Perth itinerary: 5 perth-fect days in the WA capital
Ready to explore Australia’s wild west? Western Australia’s capital of Perth is a vibrant city, with plenty to offer. This Perth itinerary will help you plan your trip, to make the most of your time in the city.
Most visitors to Australia tend to head to the country’s bigger and flashier cities of Melbourne and Sydney.
The thing is, you’re kinda missing out on a quintessential Australian experience, if you don’t travel to Western Australia – particularly to spend time in Perth.
Perth is a vibrant city and a great starting point, if you plan on exploring WA’s unreal nature and world-renowned wine scene.
I hail from and live ‘out east’ in Australia, but travel to Perth once a year or so, to catch up with friends and family, and see the sights. Each time I return to Perth, I leave feeling more delighted with the city.
I’ve put together this Perth itinerary with my own yearly explorations of the city in mind.
While this is designed as a 5 day itinerary, you can chip chop and change things around at will – make it a 3 day itinerary, or even a whole week, if you choose.
So let’s crack on and explore all the things there are to do in Perth – and ever so slightly beyond.
Your 5 day Perth itinerary
How many days is enough in Perth?
It really depends on where you’re flying in from.
If Perth is a stopover on your way to the east coast from Europe, I recommend giving yourself at least two or three days to explore the city.
However, if you’re making a dedicated trip to Western Australia, the cost of flights alone means you should plan to spend at least 5 days in Perth, if not an entire week in the state (or longer).
I highly recommend heading off to explore other parts of WA – we’ll explore some ideas later on in this Perth itinerary.
When is the best time to visit Perth?
Perth is the sunniest city in Australia and summers there are just as you’d expect ‘Down Under’ – blue skies, sunshine and 30°C+ days.
That being said, there are two reasons I avoid travelling to Perth in the summer:
- it’s peak season due to school holidays, so prices are up and the city can get crowded
- it’s too bloody hot, with temperatures regularly in the late thirties and even over forty.
Perth has a lot of sunny days throughout the year, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of this?
In my opinion, the best time to visit Perth is either in early autumn (March-April) or spring (September-November).
The days are lovely, so it’s still warm enough to go to the beach (I’ve experienced some 35°C days while visiting in March). However, the kiddies are back at school and the vibe is a bit more relaxed.
Early spring temperatures in September are usually around 20°C-26°C, which is the best weather you can ask for. Ideal for hiking or visiting destinations like Margaret River or Rottnest Island.
Plus in spring, you can head north of Perth and see WA’s famed wildflowers in bloom, which you can also experience to some degree at Kings Park Botanic Gardens.
Ultimately, when you visit Perth depends on what you plan to do.
It should also be noted, that Perth’s FRINGE WORLD Festival is one of the best in the country. So, if you’re really keen on a summer trip, make sure you see some acts (it generally runs mid-January to mid-February, every year).
If you’re wondering what in general is the best month to go to Perth, my answer would be March.
Discover the best time to visit Australia and why you should consider visiting in winter.
Where to stay in Perth
How to spend 5 days in Perth
Your Perth itinerary includes the following:
- Day 1: get to know the city
- Day 2: explore Fremantle & Northbridge
- Day 3: visit Rottnest Island
- Day 4: check out the Swan Valley
- Day 5: take a day trip (north or south)
Day 1: get to know the city
You’ll kick off your Perth itinerary by seeing some of the main sights of the city’s CBD (Central Business District).
Things to do on day 1 of your Perth itinerary
Explore Elizabeth Quay
This is a new development in the city, intersecting the CBD and the Swan River.
There’s a water park to explore, ice cream to be consumed and weird urban art, littering the area.
One fun way of getting to or from Elizabeth Quay is to ride aboard the Little Ferry, which cruises between the Quay and Claisebrook Cove in East Perth.
The journey takes around 40 minutes and you can take in the sights of Swan River, with commentary along the way.
My favourite Elizabeth Quay attraction is the Swan Bell Tower, known simply as the Bell Tower.
It was built in the late 1990’s to mark the new millennium and cost a total of $5.5 million AUD to errect, which many residents of Perth considered to be wasted money.
If you visit the Bell Tower, you can chime the bells yourself and in return, they give you a certificate saying you’ve done just that.
Check out Perth’s street art scene
Like many Australian cities, Perth has some unreal urban art, often the work of world-class street artists.
The best street art is located in Fremantle, Northbridge and the city centre.
For more, check out my guide to street art in Perth – which also pays homage to some truly bizarre public art.
Perth isn’t the only Australian city with fantastic public art. Melbourne’s street art is world-famous, while Adelaide also has a vibrant street art scene.
