We’ve been telling you how much we loved our six month trip through Western Australia and that you need to head west and not just stick to the east coast of Oz.
And that goes for Perth too, the capital city of WA.
It’s a young city that continues to evolve. The Perth city centre has been revitalised over the years adding more cafes, restaurants and especially the small bar scene, and the monster waterfront development, which looks like a mini-version of Darling Harbour in Sydney, is sure to add a lot to the city.
Perth has an attractive setting on the Swan River and nearby to several stunning beaches that are a lot less crowded than its east coast counterparts, which also adds tremendous appeal.
Throw in the mad AFL sporting culture, which I missed out on seeing a game unfortunately, and cricket at the famed WACA and Perth makes for a great short break, or for a base to have extended travel in Western Australia.
We didn’t have all that long in the city itself, but I’m sure we’ll be back, and below is our top picks.
Things to do in Perth, Western Australia
1. See the skyline from Kings Park
Kings Park has a stunning location overlooking the Swan River and offers sweeping views of the Perth city skyline.
The park covers more than 400 hectares and is the largest inner city park in the southern hemisphere, and is even larger than New York’s Central Park.
Walk amongst the tree tops on the elevated bridge, wander the pathways, the botanical gardens, the open grassy areas and picnic amongst the gum trees. F0r eats and drinks there’s also a kiosk, the Botanical Cafe and Fraser’s Restaurant.
Kings Park also has several large playgrounds for the kids to enjoy with cafes attached for that essential take away coffee whilst they play.
2. Catch a sunset at Cottesloe Beach
Perth’s sunsets are legendary. If you haven’t seen the sun set over the ocean, Western Australia is where it’s at.
Cottesloe is a beach-side suburb about a 15-minute drive from the Perth CBD and is one of the best places to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean. Cottlesloe’s crystal clear waters make it a popular place for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing and a great spot for families to have picnics under shady Norfolk Pines.
3. Take a Walking Tour
Perth is a city made for walking. It’s flat, has wide streets and footpaths, and one of the best ways to start a visit to any new destination is with a walking tour to get your bearings and insider tips from a knowledgeable local.
I walked Perth with two feet and a heartbeat as we strolled through the city streets and laneways of the CBD learning about the history, culture, heritage, and colourful past of the city and experienced attractions on and off the tourist trail.
They also do a small bar tour every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
4. Take a Swan River Cruise
Make the trip from Perth down to Fremantle via a relaxing cruise on the Swan River. You’ll enjoy spectacular views of the city skyline, the many sailing boats, and marvel at some of the most expensive real estate in the country – the mining boom has treated Perth well.
Consider a cruise at night when the glittering city lights are reflected on the river.
5. Day trip to Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island is incredible. Located 18 kilometres off the coast it’s a premier island getaway with over 60 picturesque beaches and bays.
Rotto, as the locals call it, is best explored by bicycle, there are no cars on the island making it a relaxing and enjoyable experience for people of all ages. Other activities on the island include tennis, golf, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and diving.
Take the short ferry trip over. Our favourite beaches are the Basin and Pinky Beach. And get up close to the cute little marsupial the quokka, found only in Western Australia.
6. Hit the beaches – in the MORNING!
Perth has some excellent city beaches such as Scarborough, Cottesloe, City Beach, Trigg, Sorento, and Leighton, but Perth does get a little windy in the afternoons.
By 2pm, the famous Fremantle Doctor breeze has rolled in off the Indian Ocean making your beach day somewhat less pleasant.
So if you’re heading to one of Perth’s beautiful beaches, make it a morning event, unless you’re going late in the afternoon to take in one of the magical sunsets.
7. Explore historic Fremantle
I’m still trying to figure out if the historic seaside port of Fremantle is a suburb of Perth or its own city? Help me out! But I do know it makes for a great day trip.
Freo” is located just 30 minutes from downtown Perth and is dotted with cafes, bars, seafood restaurants and is known as the ‘world’s best-preserved example of a 19th-century port streetscape’ with heritage buildings and a fascinating convict and maritime history.
