Adelaide’s city centre, surrounded by the green Park Lands, is home to bustling shopping and entertainment districts, incredible dining options and a rich arts and culture scene.
One of Adelaide’s most recognisable landmarks is Rundle Mall – the city’s pedestrianised shopping hub. There are both fancy and discount department stores; supermarkets; big brands like Adidas Originals, Nike and H&M; and dedicated streetwear stores, like Urban Street Gear and Fairfax. Many shops offer student discounts, so it’s worth asking at the checkout. Heading east towards Rundle Street, you’ll find high-end lifestyle brands such as Aesop, outdoor stores Kathmandu and Macpac, second-hand shops, and funky boutiques like Miss Gladys Sym Choon. For unique, locally produced merchandise to take home, check out Urban Cow Studio and The Tangerine Fox.
For a quick meal, head to Hawker Walker for delicious Malaysian food, Two-Bit Villains, a vegan/vegetarian restaurant located in the historic Adelaide Arcade, and Little Ban Ban with its incredible Korean fried chicken. For cheap eats, head to any shopping centre food court. In the basement of Adelaide Central Plaza you’ll find Dine Central, a food court with free wi-fi and charging stations, making it a great study spot. But Adelaide’s true foodie heaven is around the Adelaide Central Market. The market itself is perfect for an inexpensive feed or picking up groceries – if you visit near closing time, especially on Saturday, fresh produce is heavily discounted. Nearby Gouger Street is home to Chinatown, which is packed with amazing restaurants, Asian supermarkets and late-night dessert spots, like Shibui Dessert Bar and Han’s Patisserie.
For nightlife, Hindley Street and its many laneways offer everything. You’ll find Instagrammable bars like Pink Moon Saloon and Cry Baby, student pubs like the West Oak Hotel, latenight movies at GU Film House, and karaoke at K Illusion. Meanwhile, Rundle Street is home to some of Adelaide’s most famous pubs, including The Austral and The Exeter, both of which have been providing students with cheap drinks and live music for decades. Nearby is The Howling Owl, a popular cafe/gin bar for drinks with friends.
Unmissable highlights in the city centre include the beautiful Mortlock Wing in the State Library of South Australia; the Art Gallery of South Australia, which hosts free tours every day, as well as First Fridays on the first Friday of every month, allowing late-night viewings; the Migration Museum, exploring Australia’s diverse cultures; and the South Australian Museum, with permanent exhibitions focusing on the state’s Aboriginal history. All of these offer free entry or student discounts for featured exhibitions.
City Library is open seven days a week. Membership is free and lets you borrow books, access eBooks and newspapers online, and download films and magazines. There are quiet spaces for hire, free wi-fi, public computer access and printing facilities available. It also hosts events like board game nights and art classes – check the website for more information. You can also visit the State Library of South Australia – the largest public reference library in the state – to access the free English Language Improvement Service, which includes conversation groups to practise spoken English, and desk tutors for one-on-one help.
On Frome Street is Adelaide City Beach, a beach volleyball court that is a real sand facility open to the public. Volleyball SA hosts regular recreational games in the evening for a small fee. Otherwise, the city is surrounded by the Park Lands, which host free public basketball courts, tennis courts, jogging tracks and permanent exercise equipment.
Adelaide is known as the “City of Churches”, so there are many churches hidden throughout the CBD. Other places of worship include Central Adelaide Mosque on Little Gilbert Street – the oldest permanent mosque in Australia.
Strung up high between the trees in Kurangga Park in the Park Lands is TreeClimb, an aerial adventure park with 70 obstacles over seven routes. It’s a unique way of getting up close and personal with Australia’s natural environment, without having to leave the city centre. Divided by different levels of difficulty, there are swings, trapezes and various zip lines through the trees.
Adelaide is a UNESCO City of Music, so there’s always incredible live music happening around the city. For a quintessential music experience, you have to see the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra performs everything from traditional opera classics and concertos, to the famous ‘Concert Live to Film’ shows, showcasing full scores from films such as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Little Mermaid and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Offering a Student Live Pass for just $50, you get access to a number of free tickets to performances throughout the year.