Picturesque beaches, historic architecture, exotic wineries… Perth isn’t short on world-class attractions for visitors to the Wild West. With a smaller population and great weather all year round, Perth is an amazing travel destination for a relaxing getaway. These are the 10 things that shouldn’t be left off your itinerary to Perth.
1) King’s Park and Botanic Garden
The 1000-acre King’s Park is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful inner city parks. It is often referred to as the “Oasis of Peace” in the heart of the city. With beautiful views over the Swan River and Darling Range, the park is easily people’s top pick for family day. Almost two-thirds of the park is protected as bushland, which provides a natural haven for native biological diversity.
It is home to the spectacular Western Australian Botanic Garden that displays over 3,000 species of the State’s unique flora. Climb up to the 15-metre high DNA Tower, the highest viewing point in King’s Park, and you may even be able to see the Indian Ocean on a clear day.
If you come with kids, you can bring them to the Rio Tinto Naturescape or the dinosaur-themed playground Synergy Parkland. Nearby sightseeing places are the iconic Blue Boat House and University of Western Australia.
2) Fremantle Prison
Built in the 1850s, Fremantle Prison is the only UNESCO World Heritage listed building in Perth. The prison once housed some of Britain’s meanest convicts and the state’s toughest prisoners until its closure in 1991. The prison-turn-museum is now open to the public, which exhibits prison life, and it has become one of the Western Australia’s most significant cultural attractions.
The premise has since offered tours that will take you through the chambers at this historic facility. For the brave ones, sign up for the ghost tour, or even spend the night at the backpackers’ hostel in the old women’s wing. Check out Fremantle Markets and Cappuccino Strip which are just a walking distance from here.
3) Cottesloe Beach
How can you miss the beach when you’re in Perth? Cottesloe Beach is one of Perth’s most popular spots for beach activities: swimming, snorkelling, surfing, you name it. This glittering turquoise seawater and snow-white sand beach is just about a 30-minute drive from the city centre.
The best way locals spend their evenings would be watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean while sipping a glass of wine or having a romantic dinner. If it so happens that you are here in March, the beach will be turned into a free outdoor art gallery of giant sculptures. The Sculpture by the Sea event is held each March and entrance is absolutely free.
4) Bell Tower
You can never miss this dramatic glass sculpture in Barrack Square, along the Riverside Drive. The Bell Tower has become an icon to represent Perth and Western Australia – thanks to its 82.5-metre tall outstanding design and fascinating historic content.
The tower houses the Swan Bells, which comprise of 18 original 14th-century bells from Saint Martin in the Fields Church, the parish church of London’s Buckingham Palace. Entry tickets allow you to watch an interactive demonstration on the ancient art of bell ringing and the access to the open-air observation deck with 360-degree bird’s eye views overlooking the picturesque Swan River and city centre.
5) Rottnest Island
Renowned for being a pristine island, Rottnest Island hosts thousands of visitors every summer, despite only having 100-odd permanent residents on the island. This island paradise is only a 30-minute ferry ride away from Fremantle, and it has plenty of fun activities to make this trip worth-while.
Go snorkelling to see shipwrecks, fish off the jetty, visit historic buildings, trail along the pristine bushland and meet the impossibly photogenic marsupial, quokka. Check out the most recent Instagrammable hotspot, the Wadjemup Lighthouse – the first stone lighthouse in Western Australia.
6) Perth Mint
Although gold is a precious metal, it is even rarer to see a gold refinery. Don’t miss the tour on understanding the significance of gold mining to Western Australia at the Perth Mint. Within this historical heritage building, there lies a heavily secured vault and melting house, which has been operating since 1899 – two years before Australia was even a country!
The premise also holds extensive valuable collections, featuring the largest gold coin in the world and the second largest gold nugget that currently exists. Watch the heating of pure gold and its transformation into a gold bar. And just before you ask, no, they don’t give out free samples!
7) Adventure World
Looking for an activity that can make everyone in the family happy? Beautifully landscaped botanical gardens and lawns with over 25 rides, Adventure World is the only water theme park in Perth and a must-visit attraction every summer that will keep all ages well entertained.
On top of their adrenaline pumping roller-coaster Abyss and Kraken, the park has recently introduced a new exhilarating thrill ride Goliath – a giant pendulum swing ride. For our younger adventurers, parents can bring them to the Hawaiian resort themed Kahuna Falls and the enchanting medieval land of Dragon’s Kingdom, just to name a few.
The park is located 25 minutes from the city centre and is easily accessible via public transport. It is free entrance for children under 4 years old.
8) Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA)
Formerly known as the Underwater World when it first opened in 1988, the aquarium now named AQWA is still the largest single aquarium with a 98-metre walk-through underwater tunnel in Australia, boasting a diverse array of marine life along Western Australia’s coast.
A day will be well spent in the premise by joining the free daily talks, tours and feeds. Drop by the Touch Pool for a face-to-fin close-up interaction with the sea life. Also, the facility proudly hosts two premier marine exhibits: The Coral Reef (largest living coral reef exhibits in the world) and The DangerZone (a line-up of Western Australia’s dangerous marine life).
For a fee, snorkelers and qualified scuba divers can get closer to the marine life by joining the aquarium’s dive master in the Dive / Snorkel with Sharks program. Seasonally, the aquarium will run the Reefwalker program, where capable swimmers over the age of 12 are allowed to enter the coral reef and discover scuba diving.
9) Perth Zoo
Established in 1898, the 41-acre Perth Zoo is a great attraction for families with toddlers and children. By 2011, the zoo houses 1258 animals of 164 species and maintains an extensive botanical collection. Visitors from all over the globe can experience some of the country’s unique wildlife – kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, wombats, and Tasmanian devils.
The zoo has 3 main exhibits: Australian Walkabout, African Savannah, Asian Rainforest – which are carefully designed to mimic the animals’ natural habitats as closely as possible to improve the wellbeing of the animals. Just about 3 kilometres from the city centre, the zoo is easily accessible by bus, car, train and bike.
10) St. Mary’s Cathedral
Constructed over three centuries (1865-2006), St. Mary’s Cathedral is a grand neo-Gothic church located at the peak of a hill in East Perth, at the centre of Victoria Square. The cathedral is open to the public every day whilst interested visitors can join a premise tour that happens every Tuesday at 10:30 AM.
Tickets are available at the Church Office across the road. Decorated with evocative lighting at night, the cathedral is a tranquil spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Other honourable mentions: Hutt Lagoon (the Pink Lake), Pinnacles (other-worldly landscape of the Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park), Nature’s Window (natural formation of layered Tumblagooda sandstone).