Regardless of how little or how much time you have in Perth, there are some great places to explore while you’re in this beautiful and thriving capital city of Western Australia.
We have put together a list of what we feel are the Top 5 things to do when in Perth to ensure you don’t miss out! Blessed with sunny days throughout the year you’ll find that most of the best things to do here involve getting outdoors and exploring the city that seems to ooze confidence with its wine bars, glittering skyscrapers, beautiful colonial architecture, long coastline of picture perfect white sandy beaches, stunning parks and large areas of natural bushland.
1. Perth City, its’s gardens and the Swan River
- You could spend a whole day by making the most of the free city bus and jumping off at attractions such as the Perth Art Gallery, Perth Cultural Centre and the Swan Bell Tower
- Art Gallery of Western Australia – Through their Collection, associated programs, and exhibitions, visitors are offered a unique and exciting experience of historic and contemporary Australian artists, as well as other world art. Founded in 1895 the gallery occupies a precinct of three heritage buildings on the south-eastern corner of the Perth Cultural Centre. The Gallery houses the State Art Collection which includes one of the world’s finest collections of Indigenous art, the pre-eminent collection of Western Australian art and design, as well as Australian and International art and design.
- Perth Cultural Centre – has become a popular meeting place for locals and visitors. Sitting between the city centre and Northbridge, it’s the cultural heart of the city with a vibrant mix of arts, music, food, entertainment and festivals. With a spacious amphitheatre, museum strip, public artworks and plenty of places to sit and relax, it’s the perfect space to take a break from the bustle of the city.
- Swan Bell Tower – located on Riverside Drive overlooking the Swan River, is one of Perth’s most unique and must see tourist attractions. Resulting from a major architectural
competition the Bell Tower has become an icon for Perth and Western Australia. In 1988 as part of the national Bicentennial celebrations, this historic ring of bells was given to the people of Western Australia. The Bell Tower includes the twelve bells of St Martin-in-the-Fields, which are recorded as being in existence from before the 14th century and recast in the 16th century by Queen Elizabeth I. The bells were again recast between 1725 and 1770 by three generations of the Rudhall family of bell founders from Gloucester in England, under the order of the Prince of Wales who was later crowned as King George II. They are one of the few sets of royal bells and are the only ones known to have left England.
When it’s time for lunch, grab yourself a picnic and make your way to the elevated green expanse of Kings Park and Botanic Garden, where you’ll not be disappointed by the sights. Stroll through the gardens and wander past the lakes and stare over the city, Swan River and Darling Range from scenic vantage points such as the State War Memorial.
Within the park, there are a number of interesting things to do:
- The gardens are full of exquisite, some might say weird and wonderful, plants and if you visit in Spring the fields will be a mass of WA wild flowers in bloom.
- The State War Memorial (along with other statues, monuments and memorials that are scattered throughout) is located here at Kings Park.
- There are also a network of cycle paths and walk trails criss-crossing the gardens, lawns and bushland.
- A wander around Kings Park and Botanic Garden can be a perfect way to spend half a day, and should definitely be a high priority on your list of things to do in Perth. Catch the free bus from the city up the hill if you don’t feel like walking – limited parking available.
2. World famous Cottesloe Beach
WA beaches are among the most beautiful in the world! Perth alone has 19 stunning beaches with its most iconic being Cottesloe Beach. This beach is a living picture postcard with its white sandy beach and a boulevard of buzzing bars and cafes. A short bus ride from Perth’s city centre this is an ideal spot for a swim, snorkel, fish and chip dinner and sunset drinks.
Perth beaches are simple and beautiful with pure white sand stretching up and down approximately 12,500km of coastline, Most of the beaches in and around Perth have fairly small waves or if they have big waves they break close to shore which makes it perfect for enjoying sometime on one of the many beaches lining the coastline near the city.
3. Rottnest Island
An island with over 60 beaches, 20 bays and no cars to spoil the peace and tranquillity of this simply stunning island, it’s just 19km away from Perth off the coast of WA and you would really only consider hopping on a ferry to make this crossing if you fancy the idea of:
- Swimming at beaches that are truly breath-taking and are protected by reefs
- Snorkelling in lagoons that are thriving with fish and coral
- Relax and unwind on the soft white sand of a secluded beach or perhaps with a glass of wine at the islands pub that is right on the main beach
- Explore on bike the coastline and the windswept salt lakes and dunes
- Tour the lighthouse and heritage buildings on the island
- Spot plenty of wildlife including the cute marsupial the quokka, who are only found in Western Australia, and with over 1,000 on the island you should easily get to see one hopping around as they thrive over there with little to no predators
- Ideally you’ll want to spend a full day on the island – it’s definitely worth it!
