Perth has been Australia’s boom town for over a decade, with the mining industry attracting workers from interstate and overseas, and the city completely transforming from a sleepy backwater town to a vibrant metropolis complete with a thriving café and bar culture, world-class festivals, and great mall and boutique shopping.
There’s plenty of fun things to do in this beautiful city, and some of them are hidden gems that even many locals don’t know about!
Check out our list of the best things to do in Perth:
1. Caversham Wildlife Park
Naturally, if you’ve come all the way to Australia, you’re going to want to see the local wildlife.
Most tourists will head straight to Perth Zoo, but for a much more natural, authentic environment, Caversham Wildlife Park is the place to go.
With quieter foot traffic, the animals seem more relaxed and at-home.
You can hand-feed the kangaroos, take a photo with a koala, and snuggle up close with a wombat!
2. WA’s famous wildflowers
Western Australia is famous for its wildflowers, with over 12,000 species of wildflowers across the state making it the world’s largest collection.
Since 60% of these are found nowhere outside of Western Australia, seeing the wildflowers is a truly unique Australian experience not to be missed.
The good news is, you don’t even have to leave inner-city Perth to get a taste of them: the height of the wildflower season in Perth is September, when Kings Park Botanical Gardens burst into bloom.
Depending on where you go in WA, you can enjoy wildflowers for 6 months of the year: the season starts in June in the north of the state, and finishes in the south in November.
3. Drive through the Sunset Coast, the jewel of WA
Named for its stunning sunsets over the Indian Ocean, the Sunset Coast is a 40km stretch of white sandy beaches, widely considered to be the most beautiful beaches in all of Australia.
Start at Cottosloe Beach for a morning coffee and some people-watching, and head to Scarborough Beach to enjoy fish and chips for lunch on the beach.
Then, enjoy a stroll at Hillary’s Boat Harbour: you can stop by the aquarium, or catch a ferry to Rottnest Island from here to see WA’s beloved quokkas.
Finally, drive up to Australia’s largest marina, Mindarie Marina, stroll around the Mediterranean boardwalks, and enjoy a local beer at the microbrewery.
4. London Court and Trinity Arcade
Step into the past at London Court and Trinity Arcade, which are both gorgeous examples of WA architecture within close walking distance of each other.
London Court was built in the 1930s, but styled in a mock-Tudor fashion that seems much older, and Trinity Arcade dates all the way back to the 19th Century! Perth’s inner-buildings are mostly very modern, so these are a sumptuous glance at WA’s past, and the contrast between old and new is striking.
5. Elizabeth Quay
Now that we’ve seen some echoes of WA’s past, let’s check out its future: the latest major urban redevelopment, Elizabeth Quay.
Opened in 2015 to much fanfare, Elizabeth Quay is built on the foreshore of the beautiful Swan River, and has a bit of something for everyone, from a great playground for kids, to gourmet restaurants, to farmer’s markets in the summer.
The Quay is architecturally stunning, and well worth a stroll, especially at night when the bridge is lit up with rainbow colours.
Elizabeth Quay is also famous as an event and festival space, so it’s worth checking out its website to see what’s on.
6. Heirisson Island
Telling a local that you’re visiting Heirisson Island will often result in a “where?”: despite being smack-dab in the city centre, most people have never heard of this hidden treasure where you can chill out with kangaroos in their natural habitat while surrounded by cityscape.
This kangaroo sanctuary is situated on the Swan River, between East Perth and Victoria Park, and its connected to the two foreshores by the Causeway bridge.
The roos are very friendly, and the island is lovely as well.
You can even use the public BBQ facilities to have a true-blue Aussie BBQ!
7. Catch a festival
This once-sleepy city now boasts an impressive array of festivals: from hawker food festivals and comedy festivals to Shakespeare festivals, there’s something for everyone, practically every day!
Visit Perth City is a great resource to find out what’s going on during your stay.
