City Guide to Perth

Perth - Beaches, Bushlands and Brilliance

15. Dec 2021
by Punita Malhotra

The capital of Western Australia has always been a golden nugget, thanks to its enviable climate and vibrant historical canvas. Perth has moved into the limelight with other biggies like Sydney and Melbourne, following a jazzy new waterfront development and a burgeoning cultural scene. Discover why you should pin Perth to your travel map.

The sun-kissed idyll of a rugged coastline that hugs the emerald-green waters of the Indian Ocean. Soft sand beaches, eucalyptus bushlands, otherworldly deserts and natural reserves blooming with wildlife. Rich heritage, laid-back lifestyle and on-trend urbanity. Are you geared up for an irresistible mix of rugged sophistication of Perth?

One of Perth's perfect beaches

The beating heart of the city, the Central Business District dazzles with sleek skyscrapers, innovative public art, and upscale dining establishments. Contemporary pizzazz meets authentic Aboriginal character against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky and shimmering jewel-toned ocean. Set the ball rolling at the Elizabeth Quay, the waterfront precinct on the edge of The Swan River, defined by a waterpark, playground, al fresco dining and promenades.

The Central Business District sparkles at night

Peel away the layers of time with a Nyungar guide to learn about its origins as a place with shallow reed beds where the Indigenous Nyungars fished for a living. Then leap back to the present and cruise on the river to gawp at a cityscape dotted with glassy high-rises and heritage mansions. Later, let your quest for history lead you to St Georges Terrace – The Terrace - where historic and contemporary buildings stand shoulder-to-shoulder in unexpected harmony. The Cathedral Square, "point zero" of the city, enthrals with remarkable 19th-century architecture of the Treasury Buildings, the City of Perth Library and Perth Town Hall.

Cathedral Square

Switch the gloss for the grunge in Perth's atmospheric suburbs. Start with Fremantle, an artsy harbour town with cobbled streets and historic buildings. Quirk it up with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed prison, where you can explore the maze of underground tunnels by convict punt boat. Mount Lawley is another neighbourhood worth dipping into for its 21st-century architecture.

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed prison in Fremantle

The Astor Theatre, dating from 1919, is a noteworthy pitstop for admirers of Art Deco. Head to the bohemian enclave of Northbridge for homegrown boutiques, stylish cafes and buzzing nightlife. The area is an ongoing cultural fiesta with exciting art galleries, live performance venues and hip speakeasies.

The delighful Astor Theatre

Embrace nature like the Parthians at Kings Park, one of the largest inner-city parks in the world. Erstwhile hunting grounds of the Nyungars, it is a sprawling behemoth of 400-hectares and includes botanic gardens with 3,000 species of Western Australian flora, including kangaroo paws and banksias. Sign up for the Indigenous Heritage Tour to learn about bush food, herb medicines, and the Wadjuk people. Meet the 750-year-old Boab, then swoon at treetop views from a 52-metre glass-and-steel arched bridge.

Spectacular city views from Kings Park

At the Aquarium of Western Australia, check out the underwater tunnels with sea creatures like sharks, rays, leafy sea dragons and reef fish of the Far North. Amp up the adventure with a dive in the shark tank - if you dare!

Aquarium of Western Australia

Beach bums, celebrate the fine art of nothingness at Cottesloe Beach or book a free salsa dance class at Scarborough Beach. Active, outdoorsy types can dive for shipwrecks at Parker Point, scuba dive in Fish Hook Bay or break surf at Strickland, Salmon and Stark Bays. And if you are an avid birdwatcher, treat yourself with an outing to the Wadjemup Lighthouse for sightings of osprey, kingfishers and sandpipers.

The stunning Cottesloe Beach

Watch whales play during a seaplane trip to the car-free Rottnest Island - 18 kilometres off the coast. Rotto is home to the quokka – arguably the cutest animal on the planet.Seekers of quietude will be spoilt for choice with 63 beaches and 20 bays. Hours flit by posing by the surreal pink salt lake, gliding silently in a kayak and spotting the world's happiest animal. You're probably contemplating a second trip already?

