From beaches to botanic gardens, wine to whale-watching, seafood to surfing, Perth offers more than your average city break.
It may be named after a city in Scotland, but the similarities end there. Unlike its Scottish namesake, Perth in Western Australia has a Mediterranean climate. Jenny Longmuir shares her 10 top tips for what to do in around the capital of Western Australia, from the zoo to a (food) safari.
1. King’s Park and Botanic Garden
King’s Park is one of Perth’s loveliest city green spaces, great for kids, birds, picnics and views of the city (head to Fraser Avenue Lookout for the latter). There are different areas of the park to explore, inlcuding the Western Australian Botanic Garden, its star attraction the Giant Boab, the Tangle – a strange and somewhat spooky area of ‘upside-down trees’, and a 620m-long treetop walkway. Free tours of the park depart daily from Fraser Avenue, outside Aspects of Kings Park. The walks run every day throughout the year.
2. Fremantle Harbour
Fremantle Harbour is one of Australia’s busiest ports. It is a hive of economic activity with goods such as grain, petroleum and fertilizers transported through the harbour. The waterfront at the western end of Victoria Quay is open to the public so you can watch the port’s workings while sipping coffee at café. Fremantle also has a spectacular weekend market, with locally grown produce, street food and live music (and the world’s largest didgeridoo store). In summer there’s also the Victoria Quay Night Market.
3. Rottnest Island
Lying 18km west of Fremantle, and accessible by daily ferry services from Perth (45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour, or 90 minutes from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty), Rottnest Island attracts half a million visitors a year to go hiking, fishing, swimming, snorkelling… The island is one big nature reserve, home to the rare quokka (a nocturnal marsupial about the size of a domestic cat), while southern right and humpback whales pass by in spring and autumn.
4. Perth Zoo
Perth Zoo Australia’s represents biodiversity with 164 species of animals and a wide variety of plants from Australia and beyond. Go on a free guided walking tour and do one of the zoo’s ‘close encounters’, such as getting its male elephant to create your very own masterpiece… Maybe you can guess how?! The Zoo also carries out some fantastic conservation work, with Sumatran orangutans for example, and all exhibits are designed to mimic the animals’ natural habitat.
5. Cottesloe Beach
Cottesloe Beach is one of Perth’s finest beaches, and Perth has many from which to choose. Walk along the coastline bare-footed on the sand, go swimming (one of Australia’s safest places to swim), surfing, diving or snorkelling, and then treat yourself to an aperito and fresh seafood at somwhere like Cott. & Co. Fish Bar.
6. Food Night Safari
Perth has a diverse food culture, with a local cuisine inspired by the sea and Southeast Asian (especially Vietnamese) cooking, reflected in the city’s ‘roadside kitchens’ and diverse establishments, five of which you’ll visit on a Food Night Safari. You can book a private tour for eight or more people, or just join in and meet other foodies.
Just north of Perth is the small fishing town of Lancelin. Watersports enthusiasts will love its bay, sheltered by outer reefs and islands, which creates some of the best conditions around for windsurfing, scuba diving, fishing and pretty much any activity involving water. Lancelin’s sand dunes are a playground for quad-biking, four-wheel driving and sand-boarding.
8. Perth Cultural Centre
If Perth’s famously wonderful weather is having an off day, or you want a high-brow break from quad-biking, pay a visit to the Perth Cultural Centre. It encompasses the Western Australian Museum, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, The Blue Room Theatre and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA).
9. Wine tasting in the Swan Valley
Swan Valley, just east of Perth, is Western Australia’s oldest vineyard. You can reach Swan Valley by road, but if you want to taste the wines without spitting them out, hop on board a Swan River cruise from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty. Swan Valley’s other attractions include Caversham Wildlife Park and tthe town of Guildford, with its colonial-period architecture, historic pubs, art galleries and antique shops.
10. Free tours
Perth has a free Central Area Transit (CAT) system, with three bus lines navigating Perth’s main attractions between East Perth, West Perth and Northbridge. The central city area is also a free transit zone, meaning any journey starting and ending within its limits is free. So take advantage and explore the city and what it has to offer at your own leisure.
Gorgeous beaches, sweet surf spots and epic shopping, good reasons to give the Gold Coast a go on your next trip Down Under.
From cool cafés to catching some surf near the city centre; check out these tips on what to do in Victoria’s capital.Find flights to Perth Find hotels in Perth