Wander through Kings Park Botanical Gardens
Kings Park is a must-visit in Perth, if not only for its views of the city.
You can tour the Botanic Gardens, with their 3000 species of plant, much of which are endemic to this region of Australia and not found anywhere else in the world.
Make sure you visit the 740 year-old Boab Tree ‘Gija Jumulu’, gifted to the park by the Gija People of the east Kimberley.
Hit the beaches
Perth’s metro beaches are some of the nicest in Australia. It’s well-worth taking a dip in the water while you’re visiting the city.
Top beaches include:
- Cottesloe Beach
- City Beach
- Scarborough Beach.
If you’re in Perth during March, make sure you check out Sculptures by the Sea at Cottesloe. There’s some amazing works there.
And be sure to be safe, when navigating Australian beaches. Here are some tips to keep in mind, when entering our waters.
Cruise along the Swan River
I love seeing a city from the water and always make a beeline for a ferry or river cruise.
So once you’ve ogled the city centre from Kings Park, jump on a boat and cruise down the Swan, for an even fresher perspective.
Explore Perth’s Shoalwater Islands Marine Park by kayak
Want to get close to wildlife? Book onto a tour of Penguin & Seal Island by sea kayak.
As the island’s names may suggest, you’ll be within proximity of colonies of sea lions, penguins and fairy penguins, at the Penguin Island Discover Centre.
Tours are suitable for both beginner and advanced paddlers.
Day 2: Check out Fremantle
Day one done and dusted, day two is all about going a little further afield. So let’s explore two of Perth’s most interesting neighbourhoods – Fremantle and Northbridge.
Things to do on day 2 of your Perth itinerary
Tour Fremantle Prison
Fremantle Prison was the first building in Western Australia to be included on the World Heritage list in 2010. It was built by convicts in the 1850s.
The prison opened as a museum to the public in 1992 and has become one of the top things to do in Fremantle.
It’s free to enter the Gatehouse, but well-worth doing a tour, to hear more about the prison history.
There are a bunch of different options available, from the True Crime Tour, to Life Behind Bars and the quite spooky sounding Torchlight Tour, conducted as the name suggests, at night.
Jump on a walking tour, where an expert guide will lead you to the Fremantle Town Hall, UNESCO-listed Fremantle Prison, and the Roundhouse, the region’s oldest building.
Explore Fremantle Markets
Fremantle Markets have been in operation since the late 1800s.
Here you’ll find fresh produce, Indigenous and boutique products and delish food.
There are 150 stalls to explore, which will keep you busy for quite some time.
Fremantle Maritime Museum
WA has a rich maritime history, which you can learn all about at the Fremantle Maritime Museum.
Within the museum, you’ll find notable ships from the state’s history, such as the winning America’s Cup yacht, Australia II and submarine HMAS Ovens.
There are also galleries dedicated to Perth’s waterways and coastal access points.
Wander around Fremantle
It’s well-worth setting aside some time to poke around Fremantle, and take in its Victorian architecture and urban art.
Here you’ll find craft beer, delicious coffee, eclectic boutique stores and tasty food.
There’s also plenty of bookstores, which very much satisfies this voracious bookworm.
Visit Perth’s Cultural Centre
Perth’s Cultural Centre is as the name may suggest, the place to head to if you’re a bit of a culture vulture.
It’s home to:
- Art Gallery of WA
- WA Museum Boola Bardip
- State Library of WA
- The Blue Room Theatre
- PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts)
- State Theatre Centre of WA.
Inner-city Northbridge was notoriously rough back in the day, but is now a bit of a haven for hipsters.
Grab dinner in Chinatown. In the summertime, catch a flick at nearby Rooftop Movie, or order libations at Sneaky Tony’s (if you can find it) and/or The Bird.
Day 3: Visit Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) is probably the most popular attraction in Perth, and so should definitely be part of your Perth itinerary.
Not only is it easy to access, fun to travel around and home to gorgeous scenery – it’s one of the only places on earth you’ll find quokkas.
These cute little critters became internet-famous a few years ago, due to their perceived sunny, beaming faces.
Getting to Rotto is really easy. Jump on a ferry from Perth City, North Fremantle (Rous Head), Fremantle (Victoria Quay) and Hillarys Boat Harbour in Perth’s north.
It’s a 25 minute trip from Fremantle and the city, and 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour.
↠ Book your ferry ticket from Fremantle or Perth City to Rottnest Island
↠ Book your ferry ticket from Hillarys Boat Harbour to Rottnest Island
Things to do on day 3 of your Perth itinerary
Meet the quokkas
The best thing about taking a day trip to Rottnest Island, is you’re guaranteed to see quokkas.
