Remote Perth revels in endless sun, clean air, idyllic beaches and its pristine environment. A recent flurry of urban development ensures that Perth has shed its small-town status and morphed into a cosmopolitan city worthy of international acclaim. Here are a few of our favorite things to do and see in Western Australia’s capital city.
Gallivant through Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Nature lovers will have already spied Kings Park, one of the largest inner-city green spaces in the world, hovering above Perth. While there are many parklands and trails to explore, such as the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, the challenging Kokoda Track will get those legs pumping.
Absorb the city’s indigenous culture at the Aboriginal Art Gallery and explore unique Australian design at Aspects of Kings Park. There are few better views of the city than those found at the casual Botanical Café or the more upscale Fraser’s Restaurant — indulge in a delicious degustation dinner while watching the sunset at this park-side spot.
Stroll through Elizabeth Quay
Commanding pride of place between the river and the Central Business District, Elizabeth Quay has welcomed more than 6 million visitors since its opening in January 2016. Set on a circular inlet, the precinct includes The Bell Tower (home of 17 bells gifted to the city during its bicentennial by the Church of England), the lively Barrack Street Jetty, promenades and a curvaceous bridge offering one-of-a-kind city views.
The area is punctuated by a 16-foot-tall sculpture, dubbed First Contact, depicting the arrival of European settlers to Perth by indigenous artist Laurel Nannup. Connect to Perth’s Aboriginal past and join a Noongar guide for an insightful tour. Year-round entertainment includes ice-skating in winter, a water park, festivals, art installations, bars and eateries.
Explore the Swan Valley
Idyllic checkered vineyards greet day-trippers swilling the Swan Valley’s sweet nectar. Western Australia’s oldest wine region is just a 30-minute drive from the city. For an even more picturesque journey, jump aboard a river cruise leaving from the Barrack Street Jetty.
Pop into the Swan Valley Visitor Centre and grab a map to create your own itinerary along the 20-mile Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail. You’ll discover the region also includes breweries, cideries, a distillery and coffee roasters, as well as a wide array of activities for the whole family. Think cycle trails, art tours, wildlife encounters, picnic spots, cultural events and the historic town of Guildford, full of antiques, cafés and charm.
Cheer at the Optus Stadium
Never before has Perth had the capacity to accommodate so many punters. Suspended on the Burswood Peninsula and encased in its iconic cladding, The Optus Stadium officially opened in January 2018 to the tune of Ed Sheeran and has kept the locals cheering for year-round entertainment and sporting events, including Australian Football League matches.
Even during non-event days, there’s much to do at this 60,000-seat venue, including a behind-the-scenes tour, which features panoramic vistas of the city from the Sky View Lounge. Next door, you’ll find The Camfield — deemed Australia’s largest pub with five bars and 175 beers on tap, it’s rapidly becoming a Perth favorite.
Play in the City
Though it may be compact, the downtown area offers plenty of places to shop. The city features quaint avenues — including the mock Tudor-style London Court — pedestrian malls and alleys teeming with bars, cafés and independent and high-end boutiques. When you need a break, His Majesty’s Theatre puts on performances within its Edwardian walls.
Yagan Square is Perth’s latest addition, connecting the city center with the historic Northbridge suburb (home to myriad restaurants, nightlife and hotels) for the first time in 100 years. Be sure to look out for Brookfield Place on St. Georges Terrace. Situated on one of the windiest streets in the world, the skyscraper incorporates heritage architecture with sleek modernity to create a spectacular shopping and dining destination.
Party in Northbridge
Located immediately north of the CBD and the historic Horseshoe Bridge snaking its way across the railway line, Northbridge oozes urban cool. Lose yourself in the Perth Cultural Centre, which encompasses galleries, theaters and bars, and be on the lookout for seasonal festivals hosted in this buzzing space.
Once out in the throng, eat your way around the world with options ranging from Lebanese to dim sum. There’s no shortage of nighttime revelry in the many bars, clubs, live performance venues, art house cinemas and late-night enclaves found in this trendy neighborhood.
Delve into Fremantle
The arrival of European immigrants in the 1950s gave Fremantle its signature café culture with a bohemian undercurrent. The port town bustles during the weekends, particularly at the Fremantle Markets, Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour and South Terrace — aka the Cappuccino Strip.
Delve into Western Australia’s rich history at the Fremantle Prison, Fremantle Arts Centre, Shipwreck Galleries and the Western Australian Maritime Museum. Many visitors simply partake in the Italian tradition of passeggiata, meaning to stroll, through the town’s historic streets.
Frolic at the Beach
Famous for its postcard-worthy beaches, perennially sunny Perth makes a trip to the shore a must no matter when you visit. Favorite stretches of sand include City Beach, Cottesloe Beach, Mettams Pool and Bather’s Beach, which offers easy access to Fremantle.
Pretend you’re a local and partake in the Perth tradition of a late afternoon dip followed by fish and chips with the sand between your toes as the sun slips into the Indian Ocean.
Glide Around Rottnest Island
Arrive by ferry, luxury yacht or plane to one of Western Australia’s favorite escapes. The carless Rottnest Island beckons random discoveries among its craggy bays and picturesque beaches.
Join a Segway tour, cycle past salt lakes or simply dive into the crystal-clear waters to snorkel, surf and swim among the coral reefs. Keep your eyes open for the island’s famed quokka — the friendly marsupial can be found smiling in many an Instagram story.
Finishing the day with an amber brew at the Hotel Rottnest and taking in the views across Thompson Bay to the mainland is a fitting Perth tradition.
Peer into the Peel Region
Just an hour south of Perth, the Peel-Harvey Estuary is a serene respite from the city. Nearly twice the size of Sydney Harbour, the region teems with wildlife (including the occasional dolphin) and a staggering 500 species of birds.
The adventurous can attempt to complete the scenic 621-mile hike along The Bibbulmun Track, one of the longest walking trails in the world. For a more leisurely pursuit, stroll among the jarrah and wandoo woodlands that hug the meandering Murray River, or explore the surrounding granite outcrops and Lane Poole Reserve.