10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Perth
Flush with mining money, Perth frequently scores top billing on lists of the world's most liveable cities. This vibrant capital of Western Australia defies its remote location on the southwest coast of this vast state by boldly flaunting its riches, both natural and material. Sprawling King's Park is a focal point of downtown, fine restaurants and boutiques brush shoulders along the busy streets, skyscrapers bristle in the city center, and an air of general ebullience prevails.
Work hard and play harder could well be the mantra here, and the winding Swan River and string of pearly beaches provide the perfect playground. Sailing, swimming, fishing, and boating are all popular things to do. A short hop from the city, visitors can escape to idyllic Rottnest Island and wildlife-rich national parks. At the mouth of the Swan River, the historic port of Fremantle is the namesake of the famous Fremantle Doctor, a cool sea breeze that blasts the summertime heat from this effervescent and affluent city.
See also: Where to Stay in Perth
1 King's Park and Botanic Garden
Boasting beautiful views of the Swan River and Darling Range, Kings Park and Botanic Garden is an oasis of peace near the heart of the city. Almost two-thirds of this sprawling 1,000-acre park is natural bush, which harbors a diversity of native plants and birds. Dedicated to conservation, the botanic garden spotlights plants from Western Australia and other Mediterranean climates such as South Africa and California. Highlights include an acacia garden, the peaceful Place of Reflection, and a water garden that recreates a Darling Range creek.
Atop Mount Eliza, with stunning views over the city, the King's Park War Memorial is a poignant tribute to servicemen from Western Australia. Walking trails, ponds, play areas, and viewpoints abound throughout the park, encouraging visitors to explore. After a stroll through the park, pop into Aspect of Kings Park, a retail precinct of gift shops and galleries highlighting local artists. Fraser Avenue Lookout dishes up delicious views of the city, and, at night, the park is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll with twinkling views of the city lights.
Hours: Open daily, year round
Address: Fraser Avenue, West Perth
2 Swan River
Local Aboriginals believe the rainbow serpent, "Waugal" created this winding river. To Perth locals and tourists alike, it's the perfect setting for outdoor fun. Visitors can picnic in the riverside parks, bike or hike along the many trails, cast a fishing line, sail, swim, or kayak. To see some of the posh houses of the riverfront suburbs, hop aboard a relaxing river cruise between Perth and the historic port of Fremantle. Another popular day trip is a cruise upriver to the fertile shores of the Swan Valley, Western Australia's oldest grape-growing region. Here, foodies can sample fresh local produce and scrumptious artisan foods at the highly acclaimed restaurants. Most ferries and river cruises depart from Barrack Square Jetty.
Sun lovers can choose from a bevy of beautiful beaches in and around Perth. Less than a 15-minute drive from the city center, pine-fringed Cottesloe is one of Perth's most popular strands with its clear waters and thriving café culture. Port Beach is also a favorite, and City Beach has a children's playground and plenty of picnic nooks. For families, the sheltered inlets on the snaking Swan River such as Como, Crawley, and Point Walter are top choices as well as Rockingham Beach, and the sheltered shore at Hillary's Boat Harbour. Trigg Point has one of Perth's best and most reliable surf breaks and Scarborough is another top spot to ride the waves. Further afield, the shores of Rottnest Island and Penguin Island offer excellent snorkeling and are great for fun family day trips.
4 Perth Zoo
About 3 km from the city center, Perth Zoo has been delighting animal-lovers since 1898. International visitors can experience some of the country's unique wildlife in the Australian Bushwalk and Wetlands exhibits. All the favorites are here: kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, wombats, and Tasmanian devils. Other exhibits take visitors around the world to different ecosystems - feed giraffes at the African Savannah, ogle orangutans in the Asian Rainforest, enjoy an elephant show, or peer at a pygmy marmoset in the South American primate exhibit. The zoo is easily accessible by bus, car, train, and bike, and visitors can also hop aboard a ferry from Barrack Street jetty.
Hours: Open daily 9am-5pm
Admission: Adults $24.50, children (4-15 years) $12.30, concession and seniors $20.50, family (2 adults, 2 children) $64.25, children (under 4) free
Address: 20 Labouchere Rd, Perth
5 Hillarys Boat Harbour
About 20 km northwest of central Perth, Hillary's Boat Harbour is an expansive marina with restaurants, shops, and family-friendly attractions. The Aquarium of Western Australia is a top tourist draw here. Sightseers can stroll through a glass underwater tunnel and observe more than 200 species of marine animals, including stingrays, manta rays, dolphins, and sharks. Bike paths, walkways, parks, and sheltered beaches make this a favorite spot for a fun family day out. Ferries to Rottnest Island also depart from here.
Address: 86 Southside, Hillarys
6 Aviation Heritage Museum
Even those who are not interested in aircraft will be surprised by the fascinating displays at the Aviation Heritage Museum, about 15 km south of Perth. Exhibits of more than 30 aircraft and thousands of artifacts cover civilian and military aviation and trace the evolution of aircraft from two-winged WWI planes to present-day passenger jets. For an extra fee, visitors can also book a personal tour of a Lancaster bomber or a Dakota C-47 and Spitfire Mark XXII.
