Adelaide has a bit of a small-city vibe, is nice and relaxed with a lot of parks, old (by Australian standards) and lovely buildings, and in autumn the streets and parks are filled with beautifully red-orange plane trees preparing for winter. It has a lot of students in the central city area and so you can find cheap places and artsy spaces around the city, and there is a lot of awesome street art on buildings and in lane ways. It cannot really be said from Adelaide that it is a alternative city such as Melbourne, but it is more a place where families come to settle down to have a nice peaceful life.
Getting lost in Adelaide is quite difficult as it was build to be a functional city, with very squared streets and axes, and is very car-oriented. The city-center has three mains streets which is actually one big street cut by two main axes. The first is Hindley Street that could also be called Drinking Street as it is the main drunkenness area of the city; the second is Rundle Mall, a pedestrian shopping area; and the third is Rundle Street, a mixture of pubs and restaurants. Once further away from these streets, especially at night, there is much less activity in the city center. Four "terraces"-streets, North, West, South and East/Hutt Street and parks are separating the city-center from the suburbs.
North Adelaide is a nice suburb as well with some bars and restaurant, although more poshy richy bitchy. A clear sign of this is to look where the golf courses are located ;)
Adelaide Metro is in charge of the public transportation in Adelaide, mainly one tramway from the North-West of Adelaide to the sea in Glenelg (more than 30min in total), suburbans trains and all buses. By bus you can reach almost any place in the city, but it might take time as some buses don't drive often. Fares are pretty strange, as there is peak and interpeak prices, 2-section prices or unlimited transfers and with or without the electronic Metrocard. Peak is before 9:01am and after 3:00pm and all Saturday, and interpeak is between 9:01 and 3:00 and all Sunday. 2-section mean you are only allowed to travel between 2 stops, so you might just better walk.
- 3-days unlimited travel: everything included for AU$25
- Daytrip until 4:30am: everything included for AU$9,70
- With Metrocard: costs AU$5 to buy + you have $5 on it, so $10 in total. Then it costs $3,39 in peak and $1,86 interpeak. You need to recharge in special places but easy to find, ask people where.
- Single ticket: costs $5,10 peak and $3,20 interpeak.
- With 2-section Metrocard: $1,84 peak, $1,42 interpeak.
- Single 2-section ticket: $3,10 peak, $2,30 interpeak.
Now, blackriding in the tram is easy. Sometimes ticket inspectors come in the tram, just ask out loud if everybody has a ticket and that's it. Buses are a bit more difficult as they really check when you come in, but you might want to give it a shot. No infos for trains but shouldn't be impossible.
Biking and longboarding
Adelaide is a flat city so biking and longboarding are pretty cool. The Bike Kitchen is a bicycle workshop you can visit to fix your wheels up, or you can rent bicycles from the city for free here and take yourself around. There is a big old playground at St Kilda, and beaches to ride along if you want to make a day of it (you need to bring your passport to hire them).
Adelaide is very spread out but within an hour you can easily reach any part of the city center and the first suburbs. However, there are not many beautiful things to see in the classic straight and squared-organized streets.
Hitchwiki has (all) the info you need.
- The Sunny's backpackers is a nice option, they are pretty relaxed and willing to help, and if you stay a week you get a day offered.
- Adelaide Travellers Inn is a cheap option, although you shouldn't expect too much confort, cleanliness and kindness. But of course this depends on the person in charge at that time!
Adelaide is surrounded by parks, but not all are very nice. Avoid the parks of South and West Terrace and prefer East Terrace. But your best choice will probably be North Terrace after having crossed River Torrens as it is further away from big roads and you will have more chances of a better spot. Coming from the city center, you might have a slightly better chance to find a place to sleep if turning right after having crossed the river and following the pedestrian path. But if you feel the left option better, go for it. This needs to be confirmed! Police can be a bit touchy in Adelaide so be careful not to be seen.
University of Adelaide is right on North Terrace with the Hub as a central point. It is opened 24/24 except on Sat/Sun when it closes at 10pm. At night you need a student card to come in, but just wait that someones swipes his card and follow his steps. Sleeping in the Hub or anywhere on the University field is not really an option as there are security agents patrolling all night. And they will wake you up, even if you are sleeping on the keyboard of your computer. At night it is not such of an option as the security is making student card checks pretty often. It can be just a quick rest if it is cold outside. But during the day it is a nice place to chill and take a nap without being bothered as there are plenty of couches, a Playstation, boiling water from the tap, and so on. With a bit of motivation, there are plenty of students you can meet and talk to to find a place to stay for the following night.
The Hub of the University of Adelaide has a shower in one of the toilets of the main floor. Try to keep it discrete as there are security agents, even though it is not very difficult not to be too nocticed ;)
Magazine gallery/studio/cafe serves an absolutely delicious Chocolate Marmalade Tea which this hitchhiker would consider coming back from Melbourne for another cup of at this moment..
- The Central Market is opened everyday except Sunday and Monday to get better quality and cheaper products than the supermarket. The super great deal is to go there before the closing on Friday at 3pm, somewhere around 1 and 3. They are not opened on Sunday and Monday and want to get rid of everything, there you get some mega prices.
Rundle Mall has free street wifi, but there are a lot of people on the street so the connection is not always good. Hungry Jack's is a good choice as well. These two places cannot not be found once in the city center: ask anybody on the street if really you can't he he. University has a lot of computers and a good wifi network, but you will need a student's password... You can try to look for cool people, sit next to them and ask!
In Adelaide a paying permit is needed to play in the street and you have a schedule to respect, although it is not very expensive (AU$2,70/day or 24/month. Covers 1 to 6 people). There are some restrictions. In Rundle Mall, the main pedestrian street and one of the best busking spot, for sure you won't last long if you start busking without permit, but in the other streets you should be ok. Anyway, pretend you didn't know with a cute foreign accent.
Various groups of fun people do things like create The Reading Room, a lounge-room space in the city for anyone to hang out and read or make art, or Dancing Room, getting together and put on music to have a boogie after work one day a week. Unfortunately The Reading Room had to close as of May 2013, but they are looking for a new space so search for them if you are visiting Adelaide, they do good things!
The small Himeji Garden at the south-east corner of the city centre is beautiful to sit in, and open during the day, or the Adelaide Botanical Gardens offer a bigger space for plant lovers to play in.