They’re stacks on the island, with the best time for viewing being the mid-to-late afternoon.
Please remember that quokkas are wild animals, so don’t try to pat them, as cuddly as they look, and do not feed them.
Follow the trail along Wadjemup Bidi
Keen hiker? Stretch your legs along the Wadjemup Bidi walking trail.
This 45 kilometre long track is made up of five sections of varying lengths.
There’s important cultural and environmental landmarks to see, coupled with the island’s naturally beautiful scenery.
Check out these books about walking, if it’s a hobby of yours.
Cycle around the island
Rotto is extremely bike-friendly. You don’t have to bring your own either.
Bikes can be booked online in advance, then picked up from Pedal and Flipper. You can even pre-book your ferry ticket and bike hire in a bundle.
It’s also possible to hire a bike once you get to the island.
Hire cost for a standard adult bike is $30 a day. Electric bikes can be hired for $71 a day, although they require a security deposit of $200. This is refundable upon return.
Once you’ve grabbed your hire bike, hit the road and get exploring.
The further you go out from the main hub of the island, the more sparsely populated the beaches will be.
Always wear a helmet – it’s a legal requirement in Australia.
Relax at the beach
Rotto’s beaches are exquisite, in a part of Australia that is already renowned for its beachy beauty.
Pick from 63 beaches and 20 bays, each more lovely than the last.
The Basin is the most popular swimming spot, being only 10 minutes from the main settlement area.
Make sure you do your bit to keep these pristine beaches well… pristine. Leave no trace and take nothing with you.
For more on this part of your Perth itinerary, check out my complete guide for a day trip to Rottnest Island.
And as a note – while there are plenty of advertised day trips to Rottnest you can book onto, I don’t really think it’s necessary.
It’s extremely easy to catch the ferry to the island and once you’re there, you can just hire bicycles, go for a walk to nearby beaches, or use the island bus.
Simple! Save your money for something else… like a day trip to the Swan Valley.
Day 4: Explore the Swan Valley
While many visitors to Perth head south to Margaret River for wine tasting, the very underrated Swan Valley is also well-worth checking out, if you’re a fan of great grapes.
It’s only half an hour from Perth and is home to a range of wineries and dining experiences. Plus, it’s Western Australia’s oldest wine region, so they know what they’re doing.
This is an instance where I’d absolutely say it’s worth paying to be driven around this region of Perth – so you can sample this region’s most delicious wine.
If not, make sure you have a designated driver on hand. Australia has a no tolerance approach on drink driving.
Things to do on day 4 of your Perth itinerary
Drop into Swan Valley wineries
There’s over 40 wineries in the Swan Valley. Many have cellar doors and others, onsite restaurants, serving up delicious plates of food.
It’s impossible to see them all in a day. Some of my favourites include:
- Olive Farm Wines – 920 Great Northern Highway
- Ugly Duckling Wines – 7790 West Swan Road, West Swan
- Sandalford Wines – 3210 West Swan Road, Caversham
And an extra special shout out to Tyler’s Vineyard, where you can get labels with your photo printed on their wine bottles. They even allow you to pose with the resident dog, Happy.
Explore breweries & cideries
Not into wine? That’s fine – the Swan Valley has plenty of breweries and cideries to explore.
There’s a dedicated cider and ale trail you can follow. Hop into any of these venues and relax in a beer garden, glass in hand.
Play Supa Golf
Okay, I admittedly haven’t done this myself and my boyfriend, who is from Perth, says I haven’t lived my life properly, or adequately, or something.
Imagine if someone took normal golf and mini golf… and combined it.
What do you get?
You get Supa Golf!
In all seriousness, it looks like a lot of fun, and I can’t imagine a more picturesque setting to play in.
Day 5: take a day trip
Things to do on day 5 of your Perth itinerary
Well today, you’re going to get well and truly out of the city.
We are going to take this Perth itinerary to the next level.
Most people tend to head south from Perth if they have a little extra time. We will cover this – but to be contrary, I’m going to cover north of the city first.
Keen to get out of the city? Jump in your rental car and head north of Perth, to the start of WA’s Coral Coast.
You can cover some distance in a day and see quite a few places and attractions, unique to WA.
This small coastal town is known primarily for its sand dunes and gorgeous beaches.
Rent a sandboard ahead of time, to pick up from a location in town. It’s $12.50 for up to 2.5 hours.
Along with sand boarding, you can take part in quad bike tours of the dunes, go for a surf or paddle a SUP.
