Your Ultimate Guide to Glenelg
19th September 2023
Glenelg in a nutshell
But it’s not all play in Glenelg. History enthusiasts will also appreciate the suburb’s historical charm and heritage which dates back centuries. The area was originally inhabited by the Kaurna Aboriginal people, who lived off the land and sea. Later, in 1836, Glenelg became the first official European settlement in South Australia, named after Lord Glenelg, the British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies at the time.
Glenelg quickly grew into a thriving port town, connecting South Australia to the rest of the world. Over the years, Glenelg has witnessed significant development and modernisation while still preserving its historical charm, making it a unique blend of past and present.
Today, those visiting Glenelg can appreciate its history with a ride on the iconic Glenelg tram, which has been operating since 1873. Meanwhile, at the Bay Discovery Centre, you’ll learn about the cultural heritage of the state of South Australia.
Things to do in Glenelg
Planning a trip to Glenelg? We don’t blame you! In this article, we share the best of this beautiful part of the world. From cafes and restaurants to activities and walks, this ultimate guide will teach you everything you need to know before you go.
Take a walk along the Glenelg Esplanade
Start your trip in Glenelg with a leisurely walk along Glenelg Esplanade. This is a great way to get a good grasp of the region and what it’s all about (alongside all the keen joggers and walkers who use the esplanade path throughout the day). As you stroll along the picturesque route, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the sandy beach and shimmering waters of Gulf St Vincent. The Esplanade is lined with palm trees, inviting benches, and grassy areas, providing ample opportunities to relax and soak in the tranquil atmosphere.
Along the way, you’ll also encounter a number of charming cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops, perfect for a quick refreshment or souvenir shopping. And don’t forget to pause and admire Glenelg’s iconic jetty. Stretching out into the ocean, it offers a picturesque backdrop to your walk – especially at sunset!
Enjoy some shopping
Kick back with an ice cream
When in Glenelg, eat an ice cream. With its prime location at the seaside, Glenelg is the perfect spot to kick back with something sweet and enjoy the views. In particular, Copenhagen is a good place to get your ice cream fix on a hot day. With a tonne of flavours on show, including vegan options, you’ll be able to pick your favourite and head to the seaside where you can enjoy the vibes of the beach.
Take a swim at Glenelg Beach
The beach at Glenelg is quite simply incredible, with its sweeping views of the coastline to both sides and the sparkling water out ahead. A swim is absolutely necessary! The golden sandy beach here stretches out along the Gulf St Vincent and calm, clear waters make it ideal for both seasoned swimmers and those looking to dip their toes in. Pick your spot, spread out your things and take a dip.
Don’t worry if you’re heading here with family, lifeguards are here to ensure your safety. And after your swim, you can bask in the sun on the soft sand or take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline.
Hang out at Moseley Beach Club
Speaking of beach time, when in Glenelg you’ll also want to stop at Moseley Beach Club. Located on the beachfront, it’s a vibrant destination known for its one-of-a-kind beach club experience. This trendy pop-up transforms the foreshore into a lively hub of entertainment, relaxation, and socialising during the summer. With its laid-back atmosphere, Moseley Beach Club provides everything you need from comfortable loungers, umbrellas, and beachside service. There’s no better place to soak up the sun. But there’s more. The club also hosts live music sessions, DJ performances, and various events, adding a fun and festive vibe to the beach.
Chill at Colley Reserve
Colley Reserve in Glenelg holds a special place in South Australia’s history and remains a cultural and tourism hub in Holdfast Bay. This great reserve is located close to Glenelg beach, offering plenty of activities for both kids and adults. It is known for its unique oval shape, often referred to as “the flying saucer,” where visitors can enjoy the grassy downward slope and reminisce about childhood memories. Additionally, the area surrounding Colley Reserve is undergoing development, including plans for a 5-star hotel with a rooftop bar!
Ride the Ferris wheel
An icon of the Glenelg backdrop, the ferris wheel at the water’s edge is a great way to admire the Glenelg coastline (and beyond). With breathtaking views and a captivating 70-meter ascent, you’ll see lots from up high that you won’t be able to appreciate from the ground. With its brightly coloured gondolas, the Glenelg Ferris Wheel promises unforgettable memories and a unique perspective on this great part of the coastline.
Browse the Glenelg Art Gallery
Established in 2008, over the years Glenelg Art Gallery has transformed from a small Moseley Street building to a spacious split-level space near the tram stop at the beach. Perfect for locals as well as new visitors to the area, the vibrant gallery invites it guests to browse and engage with artists from diverse backgrounds.
Showcasing Australian Aboriginal art alongside works by local artists, the gallery offers a treasure trove of handcrafted jewelry, natural skincare products, books, sculptures, and paintings. By ethically supporting communities across South Australia and Northern Territory, the gallery fosters a sense of connection. Discover unique gifts here as well, including beautiful cards featuring miniature artwork reproductions.
Take a dolphin tour with Temptation Sailing
Perhaps one of the most incredible things to do in Glenelg is to take a tour with Temptation Sailing. Spoiling its guests with an exhilarating and unforgettable sailing experience on the crystal-clear waters of Gulf St Vincent, Temptation Sailing is a bucket-list kind of activity.
Step aboard their luxury catamaran and be greeted by a friendly crew ready to make your adventure memorable. As you set sail, you’ll feel the warm breeze on your face and witness breathtaking views of the coastline. Keep an eye out for playful dolphins and even majestic whales (in winter) that often grace these waters. Whether you choose a relaxing sunset cruise or an adventurous dolphin swim, Temptation Sailing provides a unique opportunity to connect with nature and indulge in the beauty of Glenelg’s coastal paradise.
