The Best Things to do in Perth, Australia

The 15 Best Things to do in Perth, Australia

Located on the banks of the Swan River, just a short drive from the golden beaches of the Indian Ocean, Perth is one of the best destinations to visit in Australia. Despite being the sunniest city in Australia, Perth is often overlooked in favor of the better-known east coast cities, like Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane

But Western Australia’s capital is a buzzing metropolis, even if it is also the most remote capital city in the world. Visit the Western Australian Museum Boola Bardip in the Perth Cultural Centre, and you’ll learn how the Whadjuk Noongar people have lived on the banks of the Swan River for tens of thousands of years. 

With so many things to do in Perth, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to see and do for you. Try these fun and unique Perth bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an exceptional time exploring this gorgeous Australian city!

The 15 Best Things to do in Perth, Australia

1. Take a Walking Tour of Perth

Best Things to do in Perth, Australia: Walking Tour

We love joining walking tours when we first arrive in a new city. It’s a fun way to see the landmarks, orientate yourself for the rest of your stay, meet a few fellow travelers, and pick up some valuable local tips from the guide. 

Perth is no exception, and with a compact CBD (Central Business District) that’s made for strolling, a walking tour is the best way to start your trip. There are plenty of different tours to choose from, too. 

“Visit Perth,” the city’s tourism board, has organized a selection of self-guided walking tours that you can access through a dedicated app. This includes the “Convicts and Colonials” tour, which delves into Perth’s early European history, and the Whadjuk Country Walking Trail, which focuses on indigenous heritage and culture.

Visit Perth also offers free 90-minute walks around the city, with different themed tours on different days of the week. Monday is the “Icons of Influence Tour,” which explores the individuals who made Perth what it is today, while Friday is the “Art City Tour,” where you can discover street art and murals.

Oh Hey WA is a local tour provider with longer, daily walking tours that offer an in-depth look at Perth’s history and culture. They also run bar crawls and art tours, while Eat The Street Walking Tours have an amazing food walk that leaves you well-fed!

2. Head to the Beach

Perth, Australia Bucket List: Beach

Okay, you’re in Australia, and that means that a day at the beach is one of the top things to do in Perth. Western Australia is home to Australia’s best beaches (arguably, and anyone from the east coast would of course disagree with this!), and many of these beautiful strips of golden sand are just a short drive from Perth’s CBD.

This is one city that beach lovers will fall head over heels for, with miles of beaches to explore along the sandy shores of the Indian Ocean. Start with Cottesloe Beach, one of the most famous beaches close to Perth. It’s a 20-minute bus or train ride from the CBD (plus a short walk), and the water here is perfectly clear, making it a great spot for snorkeling. 

Further north, Scarborough Beach is a quieter version of Cottesloe, with equally soft sand and water that’s just as clear. To the south, Fremantle has plenty of beaches within walking distance of the city center, while Rockingham is well known for its marine reserves. 

3. Explore Elizabeth Quay

What to do in Perth, Australia: Elizabeth Quay

Named after Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Quay is one of the most popular Perth sightseeing attractions. This modern waterfront development is just a short stroll away from the CBD, and it’s home to some of Perth’s fanciest hotels (including the Ritz Carlton) and most iconic landmarks. 

Take a stroll along the esplanade or hop on a scenic cruise to explore the Swan River. You can pop into one of the riverside bars for a cold pint with the best view in Perth or have lunch or dinner in one of the waterfront restaurants. 

Elizabeth Quay is conveniently located next to famous Perth attractions like The Bell Tower, Government House, and the Museum of Perth, making it the perfect place to start your tour of the city. 

4. Hear the Swan Bells Ring

Unique Things to do in Perth, Australia: The Bell Tower

One of the best things to see in Perth is The Bell Tower, an 82-meter-high tower that takes pride of place on Elizabeth Quay. The Bell Tower is a modern landmark, having been opened in 2000 to celebrate the millennium, and it’s well worth returning in the evening to see the tower when it’s lit up brightly at night.

