By Marc Llewellyn
7.40am – A swim with the dolphins
It’s an early start for a trip to the beachside suburb of Glenelg and a journey out to sea in search of dolphins. You can either stay on board the 58-foot catamaran as the animals approach, or you can jump into the water to frolic alongside them.
“We’re the most successful wild dolphin cruise in the world,” says the owner of Temptation Sailing, Stephen Waites. “The reason I say that is because we’ve never gone out and not seen dolphins. In 15 years, operating every day, we always see them.”
On average people spend around 25 minutes in the water with the curious creatures, he says.
While the dolphins generally love playing around the boat and swimmers, the interaction is different on each cruise.
“It depends on the time of year, but people are in the water with an average of 43 bottlenose and common dolphins around them. It can be a lot more in November, when there can be a couple of hundred. They come very close to you, but you’re not allowed to touch.”
Swimmers wear wetsuits, facemasks and snorkels, and hold onto a floatation line while in the water.
Waites is so confident that you will see dolphins that he offers a full refund if you don’t.
Daily Swim with Dolphin cruises leave Glenelg Harbour at approximately 7.40am and return around 11.15am.
11.30am – Hit the shops
Time for some retail therapy, and there’s no better place to start than Adelaide’s famous Rundle Mall. This long pedestrianised shopping strip is strung with whimsical sculptures, including four life-size bronze pigs depicted in lively poses, greeting shoppers, raiding rubbish bins, and sniffing out a bargain.
Buskers add to the entertainment and the shopping strip has a real festive feel when there’s a festival on in the city.
There are flagship stores and boutiques to browse, and running off the mall are several arcades, including historic Adelaide Arcade, home to the must-have Haigh’s Chocolates (and several ghosts).
Design lovers should pop into the JamFactory shop at Rundle Mall Plaza where you can browse through the extensive range of hand crafted ceramics, glassware, jewellery and other collectables made by leading Australian artists and designers.
The JamFactory galleries on Morphett Street host astonishing exhibits of visual art and contemporary craft and design.
12.30 – Lunch at Adelaide Central Market
Since 1870, Adelaide Central Market has been at the epicentre of the food and lifestyle culture of South Australia.
It’s a vibrant, busy place filled with cafés, cheese shops, bakeries and patisseries, fruit and vegetable stalls, meat and seafood outlets, and dozens of artisan food producers selling everything from local olive oil to old-fashioned sweeties.
“It’s a real melting pot of cultures, with old Italian and Greek families being here for generations and new waves of immigrants setting up shop too,” says guide Mark Gleeson from Adelaide Central Market Tours.
Lunchtime options include long-time Adelaide favourite Lucia’s Pizza Bar, which serves up traditional pizzas, pastries and pastas.
Then there’s Sunmi’s Sushi for sushi and Korean noodle dishes, and Zed’s Café for great coffee, lemon tart, salads, soups and more.
There are plenty of other lunchtime eateries for a hearty lunch (or a fry up breakfast) too.
1pm – Art Attack
From café culture to art culture. You’ve only got time for one place, which is quite a shame. You really should stay longer next time.
In premier position on the art scene chart in Adelaide is the Art Gallery of South Australia, located on the cultural boulevard of Adelaide’s North Terrace. It was founded in 1881 and houses one of Australia’s best art collections.
There is plenty of influential Australian art from the time of European settlement to the present day, and an extensive assortment of Indigenous works, as well as European, Asian and Islamic art.
An alternative option is the University of South Australia’s Samstag Museum, which collects works from South Australian artists from the 1970s onwards. Also here is an important collection of Aboriginal bark paintings.
2pm – High time at the Adelaide Oval
A tour of the famous Adelaide Oval on non-playing days can be a highlight of your trip to South Australia’s capital, especially if you attempt the Roofclimb.
Yes, you can dress in a special suit with a safety harness and climb on to the roof during this two-hour experience that takes you 160 feet above the playing field.
You climb up and down ladders and multiple flights of stairs, and inch across metal grate walkways and bridges between stands.
Up top you can enjoy views of the city and the Adelaide Hills. You can even lean out over the goalposts, which is quite a thrill.