The Pinnacles Desert, located within Nambung National Park, is a top Western Australia attraction and for good reason.
These limestone structures were formed between 25000-30000 years ago, due to receding sea levels. Coastal winds blew away the surrounding sand, leaving these giant pillars – some of which tower at 3.5 metres.
It would be pretty unreal to see them at night, under the light of millions of stars.
There’s plenty to do in this coastal getaway – you could easily while away a whole weekend here.
However, if you’re short on time, I recommend ordering something delicious from the Lobster Shack and checking out the local Sea Lion population in the warmer months.
Cervantes is an excellent gateway to WA’s wildflower display. If you’re in this part of Australia August to October, you can see them at:
- Nambung National Park
- Lesueur National Park
- Badgingarra National Park
- Tathra National Park
- Stockyard Gully Reserve, which is also known for its unique limestone caves.
If you have a bit of extra time, you could do a road trip from Perth to Kalbarri. Stop in a town full of painted fibreglass sheep on the way, explore Kalbarri National Park and check out the pink Hutt Lagoon!
Plus, here are some road trip driving tips for Australia.
Alternatively, you can head south of Perth, to explore one of the prettiest corners of Australia.
If you’re self-driving, I implore you to make a stop at Gnomesville, in The Ferguson Valley.
People started leaving garden gnomes on the side of the road and now the area has been completely overrun by… well, a community of gnomes.
It’s one of WA’s weirdest attractions and well-worth checking out.
This laidback beach town is one of my favourite places in Western Australia.
It’s surrounded by Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and has stellar views over the Indian Ocean.
Make it your base while exploring Margaret River.
The Margaret River Region is one of WA’s best-loved spots.
Names after the eponymous river, there’s plenty to do here – from sampling the wares of its wineries, to amazing water activities, exploring the splendour of Jewel Cave and visiting Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia.
Self-drive around the region, or take the hassle out of the experience, by booking onto an organised tour (especially handy if the wineries are your main point of interest).
Keen to take it further? Drive along the south-west coast, dropping into places like Albany and Denmark.
Where to eat in Perth
My impression of Perth is that all people really care about are burgers and dessert. So if you like both these things, you’ll be well-served in this city.
For burgers, I recommend heading to Hoodburger and Shortorder for all kinds of burgery goodness, or RoyAl’s (order the chicken burger, it’s even in the name). I’m going to give Meet and Bun a mention, because snaps for that name.
For a city that lost the plot when it got a 24 hour drive-thru Krispy Kreme, you know Perth will be serious about its sweets.
Scream for ice cream at Gusto Gelato, dive into sky-high souffle pancakes at Kumo Desserts or satisfy both your sweet and savoury tooth at Pretzel. And head to East Victoria Park to dine at Australia’s first cookie dough bar. Yes, please.
How to get to Perth
WELL. First let’s remind ourselves that Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world.
Now let’s explore options.
Flying is generally your best bet. Perth Airport is just outside the city and all major Australian airlines (and plenty of international airlines) fly here.
It takes around 5 hours to fly to Perth from Sydney, 4.5 from Melbourne, 5 from Singapore and just under 17 hour to get from London to Perth.
Unfortunately, flying is probably your best bet. However, there are other ways to get to Perth, if you don’t mind it taking a few days, rather than a few hours.
One of the best things to do in Australia, is to board the Indian Pacific, a train whose route travels between Perth, Adelaide and Sydney.
It’s not cheap – rather, it’s the luxury train journey of a lifetime. However, everyone I know who has done it has raved about it and it would be an amazing way to travel to Perth, whether it be from Sydney or Adelaide.
And finally, you can hop in your car and drive to Perth.
To enter WA, you have to drive along the Nullabor. Technically, you’ll be on Eyre Highway, but everyone calls it the Nullabor, or the Nulla-boring, as it’s basically one long stretch of sealed road that goes for over 1,200 kilometres.
For reference, the Nullabor Plain is four times the size of Belgium. And the drive from Perth to Adelaide is around 2,700 kilometres long.
Australia. It’s big!
All jokes aside, this is one of Australia’s top road trips and an epic adventure. If you have the chance to do this drive, jump on it – but make sure you’re prepared.
Concluding your 5 day Perth itinerary
There you have it – the perth-fect Perth itinerary. You should be able to make the most out of 3, 5 or 7 days in Perth, with the help of this guide.
Check out my itineraries for Melbourne and Adelaide. And here are some tips if you’re travelling to Australia for the first time.
Have you been to Perth, or are you planning a trip there? What are you most excited about experiencing? For more on Oz, check out my Australia Travel Guide.