Adelaide’s walkable streets and proximity to world-class wine regions and idyllic coastal hideaways make it a winner for an epic city break. We asked three Qantas travel writers to share their favourite things about the South Australian capital and they came up with the goods, sharing the eclectic new hotels and the best rooftop bars to try out, as well as where to swim with dolphins just 20 minutes out of the city. 

“Take a seat on the terrace and throw back a Lyre’s Negroni…” – Dilvin Yasa 

rooftop bar 2kw adelaide

“Daytime drinking gets a welcome reboot at 2KW Bar & Restaurant, a rooftop wonderland heaving with CBD workers making light work of an inventive cocktail menu (there’s even a selection of alcohol-free tipples to choose from). Take a seat on the terrace and throw back a Lyre’s Negroni (a non-alcoholic version of the classic starring Lyre's Dry London Spirit, Lyre's Vermouth Rosso, and Lyre's Italian Orange) but save room for some small bites. I never leave without ordering executive chef Sam Christopher’s joyful pavlova with yuzu curd. 

Discover all that Adelaide has to offer with the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card. Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply online by 28 May 2024, are approved, and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new Qantas American Express Ultimate Card within the first 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply. Available for new American Express Card Members only.

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“As night falls, Fishbank, an upscale seafood restaurant housed in a former bank that’s as committed to its fin-to-scale approach as it is to its Art Deco decor, comes alive. Happily, it’s located directly downstairs from 2KW. The raw bar will keep you distracted while you’re waiting for your onyx squid ink risotto, served with tender grilled squid and rocket, plus a little 'nduja for a hint of spice. Extra points for the fish-themed drinks menu including the effervescent Fishface Fizz – Fishbank limoncello, prosecco and soda perfected with sea seat and lemon myrtle – is the ultimate in refreshment. 

Mega Climb’s 70-plus obstacle challenges, three-person giant swing and 20-metre vertical drop thrills kids of all ages. Make the most of its West Beach location (15 minutes from the CBD) by packing a bag full of snacks and drinks or order sweet treats and coffee from the onsite cafe. 

“The compact nature of Adelaide sees Illuminate – a festival uniting the best in art, music and technology – set the whole city aglow with lights and immersive installations each July. Mirror Mirror and Architects of Air: Arborialis were the firm favourites of 2023’s iteration, landing the event a Gold Medal at the 2023 South Australia Tourism Awards. I’m eagerly awaiting the 2024 program to see how it tops the previous year.

“Old-school elegance is the name of the game at Mayfair Hotel, a 170-suite property with a heritage-listed facade in Adelaide’s CBD. Aim for a King Suite (they come with generous bathtubs that beg for a soak after visiting the Hennessy Rooftop Bar) and pre-book the popular High Tea at Mayflower Restaurant – highlights include Spencer Gulf prawn cocktail eclairs with black caviar, and Old English pork and sage sausage rolls with toasted fennel seeds.”

TIP: Earn Qantas Points for your next trip each time you tap or pay online. With the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card you’ll earn up to 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on everyday purchases¹. Learn more.

“Varietals including fiano and touriga taste even better with a cooling ocean breeze” – Alexis Buxton-Collins 

parwana restaurant interior adelaide

“Though it’s surrounded by award-winning wine regions, Adelaide’s buzzy hospitality scene is just as much of a culinary destination to travel for. Few restaurants are more beloved than family-run Parwana in the city’s west. Locals rejoiced when the Ayubi family released a cookbook of their Afghan comfort food recipes, but no home cook can replicate their version of the deliciously messy banjaan borani (a slow-cooked stew of eggplant, tomato and garlic yoghurt).

“If you want to sample Adelaide’s nightlife, warm up at the bars on Peel and Leigh Streets before heading to Jive, a 300-person music venue that has hosted up-and-coming artists like Kita Alexander and Budjerah alongside international acts for 20 years. Even original New York disco outfit Chic has played there! Dance up a storm in front of the stage or watch from a distance on the wraparound balcony.

TIP: Explore Adelaide and beyond with the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card and receive a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year to use for eligible international or domestic Qantas flights when booking through American Express Travel Online². The Card has an annual fee of $450. Learn more.

rapid bay boat ocean adelaide

“The recently launched Alba has a sense of space that’s rare in city hotels, with private balconies adding to the expansive feel of each room. There’s a breezy vibe to the ground-floor Ela Restaurant and outdoor pool but walk out the front and you’re immediately in the broad green belt of the Adelaide Park Lands, where rainbow lorikeets and crimson rosellas serenade evening walkers.

“I love the 45-minute drive down to McLaren Vale, where wineries such as Coriole and S.C. Pannell make the most of the Mediterranean climate. The juicy alternative varietals grown here, including fiano and touriga, taste even better with a cooling ocean breeze ruffling the lush vines beside the cellar door. 

“Sandy coves ringed by limestone cliffs alternate with broad rolling hills as you continue south to the wide natural harbour at Rapid Bay. You could spend an entire day snorkelling alongside  schools of striped old wives, translucent squid and goofy pufferfish that swim through colourful underwater gardens of coral growing on the old jetty pylons. Join a scuba expedition with The Dive Shack and you might spot some elaborately frilled leafy sea dragons hiding on the seafloor.

