Perth is among the world's most remote cities, with the nearest major urban center over 2000 km (1200 miles) away. But despite its isolation, Perth is a thriving metropolis and Australia's fourth largest city. Whether you're roaming its bustling streets, relaxing on its incredible beaches, or admiring the flora and fauna, you're guaranteed to make captivating memories. Perth is also the gateway to exploring more of Western Australia's beauty, such as the Coral Coast to the north or the forests to the south. So why not extend this city trip into a coastal road trip?
Good to Know:
- Getting There: Flying is the simplest way to reach Perth. Though Perth's airport has direct connections within the region and even to some destinations as far away as London, you should expect a layover. If you're already in Australia, you could also take the train from Sydney or Adelaide to Perth and make the trip part of the adventure!
- Getting Around: Perth's public transport system is cheap, easy to navigate, and extensive. You must purchase the SmartRider Card at an InfoCentre or retailer to use it. Some routes within the city center even operate free of charge, while others will take you out into the suburbs for a small fee. In addition to public transport, Perth has great pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
- Where to Stay: Besides the city center, Scarborough, East Perth, and Fremantle are tourist-friendly and central neighborhoods.
- When to Visit: Spring (September-November) is the best season to explore Perth. The wildflowers are in full bloom, humpback whales roam the coastal waters, rainy days are rare, and the rising temperatures allow for swimming in the ocean. Visit during the summer (December-February) if you simply crave to lounge in the sun on the beach. Though the weather during the fall months is less inviting, this is the time to explore the wineries in Swan Valley and to see the largest living mammals, blue whales, off the coast of Perth!
- How Long to Visit: If you are continuing along the coast after your visit and want to see just the highlights, stay for at least 4 full days. Ideally, however, you should plan to stay for a week or even longer.
- More: Check out the Indian Ocean Drive, Coastal Coast Highway, and Esperance for more!
Elizabeth Quay marks the heart of Perth. Stroll along the waterfront, lined by shops, restaurants, and playgrounds. The quay is especially fantastic at night when the sculptures and lamps light up the boardwalk, and Perth's nightlife slowly begins. Perth's most well-known building is the Bell Tower, a futuristic glass spire at Elizabeth Quay. The tower holds a set of bells that once belonged to St. Martin-of-the-Fields church in London. These and a set of newer bells cast in Australia comprise the Swan Bells. Visitors can view and try their hand at ringing the bells at the interactive exhibit within the tower. The tickets also include entry to the Bell Tower's observation deck, from which you get a panoramic view of the quay and Swan River!
Just a short walk from Elizabeth Quay is Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Perth is an exceptionally green city, with many gorgeous parks and public spaces, but Kings Park certainly takes the crown. Unlike many other inner-city parks, Kings Park is not just a large, grassy field but mostly natural bushland and home to many wildflower species! The park has plenty of educational attractions, teaching kids and adults about Australia's native flora. There are also several viewpoints in Kings Park, such as the canopy Lotterywest Federation Walkway, DNA Tower, and the Mount Eliza Lookout.
Swan River scenically winds its way through Perth. Spend the day cruising upstream along the river to Swan Valley. This lovely countryside region boasts many vineyards and accompanying wineries. The river cruises to the valley often already include a winetasting or a vineyard tour. But if you don't want the all-inclusive package, you can easily just take the train or car to Swan Valley and go from there. It is the perfect destination for a romantic picnic amidst your idyllic surroundings, as you might find at Maali Bridge Park or anywhere along the riverbank. Shorter boat tours run between Elizabeth Quay and Fremantle or East Perth. These can be guided tours or ferry rides to take you to another part of the city, but be sure to not miss out on at least one boat ride!
