The most popular and easily accessible of the city’s beaches is Glenelg, 11km southwest of the city. Travel here by tram from Victoria Square (25min), or take bus #167 or #168 from Currie or Grenfell streets or the #J1 bus from the airport. Glenelg was the site of the landing of Governor John Hindmarsh and the first colonists on Holdfast Bay; the Old Gum Tree where he read the proclamation establishing the government of the colony still stands on McFarlane Street, and there’s a re-enactment here every year on Proclamation Day (Dec 28).
Holidaymakers have been parading along Glenelg’s seaside promenade for over 160 years and Glenelg still has the atmosphere of a busy holiday town, even in off season. Jetty Road, the main drag, is crowded with casual places to eat (for the obligatory seaside fish and chips, try the Bay Fish Shop at no. 27 or the award-winning The Oyster Shop at no. 40, probably one of the few takeaways to serve beer and wine), while Marina Pier (whttp://www.marinapier.com.au) at the northern end of Holdfast Promenade is home to a dozen bars, cafés and seaside restaurants, such as Sammy’s. There’s lots of accommodation, bookable at the Glenelg Visitor Information Centre on Marina Pier (Mon–Fri 9.30am–5pm, Sat 10am–3.30pm, Sun 10am–2pm; t08/8294 5833, whttp://www.glenelgsa.com.au), which also arranges tours and rental cars, and offers self-guided walking trail brochures and internet access. The tram terminates at Moseley Square, dominated by the Glenelg Town Hall and clock tower. At the opposite corner, the imposing seafront Stamford Grand Hotel is crowded with drinkers on Sunday, when Glenelg is at its most vibrant. From Moseley Square, the old jetty juts out into the bay, and in summer the beach is crowded with people swimming; it’s a popular windsurfing spot year-round.
Glenelg Town Hall is home to the Bay Discovery Centre (daily 10am–3pm; by donation; t08/8179 9508, whttp://www.baydiscovery.com.au), a wonderful social history museum documenting stories of life by the sea through the use of multimedia and archival images, and covering everything from old seaside amusements from the 1930s to changing beach fashions. Beach volleyball, jogging and cycling are popular activities in Glenelg, with a bike track south of the square. Hostels rent or loan bikes.
South of Glenelg, Brighton has an old-fashioned, sleepy air, dominated by the stone Arch of Remembrance, flanked by palm trees, which stands in front of the long jetty. Running inland from the beach, Jetty Road has a string of appealing one- and two-storey buildings shaded with awnings that contain an assortment of art, craft and secondhand stores, and two popular alfresco cafés: A Cafe Etc and Horta’s. Brighton can be reached by train from Adelaide (25min) or bus #265 from Victoria Square. For beaches further south, For more information, see The Fleurieu Peninsula.