demographic and areas to the north west and west of the city have started to transform. Adelaide has an ideal neighborhood for you, whatever your stage of life.

Singles, Young People and Students

Adelaide is a great city for young people. There are 6 universities so the city attracts a lot of international students. There are also a number of private schools with live in boarders from regional South Australia and the Northern Territory. There is a lot of student accommodation in the CBD, from on campus living to hostel style residences and student village apartment complexes. The tendency for local students is to move into shared houses in budget friendly areas such as Brompton in the city’s north west or Westbourne Park in the south. Of course if study is the focus, living close to the university helps, so Port Adelaide and Henley Beach are ideal locations for those studying at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus for example.

Adelaide’s young professionals are a diverse bunch and they live where their lifestyle will be best served. Areas like Norwood and Kensington Park are fun and well serviced with great access to the nightlife in the city’s east end. Brompton attracts the cool arty crowd and has a strong shared house culture, while suburbs just outside the parklands surrounding the city, such as Mile End, Unley and Parkside, also have great appeal. With just a 20-minute commute from the city to the sea, Glenelg and Brighton in the south west and West Beach and Henley Beach to the city’s west, offer great lifestyle options courtesy of a beachside address.

Family Life

Adelaide’s country vibe is of great appeal to families wanting to have a place in a community and a sense of freedom for their kids, while not missing out on a little city action. Medindie and Walkerville in the north east are close to the city and well serviced by public transport. They also offer a wide range of housing options for new and growing families and are close to a number of excellent private schools. Just to the west of them is Prospect which offers the same advantages but at a slightly better price.

The city’s east is a hot spot for families and the suburbs of Norwood, Burnside and Kensington Gardens are particularly well suited. Tree-lined streets, great access to good schools and an abundance of parks and playgrounds, plus a short trip into the city for work or a little East End café culture make these areas perfect places to raise a family. The same applies to suburbs south of the city like Fullarton and Goodwood, but with a slightly cheaper cost of living. Of course the most idyllic Australian childhood is one spent at the beach and the city’s west and south west is well serviced by public transport to keep this dream alive. A beachside address may be out of some family budgets but suburbs like Glengowrie and North Brighton still offer great seaside access just a few blocks away from the esplanades of Glenelg and Brighton’s beaches. The same goes for Fulham Gardens around the Henley Beach and West Beach areas.



With the greatest number of older residents than any other Australian city, Adelaide is a playground for the over 65s. Thriving communities exist for the active retiree and most areas offer a decent lifestyle for those with limited mobility and daily care needs. The city’s great public bus network offers ideal transport solutions for the elderly and local shopping precincts mean a level of independence is possible. Active retirees can enjoy a great lifestyle in the south east between Hazelwood Park and Glen Osmond, with easy access to the hills and bushland for walking and bike rides, or in Novar Gardens and Morphettville with great sea air and a village lifestyle. Burnside is also a popular spot for retirees and of course the cashed up baby boomers are now enjoying city life in elegant terrace houses in North Adelaide and Burnside, or newly built modern apartments in the heart of the CBD. Inner metropolitan suburbs popular with families, such as Prospect, Kensington Park, Fullarton and Goodwood also have decent aged care facilities and offer the advantage of strong communities for isolated residents.

First Time Buyers

If you want to get into the property market for the first time, Adelaide is a great place to start. Inner metropolitan areas like Hilton and Richmond are just a few kilometres from the city but in pockets that until recently saw little action. New developments in these areas mean they are undergoing somewhat of a transformation so buyers will get a good price and a great return in coming years. Excited first time buyers with cash to spare may like Norwood and this will always be a profitable choice. The Parade is a highlight of the area and properties nearby are always an easy sell. Similarly, Brompton has the funky inner city vibe and some decent period style houses with renovation potential, plus a slightly better price point.

