48 Hours In: Adelaide, Australia

Escape the British winter in the restaurant capital of Australia. There's also plenty of culture to feast on, says Frank Partridge


WHY GO NOW?

As Britain descends into winter, Adelaide is going in the other direction, with balmy temperatures and lengthening days. One of Australia's best-kept secrets is that this once sleepy city has transformed itself in the past decade into a centre of style, sport, culture and wine. From 21-30 October, the city hosts the biennial Tasting Australia festival of food, wine and beer.

TOUCH DOWN

There are no direct scheduled flights to Adelaide from the UK. Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines offer one-stop connections via their hub cities to Adelaide. Alternatively, fly to Perth, Melbourne or Sydney and take a connecting flight on an airline such as Virgin Blue (00 61 13 67 89; virginblue.com.au). Emirates (0870 243 2222; www.emirates.com) offers these destinations via Dubai from Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

Adelaide's shiny new airport terminal opens this month. There are no trains to the city, but plenty of buses. The Jetbus service, J1, should get you to the city centre (15km away) in about 20 minutes, for a single fare of A$3.50 (£1.60), terminating at Grenfell Street (1). Here it links with the city's two free buses (the red City Loop and the blue Bee Line) that serve the city centre. The privately owned Skylink shuttle service is more expensive (A$7.50/ £3.40), but drops off at the main hotels. A taxi is around A$17 (£7.60).

GET YOUR BEARINGS

Adelaide was planned in the 1830s around two grid systems on either side of the River Torrens. The southern grid contains the Central Business District (CBD), and is linked to residential North Adelaide by three road bridges and a footbridge. Between the two are wide green parklands, eye-catching public buildings and sports grounds.

The two main tourist offices are handily central: the South Australia Travel Centre (2) at 18 King William Street ( www.adelaide. southaustralia.com) has information about both the city and the state, and opens 10am-5pm daily. The Visitor Information Centre (3) at the west end of Rundle Mall (00 61 8 8203 7611) is more city-orientated and opens 10am-5pm Monday-Thursday, 10am-8pm Friday, 10am-3pm Sat and 11am-4pm Sun.

CHECK IN

One minute from Adelaide's central Victoria Square, the historic Treasury building (4) is enjoying a renaissance as a smart apartment complex. The Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury (2 Flinders St; 00 61 8 8112 0000; www.medinaapartments.com.au) has 80 serviced apartments. Prices start at an inexpensive A$175 (£79) per night, including breakfast. In many ways, the revamped Hotel Richmond (5) at 128 Rundle Mall (00 61 8 8223 4044;) epitomises Adelaide's advance. Every room has a king-size bed plus quality facilities at the mid-range price of A$160 (£72), breakfast included. For the budget-conscious, the Mercure Grosvenor (6), at 125 North Terrace (00 61 8 8407 8888; www.mercure.com), offers a standard double room with breakfast at A$144 (£65), but also has an "economy area" with all the basics for A$113 (£51).

TAKE A HIKE

Pay homage to the man who designed the city in the 1830s with health and leisure in mind, by walking to the hillock in North Adelaide where Colonel William Light's statue surveys the scene. Start at Victoria Drive, crossing the river by the University footbridge (7). Turn left up War Memorial Drive and cross King William Road into Pennington Gardens, with the lovely Adelaide Oval cricket ground (8) to your left and the twin spires of the cathedral (9) to your right. You reach the memorial, known as Light's Lookout (10) at the north-west corner of the small park.

LUNCH ON THE RUN

In the Central Market (11), Lucia's Pizza Bar (2 Western Mall) is reputed to serve the best coffee in town. Note that it's closed on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. There are several attractive cafés and restaurants tucked away behind the cultural buildings lining North Terrace: at the Art Gallery of South Australia (12) café, munch your lunch amid some of the best sculptures and paintings in the house.

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

Take your pick from the array of galleries, libraries and museums on or near North Terrace. The Migration Museum (13) at 82 Kintore Avenue (00 61 8 8207 7580; www.history.sa.gov.au) charts the history of Australia through the eyes of the people who came to live in it - from the Aborigines, who thought the first Europeans would soon go away, to the modern tide of people in search of a better life. "Adelaide no more good since the white man came" , is the recorded lament of one Aborigine. The museum opens 10am-5pm Monday-Friday, and 1-5pm at weekends.

WINDOW SHOPPING

Nearly all the produce at Adelaide's massive Central Market (11), comes from within 100km of the city. For designer clothes, shoes, specs and gifts, King William Road, Hyde Park (14) vies with Melbourne Street (15) across the river to provide the better range of boutiques and pretty shops.

AN APERITIF

Inside Hotel Richmond (5) at 128 Rundle Mall (00 61 8 8223 4044), the bar known simply as First is an ideal early evening people-watching venue. At 118 Hindley Street, The Apothecary (16) is done out like an upmarket Victorian chemists - which is what it was when it opened for business in 1878. Tasty tapas complement a fine wine list.

DINNER WITH THE LOCALS

Adelaide is the self-styled "restaurant capital of Australia", and the strip of eating places along Gouger Street (17) is the obvious place to put this claim to the test. Almost every Asian country is represented somewhere along the street. Ying Chow at number 114 offers cheap and cheerful Chinese fare. For something more Australian, try Red Ochre (18), in a superb riverside location on War Memorial Drive (00 61 8 8211 8555); the menu includes kangaroo dressed with native berry sauces. At 170 Hutt Street, Goodlife Modern Organic Pizza (19) (00 61 8 8223 2618) transforms the doughy disc into a wonderfully indulgent experience. The Waldorf, for example, has toppings of butternut, pear and walnuts.

SUNDAY MORNING: GO TO CHURCH

St Peter's Cathedral (9) is exquisite. The twin-spired structure was designed in England, and includes paintings and stained glass depicting the history of the Anglican Church in South Australia. Sunday services at 8am and 10am.

OUT TO BRUNCH

A short walk from the cathedral, in well-heeled North Adelaide, The Store (15) at 157 Melbourne Street (00 61 8 8361 6999) is a must. Linked to a gourmet deli, it creates nutritious yet sinfully indulgent muesli combinations. In the equally trendy Hyde Park area, Melt (20) (160 King William Rd; 00 61 8 8272 8186) does imaginative pizzas.

A WALK IN THE PARK

In a city of open spaces, you're spoilt for choice, but the Botanical Gardens (21) at the eastern end of North Terrace are truly outstanding. Among several hectares of unfamiliar flora and fauna are one of Australia's oldest glasshouses and the futuristic Bicentennial Conservatory, housing a tropical rainforest. Open every day until sunset; admission free.

ICING ON THE CAKE

The Bradman Collection, bequeathed by the family of the greatest batsman in history, is housed in the Institute Building on North Terrace (22). Imaginative displays, battered brown bats and interactive scrapbooks show how the Don's sporting prowess spearheaded Australia's coming of age in the inter-war years. Open Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5pm, admission is free.

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