Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Australian Desert. Closer to Jakarta in Indonesia than to Sydney or Melbourne and 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 2.2 million 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.
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How to Get to Perth?
If you’re flying from Europe and have chosen Perth as your destination, logically, the plane will be your primary mode of transport to Australia. Prepare for a long journey – about 24 hours of flight time – with at least one stopover depending on the airline. Of course you have the option to use Qantas and their direct flight. This long-haul flight from London (LHR) to Perth (PER) takes about 17 hours. There are 7 direct flights between London and Perth every week.
As with all flights, book your ticket as early as possible and avoid school holiday periods.
You can do your own research, we advise you to use a price comparison website such as Skyscanner.
Getting to the City from the Airport
To get to the city from the airport, you can take a public bus. Depending on whether you arrive at Terminals 1, 2, or 3 and 4, the bus you need will be different. For T1 and T2, it’s usually bus 380 that will take you to the city. For T3 and T4, take the 40. The fare costs the same as a normal city trip (about $5).
You can also opt for a taxi or Uber, in which case, expect to pay around $40 to reach the city center.
From Another City in Australia
If you’re traveling within Australia, two options are available to you: plane or bus. You can also choose the train, but it might take a while to cross the country! Bus travel is the cheapest option (expect about $60 for an overnight bus from Sydney) but takes much longer… If you book in advance, it’s possible to find cheaper flights. For domestic flights in Australia, compare low-cost airlines like Virgin and JetStar.
For those who have their own vehicle and are on a road trip, you can reach Perth from the East coming from Adelaide or from the North. If you’re arriving from the north, we recommend checking out our article Itinerary Perth – Darwin to make sure you don’t miss anything on the road.
When is it best to visit and how long to stay?
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.
Once you’re there, we recommend dedicating at least 2 days to exploring Perth. If you have more time, then take advantage of the region and discover the surrounding wonders (we’ll talk more about this below).
Where to stay in Perth?
As in all major Australian cities, there are many ways to find accommodation.
For hotels prices can be quite high in the city center. Consider staying in the surrounding neighborhoods for better rates. For a mid-range hotel, we recommend the Novotel on Murray Street. We loved the hotel’s location, convenient for exploring the city, with easy access to nearby train stations and attractions like Elizabeth Quay and King’s Park. The hotel’s amenities, especially the pool, perfect for a relaxing swim, were also a highlight.
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. Also don’t forget the option of housesitting which is a great way to live in a beautiful place for free 🙂
The must-see sights in Perth
Founded in 1829, Perth is a modern and dynamic city which is established on the banks of the Swan River. The city is a clever mix of modern buildings and old 1900-style buildings. So take the time to stroll through the different neighborhoods to appreciate all its diversity!
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.
Elizabeth Quay is the next highlight. A neighbourhood on the banks of the Swan River. There, you’ll find very charming bars, cafes, and restaurants such as the Lucky Shag, The Island, or Gusto Gelato. You can discover “The Bell Tower,” a rather futuristic building that houses 14th-century bells. You can even visit the tower (10$ per person) and enjoy a 30-minute interactive bell-ringing experience and a 360° view of the city.
Elizabeth Quay is also the starting point for a cruise along the river. If you can, go for a sunset cruise 🙂
Above all, Northbridge is the party district! Full of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and shops of all kinds, this is the place that moves in Perth. William Street is the street with all the Asian restaurants at low prices. The surroundings of Russell Square come alive every night. Many bars in the neighborhood offer happy hours.
Northbridge also hosts several cultural sites to visit: The Western Australian Museum, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, The contemporary State Theater Centre, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Kings Park and the Botanical Garden
This is Perth’s most iconic park. Covering an area of more than 4km, it overlooks the City and offers breathtaking views of the Swan River and the city’s skyscrapers. Kings Park is the ideal spot to spend an afternoon with a picnic, relax on the lawn, meditate or join one of the many yoga classes. You can also admire flora and fauna, including multicoloured parrots and numerous species of flowers. Kings Park offers a peaceful oasis and calming atmosphere.
