Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Australian Desert. With the nearest city 2000 km away, it is the most distant city in the world! Which does make you think if it’s worth travelling to? However, with over 2,385,000 inhabitants, it must be a welcoming place to live especially, as it enjoys 320 days of sunshine a year. If you want to experience real Australian life – laid back and chilled out, visit Perth.
The must-see sights in Perth
Perth train station is located in the heart of the city centre, opening directly onto Murray Street and commercial street. You can find big brands such as H & M, Lush etc. but with small-town vibes as all shops close at 5 pm in Perth! It’s a very chilled city where you do not work late. Instead, you play sports after work or go for a drink. A further unique trait of Perth is that Australians eat relatively early in this region, with dinner time around 18:30.
To the right of the train station, you will find Yagan Square with its famous giant screen. There is also a set of several outdoor bars and breweries. This place is also often the meeting place for Australian Footy fans.
Do not miss the Northbridge district with its large library and museum currently undergoing reconstruction. You can also take free English classes given by pastors three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays from 1 pm to 3:30 pm) on Beaufort Street.
Next is wonderful Kings Park, ideal spot to spend an afternoon with a picnic, relax on the lawn, meditate or join one of the many yoga classes. It is here that you will find a breathtaking view of the city and its towering skyscrapers. You can also admire flora and fauna, including multicoloured parrots and numerous species of flowers. Kings Park offers a peaceful oasis and calming atmosphere.
Elizabeth Quay is the next highlight. A neighbourhood on the banks of the Swan River, it is home to a very friendly cafe with an Indian restaurant called “Annalakshmi on the Swan” which is run by volunteers and operates on a “pay as you feel scheme”. From here you can take a cruise along the river.
A few minutes by bus from the city centre, you can reach Heirisson Island which offers the opportunity to tick kangaroos off your Australia bucket list.
Finally, the beaches of the West coast are famous for surfing, so be careful as the tide can get crazy! Here is not the place for those who are used to the small beaches of the Riviera, as large waves crash against the vibrant sands. The unmissable beaches include – Scarborough Beach (take the Joondalup Line to Perth train station then buses 990, 421 or 410) and Cottesloe Beach (take the Fremantle Line and bus 102) allow around one hour from the centre by public transport. On Thursday evenings from 1st November to 25 April 2019, you can also enjoy the night market in Scarborough Beach.
Visit the Perth Region
For starters, head to Fremantle known as “Freo”, a hippie town that has kept the imprint of its history, which adds to its charm. You can get there in around 30 minutes by taking the Fremantle Line from Perth Station. Then, let yourself get carried away in the alleys filled with vintage clothing stores, second-hand books and organic food shops. There is a large vegan community here, so it’s an ideal spot for vegan restaurants and shops. You can also stroll through the covered market filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables, spiritual shops and discover delicious food stands. In the evenings the town as just as lively with bars and restaurants waiting for you. This place should be on your To-Do list while you visit Perth
From Freo, you can take a boat to Rottnest Island (I recommend Sealink Rottnest Island.) A marvel preserved from all pollution, you can only cycle on Rottnest Island (although there is one tourist bus.) This is the perfect time and place to snorkel as the water is crystal clear. Simply pop on your mask, and you’re good to go!
Rottnest Island is best known for quokkas. Often referred to as the happiest animal in the world quokkas live freely here, and you will be able to see them up close for those famous smiling selfies. Note that the boat is cheaper on Tuesdays. You can pay $100 for two for a return trip. You will then need to add the price of the snorkelling kit and bike rental, which is $30 per person.
Finally, do not miss Penguin Island, which is just 45 minutes south of Perth and lies a five-minute ferry ride away, amongst the spectacular Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.
There is actually a sandbar which runs between Penguin Island and the mainland at Mersey Point in the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park which you can walk across. However, the walk is not advised as the tide can be unpredictable, leaving you stranded or the water too deep in parts.
You can otherwise reach the island by boat; however, it is a very high price for a 5-minute trip. It is around $18 or $27 per person if you want to feed the penguins. Of course, as its name suggests you will see penguins so I’d say the fee is worth it. Ideally, rent a kayak to visit the two other small islands nearby where you can admire birds and seals as well.
When is it best, to visit Perth?
Being the sunniest city in Australia, it is best to visit Perth from October to the end of April. It’s a Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers and mild, wet winters. Note that evenings are cool from the end of March.
As for the sea, it remains rather cool; however, the warmest time of year is March when the sea reaches 23 degrees.
Other than the good weather, it is nice to come to Perth in Summer for some of its festivals like the Perth festival. The next one is on from February 7th to March 1st, 2020.
Where to stay in Perth
As in all major Australian cities, there are many ways to find accommodation.
The most common are the backpacker hostels, you can find several in the city centre. Many offer free nights’ accommodation in exchange for cleaning or reception work.
You can also join a Flatshare and find roommates. You will find several ads on social media where rent is paid weekly or monthly as you share an apartment with a few others.
There is also Airbnb, where you can rent a room, allowing you to immerse yourself in Australian family life and learn about the host’s culture and local gems.
This is also the case if you experience HelpX or Woofing. In exchange for your skills (such as childcare, farming or decorating) you are rewarded with free housing and meals. Similarly, there is Couchsurfing, where no work is involved, it is a cultural exchange.
Where to go out in Perth?
Despite the appearance of a quiet city, Perth is lively, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
Tuesday nights are ideal for movie lovers as the price of cinema tickets are cheaper. There are also offers in some bars and restaurants early in the week. On Friday nights, all the shops, malls and superstores are open later and close at 9 pm. You can also enjoy the world’s food market which is held every Friday night starting at 5 pm on Murray Street. You can discover all the flavours of the world, accompanied by live music.
Finally, the favoured party district is Northbridge. It is a very lively area on weekends with many bars and trendy clubs, including The Court gay box, consisting of 4 rooms with different music. There is Free entry before 10 pm, otherwise $10 per person.
Remember to bring your passport because there are strict rules enforced with the legal drinking age and licensing laws.
You can reach the city centre of Perth easily by bus or train. There are several good tips for visiting Perth to assist with these various transport routes.
Transperth is the main bus and train company of the region. The price of the ticket depends on the area you are heading to. Perth and its surroundings are divided into 8 zones, covering a very large area. A ticket is valid for two hours and can be used indefinitely within the same zone for two hours, taking the bus or the train interchangeably. Perth city also has a Free Transit Zone for buses and a SmartRider Free Transit Zone for trains.
There is a free mobile app for Transperth that can help schedule your trip. It suggests several itineraries and costs for your journey, updated in real time. Tickets can be purchased on the bus, however, make sure you have correct change on hand because bus drivers rarely accept large cash notes. Otherwise, there are terminals in the train stations to receive change.
If you decide to stay for more than three weeks, you can purchase the $10 card which allows you to benefit from a 10% discount on the road. Also, if you have validated your card after 9 am, it will stop debiting money when you reach a threshold of $12.80. The card can be topped up at stations or with bus drivers. Alternatively, if you top up via bank transfer, you will benefit from a 20% discount on all journeys.
It is important to note, the names of the bus stops can be very confusing for tourists as they have no names but instead just numbers. Unfortunately, the drivers do not know all the numbers of each stop so; the app can be very helpful as a guide to each stop. ,
Regarding the trains, it is much easier to coordinate. There are different lines such as Mandurah line, Joondalup Line etc. with each stop also having a name (instead of a number)! It may be handy to know; there is a ” family day rider” ticket for $12.40, which allows two people (or more) to enjoy unlimited travel. This is from 5 pm and all day on weekends.