The most remote major city in the world, Perth is not the most accessible destination to get to, but it's certainly worth the trek. Whether you’re interested in sampling some of Western Australia’s famous wines, shopping the quirky boutiques in trendy Fremantle, relaxing (or surfing) at the beach, or attempting to take a #quokkaselfie with what might just be the world’s cutest animal, there’s plenty to do in and around town.
Visit Quokkas on Rottnest Island
If you’ve never heard of a quokka, please do yourself a favor and do a quick image search—we'll wait. Made famous by celebrities like Roger Federer, Chris Hemsworth, and Margot Robbie, the #quokkaselfie phenomenon has swept over social media, where thousands of tourists attempt to take selfies with the adorable—and incredibly friendly—little marsupials. They only live on Rottnest Island, a recreation paradise a 25- to 90-minute ferry ride from different points across Perth and a handful surrounding islands, plus a few spots on the mainland. But Rottnest is the ideal place to see the cute critters, as they have no natural predators, so they’re not afraid if you get down in the dirt and attempt to take a photo with them. (Just remember that you should never touch or feed one.) While on Rottnest, rent a bike to visit the scenic beaches and lakes across the island. While many people take a day trip from Perth, you actually can stay overnight on the island.
Walk, Bike, or Segway Along the Swan River
The Swan River snakes its way through Perth, and all along the riverfront you find greenspaces with great trails for walking, biking, or even Segwaying (the relatively flat terrain and wide paths make it ideal for beginners). And if you’d like to stay put and watch the throngs go by, that’s perfectly acceptable, too. Keep an eye out for plenty of friendly dogs whose owners take advantage of the parks, too.
Immerse Yourself in the Street Art Scene
Perth is renowned for its large-scale street-art murals spread throughout the city—you’ll likely pass a number by without intentionally going to visit them. Many of them are by international artists who are commissioned by local business owners. Take, for instance, Holly Raye’s Café, which boasts a mural by Anya Brock of the owner’s dog (the café is dog-friendly, naturally). For a street-art gallery of sorts, visit Wolf Lane in the CBD, which is filled with murals, cafés, and bars.
Taste Western Australian Wines
Australia is well known for its wines, and the state of Western Australia (of which Perth is the capital) has quite a few standout wine regions, including Margaret River, located a three-hour drive south of Perth. While you’d be wise to spend a few days there before or after your stay in Perth, you can also sample the wines without leaving city limits. You’re likely to find Margaret River wines at nearly any restaurant or wine bar you visit—some of our favorite wine bars include No Mafia in Northbridge and Petition Wine Bar in the CBD. You can also take a day trip to a closer wine region, Swan Valley, which is only 25 minutes from downtown.
Hit the Beach
Like any proper coastal city in Australia, Perth has a thriving beach scene. While the town itself is set a little way back from the ocean, a short 30-minute drive will take you right to the sand. The most famous beach in Perth is Cottesloe, a half-mile stretch of pristine white sand that’s home to the annual Sculptures by the Sea event. Leighton Beach, set just north of Fremantle, is a particularly family-friendly spot given the calm surf. And Bathers Beach in Fremantle proper is adjacent to a promenade lined with restaurants, galleries, shops, not to mention the Round House historic site.
Drink Craft Beer
A visit to Perth would be incomplete without a trip to a local brewery or a craft beer bar. Some of the big brewers in the region include Bright Tank Brewing Co. in East Perth, Little Creatures Brewing in Fremantle, Blasta Brewing Company in Burswood, all of which have great tasting rooms for an afternoon of sampling. But there are also great bars to visit, too, like Caboose in Mount Lawley or Dutch Trading Co. in Victoria Park. And if you happen to be in town in August, don’t miss the Perth Craft Beer Festival, a three-day celebration of brews.
Stroll Through Kings Park and Botanic Garden
At nearly 1,000 acres, Kings Park is one of the largest inner city parks in the world, and it draws visitors and locals alike. It’s the best place to experience nature without leaving the city—two-thirds of the park is protected bushland. Kings Park is also home to the Western Australian Botanic Garden, which has more than 3,000 species of flora native to the state (visit in September to see the famous wildflower blooms). The park and the garden are both open and free to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Enjoy a Fine Dining Experience
Perth’s culinary scene rivals that of its more-visited sisters, Melbourne and Sydney. For an exceptional dining experience, head to the massive Crown Perth complex in Burswood, which not only houses two hotels, a spa, a theater, and a casino, but also two of the top restaurants in town: Rockpool, by Aussie legend chef Neil Perry, and Nobu, part of chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s empire. For something in the CBD, try Wildflower, a rooftop restaurant at the COMO The Treasury hotel with a sensational five-course tasting menu (à la carte options are available, too).
