Australia’s fifth biggest city and South Australia’s state-capital is surrounded by 850ha of parkland and thanks to the city founder’s master plan it’s a very likeable city with gardens, open space and wide roads. Although it’s a fairly big city with over one million residents, the logical street layout makes it easily navigable and it doesn’t take too much time before it feels like you know the place.
Adelaide has a vibrant cultural scene and it is known for its many festivals. WOMAdelaide is an annual world music and dance festival held in Botanic Park, there’s also the bi-annual Adelaide Festival of Ideas, the Adelaide Film Festival, the Feast Festival – a gay and lesbian cultural event, and there’s the big and internationally renowned Adelaide Festival of Arts.
Although seldom visited compared with the cities on the east coast, it is a city that is worth spending the time to get to know. Backpackers are drawn to “Awesome Adelaide” and the city’s student population gives Adelaide a youthful feel and a lively eating and drinking scene. Adelaide also has some of Australia’s best city beaches.
Adelaide has a good public transport network comprising trains, trams and buses. It is an affordable way to get around particularly if you buy a day pass or take advantage of the free bus and tram services in Glenelg and the city centre.
The different modes of transport use the same ticketing system that is organised by Adelaide Metro who also run an extremely helpful information centre on King William Street near the corner with Currie Street. The Adelaide Metro information centre sells travel passes and has route maps and timetables for all train and bus routes. Pop in to pick up a free copy of The Metro Guide, this handy booklet explains the whole system and has maps of all bus routes. This is especially handy as the bus and train routes are superimposed upon a map showing all the streets in the metropolitan area – it’s good enough to use as a street directory.
Adelaide has only one tram route, but it’s a handy option for travellers as it connects the city centre with the beach at Glenelg. The tram is free between the Entertainment Centre and South Terrace in the city centre and also between Brighton Road and Moseley Square in Glenelg.
The suburban train network is the quickest way to get out to the suburbs. Most backpackers don’t use the train to get around Adelaide as it generally doesn’t go to the places that backpackers need to get to, but it is a good way to get to the Keswick interstate train station and historic Port Adelaide.
Like most cities, the bus routes fill the gaps where there are no trains or trams. The bus is a good way to get to the airport and some beaches and there are also routes to the good hitchhiking spots and a service to McLaren Vale.
Buses are also a good way of getting around in the city centre. With a day pass you should be able to hop on any bus to get a lift around the city although there are also two free bus services for those without a day pass. The free City Loop bus (route 99C) runs around the city centre calling at the Central Bus Station, Victoria Square, Hindmarsh Square, North Terrace and Light Square.
Adelaide’s unique O-Bahn is one of the world’s longest guided bus ways. Basically these are just regular buses in the city centre (they stop on Grenfell Street between King William and Pulteney Streets) that join a guided track outside the city centre. O-Bahn services run about every five minutes, and are a quick way to get between the city centre and the suburban shopping centre/bus interchange at Tea Tree Plaza.
Fares & tickets
The same fare structure applies on buses, trams and trains, and metrotickets are valid on all modes of transport.
There are two main types of tickets: Singletrip and Daytrip.
A Singletrip ticket is your best option if you’re planning on making only one journey during a day or if you’re making your return trip within two hours. You’re better off with a Daytrip ticket if you are making a return journey on the same day. A Singletrip ticket costs $5.30 before 9.01am and after 3pm on weekdays and all day on Saturdays or $3.40 Mon–Fri 9.01am–3pm and all day on Sundays. A two-section ticket is a little cheaper ($3.30 peak or $2.50 off peak) but is restricted to shorter trips of around three kilometres.
Most travellers find the Daytrip ticket the best value. It allows unlimited travel on the tram, trains and buses during an entire day. Daytrip tickets cost $10.
You are required to validate your ticket each time you board a bus, tram or train.
All tickets are available at train stations, post offices and convenience stores and only Daytrip and Singletrip tickets can be bought on board buses and trams.