Perth may seem to play second fiddle to Sydney and Melbourne, but its allure is manifold. A flat, easy-to-navigate city with a cluster of skyscrapers and the great leafy Kings Park at its core, Perth is a city that’s easy on the eye (if not always the wallet).
Its nucleus, Elizabeth Quay, bursts with a mishmash of confident contemporary architecture (including its showy suspension bridge and the futuristic Bell Tower) and a few bastions of bygone days, such as the 19th-century Treasury Building and the fin-de-siècle Perth Mint. The quay overlooks the Swan River, the broad waterway that hugs central Perth.
Inland from the quay run laneways and broad streets crammed with youthful bars, fine-dining restaurants, craft breweries, galleries, performance venues, and cafes.
Kings Park and its accompanying botanic garden were once sacred ground for the local aboriginal people, the Noongar. The park’s highest point, Mount Eliza, offers views over the cityscape and river to the ocean. Aside from the generous grassy lawns that are perennially dotted with picnickers, the park has a rotunda, children’s area, and rooftop bridge that leads you on a walk through a canopy of gum trees.
Even the air in Perth is refreshingly clean, thanks to the affectionately named ‘Fremantle Doctor’, a southwesterly that breezes in from the Indian Ocean. And, although the city may seem strung out on its own (it’s actually closer to Singapore than Sydney), Perth’s immediate surroundings have a lot to offer.
The vineyards of the Swan Valley begin only a short drive from the city’s CBD (central business district), the vines braiding the gentle hills of the Darling Scarp. In-between wineries, you’ll come across art galleries and boutique restaurants.
Meanwhile, the pine-lined beaches of Cottesloe are a short train ride away, or you can choose to visit the sands of Scarborough, popular with the local surfing crowd. A little farther afield is Mosman Beach, where kitesurfers sometimes like to show off their skills, and the compact, even sand is ideal for runners.
A half-hour train ride south from the CBD brings you to Fremantle, a salt-of-the-earth port that’s home to a once-notorious prison. Nowadays, the city is better known for its artisan food and drink scene, from seafood shacks to microbreweries and pop-up coffee shops.
From downtown Perth you can take a 40-minute ferry journey to Rottnest Island, a nature reserve where cars are banished and quokkas — a native (and extremely curious) marsupial — abound. The island’s topography of sand dunes, saline lakes and pine woods is best explored by bicycle. You can dismount at out-of-the-way bays, peer into the limpid water, and see marine life such as sea lions and stingrays.
Best time to visit Perth
Perth enjoys a year-round temperate climate, but the heat can soar during its summer months (December to February). It’s more comfortable to visit in the spring (September to November), when it’s cooler and, as an added bonus, the many native wildflowers are in full bloom.
Suggested itineraries featuring Perth
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Perth, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Perth
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Accommodation choices for Perth
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Ideas for experiencing Perth
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Perth, and which use the best local guides.