Hours: Open 10am-4pm daily, closed major holidays
Admission: Adults $10, children (4-16 years) $5, family (2 adults and up to 4 children) $25, students and concession $7.50
Address: Air Force Memorial Estate, Bull Creek Dr, Bull Creek
7 St Mary's Cathedral
Constructed over three centuries, St Mary's Cathedral is a grand neo-Gothic church consecrated in 1865 and renovated extensively over the years. The site for the cathedral was included in the first plan of Perth in 1838. Evocatively lit at night, the cathedral is a soothing spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Interested tourists can join a tour of the building every Tuesday at 10:30 am for a $5 donation. Tickets are available at the Church Office across the road.
Address: 17 Victoria Square, Perth
8 Art Gallery of Western Australia
In the Perth Cultural Centre, a one-minute-walk from the nearest train station, the Art Gallery of Western Australia houses a collection of both international and Australian art from 1829 to the present day. Special emphasis lies on works from Australia and the Indian Ocean Rim. As well as an extensive collection of traditional and contemporary indigenous art, the gallery displays works by eminent artists such as Hans Heysen and Frederick McCubbin
Hours: Open Wed-Mon 10am-5pm, closed Tuesdays, Good Friday, ANZAC Day, and Christmas Day
Admission: Free, donations welcome
Address: James Street Mall, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth
9 Western Australian Museum
Near the Art Gallery of Western Australia in the Perth Cultural Centre, the Western Australian Museum unveils the region's natural and social history with a range of exhibits designed to delight and inspire. Perhaps the highlight of the attraction is the large collection of aboriginal artifacts. Other exhibits range from diamonds to dinosaurs and butterflies to birds. Also within the museum complex, visitors can see the old jail, built by convict labor in 1853 and used as a prison and place of execution until 1888.
Hours: Open Mon-Fri 9:30am-5pm, ANZAC Day 1-5pm, closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), New Year's Day, Good Friday
Admission: Free, $5 donation suggested
Address: James Street Mall, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth
10 Perth Mint
Perth Mint, where coins are struck and gold bars cast, welcomes visitors. In the Melting House visitors can watch pure gold being poured to form a solid bar. The original vault, from 1899, houses the world's largest collection of gold bars and natural nuggets.
Address: 310 Hay St, East Perth
Where to Stay in Perth for Sightseeing
For first-time visitors to Perth, one of the best places to stay is the city center, near the sparkling Swan River - especially for those planning to use public transport. Fantastic shopping and dining are within walking distance, and top attractions such as the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Western Australian Museum, St. Mary's Cathedral, and Kings Park are also close by. Free CAT buses loop around the city, stopping at the top sites. Here are some highly-rated hotels in this central location:
- Luxury Hotels: In a lovingly restored mid-19th-century state building, steps away from fabulous shopping and St. Mary's Cathedral, COMO The Treasury blends contemporary styling in its oversized rooms with ornate architectural features. Its modern amenities include an indoor pool, gym, library, and holistic spa. Another heritage building with contemporary touches is the BEST WESTERN PREMIER, Terrace Hotel, within walking distance of the main shopping streets, the waterfront, and Kings Park. Pan Pacific Perth is a larger property in the city center that sits steps away from the Perth Mint and an easy stroll to the shops and restaurants of Elizabeth Quay and the city center.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Guests love the buffet breakfasts and quaint European charm of Miss Maud Swedish Hotel, a short hop from shops, restaurants, and St. Mary's Cathedral. A great option for longer stays is All Suites Perth, an easy stroll the Swan River, Murray Street Mall, and city buses. Its spacious rooms come with kitchenettes and laundry facilities. Known for its friendly service, the Novotel Perth Langley is another popular mid-range option, less than 10 minutes' walk from St. Mary's Cathedral and only two blocks from the riverfront.
- Budget Hotels: Offering excellent value for money, the Comfort Hotel Perth City offers large, clean rooms within walking distance to the city center, the waterfront, and the free CAT bus. Other budget options in the CBD, near restaurants and shopping, are City Waters, two blocks from the river, and the family-owned and run Comfort Inn Wentworth Plaza, less than ten minutes' walk from the Perth Convention and Exhibition Center.
Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Perth
An organized tour is a convenient way to see the sights around this vibrant city without the hassle of planning your trip, driving vast distances, or organizing boat trips. Experienced guides share fascinating details about the attractions, and many of these tours include admission fees and pickup and drop-off at your hotel, saving you time and money. Below are some fun day trip options that guarantee the lowest price:
- Escape to Rottnest Island: On the Rottnest Island Tour from Perth or Fremantle including Wildlife Cruise, you can explore one of Perth's most popular weekend getaways from both the water and land. Travel by high-speed ferry to the island and board a 90-minute wildlife cruise to spot fur seals, birds, and dolphins, then enjoy free time to explore the island by bike or on foot. This full-day tour includes a professional guide; the Rottnest Island Authority Fee; and lunch, if you select this option.
- Explore the desert: If you're seeking a rugged wildlife adventure, the Pinnacles Desert, Koalas and Sandboarding 4WD Day Tour from Perth is an excellent option. This full-day excursion takes you to Caversham Wildlife Park, where you can commune with koalas and kangaroos, then to the seaside town of Cervantes for a walking tour of a lobster factory. Bump along the dunes in the 4WD vehicle or sandboard down their grainy slopes at Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park and enjoy a guided tour of its lunar-like landscapes. This full-day tour includes snacks, a picnic lunch (with an optional lobster upgrade), bottled water, entrance fees, and pickup and drop-off from your hotel.