“Back up the coast in Port Adelaide, stroll among vast brick warehouses and woolstores plastered with giant murals before stopping for a pint at Pirate Life Brewing. In addition to 24 taps pouring everything from classic Euro lagers to funky sours and milkshake IPAs, there’s a kitchen turning out wood-grilled squid with chorizo, and salmon sashimi with ponzu. There’s even a range of Pirate Life merch and a children’s play area in the sprawling beer garden.” 

TIP: Take off to Adelaide with the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card and receive two complimentary Qantas Club Lounge invitations each year after your first Card spend on selected Qantas products and services³ and two Amex Centurion® Lounge passes to use at Sydney or Melbourne International Airport⁴. Learn more.

winery amex card adelaide

$450 Qantas Travel Credit²

“Slip through the blue door to find yourself in the epitome of cosiness.” – Lara Picone 

hotel indigo rooftop bar adelaide

Hotel Indigo is Adelaide’s quirky personality rendered in bricks and mortar. Unexpected, colourful, food-obsessed and entirely welcoming, this 145-room hotel in the Market Precinct is inspired by its city’s heritage roots. The rooftop bar, Merrymaker, is one of the best stops for aperitivo hour, offering views across the city skyline and beyond.

“Ablaze with confident colour and bold flavours, Africola hit the city with its joyful food to great acclaim when it opened back in 2014. Since then, this African-inspired diner has won hats and weathered the pandemic to remain at the pinnacle of the city’s must-eat list with a bold menu that wins hearts – particularly the cult crispy chicken tea sandwich – the chicken’s skin cooked to a perfectly golden crisp – with peri peri drippings. 

“Nestled into the city’s well-watered Leigh Street is the diminutive Pink Moon Saloon. This hideaway bar feels part mountain shack and part ski chalet with its pitched roof and wooden facade squeezed between buildings. Slip through the blue door to find yourself in the epitome of cosiness. Sipping on whisky is apt here.

TIP: Enjoy South Australia’s hidden surprises with the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card. You’ll receive a complimentary Qantas Wine Premium Membership, plus you’ll earn 3 Qantas Points per dollar spent on all Qantas Wine purchases.⁵ Learn More

"Adelaide may not be the first place you’d expect to swim with wild dolphins but climb aboard with Temptation Sailing and you’ll be paddling alongside these playful mammals just 20 minutes from the city in Glenelg. Guided by marine biologists, you’ll learn about these captivating creatures in their natural habitat.

“Since 1869, Adelaide Central Market has decked the stalls with all manner of culinary delights, including freshly plucked fruit and veg. More than a shopping expedition, this iconic Adelaide community market is a degustation on foot. Don’t leave without a perfectly flaky croissant from Les Deux Coqs and make time for a chargrilled octopus and crisp white wine at SiSea’s blue-tiled bar.

“Just 20 minutes’ drive from the city is undulating Adelaide Hills and Hahndorf Village, which is ideal for a stroll, a quick bite and perusing Walden’s General Store for haute-outdoorsy needs, such as Pendleton blankets and a canvas log-carrier. Afterwards, sip pristine Sav Blanc at Shaw + Smith or a peach-hued Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay from Petaluma.”

Now’s the time to visit Adelaide. Experience all that the bustling city has to offer with the Qantas American Express Ultimate Card. Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply online by 28 May 2024, are approved, and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new Qantas American Express Ultimate Card within the first 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply. Available for new American Express Card Members only.

Plus, receive a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year to use for eligible international or domestic Qantas flights when booking through American Express Travel Online².  
The Card has an annual fee of $450. Learn more.

Getting there

Fly Qantas Sydney to Adelaide Economy return for two people for 48,000 Qantas Points plus AUD $196 taxes, fees and carrier charges^.

The Card offer, benefits and features mentioned throughout are subject to Exclusions, Terms and Conditions. Click here to learn more.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Insiders’ Guide to London’s Coolest Spots

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The information on this webpage is factual and of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. 

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*Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online by 28 May 2024, are approved, and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months from the Card approval date. This offer is only available to new American Express Card Members. If you are an existing David Jones Card Member and don’t hold or have not held any other American Express Card(s) in the past 18 months, you will be eligible for the offer. All other Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the past 18 months are ineligible for this offer. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Qantas Points are earned in accordance with and subject to the Qantas American Express Card Points Terms and Conditions. 60,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member’s account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Qantas Frequent Flyer membership and the earning and redemption of points are subject to the Terms and Conditions of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program available at qantas.com/terms. The Qantas American Express Ultimate Card has an annual Card fee of $450. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.

^Qantas Points and taxes, fees and carrier charges quoted for Classic Flight Rewards are accurate as at 1 April 2024 and are subject to change. Classic Flight Rewards are subject to capacity controls, availability is limited and some flights may not have any Classic Flight Rewards available. Taxes, fees and carrier charges are payable to Qantas (excluding any amounts payable to third parties at the airport) in addition to the points required. For more information, visit qantas.com/classicflightrewards.

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