Best Things To Do in Perth
The best things to do in Perth run the gamut from natural attractions to historical and cultural sites. There's the expansive Kings Park & Botanic Garden, filled with native plants and flowers, wide swaths of green grass, and beautiful lookouts and walking paths, and there's also the Perth Mint with its historical exhibits and gold-pouring demonstrations. The Swan River is a picturesque place to walk beside or cruise upon, on your way to eclectic communities like Fremantle and districts like Elizabeth Quay. Or you can splash in the waves at the nearby Cottesloe Beach. A handful of diverse museums, such as Scitech and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, also earn high marks.
Updated April 19, 2017
- #1View all Photos#1 in PerthParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
According to visitors, Kings Park & Botanic Garden can hold its own among the world's best parks – including Central Park in New York, El Retiro in Madrid and Stanley Park in Vancouver. Not only do the park's various sections feature more than 3,000 varieties of trees and plants, from red-flowering gum trees in the Fraser Avenue Precinct to bushland-specific flora, fauna and fungi, but there are also playgrounds, playing fields, cafes and picnic areas. What's more, the park's Rio Tinto Naturescape, due to open in 2018, will feature a creek for paddling, a rock pool for wading, and rock climbing and scrambling spaces too.
Travelers and locals alike adore this park's expansive walking paths and its ability to appeal to everyone from families to retirees. Others say the views of the city from the walking paths, especially from the raised Lotterywest Federation Walkway, are just "fabulous," as are the shade and breeze on hot summer days.
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Located less than 10 miles southwest of central Perth, Cottesloe Beach – with its lifeguards, clean sands and clear waters – is one of the area's most popular shorelines, especially among families. But kids aren't the only ones who enjoy Cottesloe. Breathtaking sunsets and a collection of neighboring pubs make it a prime spot for adult travelers too. Stretching for nearly a mile from Mudurup Rocks to the southern rocks of Swanbourne Beach, Cottesloe is also a popular swimming, snorkeling and surfing spot (it boasts consistent waves perfect for body boarding).
Recent travelers strongly recommended making time for a sunset visit. They say the sunsets over the Indian Ocean are truly remarkable. Others appreciated the public toilets and showers near the shoreline, but many bemoaned the limited parking, so consider using public transportation to avoid the hassle. The annual Sculpture by the Sea event, held every March, was also highly recommended among reviewers.
- #3View all Photos#3 in PerthMonuments and Memorials, Parks and Gardens, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDMonuments and Memorials, Parks and Gardens, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
As its name suggests, the Kings Park State War Memorial – a set of several different structures that honor Australians for their service and sacrifice across history – is located in Kings Park & Botanical Garden. The nearly 60-foot granite cenotaph honors all fallen Western Australians with bronze plaques etched with the names of nearly 4,000 Australians who died during World War II, as well as those who lost their lives in conflicts that followed. Along the western side of the memorial area, visitors will find the Court of Contemplation and the Pool of Reflection, which is lit by the continuously burning Flame of Remembrance, signifying the promise to remember the fallen.
Recent travelers described the war memorial as "thought-provoking" and "captivating." Others said the panoramic views of the Swan River and surrounding Perth are additional reasons to pay a visit.
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In the late 17th century, Dutch explorer William de Vlamingh saw this sunny island's hordes of quokkas (think small kangaroos) and thought they were rats, so he named the island, Rotte nest, literally "rats nest." Along with snapping selfies with the quokkas, the island is a great place for swimming and snorkeling, hiking on the Wadjemup Bidi trails, or relaxing on one of its 63 beaches, including the most popular, The Basin and Salmon Bay.
Stopping by the Rottnest Island Visitor Centre and chatting with the helpful docents about what to do on the island should be your first stop, many visitors say. Others recommend heading straight to the white sands of The Basin to swim and snorkel.
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Whether you walk or bike beside it to reach Elizabeth Quay or float along on a boat to the port city of Fremantle, some time spent in or around Swan River is a must. Featuring both footpaths and cycle ways, as well as numerous river cruises from companies like Captain Cook Cruises, Swan River is a picturesque way to view the city and reach its numerous things to do. Visitors can also rent paddleboards from Funcats, kayaks from Rivergods and bikes from About Bike Hire for use in and around Swan River.
