The city of Perth, on the southwest corner of the Australian coastline, is well known for its stunning surrounds. A trip to the Western Australian capital offers a good mix of the urban and natural, with beautiful parklands and nature reserves within the city and beyond. There’s also amazing food and wine, plus world-class surf breaks. Read on for a taste of what to do in Perth and the region on your next Western Australia holiday.
#1 Enjoy a picnic in Perth’s Kings Park
Kings Park in the heart of Perth is one of Western Australia’s most popular visitor destinations. It offers scenic vantage points, points of interest such as the State War Memorial, extensive city and river views, and panoramic views to the Darling Range.
The remarkable expanse of greenery is complemented by barbecue facilities, public toilets and playgrounds, making it an ideal place for picnics, pleasant walks, and cultural and ceremonial events. The nearby Ivey Watson Playground in the Poolgarla Family Area is a perfect location for those with young children. Alternatively, May Drive Parkland is wheelchair-friendly and features the popular Zamia Cafe.
#2 Visit a postcard-perfect beach
Cottesloe Beach is Perth’s most iconic beach. A living picture postcard known for its white sand, majestic Norfolk Pines and buzzing boulevard of cafes and bars, Cottesloe is a fab spot for a swim, surf, snorkel, picnic, sunset drinks, or a fish-and-chips dinner by the sea.
“Cott”, as it’s affectionately known, can be reached by car, bus or train from Perth. Take a 15-minute drive from the city, hop on the regular Transperth buses, or jump on the Fremantle train line and enjoy a pleasant 600-metre walk to the beach from Cottesloe station.
#3 Catch a match at Optus Stadium
Winner of the most beautiful sports facility in the world at the 2019 Prix Versailles architecture and design awards was Perth’s Optus Stadium. This state-of-the-art arena is where the sports-loving public congregates to cheer on their city, state or country in AFL (Australian rules football), cricket, rugby league, rugby union, football (soccer) and more.
Optus is currently home to the West Coast Eagles in the nationwide AFL competition, and the Perth Scorchers cricket team in the Big Bash League. If your visit coincides with a game, book yourself a ticket. The atmosphere can be electric, even if you’re not 100 percent familiar with the sport being played!
#4 Explore Elizabeth Quay in Perth
Elizabeth Quay has transformed the Perth foreshore into a free playground for all ages to enjoy the city’s active lifestyle, abundant sunshine, pretty views, alfresco dining, outdoor markets and more. Hop aboard the ferry running between the quay and South Perth, or join a river cruise from Barrack Street Jetty. You can also take your own boat, canoe or kayak and pitch up at the free public moorings. Have fun cycling or walking the riverside trail and exploring the 1.5 hectares of inlet, island, landscaped gardens and public art via the arched suspension bridge and promenade circuit.
Do check the events calendar to find out what to do in Perth before visiting. If there are special events at Elizabeth Quay inlet, try to take in a show against the stunning backdrop of the cityscape and Swan River.
#5 Go sandboarding in the dunes
Make a day trip out of a visit to the Lancelin Sand Dunes, 1.5 hours from the city. Overlooking the Indian Ocean, the dunes rise up to three storeys tall so you’ll be in for some serious fun! Entry to the popular attraction is free (8am to 7pm). You just need to rent a sandboard and you’re good to go. Book them easily online, plus add some sunglasses for the glare and flying sand.
You’ll be glad to know that the activity is suitable for children (with supervision, of course) so the little ones won’t be left out! There are other options for fun at Lancelin, too. These include quad bike tours and 4WD tours, plus surfboard rental so you can cool off in the sea.
#6 Take the ferry to Rottnest Island
Seen those cute quokka selfies and want one too? Rottnest Island (or “Rotto” to locals) is the place to go! Beside these little critters, the nature reserve is home to 63 beautiful beaches with rich marine life, woodlands and wetlands. You’ll also come across birds, reptiles and other native wildlife, including fur seals. it’s another very popular thing to do in Perth.
To make the most of your trip, go trekking along the island’s walking trails such as the popular Wadjemup Bidi, 45 kilometres of different tracks that will bring you by the coast and past lakes and other attractions. Or, rent a bike and take on the cycling trails instead. There’s also the option of hopping on a Quokka Coaches bus. This includes a full-tour and or hop on/off option as you explore the island’s major attractions.
The easiest way to get to Rottnest from Perth city is by ferry from Barrack Street Jetty. The journey takes 90 minutes, so pack some snacks and entertainment to keep you busy.
#7 Experience the Aussie outback
Another great tour to take out of Perth is to head east into the outback. You can witness the beauty of the area’s natural wonders, highlighted by the incredible geological phenomenon of Wave Rock. This 15-metre-high rock “wave” looks good enough to surf! Also worth visiting are Hippo’s Yawn, the laid-back historic town of York in Avon Valley, and Mulka’s Cave, which is filled with fascinating Aboriginal paintings.
This area is approximately a four-hour drive from Perth; there’s a range of different tours available. A good time to travel is from September to November. That’s when you’ll come across blooming wildflowers of all kinds, from kangaroo paws to banksias and everlastings.
#8 Indulge in wines in the Swan Valley
Take a trip down to the Swan Valley and the Darling Range. The vineyards of Western Australia’s oldest wine region are a prime spot for sampling fruits, feasting on award-winning local produce and discovering local heritage. You can also just relax in the natural bushland of this gorgeous region.
Just a 25-minute drive east of Perth, the Swan Valley is a world away from city life. Reach it by road, or take the scenic route on a Swan River cruise from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty. You can even winery-hop in the back of a horse-drawn wagon or chauffeured classic car! For the family foodies, those with kids will also love the chocolate factory, lavender farm, Whiteman Park, wildlife parks, mazes, Supa Golf, plus a whole range of activities and fresh food to sample.
#9 Have a meet-and-greet with the wildlife
Head out of the city to one of the many wildlife parks for the day. A good one to check out is Caversham Wildlife Park where you can get up close to cute Aussie wildlife. There are many daily activities to keep visitors of all ages entertained, including photo ops and cuddles with iconic animals such as koalas and wombats. You can aslo try bottle-feeding lambs and milking cows.
#10 Self-drive from Perth for amazing wine (and surf!)
Around a three-and-a-half-hour drive south of Perth is the justifiably renowned region of Margaret River. This area sees forests and vineyards meeting coastal scrub and sandy beaches. Explore some of the world’s premier wines on cellar-door tours, or check well-known surf breaks a short drive away.
For much more on Margaret River, see our stories here and here.
Looking for more inspiration for your next getaway? Check out our Travel pages!