Embrace the best of both worlds in Perth, where soft-sand beaches and scenic parks meet a thriving metropolis of small bars, creative restaurants and curated street art.
By Fleur Bainger
Nature and urban life exist in harmony in Perth, on Australia's west coast. Here, where the locals soak up more sunny days than in any other Australian capital city, you can visit nearby Rottnest Island, walk in leafy Kings Park and tour Swan Valley vineyards. For local culture, wander the nearby city of Fremantle's winding portside streets and Perth city centre's museum and gallery precinct.
- Take a dip in the glassy waters of the Indian Ocean at Cottesloe Beach
- Meet the world's cutest marsupial and selfie sensation, the quokka, on Rottnest Island
- Discover laneway bars in multicultural Northbridge
How to get there
International flights arrive directly into Perth Airport from many global transit hubs. From the airport it's an easy 35 minute taxi or coach ride to the city centre.
Top things to do in Perth
Explore the Australian bush while still in the city
Kings Park is one of the biggest city parks in the world – bigger than Central Park in New York City – yet it's right in the heart of Perth. It grants epic views of the Swan and Canning rivers and the skyscrapers perched on their banks. Astonishingly tall, white-trunked trees line the entrance road to this inspiring patch of green, which has a treetop bridge, bushland trails, manicured gardens and cafés.
Swim at Perth's beaches
Expect to have your breath taken away at any of the beaches lining Perth's long coast, where pale sand meets turquoise water so transparent you can see your feet, no matter how deep you swim. Visit Cottesloe Beach, with its cafés and Norfolk pines, Mettams Pool for its snorkelling reef, Leighton Beach for its blindingly white sand and rip-free waters, Trigg Beach for its family-friendly grass area and huge playground, and North Beach for its charming rock pools. Each March Sculpture by the Sea transforms Cottesloe's foreshore into an incredible outdoor gallery.
Snap a quokka selfie
Only 19 kilometres (12 miles) from Perth, car-free Rottnest Island takes you back in time to when life was relaxed and simple. Along with more than 60 beaches, coral reefs harbouring tropical fish, and history-packed buildings, Rottnest is home to an Instagram star, the friendly quokka, a marsupial found only in Western Australia. The friendly creature has been dubbed “the happiest animal in the world”, comically pulling cheeky grins and cutie-pie smiles for the camera. Because quokkas are so trusting, care needs to be taken when posing with them for a photo. Using a selfie stick is a good idea, allowing you to stay a respectful distance.
Wander through Fremantle's historic streets
Thirty minutes drive south of Perth’s centre is the port town of Fremantle, which blends interesting colonial remnants with the famous Little Creatures Brewery. Visit Fremantle Prison and take one of its eerie tours, and explore seafaring history at the terrific Maritime Museum and Shipwreck Galleries. Grab a casual lunch at colourful Yocal, have dinner at Bread in Common and stay at boutique guesthouse The Lodging.
Sample Western Australian wine in the Swan Valley
Western Australia's oldest wine region, the Swan Valley, is home to 40 vineyards, many with cellar doors offering tastings of the region's warm-climate wines. Drive, cycle or cruise upriver and intersperse winery stops with visits to a chocolate factory, coffee roaster, craft breweries and a native animal park.
Explore Perth's urban villages
Minutes from the city centre, the neighbourhood of Leederville buzzes with eclectic boutiques and alfresco cafes, while hipster Mount Lawley does fantastic bar-bistros, edgy restaurants and fun-loving pubs. Stylish Subiaco offers designer clothing shops and a brilliant Saturday farmers market. Northbridge is best for locally created fashion, its Chinatown restaurants and multicultural food stores.
Crisscross the streets to find Perth's small bars
The small bar movement in Perth city centre and the inner city suburb of Northbridge has exploded in line with the hip street murals that are often found on the bars' outer walls. Hop from moody Ezra Pound bar to live music haunt The Bird. Then whisper a password to the doorman at speakeasy bar Sneaky Tony's (follow the link to the bar's Facebook page to get the password for the day.)
Indulge in culture in Perth's core
The Perth Cultural Centre delivers a fantastic one-stop culture fix. Delve into an extensive collection of Aboriginal art at the free-entry Art Gallery of Western Australia before roaming the Urban Orchard, a city garden of leafy greens and herbs. Nearby, The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) delivers free, modern exhibitions.
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