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Adelaide road by the coast

Adelaide is about as relaxed as Australian cities get: a cool café culture dominates the city scene; a one-mile square grid layout and wide streets make the central area a doddle to navigate; oodles of open green spaces encourage deep breaths and relaxation; Adelaide hotels are smart and welcoming; and wine lovers can sit back and sip the best produce of South Australia.

This thriving and cosmopolitan hub of the nation's south is becoming as well known for its arts, culture and sports scene as it is for the wonderful natural elements that notch up tourism points. While it lacks the artistic punch of Melbourne or the vibrancy of Sydney, you don't have to travel far from Adelaide city centre to explore nature at its most magnificent. In the city there is fun to be had on and alongside the River Torrens. And from hiking and biking through the bush, to exploration of the Mount Lofty Ranges and the Adelaide Hills, active types will have plenty of options to get the adrenaline gAdelaide riveroing just a little further out of the city.

If water-based fun gets your heart beating faster, head to the Fleurieu Peninsula, just south of the city, to hit the surf or to simply sprawl out on the beaches. Ferry trips to Kangaroo Island are also popular. 

And then, of course, there's the wine. No trip to Adelaide is complete without sampling a white or red. Popular wine regions include the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale.

Hotels in Adelaide are mostly concentrated in the small Central Business District (CBD) in the city centre. Here you will find plenty of choice and a decent range of prices, with some budget hotels from brands such as Comfort Inn and Best Western, and many international chains in the mid and upscale end such as Crowne Plaza, Mercure and Stamford. There are also many locally owned and managed properties including boutique hotels and apartments in the city area. The East End of the city offers a livelier restaurant and bar scene than other areas, and is the place to stay if you like to be where the fun is.

Walk for 10 or 15 minutes in most directions from the central area and you'll find accommodation in quiet residential areas. Hop to North Adelaide to enjoy an exclusive air and stay in one of the suburb's beautiful converted houses.

If a sea breeze makes your list of ideal hotel requirements, consider coastal accommodation. Good public transportation will easily link you up with the city's attractions. Glenelg in particular offers a good choice of hotels on the stunning coastline; you'll find budget and luxury hotels between the palm trees and the beaches.

Top five attractions

Adelaide Zoo

Still going strong after an impressive 130 years, this pleasant zoo will keep the whole family amused for a day.

Glenelg

This charming beach-side resort is well worth a day trip, even if you decide not to base your stay here. Hop on the tram from the city. With a pleasant year-round climate, a day on the sands and splashing in the surf is always possible.

South Australian Museum

With the world's largest collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural artefacts, and a strong focus on natural history, this museum will hold your attention for hours.

Adelaide Botanic Garden

A 125-acre piece of public parkland on the edge of the city centre features stunning historical buildings as well as some fine works of nature.

Barossa Valley

See the vines stretching away neatly on the horizon within South Australia's best known wine region. Just two hours from Adelaide, a day trip is possible from the city.

Events

Adelaide Fringe; February/March: The Fringe is the “open” version of the Adelaide Festival (see below), which means you should expect the unexpected from the acts on show at various city venues.

Adelaide Festival; March: A huge arts festival, reckoned to be Australia's biggest, takes over Adelaide every year and presents a diverse range of performances. There are many free public events.

Clipsal 500 Adelaide; February/March: Adelaide is a sports-mad city, and you can hear the crowds - and the engines - roar at this hugely popular V8 Supercar Championship race.

March is Adelaide's busiest month, with a crammed schedule of events organised around the finest weather. Book Adelaide hotels very early if you plan to visit in late February or March.