The Perfect Perth Itinerary: Explore Australia’s Gem on the West Coast
Perth in Western Australia is not always the obvious choice of destinations down under, but this vibrant city that straddles Swan River has more to offer than meets the eye. Its sweeping coastline welcomes the cooling breeze from the Indian Ocean, and it is a wonderful base for exploring more of Australia’s western state.
From world-class wine regions and wildlife-filled national parks to pumping surf breaks and a burgeoning culinary scene, here’s what you need to add to your Perth itinerary!
If you are planning a trip to Perth, read on for some practical travel tips, where to stay, places to add to your Perth itinerary, day trip options and my honest take on how much time to spend in the city.
Important things to know before visiting Perth
- To get into Perth you’ll need to fly into Perth International Airport. An Uber from the airport to the city center costs approximately 50 AUD and takes about half an hour, or you can also take a metered taxi which will cost slightly more. Those traveling with young children can pre-book an airport transfer with an approved child car seat or booster via FamilyCab or Shebah. Per the Road Safety Commission, “there is no requirement for children aged between 1 and 7 years to be secured in a child car restraint while travelling in taxis or rideshare vehicles, however the appropriate restraint is the safest option.”
- The currency is the Australian Dollar. The exchange rate is approximately US$1 to 1.4/1.5 AUD, though most places accept credit card (Visa and Mastercard are often preferred over American Express). Credit card payWave in particular is widely accepted and a convenient way to pay in Australia.
- Stay connected and pre-buy a local SIM card. The airport sells prepaid SIM cards – I typically go with Optus or Vodafone. If you don’t manage to grab a SIM card on arrival head to a Coles supermarket as they often have them for sale.
- You pretty much never have to pay full price for admissions tickets in Perth. Just click here and search for places you want to go, and book online for discounted entry or head on over here to read more about how to use Klook to book travel experiences.
- The weather in Perth is generally mild – the Australian summer from December to February is the most popular time of year to visit Perth, though the months on either end of the peak season are great too. If you want to avoid the crowds and peak season hotel prices, visit Perth in October, November, March or April.
How to get around Perth
You can get around Perth’s central business district (CBD) on foot, Uber or by CAT bus. That being said, the ease of traveling around Perth city greatly differs to, say, Melbourne – the best way to get around Perth and to travel between its various neighborhoods is by rental car as the city and various landmarks are very spread out.
Parking (street parking and garages) is plentiful around Perth, though few hotels in Perth offer secure parking (more on this later). Don’t let Google Maps fool you, places may look close to one another but the walking distance is significant. I would not say that Perth is a particularly walk-able city.
Looking for the best prices for rental car companies around the world? Click here to book your rental car ahead of your trip. Bookings can be cancelled or amended if your plans change!
Where to stay in Perth
For a first-time visitor to Perth, I recommend staying in and around Perth’s CBD or NOR (“north of the river”). The neighboring Northbridge, West Perth, Subiaco and Leederville areas are also popular options for people looking to maximize their Perth itinerary.
Check yourself into Accor Hotel’s Sebel West Perth, a boutique aparthotel with spacious rooms with a well-equipped kitchen and in-room washer and dryer. The bed was delightfully comfortable and the shower water pressure was fantastic – there is also an on-site pool and gym if you’re looking to stay active. What’s not to love? It is located just a hop and skip away from Perth CBD or a 5-minute drive from King’s Park.
Unlike many other Perth accommodation options which do not have on-site parking available (or parking that limits the number of times you can drive in/out), The Sebel West Perth has secure, undercover parking for in-house guests at AU$19/day with multiple entries and exits. If you are renting a car in Perth, this is my recommendation for where to book yourself into. Click here to book your stay at The Sebel West Perth or head on over here for other highly-rated accommodation options in Perth.
The Alex, Art Series – The Adnate, Crowne (several options), QT and Mantra are other popular boutique hotels in Perth, and if you are looking to splurge then check out COMO The Treasury which is housed in a stunning heritage building.
Wondering how many days to spend in Perth? 3 days in Perth is generally sufficient if you are looking to visit the top Perth attractions. However, if you plan on venturing beyond the city and going on day trips to places like the Swan Valley wine region, Margaret River wine region or to see the quokkas on Rottnest Island then you’ll need at least 5-7 days to round out your Perth itinerary.
Tip: Room rates tend to go up from early December to around February during the Australian summer, so make sure you book your room ahead of time!