A quicker and less daunting option is a tour of the Oval itself. This takes you backstage to the changing rooms and warm up areas, inside the historic scoreboard, and out on to the pitch.
You don’t even have to be a football or cricket fan to enjoy it. You’ve just got to like history and atmosphere.
5pm – A drop of wine tasting
When you mention great Australian wine, Penfolds always comes to the tip of the tongue.
This legendary grape-wrangler has played a pivotal role in the evolution of winemaking in Australia since it was established in 1844, just eight years after the foundation of South Australia.
Luckily for you, the iconic Penfolds vineyards and its Magill Estate Cellar Door are just a 15-minute-drive from the centre of Adelaide.
It offers you the opportunity to taste some of South Australia’s finest wines.
Don’t worry, the cellar door closes at 6pm, so you have just enough time to sip and slurp, and pick up a few prize bottles too.
If you are in Adelaide for an extra morning you could join a 45-minute Magill Estate Heritage Tour and explore the buildings, see how the wines are made and stored, and enjoy a taste test.
Another morning option is the two-hour Ultimate Penfolds Experience. Delve deeper into the estate, plunge into the storage cellars, visit the original home of co-founders Dr Christopher and Mary Penfold, and savour some of the best wine that Penfolds has to offer.
6.30pm – Cocktail o’clock
Eight floors up atop an old bank building, the 2KW Bar and Restaurant has the perfect venue to relax in with a cocktail in hand.
Its Terrace Bar is a large outdoor space with panoramic views over the River Torrens, Parliament House, and the Adelaide Oval. It’s one of the best venues in Adelaide to watch the sun go down with an aperitif.
Having just the right zing is a Lofty Lookout cocktail, made from coconut washed rum, apricot brandy and lime. Meanwhile, the Stormy Like Summer is hot and spicy thanks to the chipotle infused tequila, with green capsicum, parley, lime and sugar.
As far as beers go, if Peroni or Asahi seem a bit old school, then why not sup on a glass of Prancing Pony Double Red Ale from South Australia, or Rogue Hazelnut Brown from the USA?
Feeling peckish? You could graze from the bar menu if you don’t want to wait until later. Maybe some Coffin Bay oysters, or McLaren Vale olives, or a plate of deep-fried whitebait and school prawns.
7.30pm – Dinner time
For a cool vibe try Africola in Adelaide’s East End, with its large fire pit spluttering with ‘bush meats’ like South African spiral sausages, wood roasted hearts, and peri-peri chicken.
Set yourself down on a barstool or in a sky-blue booth surrounded by vibrantly coloured walls and chill out to reggae and African-tunes as the cocktails keep shaking.
A $75-a-head ‘Let Us Feed You’ taste experience will give you a good insight into what South African chef Duncan Welgemoed is all about.
If you fancy Thai food with a contemporary twist instead, head to Golden Boy which is conveniently located just around the corner.
Head chef Prachaya ‘Palm’ Skolaree presents a sharing menu with the likes of salmon belly curry with pickled vegetables, and green papaya salad with salted crab dressing.
The menu can be tricky to navigate, so shout out ‘tuk’ if you don’t know your nam pla from your tom kha.
9.30pm – One (or several) more for the road
Adelaide’s laneway scene is making its mark on the map these days, with both vibrant Peel Street and al-fresco Leigh Street showing the way.
If you fancy dinner in one of these side-by-side alleyways, the choice is huge. Moroccan, Indian, Spanish, Mexican, Korean, Serbian … the list goes on.
But now it’s bar hopping time.
Start off standing around a wine barrel at the Clever Little Tailor on Peel Street. This popular little watering hole has great cocktails and exotic whiskeys.
Then head to Leigh Street for a special gin and tonic in Udaberri, a smooth and moody hole-in-the-wall tapas bar with music.
Can you handle another brew, or a wine or cocktail with a jug full of atmosphere? Then slip into Leigh Street’s Pink Moon Saloon, a funky wood-cabin chalet tucked in between two multi-storied buildings.
Don’t stop now. There are plenty more bars and eateries around here to make more than one night of it.
International carriers fly direct into Adelaide, including Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific and Malaysian Airlines. Virgin Australia and Qantas fly to Adelaide from all major Australian cities (flights from Sydney and Melbourne are under two hours).