Headed to Australia and looking for fun things to do in Perth? It’s definitely a city worth considering. Read on our visitor’s guide to Perth, featuring insider local knowledge.
As Perth is one of the world’s most isolated cities, most travellers to Australia tend to head to the east coast to check out cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
However, I implore you to go just a little bit further (in Australian terms, at least) and visit Perth in Western Australia. You won’t be disappointed.
Funky urban art, good food, the most fantastic beaches, fresh air… Perth’s just about got it all.
It may be one of Australia’s smaller capital cities, but it has seen some exciting redevelopment over the last few years and continues to get better and better.
From immersing yourself in nature, to soaking up culture, there’s no shortage of things to do in Perth and here are some of the best experiences.
Fun things to do in Perth
Here’s our guide to some of Perth’s best attractions. While I hail from the east coast, I’ve been to Perth numerous times and many of my friends and my partner is from this city.
So you can definitely consider this an insider’s guide to where all the Perth-related action is at.
This guide to Perth will cover:
How many days in Perth is enough?
So, how many days should you spend in Perth? As getting to Perth is a commitment in time and finances, I recommend spending at least three days in the city.
There’s so many things to do in Perth from fantastic nature experiences, to dining and exploring the city’s art scene and history. You need a little bit of time to do it justice.
Five days in Perth is ideal, especially as you can take on day trips to places such as Rottnest Island, the Swan Valley or even Margaret River.
1. Go take a dip in the beach!
With 10,000+ beaches in Oz, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to this particular activity. However, Perth is one of Australia’s sunniest cities and has some of the nicest beaches, to boot.
Cottesloe or ‘Cott’ as it is known to locals, regularly gets voted onto lists of the ‘best beaches in Australia’ and rightly so, because it is stunning.
If you’re in Perth during March, make sure you check out the annual Sculptures by the Sea, where as the name suggests, the beach is pimped out by fabulous and quite interesting sculptures.
City is my favourite of Perth’s beaches. There’s a good range of cafes and restaurants nearby, in a renovated complex.
The beach itself is white sand and patrolled daily, so good to head to if you’re wary of rip tides or sharks. I quite enjoy the colourful lifeguard box, as well.
Scarborough is another of the city’s more quieter beaches, with a $30 million development underway, with the hope that this face-lift will make it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
Here’s a few things you should know about beach safety in Australia, before entering our waters.
2. Check out the city skyline from Kings Park
A visit to Kings Park is one of the top things to do in Perth.
Not only is it a beautiful park in its own right, there are plenty of things to do in Kings Park as well, which could keep you busy for the majority of a day!
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. Native flora lovers should check out the 740 year-old Boab Tree ‘Gija Jumulu’, gifted to the park by the Gija People of the east Kimberley.
There are plenty of walking trails to be found around the park, such as the Bushland Nature Trail and the Kings Park Federation Walk.
If you’re after a bite to eat, I highly recommend heading to Zamia Cafe. Close by is the Synergy Parkland, featuring dinosaur statues that the kids can have great fun clambering over.
3. Explore Elizabeth Quay
Elizabeth Quay is a new development in Perth, designed to intersect the city, with the Swan River.
Here you can check out the BHP Billiton Water Park – an interactive water feature, hitch a ride on the Venetian Carousel, grab some ice cream from Gusto Gelato and comment on the public art, littered around the area.
In fact, Perth has some pretty strange art all over the city. It’s worth keeping an eye out for these odd sculptures.
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.
4. Check out the Swan Bell Tower
The Bell Tower as it’s known, is one of Perth’s more bemusing attractions.
It was built in the late 1990’s to mark the new millennium and house 14th century bells, gifted by St-Martins-in-the-Fields Church (what a mouthful), in Trafalgar Square, London.
The tower, which was designed by architect William Hames, was never popular and the total price tag was $5.5 million AUD, 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.
It’s also a popular place to leave love locks, which personally is an action I abhor, but it’s openly encouraged by the Tower management, so I guess in this instance, it’s okay.
Basically, it was really expensive so just go look at it so that the money spent on it is somewhat justified.
Here are some other weird facts about Perth and Western Australia.