South Perth Foreshore
Enjoy the view of the city from the other side of the shore. South Perth Foreshore is the perfect place for a picnic on the grass. You will also find a large number of barbecues, games for children, cafes and restaurants. Then go to Mends Street Jetty, where you can take the ferry back to town (10 min crossing). It is also a perfect place to watch the fireworks at New Year or Australia Day.
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: the meeting point for young people, surfers and skaters! You will also find many bars, surf shops and restaurants here. Enjoy the Scarborough Sunset Market from November to April. To get there, take the Joondalup Line to Perth train station then buses 990, 421 or 410.
- Cottesloe Beach: Perth’s iconic beach, it is considered the most beautiful in the city. It is also a privileged place to watch the sunset! Once a year, the Sculptures by the Sea festival is held there, an open-air modern art exhibition. To get there, take the Fremantle Line and bus 102. Allow around one hour from the centre by public transport.
- Trigg Beach: the ideal spot for beginners or experienced surfers depending on the weather conditions…
- City Beach: a beach of choice for a picnic or a swim just 15 minutes by car from Perth city center
- Coogee Beach: ideal for a family swim due to its shallow waters. Coogee is also known for its pier, especially among fishermen.
- Swanbourne Beach: for fans of tanning without swimwear brands, Swanbourne is home to a portion of nudist beach 300m from the main entrance to the beach…
Main activities in Perth
If you’re looking for what to do in Perth, we’ve put together a list with all of our must-sees. Here are our top things to do in this multifaceted city!
Take a Cruise on the Swan River
If you want to see the city from a unique perspective, what could be better than a cruise along the river! Indeed, the Swan River flows through the city amidst skyscrapers, providing residents with numerous opportunities for water sports.
Visit Perth Zoo
The Perth Zoo, spanning 17 hectares, is home to nearly 1,300 animals from 164 different species. Open to the public since 1898, it is a member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) of Oceania and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Located in South Perth, it welcomes an average of 600,000 visitors annually. It’s a fantastic place to discover animals from tropical regions and learn more about their lifestyles! However, visitors should be mindful to follow guidelines to ensure the well-being of the animals present.
Discover Quokkas on Rottnest Island
Embark on an adventure to meet the quokkas living freely on Rottnest Island, a nature reserve. The island’s flora and fauna are abundant and highly protected. Located just 40 minutes from downtown Perth or 30 minutes from Fremantle, expect to pay between 40 and 90 AUD for a shuttle boat ride. There are packages available that include ferry and bike rental for around 100 AUD. Rottnest Island is a true paradise with its turquoise waters and fine, white sandy beaches. The island is only 19 square kilometers, making it easy to explore on foot or by bike. In fact, motor vehicles are strictly prohibited, so most tourists opt for cycling. This island is also home to the famous little Quokkas, adorable marsupials found only on Rottnest Island.
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. They live here in freedom! Put on your sneakers and go around the island, the walk is about 5 km.
See Dolphins in Mandurah
Located about 50 minutes from Perth, the quaint town of Mandurah is home to a colony of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. They inhabit the Peel-Harvey estuary and the adjacent coastal waters, an area particularly conducive to their reproduction with an abundance of fish for feeding. These are very social creatures that travel in groups of 5 to 15 dolphins. You can take a cruise to watch the dolphins (1 to 1.5 hours – about 30 AUD per person) and enjoy a unique experience!
You can witness the migration of Blue Whales between March and April, and then the Humpback Whales from September to November. If you’re in Perth during one of these periods, we highly recommend planning a whale-watching cruise (around $60 per person). This is a fantastic opportunity to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
What could be better than learning to kite surf in Australia? You’ll find several schools like SoulKite or Seebreeze Kitesurf School offering lessons on the beautiful Swan River. The instructors are there to guide you with a relaxed yet professional teaching style! After your session, you can chat with other kite surfers on the beach and maybe even enjoy a beer over a barbecue! For kite surfing enthusiasts, the top spots not to miss are Woodman Point and Safety Bay.