There are countless other activities for you to do along the river. Canoe, kayak, and other boat rentals let you cruise along the river on your own terms, while you can explore from land along one of the many trails and walks through riverside parks. Stroll along Heirisson Island where you might catch a glimpse of the local kangaroo family, or collect sea shells on Point Walter Sandbar. Near Heirisson Island is Matagurup Bridge, Perth's most exciting lookout point! After getting strapped in, you'll climb the arches to the top of the bridge for a fantastic river view. If you're brave enough, choose to zip down the bridge instead of doing the return climb for a guaranteed thrill!
When in Perth, you should not miss out on a day trip to Rottnest Island. Ferries to this island paradise depart regularly from Elizabeth Quay and Fremantle Port. The crossing only takes around 45 minutes (25 minutes from Fremantle). Ferry tickets are expensive at about 20$ each way, and the island charges another 20$ solely for admission. Nonetheless, Rottnest is worth the cost. Although moderately large, Rottnest Island is car-free. Thus, bicycles are the most popular way to explore! But there are also plenty of hiking trails on Rottnest, such as the Wadjimup Bidi. Comprised of a series of smaller tracks, the Wadjimup Bidi covers 45 km (28 miles) of the island and will take you along its most stunning natural features!
Quokkas, small marsupials, roam the island and have gotten so used to humans that they don't run in fear. As long as they are not in distress, Quokkas are very approachable and will even show interest in you! Nevertheless, be careful around the adorable animals. It is prohibited to disturb, feed, or handle them in any way. But the friendly Quokka won't be the only wild animals you will see on Rottnest. Seals often lounge at Cathedral Rock, at the island's western tip. From the lookout points, dolphins can often be seen playing in the water around the island. Moreover, Rottnest Island is also a breeding ground for numerous birds. To see Rottnest's underwater world, head out on a glass-bottom boat or simply snorkel at one of the island's incredible 63 beaches and 20 bays!
Fremantle, lovingly called Freo by its inhabitants, is Perth's historic center and port. It is located south of Swan River, just a short train ride (or boat ride!) from the city center. Much of Fremantle's architecture dates back to the colonial era when European colonizers first came to Western Australia. British convicts were brought to Fremantle Prison in the years that followed. Today, the prison complex is a dedicated World Heritage Site and can be visited.
Freo is most well-known for its bustling Weekend Markets that attract locals and tourists alike. In addition to fresh produce, the markets offer many different forms of entertainment, from food stalls selling tasty snacks from all over the world to live music and tarot card readings. We have included a few of our favorites in the Points of Interests.
Get out of the city and visit Rockingham within a half-hour drive or train ride. A holiday destination in its own right, the suburb boasts a lengthy, pristine coastline and plenty of things to see and do! Rockingham is home to the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, a designated reserve covering most of the suburb's coast. Explore the park on foot and from the water to see as much incredible nature and wildlife as possible. An easy hiking trail to start with is the Cape Peron Loop Trail which takes you along the limestone cliffs of the promontory of the same name in under an hour. The cape is an excellent spot for birdwatchers as albatross, cormorants, and ospreys often hunt for prey among the cliffs. Occasionally, little penguins are also spotted here. However, you have a higher chance of seeing a little penguin on Penguin Island off the coast of Rockingham. Take the ferry from Mersey Point and wander along the boardwalk to spot the penguin colony from afar. You'll likely also see seals, dolphins, and other marine wildlife enjoying the island's gorgeous waters. Unfortunately, due to breeding protection, the island is closed off to the public from June to September. Another great way to explore the park is by renting a kayak and paddling along the Shoalwater Park's marine trail! It begins at Cape Peron, takes you to Penguin Island, and back again. Lastly, the area is fantastic for snorkeling and scuba diving, with beautiful reefs and lots of underwater wildlife.
Western Australia boasts a heavenly coastline, and Perth is no exception to this rule. There are 19 beaches in total within the greater metropolitan area of Perth, all of which are pleasant. But for the Crème de la Crème of the city's beaches, head to Scarborough or Cottlesloe Beach. Also, check out the Points of Interests, where we have compiled more incredible beaches!