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Top 10 Things to Do in Fremantle, WA

The port city of Fremantle is the yang to Perth's yin. Located just south of the Western Australian capital, it's a destination steeped in history and packed with personality. Here's a handy checklist of top things to do during your visit.
Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle

Fremantle is a hip and happening place, overflowing with diverse cultural attractions, great food and coffee, gripping colonial tales, and engaging quirks.

It’s often sold as a day trip from Perth, but ‘Freo’ (as the locals call it) deserves more than a fleeting visit. There’s plenty to see and do, so plan to spend at least a couple of days here if possible. Even then, you’ll be aching to extend your stay.

Here are ten of the best things to do in Fremantle.


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Western Australia Tours, Activities & Attractions


1. Pound the pavement on a guided tour

A walking tour is the ideal way to get your bearings on arrival in Freo. Book a two-hour guided stroll with Fremantle Tours and enjoy some historical show-and-tell from your knowledgable guide. You’ll also pick up solid tips for places to eat and drink during the rest of your stay.

Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Explore the city on foot with Fremantle Tours. Image: Tourism Western Australia

2. Immerse yourself in maritime history

Fremantle is first and foremost a working port, and much of its character stems from decades of maritime heritage. You can dive in deep with visits to the excellent WA Shipwrecks Museum and Maritime Museum, both of which are located overlooking the water. For a seafaring history lesson with a difference, seek out the Fremantle Navy Club on High Street. It occupies the top two floors at number 64, and welcomes non-member visitors. Enjoy the old school hospitality, cheap drink prices, displays of Navy memorabilia, and chit chat with seasoned sailors.

Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle: WA Maritime Museum

3. Sample the liquid wares at Little Creatures

The craft beer scene is thriving in towns and cities across Australia, and we all have Fremantle to thank for it. While it’s not the oldest craft brewing outfit, Little Creatures Brewery is generally recognised as the industry’s flag bearer. A brewery tour is fun, informative, and ends with tastings. Need I say more?

Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Little Creatures Brewery, Fremantle. Image: Tourism Western Australia

4. Do time at Fremantle Prison

Visiting Freo and not doing a tour of Fremantle Prison is a crime. The vast limestone jail was built by convicts between 1852 and 1859, and housed thousands of men, women, and even juveniles. It was finally decommissioned in 1991. Rumour has it that the prison is heavily haunted, and if you’re game you can stay overnight in a former cell. More on that later!

Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Fremantle Prison. Image: Tourism Western Australia

5. Hook the catch of the day

When hunger strikes on holiday, a serving of fresh fish and chips will generally hit the spot. So, head for Fishing Boat Harbour and chow down at iconic Cicerello’s. They’ve been serving up golden fried seafood since 1903 and have it down pat. Neighbouring Kailis Fish Market does amazing seafood platters, which can easily feed two or three people.

Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Cicerellos, Fremantle. Image: Tourism Western Australia

6. Get a caffeine fix

Freo’s famous ‘Cappuccino Strip’ draws plenty of visitors looking to ‘sit and sip’, but some of the best cafes in town are located just off the tourist trail. Moore and Moore Cafe on Henry Street serves up fine java and food, along with a side of local art. Over in the West End, Chalky’s Espresso Bar is the perfect spot to recharge after a visit to the historic Round House (the oldest surviving building in Western Australia).

7. Explore the local arts scene

The art scene in Freo is hard to escape — everywhere you look there’s a gallery, an artist’s studio, or an exhibition on a cafe wall. The Fremantle Arts Centre is housed in what was formerly known as the Convict Establishment Fremantle Lunatic Asylum and Invalid Depot (like the prison, VERY possibly haunted), and offers a strong dose of culture and history rolled into one. The J Shed Art Studio is another notable creative hub, where you may get to see artists like Jenny Dawson, Peter Zuvela, and Greg James in action.

8. Go to a festival

Culture vultures may want to plan their visit to Freo to coincide with one of the swag of arts festivals and events staged here throughout the year. Popular options include the Fremantle International Street Arts Festival — which takes place in April and has its roots in the city’s robust busking scene, and the Fremantle Festival: 10 Nights in Port — a winter celebration of art, music, and place.

Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Fremantle International Street Arts Festival. Image: Visit Fremantle

9. Shop up a storm

Fremantle serves up some wondrous retail therapy — much of it concentrated along, and around High Street. Bookworms will love Bill Campbell Books and my personal favourite — New Edition. Compendium Design Store has that gift for the hard-to-buy-for, while Broken Doll is fun for an afternoon of vintage wear rummaging. And of course, no weekend in Fremantle would be complete without browsing the stalls at the famous Fremantle Markets (open Friday to Sunday).

Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle: Shop at the Fremantle Markets.

10. Catch a spectacular sunset

Every list of ‘things to do in Fremantle’ needs ‘see a sunset’ on it, because they are truly breathtaking. The best place to watch the sun slide into the Indian Ocean is Bathers Beach. You can even book a sun lounger on the sand at Bathers Beach House and complete the experience with a sundowner in hand.

Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Bathers Beach, Fremantle. Image: Tourism Western Australia

Where to stay in Fremantle

Fremantle Prison YHA

Tap into Freo’s dark past by spending a night at the Fremantle Prison YHA, which is located inside the old jail itself. Archival photos and copies of prison documents adorn the walls, giving guests a good idea of what has gone on here over the years. There’s a variety of accommodation options to choose from, including dorms, ensuite private rooms, family rooms, and even rooms that used to be actual jail cells. Not game enough to sleep in an old cell alone, I opted to stay in an ensuite room in the newly built section of the hostel. It was cosy, clean, and comfortable. And no, I didn’t see a ghost. All clear.

Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Fremantle Prison YHA. Image: Jennifer Morton
Nautica Residences by Seashells

Nautica Residences by Seashells is superbly located in East Fremantle — just a short walk from the Swan riverfront. Here, you’re far enough away to get a break from the hustle and bustle of the tourist centre, yet close enough to get into the urban groove with ease when you want to. The room types on offer include spacious one and two-bedroom apartments, which come complete with plush triple-sheeted beds, stylish furniture, a smart TV, a fully equipped kitchenette, and a well appointed bathroom.

Ten of the best things to do in Fremantle
Image: Nautica Residences

Other features to love here are the free Wi-Fi, underground parking, and secure swipe-card access. Located on the top floor of the building, Sweetwater Rooftop Bar is the perfect spot to wind down after a hard day of sightseeing.

The writer travelled as a guest of Fremantle Prison YHA and Nautica Residences.

Browse our range of Fremantle tours and experiences here.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the top things to do in Fremantle? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Jennifer Morton

About the writer

Jennifer Morton is a freelance writer and photographer. The Canadian expat has lived all over Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. She also spent six months working on a cruise ship in Europe. When Jennifer is not writing about travel, you may find her lounging on the beach, fishing with her son, sipping coffee at a cafe, reading a book, or zooming in on a beautiful scene.

 

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