A perfect day in Perth might involve museums, art galleries and historical attractions. But the best of the Wild West can also be found everywhere from its hip hangouts to a lazy lap of the Swan River.
What to expect in Perth
The city of Perth straddles the Swan River, which snakes east to west through the middle of the WA capital. The most isolated city in the world is located in the ancient country of the Whadjuk Nyoongar people, and has the Indian Ocean on one side and Australian outback on the other.
While once regarded as a big country town, Perth’s plethora of restaurants, pubs, bars, night markets, galleries, cafes, theatres and festivals has repositioned it as a destination that is now as worldly as it is working class. Perth’s rebirth has seen the city expand outwards from the original settlement on the Swan River where the CBD and Port Of Fremantle are situated.
It’s continued with an abundance of new and refurbished properties, such as the Vibe Hotel, Subiaco, The Adnate Perth – Art Series, Quay Perth, Doubletree by Hilton, The Westin, The Ritz Carlton, Como The Treasury and Aloft Perth.
Hyde Perth Kitchen + Cocktails at The Adnate Perth – Art Series. (Credit: Damien Smith)
See the scenic side of Perth with Captain Cook Cruises, which skirts the Swan River between Perth and Fremantle past the city’s Bell Tower, The Old Swan Brewery Precinct and Royal Perth Yacht Club.
Don’t miss the Swan River landmark the Crawley Edge Boatshed in Perth. (Credit: Tourism Western Australia)
Visit the snazzy new waterfront development of Elizabeth Quay, located on the Swan River and in the heart of the CBD, or join Perth locals making the pilgrimage to hip hubs such as Subiaco and Mount Hawthorn. Getting to know Perth’s laid-back and outdoorsy side means finding an expanse of lawn and some live entertainment.
Headlining the city’s cultural calendar is Perth Festival, the oldest arts festival in the southern hemisphere. Also worth pencilling in is Perth International Jazz Festival, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Fremantle International Street Art Festival, Perth Comedy Festival and Rottofest.
The city’s sophistication also shines at WA Museum Boola Bardip, located in the Perth Cultural Centre and a great place to get a feel for the influence of Indigenous culture on WA’s visual art offerings.
Join Two Feet And A Heartbeat for a progressive dinner and bar crawl to discover the city’s hidden dive bars, revitalised pubs and atmospheric eateries.
Perth has 19 metropolitan beaches, but its proximity to Rottnest Island is what put it on the world map for being home to the quokka, ‘the happiest animal in the world’. Perth is also renowned for its vineyards and valleys: head to Bickley Valley, Guildford and the Swan Valley for the best of them.
Swim at Little Salmon Bay, Rottnest Island. (Credit: Tourism Western Australia)
How to spend 72 hours in Perth
Odyssea at City Beach, Clancy’s Fish Bar and Hamptons City Beach are three top spots to take in the ambient sounds of the Indian Ocean while watching the waves roll in on the West Australian coast.
Some of WA’s oldest vineyards and newest cellar doors are located within easy reach of Perth. Drop a pin using your map app and plot a course to Oakover Wines, Pinelli Estate Wines and Olive Farm Wines.
Hire a bicycle and take it on the ferry to Rottnest Island, where you can cycle, swim, snorkel, and commune with the local population of quokkas, peacocks and pelicans. Stay overnight at The Samphire.
Take a ferry to Rottnest Island. (Credit: Tourism Western Australia)
Perth’s newish precinct, Elizabeth Quay, has added some sparkle to its CBD. Choose between a range of elegant restaurants and casual cafes dotted along the river such as The Reveley or V Burger Bar.
The Cott, as Cottesloe Beach is known colloquially, is popular with everyone from surfers to swimmers. There is also some great snorkelling to be had at North Cottesloe Beach.
Soak in the sun at Cottesloe Beach in Perth.
Best places to stay in Perth
The Vibe Hotel in Subiaco is near to a string of fashion boutiques and galleries.
The Adnate, Perth – Art Series Hotels is a draw for arty types with its 25-storey mural.
Mural at The Adnate Perth – Art Series. (Credit: Damien Smith)
Perth does posh well with Como The Treasury, the most indulgent digs in town.
Where to eat in Perth
Good food and wine permeates every aspect of life in the Western Australian capital so dive in headfirst with a visit to Wildflower, at Como The Treasury, where you can pull back the curtains and peep at the fine dining scene in Perth.
You can also eat like royalty downstairs at Long Chim, and at Silks in the Crown Metropol. Balthazar is another Perth institution, while Petition inside the State Buildings is a popular place to play ‘spot the politician’.
In country Australia, a ‘cooee’ is a call to gain attention, which is exactly what’s happening at the restaurant of the same name located on the site of the Old Swan Brewery.
Go for Albany rock oysters and Geraldton emperor at Cooee Perth, which is also open for Sunday brunch. For a more international focus, go for a wander down William Street or Washing Lane in Northbridge.
Out on the town in Northbridge, Perth. (Credit: Tourism Western Australia)
The Ramen Lab in Mount Lawley and Pinchos in Leederville also nod to Perth’s rich cultural heritage as does the pocket-sized French restaurant P’tite Ardoise Bistro, perfect for a romantic dinner.
An hour’s drive away, Flics Kitchen has put Mandurah on the map for foodies.
What to do in Perth
Head to the hip hubs of Mount Lawley, Leederville and Victoria Park to flit from vintage fashion boutiques and independent design stores to cafes and bars trending on Instagram.
Visit Scarborough on a Thursday night to check out the Sunset Markets where you can find everything from ceramics to jewellery, funky wares and food.
Scarborough Beach in Perth. (Credit: Tourism Western Australia)
Next, don’t miss the new $400 million WA Museum Boola Bardip, the living museum that celebrates WA’s rich Indigenous heritage. A day spent wandering around the boho enclave of Freo is also compulsory.
Best walks in Perth
You will find the paths in Kings Park full of Perth locals who climb the Jacob’s Ladder stairs for views of the Swan and Canning Rivers and Darling Ranges.
In addition to the beach walks to suit every mood, walk to Lions Lookout in Lesmurdie to get a great perspective over Perth. If you’re feeling adventurous, set out for Ellis Brook Valley Reserve where you will find Sixty Foot Falls and (seasonal) carpets of wildflowers.
Don’t miss: Northbridge
Northbridge is a Perth suburb that pulses with energy. You can start the day with morning yoga on a rooftop, followed by coffee at Flora & Fauna Laneway Cafe and lunch at Japanese pancake joint, Kumokumo. After carb-loading at Francoforte Spaghetti Bar enjoy a nightcap at No Mafia.
A Delish Ice pop-up in Northbridge. (Credit: Tourism Western Australia)
Conscious Traveller tip
The World Indigenous Tourism Summit is being held in Perth in 2021.
That’s huge news for the Noongar people, who have lived in the south-west of Western Australia for the last 45,000 years. Learn about Perth’s precincts from an Indigenous perspective with Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours & Experiences.