The opening of Elizabeth Quay and Yagan Square have marked major milestones in the transformation of Perth into one of the country's most dynamic urban centres. Local writer Jennifer Morton checks in with suggestions for ten top things to do in and around the city, thanks to Choice Hotels.
Perth is an eclectic mix of metro madness and laid-back vibes that will appeal to all types of travellers.
Sunshine, beaches, contemporary cuisine, boutique bars, epic art and a long, rich history are yours to be explored and adored in the Western Australia capital.
Here are ten of the best things to do in Perth on a first-time visit.
1. Do a tour
A great way to get to know a new city quickly is by taking a tour. Perth has several guided tours that will show you the best bits of the CBD and give you the low-down on local history, culture and places to eat and drink. A hop on hop off bus tour of Perth will give you a glimpse of places you may choose to visit later in your stay (including The Bell Tower and The Perth Mint), and walking tours are a fantastic way to learn about the city’s hidden gems and secret passageways.
2. Enjoy the food, glorious food
Perth has a scrumptious culinary scene. The hip neighbourhood of Leederville is the place to go for great tucker and a lively evening out. Try Ria Malay Kitchen for delicious Malaysian food or Siena’s for authentic Italian fare.
In the city you’ll find several swish bars and restaurants in which to devour the best of Perth’s gourmet eats. Think Long Chim for top-notch Thai or Wildflower for exclusive rooftop dining. If casual food truck grub is more your thing, head to Pretzel in Northbridge for OMG freshly baked pretzels and Street Eats in Horseshoe Lane for international favourites like Jamaican jerk chicken, Japanese takoyaki, and even fried crickets and mealworm!
3. Discover Yagan Square
You’ll find more mouth-watering street-food inspired fare at Market Hall Plaza in Yagan Square — Perth’s newest public space. Situated on Wellington Street next to Perth railway station, Yagan Square is designed to bring the community together. The square is named after the leader of the Noongar first people, and honours Noongar culture through its design, gardens, water display and digital tower — which has columns on top that represent the 14 local indigenous languages.
4. Explore Elizabeth Quay
Elizabeth Quay is another important community development. It opened in early 2016, and links the CBD to South Perth and beyond. Although there’s still a lot of construction going on, it’s worth a visiting for its cruisy riverside vibe. Get an ice cream at Gusto Gelato, take the ferry to Perth Zoo, or ride the beautiful carousel. Elizabeth Quay is also the location of many pop-up events so be sure to take a peek to see what’s on while you’re in town.
5. Shop ’til you drop
If you love to shop, you’ll love Perth. The city centre offers no end of opportunities to shop up a storm, including the Hay and Murray Street Malls. Browse in retail favourites like Peter Alexander, Skechers, Apple and many more. If luxury and lavish boutiques are more your style, head to King Street and visit Gucci, Chanel and Tiffany and Co.
6. Go grape grazing in the Swan Valley
Apart from Vienna (Austria), Perth is the only capital city in the world to have a wine region right on its doorstep. The Swan Valley is less than 30 minutes’ drive from the CBD, but the landscape is a complete contrast to the concrete jungle. To make the most of your day in the valley, book a tour with d’Vine Wine Tours and let someone else do the driving. You’ll sip wine at classy cellar doors like Mandoon Estate, sample gourmet foods, and do a tasting at Elmar’s In The Valley — an awesome German microbrewery.
Fremantle is the place to go for convict history, craft beer, and fish and chips. Start with a tour of Fremantle Prison, where you’ll walk through the old cells and hear fascinating gaol-yard stories. Next, head to Little Creatures Brewing for a brewery tour with beer tastings, and then Fisherman’s Wharf for a spot of lunch at any of the seafood eateries hugging the quayside. Be sure to get a selfie with the bronze statue of the Bon Scott — the original lead singer of legendary Aussie rockers AC/DC. Scott spent his teenage years in Fremantle. He died in 1980, and is buried in Fremantle Cemetery.
8. Skydive over Rottnest Island
Every visitor to Perth has to see Rottnest Island, and skydiving over Perth’s favourite getaway destination is an ‘out-there’ way to do it! Skydive Geronimo is the only skydive company operating from Rottnest. Choose to jump from an airplane, or skydive like a boss and do the heli-skydive. Book a morning jump and spend the rest of the day exploring the island, relaxing on the beach, and snapping selfies with quokkas.
9. Learn to surf
Western Australia is world-famous for its pristine beaches and epic surfing so why not give it a go while you’re here? Scarborough Beach Surf School has been teaching dudes and dudettes to hang ten since 1986 and they offer 2.5-hour group lessons all year round.
10. Take in the epic views from Kings Park
It’s pretty much a given that you’ll visit Kings Park while you’re in Perth (along with the six million others who meander through the 400-hectare parklands each year). The park has a lot going on, but the one thing almost all visitors do is take a photo of the city skyline. The best view is from the Fraser Street Lookout (near the State War Memorial). There are lots of interesting ways to explore Kings Park, including by Segway.
Where to stay in Perth
Quality Hotel Ambassador Perth
Quality Hotel Ambassador Perth on Adelaide Terrace is the natural choice for a hotel when you want to be in the centre of it all. A stay here means you’ll be within walking, free-transit and affordable taxi or Uber fare distance to the city’s growing food scene, nightlife, shopping and amazing public parks.
The multi-storey hotel features 170 guest rooms, ranging from standard and premium deluxe options through to family suites. Rooms feature flat screen televisions, complimentary tea and coffee, and an en-suite with a bathtub and separate shower.
Cafe 196 serves a buffet breakfast and dinner daily, while the newly refurbished bar offers an evening happy hour. The onsite parking is a boon and reception is open around the clock, which is reassuring for first-time visitors to the city.
Cover image: Tourism Western Australia. Additional images: Bigstock
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. She’s also likely to be boarding a plane — or jumping out of one.