To get there you’ll need to take a Rottnest Ferry which depart from a choice of 3 locations
a. Pier 2, Barrack Street Jetty, Perth City
b. 1 Emma Place, Rous Head, North Fremantle WA 6159
c. B Shed, Victoria Quay, Fremantle WA 6160
While you are in Perth, it’s definitely worth the short trip down to visit the historic seaside port of Fremantle. You’ll find that the harbour town has its own special character where you can wander the buzzing heritage-listed street and discover the Arts Centre and Old Courthouse, learn about Fremantle’s history in the Western Australian Maritime Museum and Shipwreck Galleries then go on to experience some taste testing any of the 40 cold tap beers on offer at the bustling 1900’s watering hole the ‘Sail & Anchor’.
If you fancy exploring something a little different, you should look up the colonial remnants of the Fremantle Prison and see the whipping post, chapel, solitary cells and gallows and learn about the daring escapes on one of the several tours on offer. From here you can wander into Henderson Street, where Fremantle’s original market is held Friday to Monday and on public holidays. The Fremantle Markets is an authentic piece of Western Australian history, originally built as a market hall in 1897, this grand old Victorian building was authentically and lovingly restored to be reborn on 31 October 1975, as what you see today, the Fremantle Markets. Here you can shop for Aboriginal artworks, local produce, browse the bookshops and boutiques along nearby South Terrace and Market Street. In the evening, soak up the maritime flavour of Fishing Boat Harbour.
Enjoy the distinctive atmosphere of over a 100 years of vibrant culture and heritage, mixed with the unmistakable flavours of modern-day life. Dive in head first, or just sit back and watch the eclectic mix of tourists, craftsmen, musicians, artists and many other local characters.
5. Perth Mint
If tours are your thing, then we suggest visiting Perth Mint where they have hourly guided tours. You’ll be guided through the grand heritage building, the heavily secured vault and the original melting house. The guides will provide you with many extraordinary stories about Western Australia’s golden history and the Mint’s prolific output of priceless gold bars and coins.
Located on 310 Hay Street in Perth you’ll find lots more interesting things going on here. To find out more about their opening times, as well as visitor and tour information, click here.
We couldn’t just leave it at 5 Top things to do in Perth – that’s pretty much impossible so we have listed a few more things you could do if any of the Top 5 don’t quite hit the mark for you.
- Shopping at Hay Street Mall – shop ‘til you drop on Hay Street mall – this street is completely pedestrianised with a wide range of speciality stores.
- Fraser Avenue lookout – Fraser Avenue leads you from Kings Park Road, West of Perth into the major tourist and restaurant precincts. This century old tree-lined avenue is possibly one of the most visited sites in Perth. In 1898 in honour of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee an avenue of red-flowering gums were planted. Two more rows of red-flowering gums were planted to celebrate the State Centenary in 1929 and plaques placed at their bases to recognise the Centennial Committee. Most trees however succumbed to patch-canker disease and were replaced by lemon-scented gums in 1938 from the east coast of Australia. These lemon-scented gums flourished and today the interlocking canopies form a majestic avenue that provide a well-photographed entry statement to Kings Park and Botanic Garden.
- Perth Zoo – not only does Perth Zoo have an incredibly large selection of world animals, birds, flora and fauna on display the zoo are also dedicated to conserving Australian and international wildlife conservation. It’s close proximity to the City centre and relatively cheap entrance fees, this is definitely a place to go if this is your thing. Perth Zoo, 20 Labouchere Rd, South Perth.
- Swan Valley Wineries – if you have time for a day trip, then you might want to consider a 25 minute drive north-east of the City Centre to the Swan Valley where you’ll find 40 vineyards and many cellar doors offering tastings in Western Australia’s oldest wine region. You can cycle through the vineyards or take a cruise upriver, sipping local wines and enjoying the scenery with visits to cellar doors.
Getting around Perth
With endless sunny days in Perth, the weather here is perfect for travelling around. When looking at a map you’ll need to decide how you want to get around the city and beyond.
If you want to explore the city sights then the Transperth network will get you to where you want to go – that’ll include stops for the Zoo, Kings Park and many other sights. A Smartrider card can be purchased and this gets you discounts on Perth buses and trains and some Perth Ferries. There are some limited Perth tram services too.
The CAT buses in Perth provide a number of routes that also visit the major sights around town and are absolutely free!
If you’re planning on heading further afield then keeping your motorhome for a few more days is your best bet.
If you like this post and are interested in finding out more information on trips around Australia, then take a look through some of these amazing Travel Routes you can do around Australia.
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