5. Snap a photo under Spanda
You can’t miss Spanda – it’s the giant arches that mark the entrance to Elizabeth Quay.
It’s definitely one of the more stand-out attractions of the area and it’s also quite fun/impossible to get a photo in front of it, that fits the whole thing in.
6. Check out the London Court
The London Court is equal parts baffling and delightful.
Built in 1937 by gold miner Claude de Bernales, it’s designed to look like a Tudor street scene.
Walking through it feels like one of the odder things to do in Perth, due to the juxtaposition of modern retail spaces, with “ye Olde” English architecture!
You can find it between Hay St Mall & St Georges Terrace in the city’s CBD (Central Business District).
7. Visit the WA Shipwrecks Museum
Looking for things to do in Perth with kids?
There are a few interesting museums in this part of the country. I find a visit to the Shipwrecks Museum to be one of the best things to do in Perth.
This space is considered to be the foremost maritime archaeology museum in the Southern Hemisphere, housing hundreds of relics from ships wrecked along the state’s coastline.
It even features the original timbers from the Batavia, the flagship of the Dutch East India Company, which was wrecked in WA waters 1629.
Australia was almost nearly Dutch, as although James Cook ‘discovered’ the country in 1770, the Dutch had known about the country’s existence since the early 1600’s.
It was the English however, who first laid claim to it – ignoring the fact that Australia was already settled well before Europe first sighted it, by the country’s Indigenous people.
Still, wrecked ships are cool and worth checking out if you’re a fan of marine history.
8. Try the chocolate samples at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory
This is a really fun thing to do in Perth with kids.
Although the Margaret River region in southern WA is known mostly for its wine, there’s a fantastic chocolate factory to be found there too.
If you can’t make it to the Margaret River store, never fear – for there are outposts in both the Swan Valley and Perth CBD!
Even if you don’t buy anything (and just as an aside, it is truly delicious chocolate), you can try some of the free samples of choc which are located in store.
If you do get the chance to go to this part of WA – take it! There are plenty of stunning places to visit in the Margaret River region.
9. Tour Fremantle Prison
Fremantle Prison was the first building in Western Australia to be included on the World Heritage list in 2010, having been originally built by convicts in the 1850s.
It opened as a museum to the public in 1992 and has become one of the top things to do in Perth and Fremantle.
Although it’s free to enter the Gatehouse, there is a cost incurred in joining the tours on offer. 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.
10. Have a poke around Fremantle itself
Fremantle is located south of the CBD, in the larger metropolitan area of Perth.
This self-contained suburb is popular amongst visitors to WA for its Victorian architecture, laidback artsy vibe and close proximity to Rottnest Island.
Here you’ll find craft beer, delicious coffee, eclectic boutique stores and tasty food, as well as pleasing range of bookstores!
11. Check out the Fremantle Markets
The Fremantle Market is a public market that has been in operation since 1897.
Here you’ll find fresh produce, Indigenous and boutique products and delicious food options, all set in a lively atmosphere.
There are 150 stalls to explore, which will keep you busy for awhile!
12. Visit Rottnest Island
If you’re after fun things to do in Perth which revolve around nature, Rottnest Island is a must-do.
Freo’s port is where you’ll need to head if you want to go on a day trip to Rottnest Island, one of the most popular things to do in Perth.
Rotto as locals call it, is around a half hour ferry trip from the mainland and is best known as being one of two islands in WA where you can find quokkas – the smiley marsupials, which are endemic to this part of Australia.
The island also features some gorgeous beaches, so pack your swimmers, hire a bike and spend a day cycling from beach to beach, as you explore all that Rotto has to offer.
You can even pre-book your ferry ticket and bike hire in a bundle.
So you can just grab a bike and get pedalling around the island.
13. Watch the Eagles or Dockers play at Optus Stadium
Western Australians are sports mad and just as into the game of Aussie Rules as people in Victoria are (and in most other states bar Queensland and New South Wales, who follow rugby league).
WA has two teams in the national league, known as the AFL – the West Coast Eagles who were 2018 premiers and the Fremantle Dockers.
