Think back to a time when you were a kid and you had in your mind the perfect seaside village with lots of things to do, great beaches, dolphins jumping out of the warm, blue sea, scuba divers looking at the underwater wonders, amusement parks, golf courses, sidewalk cafés and a cool street full of restaurants, bars and shops. The seaside village that was in your head was Glenelg.
A 25-minute vintage tram ride from Adelaide’s North Terrace in Holdfast Bay, Glenelg’s charming heritage hotels have been welcoming tourists since the 1920s and was the site of South Australia’s original mainland settlement in 1836. White sandy beaches and what is described as ‘a pristine ocean environment’ are the highlights of the town but there’s so much more to do and see…
There are museums and galleries charting the area’s rich history as well as lots of places to shop and eat, from street food to high-class restaurants and a great choice of al fresco dining along Jetty Road. The hotels are plentiful and cater for all budgets and throughout the year you’ll find great events and festivals happening up and down the coast, often in conjunction with the neighbouring towns such as the Glenelg Jazz Festival.
But, the best activities at Glenelg take place offshore. In the waters off Adelaide’s coast there are thousands of Common and Bottlenose dolphins and there are companies who will take you out for an up-close-and-personal dolphin swimming experience, a true bucket list entry. You can learn to surf, Aussie-style, go snorkelling or scuba diving around the reefs or for an altogether more relaxed day out, charter a fishing boat for the day or even an overnight adventure.
Back on terra firma, there are walking and cycling trails where you can see the original workers’ cottages, grand colonial mansions, a WWII air-raid shelter, the sand dunes and a source of fresh water sacred to the local Aboriginal people.
No trip to Glenelg should be complete without a trip to Holdfast Marina to see the sensational sunset, one of the finest in the whole world. You’ll know where to go because everyone else will be headed that way at the first sign of sundown.
Glenelg is a picture-postcard seaside town with the type of old-world charm and innocence that is sadly all too rare today and if you throw in the perfect Mediterranean-style climate, the friendly, welcoming people and a true village feel, Glenelg is a ‘must see’ on any tour of Adelaide and South Australia.