Perth has been described as the “most remote city in the world,” but this city’s sunny disposition will instantly warm your heart, and you will never feel alone.
Although the Western Australian capital is better known for its nature than its culture, visitors will be delighted to find that there is as much to do indoors as there is outdoors. Follow our guide to unearth the hidden gems of Perth.
1. Perth Attractions and Activities
To walk on Perth’s wild side, visit Fremantle Prison for a taste of life behind bars. Built in the mid-1800s, Fremantle Prison was the site of hangings, floggings, dramatic escapes, and riots. Home to some of Australia’s most notorious criminals, the prison was closed in 1991, and began its second life in the following year as a popular tourist destination.
Urban legends about paranormal sightings in the prison persist till today, so tread with caution—if you dare, Fremantle Prison holds its Torchlight Tours on Wednesday and Friday evenings. During these twilight walks, experienced guides will unnerve you with sordid and ghastly stories from the prison’s colourful history.
While in Fremantle, be sure to stop at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Like the prison, this gothic building was constructed by convicts during the 1800s. The building initially served as an asylum, before it acted as a shelter for a homeless women and later, a midwifery school. During World War II, it functioned as a war shelter before it was repurposed into an annex of a school in 1957. It was only in 1973, after restoration works, that the Fremantle Arts Centre opened its doors to the public. Here, you can view works by local artists, watch performances (free and ticketed) by local and international artistes, attend workshops, and sip coffee in the courtyard cafe.
To find more about the art galleries in Perth and throughout Western Australia, click here.
Another place to catch local and international arts performances is the regal His Majesty’s Theatre located in Perth’s central business district. Its 2018 highlights include the Perth musical production “We Will Rock You,” the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow, and the stage adaptation of international bestseller “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” featuring a full British and Irish cast.
Also within range of the central business district are the Perth Cultural Centre and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, both with an ever-changing roster of exhibitions and events that will lead you straight to the heart of Perth’s cultural scene.
2. Perth’s Natural Wonders
The most coveted Perth souvenir is the “quokka selfie,” and no wonder, as who can resist a snapshot with the happiest animal in the world? No bigger than a cat and with the tail of a rat, the quokka is a marsupial (a mammal born incompletely developed, typically carried and suckled in a pouch on the mother’s belly), and it is part of the kangaroo and wallaby family. The best place to find quokkas is on Rottnest Island—click here for travel options from Perth.
(If you do decide to snap a selfie with a quokka, a marsupial expert advises that you should avoid touching or feeding them. Quokkas may bite people and they do not fare well eating human food.)
To mingle with kangaroos, koalas, wombats, and other Australian furries, take a drive to the family-friendly Caversham Wildlife Park. (Click here for a list of animals in the park; the quokka can be found here too.) If you prefer the challenge of spotting kangaroos in the wild, a local tip is to stake out Swan Valley, where kangaroos have been sighted at Whiteman Park.
For a more exotic option, schedule a day trip to experience life alongside wild dolphins, rare Australian sea lions, and penguins on Penguin Island, which is 45 minutes south of Perth and a 5-minute ferry ride away.
If you are looking to spend time at Perth’s best beaches, the city’s most popular and picturesque seaside location Cottesloe Beach is the place to be. Here, the “turquoise waters are so transparent you can see your feet no matter how deep you swim.” Be sure to linger till the evening for a stunning sunset view.
Less touristy beach options include Leighton Beach, Moore River, and Mettam’s Pool. To find natural swimming spots (or “swimming holes”), follow the recommendations of Australian Traveller and So Perth.
3. Things to Do in Perth at Night
Credit: Moonlight Cinema AU
For a laid-back evening at the movies—under the stars—check the Moonlight Cinema events page to see what’s showing. In Perth, summer screenings for 2018 will run till 1 April 2018. The outdoor cinema’s finely curated selections range from blockbuster movies to arthouse films, and details are available here.
Moonlight Cinema screenings are held at the May Drive Parkland in the Kings Park and Botanic Garden. One of Perth’s best picnic locations, Kings Park is also a showcase for over 3,000 species of Western Australia’s native flora. (To discover a “hidden garden” in Perth, head to the Araluen Botanic Park, 35 km south of the central business district, which has been hailed as “paradise on Earth.”)
To enjoy an outdoor movie experience with a view of the city lights, try Rooftop Movies instead.
If you wish to stargaze without distractions, head to The Space Place in the town of Toodyay, about an hour’s drive from Perth. It is a privately owned observatory where night sky enthusiasts will be on hand to help you grow in your knowledge of space. A suggested itinerary is to arrive before sundown to spend time in the Cartref Park Country Gardens with a picnic basket, before proceeding to the observatory to unlock the secrets of the universe.
For a night out on the town, refer to the Australian Hotel Association’s awards list (finalists and winners) to select a dining or drinking spot. Top picks for 2017 include C Restaurant (finalist, Best Premium Restaurant), Petition (winner, Best Restaurant), Tiki (winner, Best Cocktail Bar and Bartender), Mechanics Institute (winner, Best Small Bar and Bar Team), and The Laneway Lounge (winner, Best Late-Night Venue). You can also find recommendations from Australian sites such as Perth Now and The Urban List.
While in Perth, make time for a Gin-Inspired High Tea at Pan Pacific Perth’s Origins Restaurant. Be treated to a three-tiered stand, decked with savoury bites and picture perfect cakes—all infused with a touch of gin.
Whether you are a gin connoisseur or merely interested in a high tea experience that leaves you “higher” than any other, this seasonal offering is not to be missed. Click here to enquire or make a reservation.