Both teams play regularly at the recently opened (in early 2018) Optus Stadium. If you too love sport and the AFL season is on (March to late August, which is when finals begin), try to catch a game and check out the crazy light show that happens if a WA team happen to win.
And good luck getting the extremely catchy Eagles song out of your head, if you do. It needs more trumpets in my opinion. And lyrics, too.
14. Or catch a cricket game
Optus Stadium is also a venue for other sports, such as cricket, also very popular in Australia, with the men’s team playing there regularly during the summer.
You can also catch the soccer, rugby union and even live gigs, with U2 playing the stadium in late 2019.
You can book a tour of the stadium regardless of the time of the year, which offers up glorious views of Perth’s tidy cityscape.
15. Go for a meal and a tipple in Northbridge
From my understanding, Northbridge was typically an area for late-night frivolity, but has been revitalised in recent years, to include many cute cafés and delicious restaurants.
Check out some options for fine dining here.
16. Take a self-guided tour of the city’s weird sculptures
I’m not sure exactly why, but there is an abundance of odd sculptures in Perth.
Perhaps the most baffling is James Angus’ 6.5 metre high, $1 million cactus sculpture erected in Forrest Place, to mixed reviews of locals… some declaring it to indeed, be “cactus”.
Another favourite is “The Totem”, outside Perth Arena, which locals refer to as “The Pineapple” or “The Corn Cob”. It is also quite strange.
If you’re into photography and weird public art, make some time to check out some of these strange sculptures for yourself.
I think this is one of the more fun things to do in Perth. Perhaps not everyone will agree!
17. And check out the fabulous urban art
Here’s a great option for things to do in Perth that are free.
Although Melbourne is probably Australia’s most popular destination for lovers of art, Perth has a pretty strong urban art scene.
There are colourful murals just about everywhere and unlike much of Melbourne’s art, no one’s thought to scrawl over them with their own unsightly tags.
Just another observation, but Perth is SO CLEAN. There is an almost complete absence of litter anywhere. It reminds me of what Sydney used to look like thirty years ago.
18. Visit an Art Gallery
Sydney and Melbourne are general thought of as being the art hotspots – but this is generally incorrect.
There’s a pretty strong art scene going on in Perth, which can be seen from its prevalence of galleries, ranging from historic to contemporary art, in a range of different mediums.
Here’s a few to consider:
- The Art Gallery of WA, which houses a range of contemporary and historical art, as well as a very impressive collection of Indigenous art
- Outré Gallery displays prints from artists around the world
- The Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) runs changing exhibitions, as well as showcasing dance and theatre performances
- Linton and Kay Galleries is the place to head to if you’re a fan of fine art
- Gallows Gallery is worth a visit if you’re keen to see exhibited Australian art.
19. Check out Perth’s Cultural Centre
The Perth Cultural Centre is a redeveloped precinct, that was once in decline.
Intersecting the State Library of WA, Art Gallery, State Theatre Centre, Northbridge and the city centre, it’s now home to a mix of live music, festivals, arts and entertainment.
It’s also an ideal place to meet up with friends, before heading into Northbridge or the city.
20. Have a picnic by the Swan River
Perth is a beautiful city, a rival to Sydney due to its natural beauty.
Much of this is due to its placement on the Swan River, which runs through the city.
There are bike and walking paths that run along the river, spots for picnics and you can also go sailing and saddle boarding.
21. Or go on a cruise!
Better yet, why not jump onto a boat and tour Perth by water? It’s a wonderful vantage point from which to view the city.
22. Visit Heirisson Island, in the city
Located in the Swan River, is Heirisson Island. In the past, it was an important area for Noongar people.
Today it’s accessible by a causeway bridge and people head here for fishing, BBQ’s and picnics.
It’s also a kangaroo sanctuary and so, a good bet for seeing these emblematic animals in the wild.
23. See Aussie fauna at Caversham Wildlife Park
If seeing Aussie wildlife is high on your list, head to the Caversham Wildlife Park.
This family owned business has around 200 species of animals, birds and reptiles, making it the largest privately owned collection of native wildlife in WA.
The park is opened every day of the year apart from Christmas Day and entry price is $30.00 for an adult.
24. Go surfing or snorkelling
A place with this much natural beauty and water sources is a great one for water-based activities!
