7 Things to Do in Perth
Featured destinations: Perth
Published 08 November 2016
Western Australia’s lively capital Perth is the gateway to the deserts, vineyards and beaches of the rest of the state. Most visitors will arrive into or depart from the city, and it’s worth spending a few days exploring the sights and sampling the local lifestyle before moving on. Here’s our guide to the top 7 things to do in the city:
Have a picnic in Kings Park
With fabulous city and Swan River views, Kings Park is a delightful place to while away a sunny day especially if you bring a picnic to eat on the lush lawns. The park’s network of pathways showcases various plants native to Western Australia, and there’s also an impressive war memorial (pictured). Within the grounds you’ll also find the Western Australian Botanic Garden, home to over 12,000 species, including the magnificent wildflowers that bloom colourfully in the springtime. Hidden amongst the trees you’ll also find various statues, a water garden and the Science Directorate, which works towards the conservation of Australia’s flora and fauna.
Cruise the Swan River
The Swan River flows steadily from the Avon River, right through Perth, and all the way to the Indian Ocean at Fremantle. With many of the city sights visible from the water, as well as the peaceful riverside views, the banks make a great spot for a walk of a cycle ride. The best way to explore is by boat though, with the summer months lending themselves well to canoeing or kayaking. For something less strenuous, scenic cruises are available, some including gourmet lunches and wine tasting and some heading all the way to Fremantle. Cruise the river at night for a whole new perspective on the city’s lights.
Browse the Museums
If museums are your bag, then Perth’s the place to come. The Perth Mint is the stand-out favourite, having been established in 1899 and still producing coins today. Take a tour, learn about the production of coins and see liquid gold being made into gold bars. The Western Australian Museum is the place to learn about the state’s wildlife and Aboriginal History, while in Perth’s northern suburbs the Aquarium of Western Australia is a good option for families; come to admire its jellyfish, turtles and starfish, and see if you can find Nemo. The city is not short of a gallery or two either: try the Art Gallery of Western Australia for international and indigenous paintings, or the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts for something a little more modern.
Meet the quokkas on Rottnest Island
About 13 miles off the coast of Perth, accessed by a 25-minute ferry ride, Rottnest Island is one of the city’s favourite attractions. Far removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown Perth, Rottnest Island’s pretty coves, soft sandy beaches and coastal walking paths are the perfect escape – come for the day or stay for a week! As well as snorkelling, diving and swimming just offshore, one of the island’s main draws are its most famous (and fluffy) residents: the quokka. This delightful marsupial, with its inquisitive nature and friendliness towards humans, started something of a craze in 2014, when ‘quokka selfies’ appeared all over the internet. The fad may have passed, but the creatures are no less cute, although Rottnest’s early settlers would disagree. Thinking the quokkas were something more sinister, they gave the island its name – Rat’s Nest.
Spend the day at the seaside in Fremantle
Known as ‘Freo’, this laid-back and eclectic area is actually a separate city to Perth, even though it’s perched on the waterfront just 14 miles away. Fremantle is a chilled-out place that stops long and often – for coffee on the ‘Cappuccino Strip’, for craft beer at the Little Creatures Brewery and for fresh seafood by the water. The Arts Centre, historic convict prison and bustling 150-stall market will vie with the beach and the harbourside fish and chip shops for your time. The best way to reach Fremantle is by boat – catch the ferry from Barrack Street Jetty or join a sightseeing cruise.
Meet the city’s kangaroos (real or otherwise)
Whether you’re just spending a few days in Perth before heading on or embarking on an all-Australia extravaganza, you’ll want to see some kangaroos. Sadly, despite what you may think, these bouncy creatures aren’t hopping happily all over the place, and so to see one you need to put in a bit of effort. Perth is the perfect place to do just that, with the much-loved bronze kangaroo sculptures found on St George’s Terrace, with one even ‘drinking’ from the adjacent fountain. But for the real deal, try Whiteman Park in the north of the city, where they roam freely, or Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park, where the resident roos are used to humans, allowing you to get pretty close.
Taste wine in the Swan Valley
Just 25 minutes’ drive from the centre of Perth, following the Swan River out of town, the Swan Valley is an exciting day trip from the city. Here, among the sun-dappled fields and rolling hills, you’ll find endless rows of vines, as well as a selection of high-end wineries and craft breweries specialising in turning these grapes into the good stuff. As well as enjoying winery tours and wine-tasting, there are heritage trails and cycle paths aplenty, artisan foods to try and various art galleries and craft shops to explore. They best way to see it all is to follow the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail, a 20-mile scenic drive taking in the best of the cafés, restaurants and of course, wines.
Take a look around Perth with Round the World Experts' South West Highlights holiday, which includes a trip to Rottnest Island.