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With world-class beaches like Cottesloe, amazing views at Kings Park and picturesque walks along the Swan River, Perth has plenty of fun things to do.
I spent five months living in Perth during my Australian south coast road trip, so I had lots of time to explore the best attractions in Perth, as well as discover some fantastic WA day trips.
If you’re planning a visit to Australia’s sunniest capital, or you’re thinking of living in Perth, read on or check out my YouTube video below to find out my top 15 things to do in Perth, Australia!
1. Visit Kings Park & Botanic Gardens
No trip to Perth would be complete without a visit to beautiful Kings Park, one of the largest inner-city parks in the world.
Not only does Kings Park boast a 17-hectare botanic garden with around 3,000 species of native flora, bushland walking tracks, a treetop walkway and multiple cafes, but the views over Perth city and the Swan River are absolutely stunning, especially at sunrise or sunset.
2. Spend a Day in Fremantle
A day trip to Fremantle is one of my top recommended things to do in Perth. A historic seaside port less than half an hour from the city by train, Fremantle is full of beautiful Colonial buildings and has a fun, artistic vibe.
To learn about the history of Fremantle on a budget, you can take a self-guided audio tour that teaches you about Fremantle Prison, Shipwreck Galleries, Fremantle Arts Museum and more, as you walk around the city at your own pace.
If you’d rather do your own thing, you could enjoy an alfresco lunch or coffee along Cappucino Strip on South Terrace or take it easy on Bathers Beach.
If you visit on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, don’t miss the colourful Fremantle Markets on the corner of South Terrace and Henderson Street.
3. Go Dolphin Spotting on the Swan River
I had no idea that dolphins lived in the Swan River in Perth until I was strolling along the water’s edge one day and spotted them arching out of the water!
I mean, wild dolphins just a five-minute walk away from the city centre? It’s just showing off really!
My favourite spot was Riverside Drive, between the Supreme Court Gardens and Langley Park. I regularly spotted dolphins along that stretch, particularly in the morning.
If you want a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can join a wild dolphin swim and cruise from Perth. This day trip takes you to Rockingham, 40 minutes from Perth, and includes a snorkelling lesson before you meet the dolphins, as well as refreshments and use of equipment.
4. Relax on an Amazing Perth Beach
Perth is renowned for its spectacular beaches, and rightly so. Easily accessible from the city, Perth’s beaches have soft white sand, bright blue ocean and a laid-back vibe. They never seem to get too busy either.
My personal favourite, purely for the atmosphere, is Scarborough Beach. Bars and restaurants line the road behind the beach, yet there’s enough space to find a quiet spot away from the crowd.
For a quieter location, City Beach is equally stunning, and also has a couple of beachside eateries. Head to Clancy’s Fish Pub for lunch or to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean with a drink in your hand.
For an easy-to-reach beach that’s also very pretty, Cottesloe Beach conveniently lies along the train line, and is a popular spot for swimming, snorkelling and surfing. There are a few cafes and a fish and chip shop along the road behind the beach, but it’s not overly built up.
5. Eat Out in a Perth Restaurant
Perth has a variety of eateries from all over the world, so a meal out should definitely be on your list of things to do in Perth.
In the city, check out Murray Street or Northbridge for a choice of restaurants and pubs. Further afield, Subiaco & Leederville are good suburbs for cute cafes and restaurants.
For lunch or dinner with a riverside view, The Lucky Shag Waterfront Bar at Barrack Street Jetty was my all time favourite spot – and you may even spot those dolphins!
6. Explore Perth Street Art
As if Perth’s glittering skyscrapers and pretty riverside views aren’t enough, the city is also decorated with an impressive amount of street art.
Take a stroll around the city and spot the small sculptures dotted around, as well as enormous murals covering the sides of buildings.
7. Meet Kangaroos on Heirisson Island
Heirisson Island lies on the Swan River less than 4km from Perth CBD, and is easily accessible from the causeway bridge that runs between East Perth and Victoria.
It’s perfect for a picnic and reminds me of parks back in the UK. Along with barbecues, picnic shelters, toilets, a children’s playground and beautiful views across the water, it’s also home to western grey kangaroos!
Heirisson Island is definitely one of Perth’s best attractions in my opinion!