For those who want a home by the sea but lack the budget needed to buy in Glenelg or Brighton, Henley Beach has the beauty and benefits of a beachside location though without the the prestige of the south west beach suburbs. A little further out, the areas around Woodville and Mawson Lakes offer a wide range of brand new or low maintenance existing properties that offer good rental returns for the first time investor and are still under 20 minutes from the city.

Best Investment Areas

The buzz of late for good investments has been around Hilton, just 4 kilometres west of the city centre. Offering affordable properties within an area currently being developed means that value is added quickly and returns in the next few years are expected to be favourable. City edge suburbs like Parkville, Norwood and Prospect Park are always a good investment. Beautiful neighborhoods and natural surroundings, character filled homes and such convenient access to the city makes them evergreen in their appeal to buyers, assuming their initial purchase price is in your budget. Mawson Lakes is a relatively new suburb and has great facilities for families as well as a reasonable cost of living thanks to the student population who attend the local UniSA Mawson Lakes campus. Investment options are diverse with apartment complexes and 2 or 3 bedroom houses. Though only 20 minutes or so from the city, the development of the area of late has boosted its services and facilities and it has become a hub of its own.


  • Adelaide was originally inhabited by the Kaurna Indigenous people but was settled in 1836 as one of Australia’s first colonies for free settlers.
  • In 2015 Adelaide was ranked at number 5 on The Economist’s ‘World’s Most Liveable Cities’ list.
  • Adelaide was recommended by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2014.
  • The population of South Australia is around 1.7 million people and the majority of them (1.3 million) live in Adelaide itself, despite having almost 1 million square kilometres to choose from!
  • Adelaide boasts the greatest population of older Australians than any other city with almost 16% of its residents aged 65 or over.
  • The city of Adelaide was named after Queen Adelaide, the wife of England’s King William IV who was reigning monarch at the time the colony was settled.
  • Esteemed British Surveyor Colonel William Light designed the city structure as it is today – a central grid surrounded by parklands. The original intention was that the parklands would act as a border for the metro area and increase the land value in its centre.
  • Modern Adelaide is still fringed by these parklands - almost 700 hectares of parks and gardens which are used for sport and leisure activities by Adelaideans.
  • Adelaide was the first place in Australia to be connected by telegraph to London. Previously, correspondence travelled by sea over many months, but in August 1872 the first telegraph message was sent by the telegraph project coordinator, Mr Charles Todd.
  • The Holy Trinity Anglican Church was built in 1838 and is the oldest in Adelaide. The claim that Adelaide is the ‘city of churches’ is a myth as both Sydney and Melbourne have more churches than Adelaide.
  • The River Torrens runs through Adelaide city and its level is controlled by a weir upstream that ensures there is always enough water for boats and rowers.
  • Adelaide city contains over 2000 heritage listed buildings and as a result the whole city is on Australia’s National Heritage list, acknowledging it as a place of historic significance.
  • There are six university campuses in Adelaide and more than 30,000 students in and around the city from all corners of the world.
  • Adelaide is sometimes referred to as ‘the 20-minute city’ because it’s said you can get from where you are to where you want to be in under 20 minutes. This is reasonable given that it’s just 11 kilometres to the airport, 10 kilometres to Glenelg Beach and 6 kilometres to the nearby foothills.
  • The oldest glasshouses in the southern hemisphere are in Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens and are a great place to cool off in the summer.
  • Coober Pedy is a mining community in remote South Australia, famous for opals, making Adelaide the opal capital of Australia with plenty of retailers in Rundle Mall eager to sell you a sparkling gem.
  • Australia’s largest exhibition of Aboriginal cultural items is in Adelaide at the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Tandanya.
  • The city was founded in 1836 so an obvious name for the city’s national basketball team would be the Adelaide 36ers, right!
  • One of the world’s most famous cricketers, Australian Sir Donald Bradman, lived in Adelaide until his death in 2001. He was considered the greatest batsman of all time.
  • Adelaide has long been a supporter of women’s rights – South Australia was the 2nd place in the world where women were granted the right to vote and the first parliament in the world to allow women to run for a seat.