But despite the tower itself being relatively young, the bells you’ll hear ringing aren’t quite so modern. The Bell Tower is home to the Swan Bells, 12 of which were donated to Perth from a much older medieval church in London named St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

Take a guided tour of The Bell Tower, and you’ll learn more about the history of the tower itself, as well as the bells found inside. The tower is unusually designed, too, so that you can see the bell ringers working their magic when the bells are rung. The tour also allows you to try your own hand at bell ringing, making a trip to The Bell Tower one of the most unique things to do in Perth. 

5. Visit the Perth Cultural Centre

Fun Things to do in Perth, Australia: Perth Cultural Centre

If you’re looking for culture, then rather conveniently, Perth’s city planners have grouped the very best cultural institutions together in one place for you. The Perth Cultural Centre is located on the edge of Northbridge, and it’s home to the city’s best museums, art galleries, and theaters.

The Perth Cultural Centre is the location of the State Library of Western Australia, while the Blue Room Theatre and the State Theatre Centre have a vigorous schedule of shows throughout the year, including classic plays like Twelfth Night and innovative events like the Top Dog Festival.

Perth, Australia Bucket List: Perth Cultural Centre

For art lovers, there’s no better place to visit in Perth than the Art Gallery of Western Australia, which dates back to 1895. The gallery has some 18,000 works of art in its collection, including works by Aesthetic painters, both British and Australian. 

The gallery is best known for its extensive selection of indigenous artwork, depicting Aboriginal life and history in Western Australia. If you prefer modern art, then Pica is where you’ll find WA’s equally extensive collection of contemporary artwork. 

For history lovers, the Western Australian Museum (also known as the WA Museum Boola Bardip, which means “many stories” in the local Noongar language) is a fantastic place to learn more about WA’s heritage. Delve into indigenous history, as well as the history of European settlement in Western Australia. 

6. Visit the Government House and Gardens

What to do in Perth, Australia: Government House and Gardens

A visit to the Government House and Gardens offers an insight into the early days of Perth’s European history. This beautiful heritage-listed building dates back to 1859, although the site has been the local Governor’s house since 1829, when the city was founded by British settlers. 

Government House is a remarkable work of Victorian architecture, and today, it still stands as the Western Australian Governor’s residence. This means that while you can admire the building from the outside, glimpses of the interior are rare, as tours are only run on the first Thursday of the month and book out quickly. 

Must do things in Perth, Australia: Government House and Gardens

However, the Gardens are much more accessible to the public. Home to 200-year-old olive trees and a colorful array of flora (many of the trees were planted by visiting members of the British Royal Family), the Gardens are open every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 12 pm to 2 pm. 

By the entrance to Government House, you’ll also find a fascinating statue that tells the other side of Perth’s story. The statue of Balbuk Yooreel, a local from Whadjuk Country who was often seen protesting outside the house, tells of her efforts to stand up for native land rights in Western Australia.

7. Take a Walk Through Kings Park

Cool Things to do in Perth, Australia: Kings Park

Kings Park is one of the best Perth attractions, offering visitors the chance to explore a small piece of Western Australia’s distinct biodiversity right in the heart of the city. 

Covering almost 1,000 acres of land, Kings Park is located on Mount Eliza, where bushland still reigns supreme. The park is home to hundreds of native species of plants and birds and offers spectacular views over Perth’s CBD from its lofty perch above the Swan River.

Take a walk through the park, admiring the panorama and stopping at the unique public art installations and memorials along the way. Within the park’s boundaries, you’ll find the Aboriginal Art Gallery, a dedicated Botanic Garden, the State War Memorial, and much more. 

8. Cruise on Swan River

Perth, Australia Bucket List: Swan River

Perth was founded in 1829 on the banks of the Swan River, and the British settlers originally named their new home after the river, which had been named by an earlier Dutch explorer (of course, the local Noongar people had long before this given the river the name Derbari Yerrigan). 