8. Perth Cultural Centre
The Cultural Centre is home to an impressive museum, two art galleries, the State Library, the Blue Room Theatre, an Urban Orchard, and various public artworks.
It also plays host to some great pop-up events, craft and farmer’s markets.
There’s a fun interactive Play Space for the kids, and a massive TV screen that shows interesting video clips (everything from pop art to arthouse!) The Cultural Centre is conveniently located right next to Perth train station, and runs between Perth and the popular Northbridge shopping/eating district.
9. Have a drink inside an art gallery
The PICA Bar is a bar inside an art gallery.
It’s a popular drinking spot with Perth’s hipster crowds, and the atmosphere inside is relaxed and friendly.
The bar has an old style vintage charm, and it’s a nice place to stop for a drink and get to know some locals after you’ve had a wander around the Cultural Centre.
10. Try Aussie pub food
Perth’s pub food is delicious. This is where the locals go to eat when they miss Mum’s home cooking: the options on offer are largely British or Irish in original, and usually affordably priced.
You’ll be able to enjoy Aussie favourites such as Yorkshire pudding, steak and kidney pie, fish and chips, and the Italian-American chicken parmigiana, which has become a fast favourite in Australia as well.
Some well-known pubs include the Claremont Hotel, Fibber McGee’s, and Durty Nelly’s.
However, there’s plenty of hidden gems in the pub food scene, and it’s hard to find a place that isn’t great!
11. University of Western Australia campus tour
Founded in 1911, the University of Western Australia (UWA) is considered to be one of Australia’s most beautiful university campuses, and there’s plenty for visitors to see: immaculate gardens, architecture that runs the gamut from heritage to futuristic, and a student tavern that regularly holds events such as an Oktoberfest.
It also has stunning views of the Swan River, and it’s just across the road from the beautiful Matilda Bay Reserve.
UWA’s iconic Winthrop Tower dates back to 1932, and is a very picturesque spot, where former students frequently hold their wedding ceremonies.
If you’re lucky, you may even see Macca the Pig roaming around with his band of adorable kindergartners: he lives at the on-site child care centre, and often comes out for a walk.
12. Kings Park
Kings Park is a vast expanse of parkland overlooking Perth city centre.
It’s one of the world’s largest inner-city parks, and boasts a stunning view of the Perth city lights at night-time.
There’s a beautiful botanic garden full of WA natives, which includes a lovely water garden and a Place of Reflection.
There’s also a War Memorial and Pioneer Women’s Memorial, and a family area that is popular for picnics.
Events take place regularly, including indigenous cultural events, and the Kings Park Festival.
Check out the Kings Park website for the latest information.
13. Fremantle Prison
Fremantle Prison is WA’s only World Heritage Listed building.
It’s exceptionally intact, and was used as a maximum-security jail for almost 140 years, until it was decommissioned in 1991. The history of the building is fascinating, and guided tours are available.
You can even take a night tour, but beware: ghost stories abound, as 44 prisoners were hanged in the gallows here! There’s also a tour of the labyrinth of tunnels underneath the prison – they’re very eerie, and not for the faint-hearted.
14. Fremantle Markets and E-Shed Markets
The Fremantle Markets and the E-Shed Markets are within walking distance of each other, and they’re firm favourites with locals and tourists alike: they’re both great places to pick up some quirky Australiana for your friends back home, as well as for a tasty bite to eat at a reasonable price.
Many of the stores sell bespoke, hand-crafted items that aren’t available anywhere else.
Both markets are only open from Friday to Sunday, so keep that in mind when planning your Fremantle trip.
15. Nostalgia Box Museum
The Nostalgia Box is Australia’s first interactive game console museum, with consoles dating all the way back to the 70s.
You’ll see plenty of familiar games and consoles from childhood, as well as many you haven’t heard of before, making it an exciting crash-course in the history of videogaming and the way that technology has changed over the decades.
There’s an interactive gaming area where you can enjoy your favourite games, try something new, and introduce any kids travelling with you to the wonders of Crash Bandicoot and Sonic the Hedgehog.