The best things to do in Perth
Wondering what to do in Perth in 3 days? There are many beautiful places to visit in nature-filled Perth and the city features unique neighborhoods as well as day trip opportunities. It’s an underrated city to explore beyond the oftentimes-crowded top destinations on the east coast of Australia, and you’re sure to stumble upon a hidden gem or two. Putting together a Perth travel itinerary? Read on for my recommendations for the top things to do in Perth if you don’t have much time in the city!
1. Spend a day in Kings Park
Kings Park is one of the best city parks you will ever visit in your lifetime. A bold statement, sure, but once you’ve wandered through the park’s various areas, trails, wildflower gardens and viewing platforms you will see what I mean. You could easily spend a full day in the park – here are a few top Kings Park attractions you won’t want to skip.
On the eastern end of Kings Park is the State War Memorial dedicated to those who gave their lives in the service of Australia. In the center stands a towering obelisk as well as the continuously-burning Flame of Remembrance. The State War Memorial hosts the annual ANZAC Day Dawn service.
Also on the waterfront-edge of the park is the Kaarta Gar-up lookout point, the perfect place to visit for the best views of Perth. This hanging pavilion offers sweeping views of the city across the Swan River.
Next, check out the WA Botanic Garden, a living research center that showcases approximately 3,000 species of the state’s native flora. There are flowers in bloom all year round, with the peak season between July and October. Each year in September Kings Park also hosts the Kings Park Festival, a fortnight-long event celebrating the kaleidoscope of colour flaunted by Western Australia’s wildflowers.
Located about 1.5 KM from the Botanic Garden is the swirling DNA Tower, named after its resemblance to the double-helix chains responsible for carrying genetic information. The 15-metre tall staircase is the highest viewing point in Kings Park.
A short stroll away from the DNA Tower is the elevated Lotterywest Federation Walkway. This stroller-friendly treetop walk once again offers amazing views and is a unique way to experience the city from above.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, make your way over to the western end of Kings Park to May Drive Parkland and grab a bite at Zamia. Kings Park is often the top place to visit in Perth with kids, as it is filled with dozens of child-friendly play areas like the dinosaur-themed playground and Lycopod Island in May Drive Parkland – my toddler would have happily spent hours here!
2. Walk around Elizabeth Quay
Elizabeth Quay is a waterfront esplanade with hip restaurants and bars, artwork, the sleek Elizabeth Quay bridge and island playground. The glass shard-like Bell Tower is just in front of Barack Street Jetty and is one of the top places to visit in Perth. Visitors can see 14th century bells and check out the view from the observation deck.
Barack Street Jetty is also where boats and ferries depart from towards Rottnest Island, Swan Valley and Fremantle.
For a casual meal and happy hour drinks head to the Island Brew House, or for special occasions head up to 18 Knots Rooftop Bar located in the Doubletree Hilton for drinks with a spectacular view.
3. Visit Fremantle
The port city of Fremantle is located approximately half an hour south of Perth city. It is particularly known for its well-preserved heritage buildings including the Fremantle Prison, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Roundhouse, another former prison dating back to the 1800s.
Building your itinerary for Perth? Stroll down the main artery of Fremantle and gorge yourself on mouthwatering street food from around the world at the bustling Fremantle Markets. It’s the best place to visit for lunch when you can’t make your mind up on what to eat – Fremantle Markets are open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (plus extra trading days around Christmas and the Queen’s birthday). Metered parking is available next to the Old Synagogue, a former (you guessed it) synagogue which has been converted into a foodie destination with award-winning restaurants and bars.
For those craving a good ole pub meal head to the iconic Little Creatures Brewery on the waterfront or Gage Roads Brewery next to the maritime museum.
For a quick stop on your way in or out of Fremantle from Perth check out the Rainbow Sea Containers, an art installation constructed from recycled sea containers.
4. Tour the Perth Mint
The Perth Mint is one of the top tourist attractions in Perth. The mint hosts regular tours that include a guided walk through the exhibition to learn about the history of the gold industry, as well as a live gold pour.
Tours can be booked online.
5. Explore the WA Museum
The WA Museum Boola Bardip in Northbridge is one of the best places for children and grown ups alike to visit in Perth. The exhibits showcase Western Australia’s cultural and natural heritage through art, live performances, sculptures and other multimedia.
Looking for the best place to stay in Perth? The CBD, Northbridge, West Perth, Leederville and Subiaco are popular and well-located options. We loved our stay at The Sebel West Perth, a small boutique hotel that has in-room kitchen, washer, dryer, extremely comfortable beds as well as secure, undercover parking. Click here to book your stay at The Sebel West Perth or head on over here for other highly-rated accommodation options in Perth. The Alex, The Adnate by Art Series, QT and Mantra are other popular boutique hotels in Perth, and if you are looking to splurge then check out COMO The Treasury which is housed in the revitalized heritage state buildings.