The site was chosen for the river itself, a great basin of water that empties into the Indian Ocean. Over the next two centuries, the city grew and expanded onto both banks, and the best way to really appreciate the cityscape today is by joining a river cruise. 

Swan River Scenic Cruises last almost three hours, and after setting off from Barrack Street Jetty, you’ll see famous sights like The Bell Tower, the old Swan Brewery, and Elizabeth Quay. You’ll not only get to see Perth from the water as you cruise along the Swan River, but you’ll find yourself cruising south on the Indian Ocean before reaching Fremantle. 

9. Join The Perth Mint Gold Tour

Must do things in Perth, Australia: The Perth Mint

The Perth Mint offers one of the most unique things to do in Perth. This fascinating institution has been minting gold bullion and coins since it was established in 1890, and it’s now the largest mint in Australia.

But the mint is much more than this. It’s an important piece of Western Australia’s heritage, and if you join a “Gold Tour” of the mint, you’ll discover how the state (and indeed, much of Australia) grew out of the mad scrambles for gold and precious metals in the 19th century. 

The Gold Rush era defined Western Australia, and in the exhibition, you’ll find examples of huge gold nuggets that made fortunes, alongside tales of hardship and infamy in the Outback. You can see the world’s largest gold bullion coin, experience the surprising drama of a “Gold Pour” in action, and mint your own gold medallion. 

Perth Mint’s shop also trades in bullion, so if you’ve got any spare gold lying around, or chance upon some in the Outback, then this is the place to sell it!

10. Visit Fremantle

Unique Things to do in Perth, Australia: Fremantle

Fremantle (or Freo, as the locals say) is just a 30-minute train ride away from Perth’s CBD. Fremantle is also known as “Perth’s Old Town,” even if it does have its own city status, and this coastal destination has been home to a major port since it was founded in 1829.

Indeed, take a stroll around Fremantle’s quaint streets and it almost looks as if little has changed since the Victorian era. Beautiful 19th-century architecture is marvelously prevalent in the city, and you can even visit The Round House, which was built in 1831 and still stands as Western Australia’s oldest building.

Take a tour of Fremantle’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Prison to learn about the city’s convict past (you could even spend the night in the cells at the Fremantle Prison YHA), or visit the Maritime Museum or the Shipwreck Museum to explore Freo’s seafaring history. 

Freo has a laid-back life of its own, and you’ll want to pop into the famous Fremantle Markets for a bite to eat, stop at Cappuccino Strip for a fresh brew, and finish with a craft beer at the Little Creatures Brewery.

If you want to escape Perth for more than just a day trip, Fremantle not only has some great hotels, but it’s just a short hop over to Rottnest Island (the Rottnest Express takes just 25 minutes from Freo), where you can hang out with the quokkas!

11. Take a Photo of a Quokka on Rottnest Island

Must do things in Perth, Australia: Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is one of the best places to visit in Perth. Located around 12 miles off the mainland, this small island has a fascinating history, beautiful scenery, and it’s home to a remarkably friendly population of local critters called quokkas.

We won’t lie, as spectacular as Rottnest Island is – there are gorgeous white sand beaches, dramatic lighthouses perched on a rocky coastline, and fantastic snorkeling to be had among the coral reefs – the quokkas are the number one reason to visit! 

These curious creatures evolved in isolation, away from predators, and while they’re largely extinct on the mainland, they flourish on Rottnest Island, where there’s nothing to stop them roaming free. They’ll stop and pose for friendly photos, cause trouble in the shops and cafes on the island, and generally make life just that little bit more enjoyable for everyone (just don’t feed or touch them, or you’ll get in trouble!).

You can visit Rottnest Island on a day trip from Perth. Ferries from Barrack Street Jetty in the city center take around 90 minutes, while ferries from Fremantle take just half an hour. There are several resorts and hotels on the island if you fancy staying the night, and we recommend renting a bike to get around the island (you can circumnavigate Rottnest Island easily in a day, despite stopping off for regular quokka selfies). 