Visit Fremantle Prison
It’s no secret that Australia was once a colony of convicts—learn about this dark history at the Fremantle Prison, one of 11 sites that are part of the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property. It originally opened in 1855 and was fully operational until 1991, before being turned into a museum.
See Kangaroos on Heirisson Island
In the middle of the Swan River is Heirisson Island, home to a small kangaroo sanctuary. Head to the fenced-in area surrounding the lake to visit them. While these Western Gray Kangaroos aren’t afraid of humans, meaning you can get quite close to them, know that it’s firmly against the rules to feed them. (Stop by the picnic tables and barbecues on the island to eat your lunch before you head to the sanctuary!) Get to Heirisson Island by driving or walking across the causeway that connects East Perth and Victoria Park.
Peep the Historic Architecture in Cathedral Square
While you can find new buildings all over Perth, you’ll have to head to the Cathedral Square neighborhood to see some of the most historic ones. Here you’ll find the three heritage-listed State Buildings housing a hotel, shops, bars and restaurants, and even health and wellness centers; the Gothic-style Perth Town Hall; St. George’s Cathedral, the square's namesake; and the Victorian-Tudor-style Deanery, among others.
Snack on Street Food
Not all dining in Perth needs to be expensive, though. If you’re in the mood to sample all types of cuisine without busting the bank, head to one of Perth’s many night markets to dine on bites by street food vendors. From the spring through the fall, the Inglewood Monday Night Markets are a popular place for foodies to congregate. There’s also the Twilight Hawkers Market, which runs seasonally on Friday nights, where you can taste global dishes and listen to live music.
Watch the Sunset From a Rooftop Bar
No matter where you are in Perth, you’re likely not far from a great rooftop bar. Take advantage of the great weather in the city by dining or drinking alfresco (or catching a rooftop film at Rooftop Movies, an outdoor cinema that’s open in the summer). Some of the top spots include Rooftop at QT, an indoor-outdoor spot with great cocktails and bites, and The Aviary, which often has live music or DJ sets to get the party started. If you’re out in Fremantle, check out the Rooftop Garden at the National Hotel for stellar views.
Go Shopping in Fremantle
Technically its own city on the outskirts of Perth, Fremantle, or Freo, as the locals call it, is a quirky coastal enclave filled with great shopping (and beaches, restaurants, and breweries to boot). Pop in and out of the fashion boutiques, artisan shops, and secondhand stores inside the colorful colonial-era buildings of the CBD, or head to the Fremantle Markets or E-Shed Markets to peruse hundreds of stands run by craftspeople, designers, and farmers.
Go Whale Watching
Each year from mid-August to November, some 35,000 humpback whales migrate from the warmer waters in the northern reaches of Western Australia to their feeding grounds in Antarctica, passing right by Perth. As such, a number of operators offer whale watching cruises each spring. Check out the offerings by Rottnest Fast Ferries and Whale Watching Perth. You can also see blue whales in the fall, who gather offshore at the Perth Canyon to feed on krill—book through Whale Watching Western Australia.
Explore Art Museums and Galleries
The most famous art museum in Perth is undoubtedly the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Northbridge, which is worth a stop for all visitors, but for those looking to get a more in-depth look into the art scene of the city, explore the neighborhood around the museum. You’ll find spots like Paper Mountain and Gallery Central, both of which are hubs for artists, offering resources like classes, co-working spaces, galleries, and studios. To learn about Aboriginal art, visit Artitja Fine Art in South Fremantle or Creative Native in the CBD.
Visit the Perth Mint
Exporting more than $18 billion in platinum, gold, and silver products each year, the Perth Mint is a very active precious metals enterprise, doing everything from creating coins (both legal tender and collectibles) to running an investment and storage program. Visit the mint and take a tour to see a live gold pouring, or head to the gift shop to purchase some shiny souvenirs.
Meet Australia’s Native Wildlife at the Aquarium and the Zoo
If seeing the quokkas on Rottnest Island and the kangaroos on Hiessiman Island weren’t enough, you can see even more animals at the Perth Zoo and the Aquarium of Western Australia. There are more than 500 species of animals between the two institutions, showcasing both indigenous creatures and ones from around the world.