Rotto - say g'day to a quokka


King's Street: High-end fashion labels and luxury retail stores will keep you hooked all along Perth's premier shopping strip. Splurge on Tiffany, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and much more while flitting in and out of the European-style heritage buildings in this much-coveted precinct of the city.

King's Street shopping

Raine Square: This retail, dining and entertainment hub, located downtown, is a new kid on the block but has already become a hot favourite. 18,000 square metres of retail space is anchored by Coles Central and Palace Cinemas. Plan on spending an afternoon here to browse for the latest jewellery or watches.

Raine Square

Hay Street Mall: Retail therapy is a breeze in this open-air shopping district with department stores, shopping arcades, chain outlets and speciality stores. Soak up the eye candy of heritage-listed buildings when you catch your breath after stocking up on high street brands, gifts and homeware.

Hay Street Mall

Murray Street Mall: This open-air mall features Aussie retailers, international labels, home decor, beauty, toy shops and much more. Thanks to buskers that keep visitors entertained with their live performances, the atmosphere is always lively.

Murray Street Mall 

Claremont Quarter: This shopping mall is located 9 kilometres from the city's central business district but makes a worthwhile trip for a wide variety of outlets. Fashion, wellness or home accessories, you can find something to suit your taste under its light-filled atriums. Pick from a host of leading Australian designers or settle for global lifestyle brands.

The quirky Claremont Quarter

Museums & the Arts

Art Gallery of Western Australia: Step into this impressive museum to admire a collection of over 18,000 works and a marvellous State Art Collection. Journey from the 1800s to the current era with Aboriginal art. Paintings, sculpture, multimedia, photographs, prints, drawings … enjoy your fill!

Art Gallery of Western Australia

Perth Institute of Contemporary Art: Fuel your hunger for modern art at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), housed in a heritage building in the central part of the city. Visual art, performance, dance and interdisciplinary art are all well represented here.

Perth Institute of Contemporary Art

WA Museum Boola Bardip: This recently renovated public gallery has been turning heads as a "collection of stories" of Western Australia's diversity, rich history, and contemporary culture. Revitalised buildings like the Old Gaol, the Jubilee Building, the original Art Gallery and Hackett Hall - the State Library's reading room - add to the experience.

WA Museum Boola Bardip

WA Maritime Museum: Located on the water's edge in Victoria Quay Fremantle, the sail-shaped building showcases the maritime culture of Western Australia. Exhibits include sea submarines, hand-crafted vessels, commercial pearl luggers, and related memorabilia. Keep a lookout for the yacht that won the America's Cup race in 1983.

WA Maritime Museum

Perth Mint: The Perth Mint is a unique treasure chest of Western Australia's history, with gold discovery as its theme. Ogle at the largest gold coin ever made, step into the mint's vaults and witness an actual gold pouring while you listen to legends of gold mining. Notch it up by engraving your own medallion or gift yourself a natural gold nugget from the souvenir shop.

Perth Mint


Cricket: Some of the biggest domestic and international cricket matches in Western Australia are held in Optus Stadium. Tour the state-of-the-art stadium to learn about Western Australia's sporting history and pore over sporting memorabilia to relive fond memories. There are fabulous views of Perth and the Swan River from the Sky View Lounge.

Always the team to beat - Australia!

Football: Subiaco Stadium or the Patterson's Stadium is the second-largest sports arena in Perth. Designed for a capacity of 43,000, it is a venue of choice for football and rugby matches. Can you afford to miss the thrill of seeing the home ground of two major West Australian football teams - the West Coast Eagles and Freemantle Football Club?

Aussie rules - passion, pace and plenty of action

Tennis: RAC Arena is a landmark sports venue with state-of-the-art acoustics, futuristic design and world-class technology. An audience of 14,500 can be accommodated in the stadium, which has hosted tennis legends like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. Fans of the sport should bookmark this famous site of the annual Hopman Cup tennis tournament and the ATP Cup.