Where to go out in Perth?
Despite the appearance of a quiet city, Perth is lively, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. There are also options in some bars and restaurants on other nights of the week (quiz night, karaoke etc).
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 9 pm, otherwise $10 per person.
Among the other trendy places to go out, we find The Aviary (rooftop in the city centre), The Market Grounds and its many bars and atmospheres, Henry Summer and its large outdoor garden in Northbridge, Connections and its drag-queen shows or The Geisha Bar.
Remember to bring your passport because there are strict rules enforced with the legal drinking age and licensing laws.
Where to eat in Perth?
Perth is filled with exceptional restaurants that will delight food enthusiasts. Here are some of the best places to eat in Perth:
- Wildflower: Located at the top of COMO The Treasury, this restaurant offers contemporary Australian cuisine with a breathtaking view of the city. The menu is inspired by the six seasons of the Noongar indigenous people.
- Nobu Perth: Nestled in Crown Perth, Nobu is famous for its unique fusion of Japanese cuisine and South American flavors. It’s a must-visit for sushi lovers and those who enjoy innovative dishes.
- Canteen Pizza: For a more relaxed atmosphere, with its ocean view, this restaurant offers excellent wood-fired pizzas and a fine selection of wines (in Cottesloe).
- Petition Kitchen: Located in the historic State Buildings, Petition Kitchen is known for its seasonal approach and varied menu that showcases fresh local produce.
- Little Creatures Brewery: For a unique experience, head to Fremantle. Along with their craft beer, they serve great food in a lively and friendly atmosphere.
- The Shorehouse: Located on Swanbourne Beach, it is perfect for a seaside meal. Their menu features fresh seafood and modern Australian dishes, with stunning ocean views.
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.
To get around the center and nearby surroundings, there are free CAT buses. They operate for free every day of the week from 6am or 6.45am on weekdays and later on weekends. You will find the schedules of the shuttles on the Transperth website.
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.
With the ferry
You can cross the Swan River by ferry or even head to Perth Zoo. A ferry departs from Elizabeth Quay every 15 minutes starting at 6:30 in the morning.
To reach Rottnest Island, you’ll need to take a ferry operated by SeaLink (a private company). Ferries depart daily from several locations (city, Fremantle).
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.
Finally, do not miss the visit of the prison, the only building in Western Australia to have been classified as a World Heritage Site.
Reach Rottnest Island by ferry from Fremantle or Perth City. The crossing takes approximately 25 minutes from Fremantle and 90 minutes from Perth. The Sea Link company is one of the most popular and offers round trip from Fremantle from $59. Note that the return boat crossing pack is cheaper on Tuesdays. You will then have to add the price of the bike rental (approx. 30$).
If you’re planning a round-trip ferry ride to Rottnest Island and also want to rent a bike, it’s worth booking this package that includes a shuttle service from your accommodation in Perth. The package covers the round-trip to Rottnest Island and bike rental, making your trip convenient and enjoyable.
The island with a tragic past is now protected and is a small preserved wonder. Indeed, Rottnest is 100% nature and zero pollution, you can only travel by bike (there is only one tourist bus). It is the ideal place for snorkelling, the water is crystal clear and the beaches breathtaking. All you have to do is put on your mask and snorkel! Finally, Rottnest Island is best known for quokkas, called the happiest animal in the world. This is where they live freely and where you can approach them easily.
Perth is also known for the Swan Valley and its vineyards, just 30 minutes drive from the city centre. Many buses and boat tours are available from Perth City. They will take you to discover the many vineyards, breweries and restaurants including tasting stops.
About a 3 hour drive from Perth is Margaret River. The city and its region are known for the vineyards, the magnificent forests, the beaches, the numerous surf spots and the local gastronomy. You can also visit Busselton and its famous jetty, or Dunsborough, on the road to Margaret River.
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.
Practical Info – Perth
Fremantle Festival (January)
Fringe Festival (Jan – Feb)
FairBridge Festival (April)
WA Day Festival (June)
Listen Out (September)
Ice Cream Factory (December – January)