12. Sample Swan Valley’s Wineries

Perth, Australia Things to do: Swan Valley

Western Australian wineries produce some of the best vintages in the country, and when you’re visiting Perth, you’re never far away from some of the best wineries in the state. You don’t need to travel all the way down to Margaret River, either, because the Swan Valley is just a 30-minute drive from the Perth CBD.

The Swan Valley was settled around the same time as Perth (indeed, Perth was originally named the Swan River Colony), and it was discovered quite early on that the fertile lands along the river were perfect for cultivating grapes. That means the Swan Valley is home to the state’s oldest wineries, with the oldest dating back almost two centuries to the colony’s initial founding by British immigrants. 

Take a tour of the Swan Valley’s wineries and try their signature Shiraz or Chardonnay. Famous wineries in the Swan Valley include Mandoon Estate, Lancaster Wines, and Sandalford Wines. This is one of Perth’s most popular escapes, and a large food and drink industry featuring chocolatiers, olive oil makers, cheese producers, and even a nougat factory has popped up to sate the hunger of visitors. 

Join a day tour from Perth so you don’t have to worry about driving, and you can enjoy all the wines in the Swan Valley. Better yet, take a river cruise up the Swan River in order to enjoy the natural beauty of the Swan Valley before spending the day indulging in wine, cheese, and chocolate!

13. Hike through the Perth Hills

Best Things to do in Perth, Australia: Perth Hills

If you’d love a taste of Western Australia’s inland beauty, there’s no better place to visit than the Perth Hills. Found on the eastern fringe of the city, this vast area of wilderness is part of the wider Darling Ranges, an impressive range of mountains that stretches for almost 200 miles through Western Australia. 

The higher altitude ensures that the Perth Hills are often cooler than the city below, while tall forests of jarrah and marri trees provide ample shade for hikers. In fact, this is one of the best places in Perth for walking, with miles of walking tracks and trails weaving through the Perth Hills. 

Discover the natural delights of John Forrest National Park, which was the first national park to be founded in Western Australia. Delve deeper into the local nature at the Perth Hills Discovery Centre, or tackle sections of the long-distance Bibbulmun Track (a hiking trail stretching over 700 miles south to Albany) or the Munda Biddi Cycle Trail (the longest off-road cycling trail in the world, which is perfect for mountain bikers).

14. Whale Watch on the Humpback Highway

Cool Things to do in Perth, Australia: Whale Watch

Perth’s coastal location on the shores of the Indian Ocean ensures that whale watching is one of the coolest things to do in Perth, at least when it’s whale watching season. 

During the winter months, the waters off Perth teem with whales, with as many as 35,000 whales – including large numbers of rare blue whales – making their way north from the cold waters of Antarctica to the warmer feeding grounds of the Ningaloo Reef, off the northwest coast of Western Australia.

Unique Things to do in Perth, Australia: Whale Watch

Then in the summer months, the whales about turn and make the same migratory journey back to Antarctica as the waters south begin to warm up. Known as the Humpback Highway, this long migration can be viewed between March and May and again in September and October. Take a whale-watching tour from Perth, and see these beautiful marine mammals in their natural environment. 

15. Explore the Wildlife on Penguin Island

Perth, Australia Bucket List: Penguin Island

Nature lovers can catch a ferry to Penguin Island, a small island that’s just a five-minute crossing from Mersey Point Jetty in Shoalwater. Part of the wider Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, Penguin Island has just 31 acres of space, but it’s home to the largest population of little penguins in Western Australia. 

Fun Things to do in Perth, Australia: Penguin Island

Penguin Island is an important breeding ground for these tiny penguins, and you’ll see them in their hundreds. Penguins aren’t the only species to call the island home, either, and if you take a Dolphin, Penguin & Sea Lion Cruise – which sees you cruising around the island on a glass bottom boat – you’ll see an abundance of wildlife on land and in the water!

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Perth. What’s your favorite thing to do in Perth?

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  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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