6. Laze about in Scarborough
Scarborough Beach is a waterfront stretch that went through a wave of fresh development over the past few years. It is the perfect Perth destination for a cruisy morning and beach day. Grab brunch at one of the beach cafes (we loved Monty’s) and lounge on the golden sand, or head into the Indian Ocean for a surf.
Families visiting Perth with young children will love the array of child-friendly attractions in Scarborough – from the whale-bone playground to the skate park and rock climbing wall.
The grassy lawn is the perfect picnic spot on a warm Perth afternoon!
7. Watch the sunset at the Crawley Edge Boat Shed
Probably the single most photographed spot in Perth, the Crawley Boat Shed or “Blue Boat Shed” on the edge of Kings Park is a popular sunrise and sunset viewing spot. It dates back to the 1930s and is an iconic landmark in Perth – sometimes to the detriment of the local residents. To avoid swarming the location head there during off-peak times when it is quieter, and park in designated street parking bays only. There are a small number of parking bays on Kings Park Avenue.
8. Head to South Perth foreshore
For a change of scenery and a look at the Perth city skyline from a different perspective, hop on a short ferry ride or drive across Narrows Bridge to the South Perth Observation Deck.
Most people leave this off their Perth itineraries but it’s one of the best viewpoints in the city.
9. Indulge in a do-nothing beach day in Perth
A trip to Perth wouldn’t be complete without your classic Australian beach day. Perth’s unique location means that you are spoiled for choice when it comes to picture-perfect Aussie beaches.
Some of the best beaches in Perth include Cottesloe Beach, Scarborough Beach and Trigg Beach.
10. Get your flat white fix
True to Australian form, Perth cafes serve up a mean flat white. Check out Little Gordon St or 22nd Twenty Second Cafe in West Perth, and Standing Room Only or Smooth Operator Coffee in the CBD. For a pick-me-up in Fremantle head to Good Things Fremantle or Cos Baby Freo for the classic Australian flat white.
Ready to book your trip to Perth? Click here to book your stay at The Sebel West Perth or head on over here for other highly-rated accommodation options in Perth!
The best day trips from Perth
As I said at the beginning of this guide, if it is your first time to the city you will want to spend at least 3 days in Perth – 4 or 5 days will allow for a more relaxed, leisurely pace. However, Perth is a great launch point for an array of Western Australia day trip options, from wildlife excursions and wine tastings to frolicking in sand dunes – if you have some more time and are looking for places to visit outside Perth, here are some fantastic Perth day trips for you to go on!
Perhaps the most popular day trip from Perth is Rottnest Island. Just a short ferry ride away, Rottnest Island is a small island off the coast of Western Australia and is best known for its population of quokkas (a small marsupial – only the cutest animal ever), as well as pristine beaches and swimming spots. Read my Rottnest Island day trip guide here, or book yourself in for an overnight stay in one of the glamping tents at Discovery Rottnest.
For a multi-day journey head down to the southwest coast of Western Australia. The Margaret River region is one of the best wine regions in the world, located about a 3-hour drive away from Perth. Base yourself in Dunsborough, the quintessential beach town, and spend your days visiting these top Margaret River wineries or lounging on these amazing Margaret River region beaches. But that’s not all, there’s more on offer beyond beaches and vino – here are some of the top things to do and places to visit in the Margaret River region. I recommend setting aside no less than 3 days to make the most of your time down south.
Short on time and still want to visit some top-notch Western Australia wineries? The Swan River wine region is just half an hour away from Perth City – its proximity to the city makes it a fantastic Perth day trip option for wine lovers. It is also home to Whiteman Park (perfect for anyone visiting Perth with kids) as well as several up-and-coming breweries, distilleries and cideries.
I hope this guide gives you an idea of the top things to do in Perth, especially if it’s your first time to this coastal city! Check back as I will continue to add day trip ideas to expand on this itinerary for Perth, as well as personal tips and recommendations once I’ve checked off a few more destinations off my list.
You might also enjoy these reads:
- Need more convincing? Here are some good reasons to visit the Margaret River region down south
- There are many, many picturesque wine regions around the world. Here are some top ones to add to your wine drinking bucket list
- For more Australia travel tips head on over here for even more Australia destination guides
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