RAC Arena

Restaurants & Bars

Wildflower: Views of the Swan River and Perth will hold your attention till the world-class service and the inventive menu sweep you off into a gourmet fantasy. Aboriginal ingredients make up the bevvy of creative dishes crafted to evoke surprise. Go for the full degustation.


Long Chim: Inspired by the market food stalls of Bangkok, this restaurant serves up fresh, vibrant flavours of Thailand in a quirky space enlivened by graffiti. Dishes that will win your favour include cumin and turmeric beef skewers, garlic and pepper squid and crunchy pork with Chinese broccoli, accompanied by Thai-inspired cocktails.

Long Chim

Balthazar: Take a seat in the hip dining room of an art-deco apartment block, with a fan following since the '90s. Modern Australian menu with an impressive list of fine wines. Recommended dishes include terrine, kangaroo loin and duck fat potatoes.


Le Rebelle: Old-world French with an Australian twist defines this lively wine bar, bistro and diner done up in timber and dark leather. Consider the Albany rock oysters or the Mandurah blue manna crab toast for the seafood selection. Another delicious choice is the duck liver parfait served with truffle butter and brioche.

Le Rebelle


Lamont's Bishops House: This 1800s mansion with a private garden is ideal for a date night in Perth. Global flavours, local ingredients and modern techniques come together in musical harmony through the la carte menu. Try the Black City Angus fillet.

Lamont's Bishops House

Exclusive experience

Pinnacles Desert is a mythical stone forest, where massive limestone pillar-like sculptures create an intriguing landscape in the golden desert. The pinnacles rise up to 3.5 metres in height, some jagged, some mushroom-shaped and some resembling tombstones. Stay on to dine under the stars and learn about the Indigenous Dreamtime stories. This is stargazing at a whole new level, considering that the Indigenous Australians are one of the world's first astronomers.

The awesome Pinnacles Desert

Must-buy souvenir

Travelling to Perth is the chance to own a rare Argyle pink diamond, a precious stone found in the East Kimberley outback, 3,000 kilometres from Perth. Available in gorgeous shades ranging from pale blush to soft rose to dramatic red, there's a solitaire out there, just right for you. Give in to the extravagance at one of Argyle's exclusively appointed worldwide ateliers.

Diamonds are everyone's best friend!

Side trip

Embark on a road trip to the Margaret River region, a favourite getaway known for picturesque vineyards, tall tree forest cover, surfer beaches and gourmet cuisine. There are multiple ways to experience the area, from an underwater helmet walk on the seafloor in the Underwater Observatory to a walk among illuminated stalactites and stalagmites at Ngilgi Cave. The highlight is a tour of the world-class wineries at Vasse Felix, many of which have Halliday 5 star ratings. Naturally, you can expect to be floored by spectacular vistas of farmland, wine country and the coast.

Margaret River - an oenophile's dream

Nightlife / Hidden gem

Perth boasts many hidden nightlife haunts, and one of the best-kept secrets that locals will whisper into your ears is the Jazz Cellar. The mystery entrance through an old red telephone box takes you down a flight of steps into a cosy live music venue. The Friday night 1920s jazz shows are ever-popular, so book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. Remember to bring your own food and drink.

The Jazz Cellar


Being the capital of Western Australia, Perth has blossomed into one of country's major cities. Perth boasts a small but excellent collection of fabulous hotels from 19th century luxury boutique to skycraper contemporary. Further afield in Margaret River - home to some of Australia's finest wines - there are lodges that are simply world class.

Read the guide to The Best Luxury Hotels in Perth and Margaret River

The Melbourne Hotel, Perth

Getting around

Perth's domestic and international terminals are located 20 minutes from the city's heart. Taxis and rideshares are readily available. Consider using the train system to navigate the city and explore the suburban neighbourhoods. Car rental is an excellent option for the freedom to discover places in the surroundings.

Transperth - a speedy way to get round the city
 searches hundreds of travel sites simultaneously to help you find the best premium flight offers to and from Perth. also compares all the major hotel suppliers to give you the very best prices in the finest hotels. 


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