8. See a performance at Perth Concert Hall
I haven’t been to a performance at the Perth Concert Hall myself, but I’ve been told several times, and have read, that the acoustics are incredible, even better than at the Sydney Opera House.
9. Eat at the Greenhouse
The Greenhouse, located on St George’s Terrace is one of Perth’s hot restaurants. First of all, it’s a very interesting building architecturally and the concept is about operating better places for people and the whole place is geared toward sustainability.
The exterior of the building is clad in corrugated iron covered by a vertical garden with about 4,000 terracotta pots filled with ivy and strawberry plants.
It has 420 straw bales in its walls and ceiling, a rooftop garden that provides produce for the kitchen and bar, and recycled furniture throughout. The quality of the food is amazing and varied, especially loved the wood fired pizza.
10. Soak up the sunshine
Perth is the sunny city and enjoys more hours of sunshine than any other city in Australia: 3,000 hours a year and 8.8 hours a day. Average summer temperatures hover around the 30 degree celsius mark.
That’s one reason you’ll see the locals living active lifestyles walking, biking, and enjoying the many parks and beaches. Soak it up
11. Enjoy the pace of life
Perth offers a relaxing and easy going lifestyle surrounded by the Swan River, Kings Park, and endless stretches of gorgeous beaches. Compared to Australia’s other major cities of Sydney and Melbourne, Perth has a lot less people and a slower pace of life.
Although peak hour traffic can be heavy and starts earlier than normal, around 2pm which coincides with the 5pm knock off work time on the east coast of Australia. Something to be aware of.
12. Small Bar scene
Perth has experienced economic and social growth with many new developments and cultural precincts emerging. In particular, the small bar scene and new restaurants.
In the CBD Bars worth considering are Helvetica and laneway gem Andaluz. Join the cool crowd at The Aviary or the vintage feel at Hula Bula. Also in the city is 399 Bar. In the hip neighbourhood of Northbridge there’s Ezra Pound Bar and The Bird Wine Bar.
13. Hillarys Boat Harbour
Hillarys is an impressive Boat Harbour development with a lot going on. There’s numerous attractions to keep the kids happy with the swimming beach, water slides, playgrounds, trampolines and mini-golf.
For us parents there’s a range of cafes, shops, restaurants, cycle paths plus all the boating and water activities. Spend an hour or a whole day and watch the sun go down over the ocean.
14. Eat at Duende
Duende is a tapas-style restaurant occupying a corner block in the suburb of Leederville that left a lasting memory in my mouth. And the modern decor brings with it a good vibe along with the nice range of Mediterranean influenced dishes.
Their motto is “everyday for everyone” and they feature an all day breakfast/brunch option till 4pm. Some of Duende’s classics include grilled tapas, bar bites, deli sliced meats, cheeses and desserts, and lots of vegetarian choices.
15. Bike or walk along the Swan River
You’ll see lots of bikers and walkers in Perth, and why not with the climate and scenery on offer year round. The communities of Bassendean, Bayswater and Belmont boasts over 28 kilometres of river foreshore.
Walkers can stroll along the Swan River foreshore and cyclists you can even take your bike on a train as a number of bike rides connect from train stations along the Midland Rail Line.
Where we stayed in Perth
We stayed in a two bedroom apartment at the Mantra on Hay Street which was conveniently located to the CBD, and the WACA if you’re in town for a cricket match. Just a 10-minute walk and we were at the Hay Street Mall and everything the Perth city centre has to offer.
As a family we prefer to stay in apartments in city centres to have access to a full-kitchen, laundry facilities and separate bedrooms for the kids. And I must say the Mantra was a lovely upgrade from our camper trailer we occupied on our road trip around Australia at the time, just quietly!
The Mantra on Hay has one, two, and three bed apartments plus hotel rooms.
Plan Your Trip to Perth
We’ve been traveling consistently for 17 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights and car rental. Below are our preferred partners:
- Booking.com has over 200 properties in Perth including hotels, apartments, and hostels. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
- Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).
Tours in Perth