Visit Glenelg Sunset Markets
When you’ve had enough of the beach for the day, head to The Glenelg Sunset Markets! This lively event transforms the seaside suburb of Glenelg into a bustling hub of food, music, and local artisanal crafts during summer evenings.
As the sun begins to set, the market comes alive with a vibrant atmosphere, offering visitors a unique shopping experience. Stroll through the stalls and discover a treasure trove of handmade crafts, jewellery, clothing, and local artwork. Indulge in a variety of delicious street food from around the world, satisfying your taste buds with international flavours. They’ll also have live music playing too, making it even more atmospheric.
Visit the Bay Discovery Centre
A trip to Glenelg doesn’t have to be all about beaches and cafes (although that is a lot of fun). The Bay Discovery Centre in Glenelg is a great way to learn about the history of South Australia. Delving into the rich history and heritage of the region, the centre is housed in a beautifully restored historic building and is a great stop at any time of day.
From the moment you walk through the doors, you’ll embark on a journey through time. Hear stories of Glenelg and its surrounding areas and explore immersive exhibits that highlight the indigenous culture, maritime history, and the development of the region.
Do the Glenelg to Seacliff Coastal Walk
One of the best things to do in Glenelg, is to take a walk. And luckily for you as a visitor to this beautiful part of SA, there are some great coastal walks to choose from. The most famous of these walks is the Glenelg to Seacliff Coastal Walk; a picturesque and invigorating trail that winds along the stunning coastline of Adelaide’s southern suburbs.
Stretching for approximately 7 kilometres, this coastal walk offers breathtaking views of the azure waters of Gulf St Vincent and the golden sands of the beaches. As you trail along the well-maintained path, you’ll be treated to not only views but tranquil parks, and friendly cafes. Take a leisurely stroll (featuring a coffee stop) enjoy a jog, or simply unwind amidst the calming ocean breeze.
Enjoy the Glenelg Jetty
If you don’t know much about Glenelg and its jetty, here’s some interesting history you might like to know.
The Glenelg Jetty was originally built in 1859 but has undergone several changes and reconstructions over the years. In 1873, the lighthouse at the end of the jetty caught fire and was destroyed. Then, later in 1948, a hurricane washed away the jetty, leaving only the kiosk and aquarium. The jetty was later rebuilt in 1969, but this time it was shorter, measuring 215 meters in length. It’s safe to say that the Glenelg Jetty has had quite a ride over the years.
Today, stretching gracefully into the sparkling waters, Glenelg Jetty is a wonderful gateway to the sparkling sea. Whether strolling along its weathered planks, fishing for a catch, or enjoying panoramic views, this iconic landmark offers a serene escape and some incredible sunset views.
Cycle in from the city
If you’re heading to Glenelg from the city, why not do it in a somewhat unusual way? Embark on a cycling adventure from Adelaide to Glenelg and indulge in a fun and unique outdoor experience. Enjoy a relaxed bike ride along the stunning Henley Beach and immerse yourself in the coastal charm of Glenelg.
Take a break for a delightful morning tea at ‘Cocolat’ and treat yourself to delicious treats. Explore Glenelg at your leisure, soaking up the vibrant atmosphere. And to top it all off, enjoy a return transfer via the iconic Glenelg tram. Expertly guided and equipped with quality bikes and helmets, this tour promises an unforgettable day of cycling and exploration.
Cafes in Glenelg
Need a coffee between walks and ocean swims? We got you.
Offering a mix of Japanese and American cuisine, Seafaring Fools is a Glenelg cafe with a strong connection to the region. Featuring an Art Deco frontage and north-facing bay windows, this spot for lunch between beach swims. Enjoy innovative dishes such as salt-and-pepper broccoli tacos with kim chi, and a Reuben sandwich.
H&A Coffee House
Cosy and welcoming, H&A Coffee House is located in the heart of Glenelg. It’s the perfect ideal place to unwind with a freshly brewed coffee, catch up with a friend, enjoy a homemade treat and forget about the hustle and bustle.
The Annex Cafe
Looking for a friendly cafe featuring some great tea and coffee options? The Annex Cafe is your cosy corner for artisanal coffee, delicious eats, and good vibes in the heart of the community.
Bars in Glenelg
When in Glenelg, make sure you enjoy a beer with beach views, or a cocktail in a stylish bar at one of these great venues.
The Moseley Bar and Kitchen
When seeking a Glenelg bar suggestion from the locals, The Moseley is often the top choice. Located in the lively Moseley Square, this vibrant two-story establishment is impossible to overlook. It provides an ideal setting for post-work drinks, dining with friends on the balcony, or enjoying a lively dance session late into the night.
Terra and Sol
Terra and Sol, a stunning multi-purpose venue, exudes a delightful pastel aesthetic that will leave you mesmerized. It’s a premium beachside bar where good times are guaranteed throughout the year, particularly on sunny days and for hosting fabulous functions. Make sure to have your camera ready to capture the beauty of this bright and airy space.
Marina Sunset Bar
Get ready for a delightful experience at Marina Sunset Bar, where the sun shines and the drinks flow. Embracing a laid-back vibe by Glenelg Marina, this bar is all about enjoying moments with friends and savouring delicious beverages. Indulge in a variety of cocktails and wines from their well-curated drinks menu. For those looking to kickstart the party, their epic fishbowls are a must-try.
Restaurants in Glenelg
Fourth in Glenelg is a local favourite with a stylish ambiance. Inviting diners to indulge in a delightful fusion of tastes, it takes the best from all cuisines. From mouthwatering appetisers to exquisite main courses, every dish is crafted to perfection, leaving patrons craving for more.