Perth may not boast the iconic landmarks of its East Coast counterparts, but the Western Australian capital punches well above its weight when it comes to nature and nightlife. Outdoorsy travelers should visit in spring for wildflowers and whale watching, but the plentiful sunshine means you can explore this amazing region all year round.
For foodies, Perth's bars, cafes, and restaurants are a great way to get to know contemporary Australian dining culture. Most travelers will need to fly in or out of Perth when visiting Western Australia, so we've put together a guide to the must-see attractions in this city nestled between the river and the sea. Read on for how to make the most of 48 hours in Perth.
Day 1: Morning
10 a.m.: Take a taxi or Uber from Perth Airport to your accommodation. You can also take the bus directly from the airport to Belmont, Burswood, Victoria Park, or Elizabeth Quay. The most popular hotels and Airbnbs are clustered around the Central Business District (CBD) and the port city of Fremantle.
Those looking for luxury should check out The Treasury, a Scandi-chic hotel from COMO, or the European Hotel is a budget-friendly boutique. If you'd rather stray from the beaten track, Northbridge is a hub of urban culture just across the railway line from the city where you'll find youth hostels, while in Fremantle, a half-hour drive west, there are a bunch of gorgeous beachside options.
11 a.m.: If you're staying in the city, wander over to Northbridge for a classic Aussie brunch. Try Tuck Shop Cafe for smashed avocado or a meat pie, or Sayers Sister for breakfast cocktails and innovative dishes. Keep an eye out for the street art along William Street, then visit the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) and the Art Gallery of Western Australia at the Perth Cultural Centre.
Day 1: Afternoon
2 p.m.: Just west of the city center, you'll find Perth's top tourist attraction, Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Kings Park remains an important ceremonial and cultural place for the traditional owners of the area, the Noongar people.
Two-thirds of the park is preserved as native bushland, and the Botanic Garden is home to 3,000 species of the unique flora. It also offers stunning views across the Swan River and the surrounding mountain ranges. Don't miss the Federation Walkway, an arched bridge across the treetops, and the Giant Boab, a native tree that is estimated to be more than 750 years old.
Between July and October, the Botanic Garden is blanketed in wildflowers. (The Kings Park Festival is held each September to celebrate the peak of the wildflower season.) The park is family-friendly with playgrounds, walking trails, cafes, and bathroom facilities available. You can visit Kings Park whenever is most convenient during your stay, as it is open 24/7 and entry is free.
Day 1: Evening
6 p.m.: If you're not totally exhausted from exploring Kings Park, take a stroll along the waterfront to Elizabeth Quay for dinner. (Or just order an Uber.) For dinner, the Lucky Shag is a waterfront pub with classic seafood, burgers, and steaks on the menu, while the Oyster Bar is perfect for groups with delicious share plates and an extensive wine list.
8 p.m.: Finish the night back in trendy Northbridge, Perth's top destination for bar-hopping. Northbridge developed as the city's most dynamic neighborhood during the late 1800s gold rush period and has remained so ever since. Start with a craft beer at Northbridge Brewing Co., before moving on to a cocktail on the deck at Mechanics Institute, a glass of wine at Ezra Pound or a gin at Frisk.
12 a.m.: Most bars in Perth close around midnight, but clubs like Mint and Paramount are open til the wee hours of Saturday and Sunday morning. Nightlife here is relaxed and fun, especially in Northbridge, where the crowd is mostly university students and young professionals. For a greasy late night snack, make sure to swing by the Moon on your way home.
Day 2: Morning
9 a.m.: Pack your sunscreen and swimsuit (or bathers as the locals would say), because today is all about the beach. If you need a coffee to start your morning, we love Tiisch in the city center. Then, take the train from Perth station to Cottesloe, on the Fremantle line. The trip takes around 20 minutes and costs just over $3 each way. You can also get a bus from Elizabeth Quay.
10 a.m.: Settle in at Perth's most picturesque beach for a morning of sand and surf. Make sure to swim between the red and yellow flags that signify a lifeguard is on duty. If the ocean is calm, you can also go snorkeling at the northern end of the beach. Cottesloe is backed by shady trees that offer a welcome respite from the fierce Aussie sun, but the beach is generally a little windier in the afternoon, which can make for a less enjoyable experience.
Day 2: Afternoon
1 p.m.: Find a spot for lunch in Cottesloe's buzzing restaurant precinct, along Marine Parade. The Blue Duck is a local favorite, serving fresh seafood and elevated Mediterranean classics. Il Lido, a relaxed Italian canteen, is another hotspot. Then, hop back on the train to Fremantle for an afternoon of sightseeing.
2 p.m.: Fremantle is packed with things to do, from visiting the local markets to exploring the WA Maritime Museum. For history buffs, the Fremantle Prison played a key landmark in Western Australia's convict history. The Roundhouse, originally used as a jail and then a police lockup, is the oldest building still standing in Western Australia.
4 p.m.: The Fremantle Markets are open until 6 p.m. Friday to Sunday, with fresh produce, handmade goods, and food from all over the world. If you're looking for something a little more sophisticated you'll find some of the city's best art galleries and fashion and homewares boutiques on Wray Avenue in South Fremantle.
Day 2: Evening
6 p.m.: Unlike Sydney and Melbourne, Perth is lucky enough to enjoy a sunset over the ocean. Watch the sky change color from one of the many bars and restaurants at the Fremantle Boat Harbour, or across the point at Bathers Beach House. Many of Fremantle's best restaurants can be found on South Terrace, also known as the Cappuccino Strip.
8 p.m.: In Fremantle, the nightlife scene is famously bohemian. Mojo's Bar is a live music institution, hosting an open mic night on Mondays and established local and international bands every other night of the week. If a speakeasy is more your style, try the Aardvark, under the Norfolk Hotel. For whiskey and barbecue, you can't go past Holy Smokes, while Ronnie Nights is the heart of all things artsy and alternative.
11 p.m.: The last train back to the Perth city center departs Fremantle station at 11.55pm, but Ubers and taxis are also available to take you back to your accommodation.
If you have more time in Perth, make sure to check out our list of incredible day trips, including Rottnest Island and the Swan Valley wine region.