8. Visit a Perth Art Gallery
If you’re an art lover, soak up some culture with a visit to the Art Gallery of Western Australia, founded in 1895 and housing one of the world’s finest collections of Indigenous art, amongst many other collections.
For a more modern exhibition, drop into nearby PICA, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, located inside a lovely heritage building in the centre of Perth.
There are also smaller galleries dotted around the city such as Outra Gallery at 260 William St, Form at 357 Murray St, Kurb Gallery at 310 William St, Free Range Gallery at 339 Wellington St and Creative Narrative in Forrest Place, which sells Aboriginal art.
9. Enjoy a Cruise Along the Swan River
The Swan River is one of the main attractions in Perth, and one of the best things I did was take a river cruise between Perth and Fremantle to really take in the scenery.
This 2.5-hour round-trip Swan River cruise between Perth and Fremantle costs from $45 per person. The captain will point out the main sights, such as the Bell Tower, Swan Brewery, Kings Park, Royal Perth Yacht Club and the many beautiful mansions along the way!
10. Take a Trip to Rottnest Island
Just 19km from Perth, car-free Rottnest Island is an absolute gem. Hopping on the ferry to Rottnest Island for a day trip or weekend getaway is definitely one of the best things to do in Perth if you’re a nature lover.
With over 60 stunning beaches, coral reefs to snorkel, shipwrecks to dive and hundreds of wild quokkas to photograph, Rottnest Island is an easy place to spend a day. For a longer visit there’s a campsite and plenty of budget accommodation.
To explore the island fully, hire a bike and set off on the 22km round trip like I did. I won’t lie though – it is a bit hilly! To save your legs, you can also join a Rottnest Island bus tour.
11. Spend the Day at Perth Zoo
Dedicated to wildlife conservation with a focus on environmental responsibility, Perth Zoo is home to a variety of animals from all over the world, and an educational Perth attraction for kids and adults alike.
The zoo not only has a wealth of informative signs about each species, but sustainability initiatives in place, such as eco toilets, to reduce the zoo’s impact on the environment. Allow yourself a whole day as it takes a long time to walk around – oh, and the ferry ride over is pretty nice too!
12. Admire the Perth Skyline at Sunset
One of my favourite things to do in Perth was watch the sunset in Langley Park; I was awestruck when I stumbled across this location just a short walk from my apartment one evening and realised I could have been down here every night instead of staying in watching Neighbours!
Not only does it have serene views across the Swan River, but the California-style, palm tree-lined Riverside Drive is the perfect backdrop to watch the sun go down behind the Perth skyline.
13. Enjoy a Night Out in Northbridge
Northbridge is a bustling suburb of Perth within an easy walk from the city centre. Packed with funky cafes, quirky boutiques and independent restaurants, it’s a great location to visit at any time of day, but it’s also particularly lively on a night out and popular with locals and visitors alike.
Try The Bird for band watching with the hipsters, backpacker favourite Brass Monkey Hotel for a cheesy night out on the dancefloor, gay nightclub Connections for a boogie or drag queen show, or Mustang Bar for cheap meal deals and backpacker nights.
14. Watch the Sunrise in East Perth
While the sunrise views from Kings Park are spectacular, you can’t beat watching the sun come up directly behind a big body of water, and the Swan River is the perfect location.
For more inspiration, check out my blog post and photo diary from my riverside walk through East Perth.
15. Go Shopping in Perth
If you’re in need of a shopping spree, the main strip of high street shops are centred around Murray Street in Perth CBD.
For quirkier stores and boutiques, take a wander along William Street in Northbridge, and to bag a bargain, head to Watertown Brand Outlet at 840 Wellington Street. There’s also a huge shopping mall with a Hoyts cinema at Garden City.
That’s it for my recommended things to do in Perth! If you’re thinking of exploring WA, check out my Western Australia travel guides for inspiration. For more trip ideas, read about my top things to do in Darwin. Happy travels!
Lisa Bull, founder of Dreaming of Down Under, has been living in Australia as a British expat since 2015. After travelling to every state and territory in Australia and living in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, Lisa knows from first-hand experience the best destinations to visit in Australia and the best budget travel tips. Her guides on this blog have been read by over 700k readers and helped thousands of people achieve their dream of living in or travelling Australia.