Surfing and snorkelling are both popular past times in Perth, although serious surfers should head outside of the city if they wish to hang ten on some serious waves.
Read more about surfing in Perth.
Perth’s crystal clear waters are ideal for snorkelling, with Cott and Rotto both being popular destinations for this particular activity.
25. Watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean
As an East Coast Australia, this is a highlight of being in Western Australia – seeing the sun set into the ocean. It’s a truly unique thing to do in Perth.
With the right cloud cover, you can get some pretty spectacular sunsets in Perth, which just get better as you venture further up and down the coast of WA.
26. Take a day trip to the Swan Valley
One of the easiest day trips out of Perth is to the nearby wine region of the Swan Valley.
The Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail is located less than half an hour outside of the CBD and this 32 kilometre loop will take you through wineries, breweries, restaurants, cafés, art stores, markets, a lavender farm, a chocolate factory and shops.
You can either self-drive the trail or take the hassle out of it by booking onto an organised tour – try one by boat!
27. Have a High Tea
High Teas are a popular past time across Australia and Perth is no exception.
Here are some options to get you started.
- Chinta in North Perth do gluten free, veggie and vegan High Teas
- May Street Larder offer up an artisan style High Tea, with unlimited tea
- Rochelle Adonis is the place to head for a traditional High Tea
- Bistro Guillaume offer champagne alongside their High Teas
28. Check out SciTech
Head to west Perth to check out SciTech, where you can make all sorts of exciting discoveries.
It is too the perfect place to head to if you want to learn more about the Western Australian night sky. And one of the more fun things to do in Perth with kids.
29. Grab a beer at Little Creatures
Little Creatures has two breweries – one in Geelong in Victoria and the other in Freo.
The Freo brewery offers tours for hops enthusiasts, as well as offering to school would be students in the art of making beer.
Or, you can just come down for a pint!
30. Take in some smooth tunes at a Jazz Club
Fan of jazz? Head down to the The Jazz Cellar for some good tunes, where you can shake your tail feathering with a mixed and merry crowd.
Even finding the venue is a bit of a unique experience, as you enter via a bright red telephone box in Mt Hawthorn, located on the corner of Scaborough Beach Road and Buxton Street.
31. Catch a flick in an art deco theatre
If you love going to the movies, especially to old art deco theatres, you’re in luck as there are two in Perth.
Located in Claremont and Como respectively, they were both designed by architect William Leighton and have been screening flicks for around 80 years.
32. Take a tour of the Perth Mint
This is rather cool – head to the Perth Mint to see premium gold, silver and platinum products being made.
You’ll have the opportunity to see the largest coin ever created and ogle at the biggest natural nugget collection in the ‘Gold Exhibition’.
How to spend a day in Perth
If you’ve only got a day to spend in Perth and it’s your first time in the city, I recommend the following:
- Visit Kings Park
- Wander around Elizabeth Quay
- Head to Fremantle. Keep an eye out for urban art.
- Check out Fremantle Gaol
- Watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean
- Head back to the city for dinner in Northbridge
If you have a couple more days on your Perth itinerary, I highly recommend going to Rottnest Island or the Swan Valley.
When’s the best time to visit Perth?
Perth might seem like an idyllic place to visit in summertime, but beware – it suffers from scorching temperatures that regularly hit over 40°C (over 104°F).
I personally think the best time to visit Perth is in March. It’s still quite warm, so you can go to the beach and you’ll probably get good weather. However it’s not as oppressively hot as a Perth summer and everyone is back at school/work/university, so you don’t have to deal with crowds.
If you’re using Perth as a base for travels further into Western Australia, consider timing your trip for spring, so you can see the state’s gorgeous wildflowers. By September, the blooms are spreading down towards Perth and continue on for the next couple of months into the south-west area of the state.
A winter holiday in Perth is also not a bad idea!
Where to stay in Perth
This is a mere introduction of the myriad of things to do in Perth. It’s a real treasure of Australia and I hope you enjoy every moment you spend in the city.
Have you got anything that you can add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.
Keen to explore more of Western Australia? Consider making a road trip from Perth to Kalbarri, to take in some epic sights.