Adelaide Instead of Sydney

Kangaroo Island’s Pennington Bay.Photo: Milton Wordley/Getty Images

Like its eastern cousin Sydney, Adelaide has eclectic cuisine, idyllic beaches, Shiraz wineries, and kangaroo-spotting galore—but with a fraction of the tourists and for a whole lot cheaper. Among Adelaide’s array of standout locavore restaurants is the newly opened Peel Street (9 Peel St.; 8231-8887)—whose mulloway-fish pasty (one of the few recurring dishes on the ever-changing Middle Eastern–Asian–Greek–inspired menu) is sourced straight from the Murray River. At the French-style Bistro Dom (Shop No. 1, 24 Waymouth St.; 8231-7000), the owners do their own fermenting, cure their own meats, and forage for ingredients in the Adelaide foothills. Now that recently revised liquor laws have made it easier for small venues to obtain licenses, the city has seen a boom in boutique bars. Once known as a city of serial killers and churches, Adelaide is now jokingly referred to as Australia’s answer to Portland. (Adelaindia?)

Population: 1.2 million
Distance from Sydney: Two-hour flight
Where to stay: $: Annie’s Place (from $75;, a hostel in a renovated nineteenth-century house, is close to all the main nightlife hubs. $$: Near the city’s hip East End, Clarion Hotel Soho (from $149; has a heated rooftop pool, plus elegant touches like Missoni cushions, organic Australian bath products, and even a signature “Sohotini” cocktail. $$$: The luxury boutique hotel Fire Station Inn (from $245; is set inside the city’s first fire station.

Make a Day of It
Sydney’s excursions have nothing on these side trips.

Sightsee in the Outback
A scenic 260-mile drive north of Adelaide (or a quick 45-minute flight) takes you to Wilpena Pound, an 800-million-year-old natural amphitheater flanked by wildflowers in the Flinders Ranges. Stay overnight at the Wilpena Pound Resort (Flinders Ranges National Park., nr. Wilpena Rd.; 8648-0048), which is set to unveil a brand-new “glamping” site in December, allowing you to sleep among River Red gum trees and yellow-footed rock wallabies in a luxury tent complete with plush linen, fancy bathrooms, and a “bush butler” (from $340 per couple, including dinner and breakfast).

Eat your way through the Barossa Valley
The Barossa Valley, a 45-minute drive from Adelaide, is Australia’s wine capital, which doubles as a food mecca. Sample the 40 or so vendors at the Barossa farmers’ market (Nuriootpa and Stockwell Rds., Angaston;, or learn how to make carpaccio at the Italian-cooking school Casa Carboni ($185 a class; 67 Murray St., Angaston; 415-157-669). Sip rosé and Shiraz at the Turkey Flat vineyard’s tasting room (Bethany Rd., Tanunda; 8563-2851), followed by a feast at FermentAsian, helmed by Vietnam-born chef Tuoi Do (90 Murray St., Tanunda; 8563-0765).

Lunch by the beach
Set below stunning multicolored cliffs, Maslin Beach, less than an hour’s drive from the city, became Australia’s first official nudist beach in the seventies and continues to draw a diverse crowd. For a more modest dip, head about 30 miles from Adelaide to Port Willunga’s sparkling blue sea and historic shipwreck remains. Stop for lunch at Russell’s Pizza (13 High St., Willunga; 8556-2571), where you can pair your own bottle of wine with giant pies topped with gourmet Turkish-style slow-cooked lamb, pickled lime, or South Australian king prawns (from $25 per pie).

Safari on Kangaroo Island
Take a 45-minute ferry from Cape Jervis (located 90 minutes from the city;, and embark on a day tour of the island’s south coast ($345) with lifelong resident Deidre Morrison’s Kangaroo Island Designer Tours (3-5 Rawson St., Kangaroo Island; 8553-0088). In addition to kangaroos, the spot is hopping with koalas, wallabies, ringtail possums, and sea lions. Before heading back, hit South Australia’s only eucalyptus distillery at Emu Ridge (Willsons Rd., Macgillivray; 8553-8228), where you can pet baby animals at the on-site orphanage.

Specialty-Cocktail Crawl
Award-winning local bartender Shaun Pattinson picks his favorite tipples at the city’s buzziest drink spots.

The Drink:
The Break Fast Fizz, served in a Champagne coupe and incorporating Tasmanian butter vodka, lemon, coconut nectar, and South Australian white wine.

The Spot:
The United Nations of bars, Casablabla (12 Leigh St.; 8231-3939) offers drinks ranging from sangria to local beer; multicultural cuisine including tapas, paella, and gourmet pizza; and a steady rotation of bands.

The Drink:
The Grapple Cooler, a mix of house limoncello and strawberry purée.

The Spot:
The lounge-y Loft Oyster and Wine Bar (1/128 Gouger St.; 8211-8887) is popular with the pre- and post-dinner crowds. A row of ceramic deer heads adorns the wall.

The Drink:
Home-bottled punch made with bourbon and peppercorn-infused curdled milk.

The Spot:
Four Doors Plus One (155 Hindley St.; 7225-1513), is a funky gem on the city’s sleazy party strip where the drinks are quality and the service is fast.

Adelaide Instead of Sydney