Perth is Australia’s 4th most populous city and stands out on a limb in Western Australia. The world’s most remote city is, however, becoming increasingly popular with tourists looking to avoid the well-trodden path of the East Coast. Whilst the other side of Australia is saturated with tourists, Western Australia offers a laid-back vibe with uncrowded beaches and a stunning coastline. With over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, it is not surprising the city came in 8th place in The Economist’s list of the world’s most livable cities. The large amount of sunshine in Perth means most activities are centered on the outdoors, whether it is surfing at the beach, walking through pristine parks, or dining outside.
Sitting beside the Swan River, Perth was founded in 1829 by Captain James Stirling as the political center of the Swan River Settlement and has grown rapidly ever since. Traveling to Perth is now easier than ever with great deals on accommodations and flights to Perth from London.
Things to Do
Rottnest Island: Rottnest Island was named ‘Rottenest’ by the Dutch, meaning “rat’s nest,” because of the large rat-like mammals that inhabit the island. The famous animal is in fact not a rat, but the quokka, a small creature which looks a little bit like a kangaroo. The ‘e’ in the island’s name was eventually dropped because it sounded, well, rotten. The island, affectionately called ‘Rotto’ by Perthians, lies 19km off the coast of Fremantle and since no private vehicles are allowed, the best way to get around is by bike. It has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, rugged scenery, and native flora and fauna. Its crystal clear waters make it perfect for swimming, diving, snorkeling, and surfing.
Art Gallery of Western Australia: The state art gallery focuses particularly on aboriginal art and art from the Indian Ocean rim. Located in Perth’s cultural precinct, the gallery has permanent collections, as well as moving temporary exhibitions. It houses one of the world’s best indigenous collections, along with Australian art and international pieces from around the world.
Fremantle: Take a day trip to the neighboring port city of Fremantle, which has a large number of heritage listed buildings and is the world’s best preserved example of a 19th century street scape. You can enjoy a coffee on the “cappuccino strip,” learn all about Western Australia’s maritime history, taste beer in the Little Creature Microbrewery, take a tour of the tunnels at Fremantle prison, shop for fashions and crafts, enjoy a wide array of international cuisine, browse the fruit and vegetable markets, or enjoy freshly caught seafood in the Fishing Boat Harbor.
Swan Bells: Take a bell ringing class and absorb the view from the top at this historic bell tower, which is one of the largest musical instruments in the world. Swan Bells overlooks the Swan River and there is a free city CAT bus to take you there. There are a total of 18 bells in the tower that were given as a present to the people of Western Australia as part of the country’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1988. 12 of the bells come from London’s St.-Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square and are one of only a few sets of Royal bells in existence. They have been around since before the 14th century and were recast in the 16th and 18th centuries.
Kings Park: Kings Park on Mount Eliza is one of the largest inner-city parks in the world. For people wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, it offers panoramic views of the city skyline, Swan River, and the Perth Hills in the distance. It is an ideal place to take a picnic, go jogging through, or ride a bike along the cycle trails. The park features large expanses of bushland, grassy lawns, and botanic gardens, as well as native plants and birds. Kings Park is also a popular location for concerts in the summer and the Wildflower Festival that held throughout the month of September.
Aquarium of Western Australia: If you do happen to have a rainy day, the indoor aquarium takes you on a journey of discovery as you learn all about the marine life along the five areas of coastline in Western Australia. You will see leafy sea dragons, pineapple fish, blue devil fish, octopuses, moon jellies, sea horses, rock lobsters, stonefish, lionfish, and more. If you are feeling brave you can snorkel or dive with sharks, stingrays, and turtles in the Indian Ocean Aquarium, accompanied by the AQWA’s Divemaster.
Cottesloe Beach: This picture postcard seaside town is well-known for its tearooms. The Cottesloe Hotel is a popular place to enjoy a beer on Sunday afternoons. Spend a lazy day on the white, sandy beach and take a dip in the Indian Ocean to cool down. Watch the world go by in one of the cafes or fine restaurants and make sure you catch a view of the gorgeous sunset. The beach is located between Freemantle and Perth and takes about 15 minutes on the train from either city.
Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail: Swan Valley, Western Australia’s oldest wine producing region is just a 25 minute drive away. You can hire a car and take a 32km drive through the region, following the well-signposted trail, which takes you past over 150 wineries, plus microbreweries, cafes, shops, restaurants, and street-side stalls selling fresh produce. Absorb the beautiful scenery, stop at a cellar door for a spot of wine tasting, and dine on gourmet food in one of Swan Valley’s top restaurants. Make sure you try the Verdelho wine, a Swan Valley specialty.
Windsor Hotel: The Windsor Hotel is Perth’s most iconic pub and a national trust listed building. Built by Perth architect JJ Talbot Hobbs, it was built between 1895-1898 and is one of the oldest surviving hotels in Australia. The hotel mixes historic charm with contemporary design, and has 3 bars, as well as a bottle shop. The Windsor Café and Garden is a popular eating a drinking spot, open all day with outdoor and indoor seating areas. The Garden Bar is open on evenings and is particularly busy on Sunday afternoons, when the DJ’s spin music, as Aussies come out for a “Sunday Session” of drinking. The Mend Street Bar provides a social meeting place for people to enjoy a casual drink by day, or let their hair down and party the night away after work.
Perth Mint: Perth Royal Mint is Australia’s oldest mint, established in 1899. One of the highlights of a visit to the mint is watching liquid gold being poured to make a solid gold bar. Take a guided talk and learn all about the history of gold in Western Australia, as well as the Mint’s production of gold coins and bars. It is home to the world’s largest collection of gold bars, Australia’s largest gold nugget collection, and the historic Perth Mint coin exhibition. Gaze in awe at the second largest nugget in existence, which weighs a mammoth 25.5kg. You will also have the opportunity to calculate your weight in gold or have your own medallion engraved with a personal message.
There are a variety of great flight offers and deals to Perth, which is a great place to start for exploring the stunning Western Coast of Australia. With numerous ways to reach the city and Fremantle from the airport, you can take a taxi, hire a rental car, or you can buy a ticket and hop on the door-to-door shuttle bus service. The Transperth #37 public bus also operates between the city and the airport’s domestic terminals.
Victoria Brewood is a writer, video producer, and author of Pommie Travels, a site offering tips and advice for independent travelers. Originally from Manchester, she packed her journalism degree in her suitcase and left the UK to explore the world. She has backpacked extensively around Australia from the ocean to the outback and everywhere in between.