As a reflection of its gentile beginnings, Adelaide’s local attractions are refined and cultured. The North Terrace cultural precinct is home to the State Library, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Migration Museum and the Museum of South Australia. Also nearby are the stunning Adelaide Botanic Gardens including the oldest and largest glasshouses in the southern hemisphere and the Adelaide Zoo which never disappoints. For a step even further back in time you can learn about Australian Indigenous culture with a visit to Tandanya Cultural Institute to see ancient artifacts and contemporary works from the nation’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Foodies delight in a trip to Adelaide and every taste is catered for. Adelaide is famous for its elegant gastro pubs, with craft beer on tap and restaurant quality counter meals. Contemporary Australian restaurants line the bustling Rundle street and open air dining is a taste of life the way it should be lived. A visit to the Central Markets is a must on any trip to the city to lose yourself in some of the state’s best and freshest produce. While there, pop around the corner to Chinatown for some delicious Asian food and authentic supplies. Adelaide is of course the launching point for exploring the state’s magnificent wine regions and a trip to the National Wine Centre is an insightful way to plan your itinerary.


Adelaideans love the great outdoors and a day spent at Glenelg beach can only be topped by a ticket to Adelaide Oval to enjoy the football or the cricket. If neither of those suit there are almost 700 hectares of city parkland to explore. Hire a bike - feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Summer is the best time to visit Adelaide with its events calendar crammed and visitors everywhere flooding in to partake in the fun. The Adelaide Festival, the Adelaide Fringe, WOMAD world music festival and the Adelaide Writer’s festival attract some of the world’s greatest artists, musicians, comedians, dancers, writers, singers, poets, and more. Strangely the annual V8 supercars event is also held around the same time, sometimes drowning out the sound of some of the arts festival’s less turbo charged performances.

Adelaide city is always a hive of activity. Student life is vibrant and engaging and you can’t help but notice as you walk through the city that there really are young people everywhere. The city transforms in the summer with music and laughter and the vibe throughout the year is mostly relaxed. Even at the most sophisticated event there is still an air of casual elegance and a feeling of freedom.


Adelaide has the most people travelling to work by car than any other city (85%) and this may be because its main form of public transport is bus. Adelaide Metro operates the public transport system and the bus fleet includes a number of natural gas powered buses. There is also the O-Bahn guided bus route and the light rail system, but the train system is quite underdeveloped and underused compared to other Australian cities and plans are underway to improve the existing public transport system. Adelaide has one major airport that services international and domestic flights. It’s conveniently just 11 kilometres from the centre of town and has been redeveloped in the last decade, making it well equipped to service millions of passengers every year. One of Adelaide’s major transport attractions is the Ghan Railway that connects Adelaide in the south of Australia to Alice Springs in the centre and Darwin in the north. It’s one of the world’s most magnificent journeys through the middle of the country and tourists travel from all over the globe to experience it. Adelaide also connects with Perth to the west and Sydney and Melbourne to the east by train, making it Australia’s most centrally located capital city! Adelaide’s structured city plan offers easy navigation, plenty of room for bikes, skateboards, jugglers and pedestrians and a patch of grass is never far away for a rest in the sun or the shade if need be!


Adelaide is one of the nation’s ‘most Australian’ cities. The beach and the hills are at your doorstep and the heritage architecture connects you immediately with the nation’s beginnings; as does the smell of gum trees right in the heart of the city. It has just the right amount of multicultural flavor and the locals are warm and engaging, friendly and relaxed. Life moves at a different pace here and after just a few hours in the city you’ll easily slip into holiday mode. If you want a little more action, you need only stroll down Rundle Street. Though after a couple of cold South Australian beers or a bottle of local Riesling on a balcony at sunset, action may be the last thing on your mind.