Travelers offer varying reviews on the best way to experience the Swan River. Some recommend a morning walk before the midday heat sets in, while others suggest a river cruise to Fremantle. Some call the experience of watching the sun set and the stars emerge as "magical." Visitors can enjoy the Swan River around the clock, though the businesses that provide rental equipment have set hours.
- #6View all Photos#6 in PerthTours, Wineries/Breweries, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDTours, Wineries/Breweries, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Just about 25 miles north of Perth along the Swan River are the vine-draped hills of the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail. This 20-mile trail loops the state's oldest wine region. In fact, wines have flowed this swath of the country since 1834. These days, it's best known for its chenin blanc, verdelho, shiraz and petit verdot found at wineries, such as Pinelli Estate Wines and Faber Vineyard, among several dozen others.
Recent visitors said the trail was a lovely accompaniment to a Perth vacation. Some recommended stopping in the other establishments along the trail too, including the chocolate and honey shops.
- #7View all Photos#7 in PerthChurches/Religious Sites, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
St. Mary's Cathedral is the short name for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which rises high on a hilltop in East Perth. Since construction first began on the church back in 1865, it has undergone several repairs and expansion efforts.
"Beautiful" is the sentiment most travelers used to describe St. Mary's Cathedral, complimenting its mix of old and new architecture and its serene atmosphere. But reviewers were mixed on the best way to experience this religious site. Some recommended taking a tour, while others suggested attending one of the religious services.
- #8View all Photos#8 in PerthMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Founded in 1895, the Art Gallery of Western Australia contains a trove of paintings and sculptures, prints, installations, craft and more. Its permanent collection contains upward of 17,000 pieces and receives the most acclaim for its focus on indigenous and nonindigenous Western Australian artists. The gallery also showcases a rotating roster of traveling exhibits.
Not only were recent visitors impressed by the gallery's collection of indigenous art, but they also appreciated the air conditioning and shade the gallery provided on hot days. Reviewers were also captivated by the building's modern design and its well-curated permanent collection.
- #9View all Photos#9 in PerthMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
When the weather won't cooperate and you're forced inside, head to Scitech, a nonprofit science museum geared to curious minds of all ages, from young children to adults. Along with a handful of temporary exhibits, Scitech's permanent exhibits include a puppet theater and an interactive science lab, as well as a planetarium. The museum also puts on science shows and hosts science, technology, engineering and mathematics workshops.
Recent travelers praised Scitech's interactive exhibits (especially the way in which they appeal to youngsters), but most travelers said the best part of the museum is its planetarium, which takes visitors on a "journey" through the solar system with the help of its 180-degree dome screen and surround sound system.
- #10View all Photos#10 in PerthMuseums, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Perth Mint offers visitors a rare glimpse at lots and lots of gold – tourists can even handle $700,000 worth of it. The mint's exhibits walk through Western Australia's history with gold discovery and showcase everything from natural gold nuggets to the largest gold coin ever made (it weighs a ton). During the tours, a guide will lead you through the mint's vaults and demonstrate an actual gold pouring, all the while telling you stories about gold mining legends.
Although you can meander the Perth Mint on your own, most travelers recommend taking the hourlong guided tour for a richer experience. And even if it seems like it would appeal to a niche audience, most recent travelers say the exhibits and tours are so well done that this attraction is universally appealing.
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To view animals ranging from Goodfellow's tree-kangaroos to Australian tarantulas, as well as creatures from other corners of the world – Bolivian squirrel monkeys, African lions and Asian small-clawed otters – the Perth Zoo is the place to go. Along with its diverse collection of animals, the zoo also hosts daily "Walks and Talks" in which staff members provide an in-depth, up close overview of select animals, such as elephants, Tasmanian devils and penguins. To get a more intimate look at the zoo's residents, consider booking one of its Close Encounters, which allows visitors to interact with animals, such as giraffes, orangutans and rhinos (for an extra fee).
Some travelers recommend going on days when the temperatures are cool, since the animals tend to nap during hot days. Others express a little frustration at the high admission price, but most visitors reported having a lovely time thanks to the beautiful landscaping and interesting array of animals.
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