Australia’s most far-flung major city, Perth is a modern metropolis of almost two million, the capital of Western Australia, and is deservedly becoming one of the country’s top spots to visit. Traditionally viewed as a backward outpost of sorts, today Perth boasts all the amenities of any major city, and then some. With an ideal tropical climate and proximity to beaches, forests, islands, wine country, and surfing, there is something here for every type of traveler. Here are some of our favorite spots in and around the greater metropolitan area that are well worth putting on your must-see list (in alphabetical order):
This is a top spot to enjoy the beauty of the ocean with the locals. Expansive dunes, nice rolling waves, super soft sand, blue water, and friendly residents make this one of the top weekend destinations for city folk. Expect laid-back charm and a country vibe, despite being on the edge of a major city.
Just 30 minutes south of Perth city center lies an incredibly eclectic port city that charms almost everyone who makes the journey. A perfect spot for strolling and indulging, the famous ‘Cappuccino Strip’ is an ideal spot to take coffee or dig in to some fresh Indian Ocean seafood. Local artisans and native Aboriginals turn out in wonderful crafts and there are a number of heritage buildings worth checking out, including Freemantle Prison, the Shipwreck Museum and Freemantle Arts Centre. And there’s a good helping of microbreweries for beer enthusiasts!
King’s Park and Botanic Garden
This is THE spot to relax and enjoy Perth’s natural goodness. Situated next to the Swan River with sweeping views of the Darling Range, most of the park is kept in a natural state. Flora abounds with 319 species of native plants in the area and a wide range of birds call the park home. Bring a blanket, some food, and enjoy a lazy afternoon.
With more than 100 vineyards in the area as well as world-class surfing, there’s much to enjoy here. A three hours’ drive south of Perth leads you gorgeous beaches, fantastic restaurants, and artisanal chocolate shops. Margaret River is pure bliss and perfect for a day trip or overnight escape.
Thousands of eerie limestone pillars rise from the desert floor making it easy to believe that you’ve been transported to another world. Located three hours north of Perth, Nambung National Park is a unique natural treasure. And when you’ve had enough of the desert, hit one of the nearby beaches and famous Hangover Bay – perfect for picnics.
Accessible by boat from Perth or Freemantle, this car-free island has awesome beaches, secluded coves, and great fishing spots. And be on the lookout for the island’s cute resident critter the Quokka, a kind of a chipmunk/beaver/otter mashup that the island draws its name from. This is natural goodness at its best.
Shoalwater Marine Park
Head one hour north of Perth to get under the water and enjoy some top scuba diving and snorkeling. Sea lions, penguins and dolphins are regularly spotted, and shipwrecks make it an exciting spot to test one’s diving skills.
The Sunset Coast is yet another example of why Perth is a fantastic destination for beach lovers. Marmion Marine Park at Trigg Beach is great for snorkeling, the boardwalk at Sorrento Quay is delightful for dining, and shipwrecks at Yanchep and Two Rocks offer great diving.
The Swan River
Perth’s Swan River provides a great view of the city and all it has to offer. From skyscrapers that dominate the skyline to parks, beaches, historic buildings and vineyards, it’s well worth spending some time on the river. Kayaking, canoeing, and kiteboarding are all very popular.
WACA (Western Australia Cricket Association)
Sporting enthusiasts should plan their trip around a cricket match to experience the action live. If you’re not there on game day, tour the grounds (Mon-Fri at 10am and 1pm) and learn about its interesting history at the museum (open 10am-3pm).