Things to do in Perth, Western Australia, that I love include cruising over to Fremantle to feast on fish and chips, picnicking with panoramic Perth views at Kings Park, sipping cocktails at a city centre rooftop bar, walking along the waterfront on Rottnest Island, and savouring sunset over the Indian Ocean at Cottesloe. Most of them involve eating and drinking!
I may be Sydney born but Perth, the capital of Western Australia, has a special place in my heart. My first flight at age four was from Sydney to Perth with my mum. Our family lived there for a little while when I was a child, and Terence and I visited regularly after my sister and then my mum moved there after our dad died.
Terence and I updated two editions of the Perth and Western Australia guidebook for Lonely Planet, spending months on the road travelling to every corner of the state and then settling into Fremantle for a few months to do the write-up. It’s a city I’d return to in a heartbeat and I could certainly see ourselves living in again one day.
So when a Grantourismo reader asked me yesterday for a list of my favourite things to do in Perth, I sat down this morning to write a list that I thought could turn into a quick post. A few hours later I realised I could go on forever, there are so many things to do in Perth that I love – most of which involve eating and drinking! – so I thought I better stop. At 26!
26 Things To Do In Perth – Most Of Which Involve Eating and Drinking
Check into a Chic Perth Boutique Hotel
As a boutique hotel junkie, I have to confess that one of my favourite things to do in Perth is check into one of the city’s cool new breed of boutique hotels. Some of my faves include the playful and whimsical QT Perth, the grand and very elegant COMO Treasury, the Alex Hotel, which has managed to achieve that home away from home vibe where so many others have attempted and failed, and the design-driven Tribe Perth. All make great bases for doing most of the things below.
Breakfast on Perth’s Cheesiest Cheese Toasties
Breakfasting is definitely one of my favourite things to do in Perth and who doesn’t love a super cheesy toasted cheese sandwich for brekkie? Toastface Grillah, tucked down a laneway in the heart of Perth’s central business district or CBD as Aussies call their city centres, does some of the cheesiest cheese toasties in the Western Australian capital, if not the country, along with good coffee.
Go to Graffiti Art Heaven Gawking at Laneway Street Art
Many of the laneways and backstreets in Perth’s CBD – including Grand Lane, the alleyway that is home to Toastface Grillah – are enlivened with vibrant street art by local artists, and one of my favourite things to do in Perth is mosey about the city centre spotting new works of art. This interactive Urban Art Map will help you track down street art in the CBD and other Perth suburbs.
Pose With the Quirky Kangaroo Sculptures at Stirling Gardens
Perth is blessed with so many gorgeous parks and gardens, many of them dotted with public art. One of the loveliest in the city is Stirling Gardens, Perth’s oldest botanic gardens, which was established in 1845 as an acclimatisation garden (the states first grape vines were planted here) and I love it as much for its greenery as for the quirky-cool bronze kangaroo sculptures near the entrance off Cathedral Square. A photo is obligatory and very Insta-worthy!
Bite Into Perth’s Best Banh Mi at Saigon Pastry House
Another one of my favourite things to do in Perth is to grab a Vietnamese banh mi right across the road from Stirling Gardens at Saigon Pastry House (37 Barrack Street). Thanks to a sizeable Vietnamese-Australian population, banh mi is just as popular as toasted sandwiches, and Saigon Pastry House makes some of the best banh mi in Perth, packed with big fat pieces of pork belly with crispy skin.
Brunch on Fresh Organic Produce at Perth City Farm Café
It’s pretty special to be able to tuck into a ‘paddock-to-plate’ breakfast, brunch or lunch at the Perth City Farm Café on the edge of the CBD. Those eggs you order come from the free range chooks that are pecking at the ground by your table while the vegetables in the big salads and plucked daily from the garden. Everything else is either made in-house (pickles, preserves etc) or comes from artisanal producers – from the growers who sell at their weekly farmers market to local small-batch kombucha brewers.
Take in Perth’s Handsome Heritage Architecture on a Walking Tour
One of my favourite things to do in Perth is simply saunter about the city centre taking in the handsome heritage buildings dating to the mid 1800s, all well preserved or wonderfully restored. You could do my walk around Perth, try this Perth self-guided audio tour or sign up for a guided city walk, such as this Perth City Walking Tour, Morning Tea Tour or Art and Cultural Walking Tour. If you do my walk it will take you across the railway line to Northbridge…
Lunch on Dumplings and Kimchi Noodles in Perth’s Korea Town
Perth’s tiny Korea Town consists of a smattering of Korean restaurants, cafes and mini-marts spread across a couple of blocks on and around Barrack and Hay Streets in the CBD. You’ll find everything from Korean barbecue, bibimbap and bulgogi to kimchi and Korean fried chicken at Western Australia’s first Korean restaurant, Arirang (91 Barrack St), which opened in 1999, although the modest Took Be Gi (544 Hay St) is my favourite for the chap chae (wok-fried potato noodles with vegetables) and seafood pancakes.
Absorb Aboriginal Art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia
One of my favourite things to do in Perth is to spend an hour or so taking in the world’s finest collection of Australian Aboriginal art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. While you can wander through and absorb the gallery’s breathtaking exhibitions at your own pace, you can also do one of the art gallery’s guided tours offered from 1-2pm daily. The museum is located in the dynamic arts and education precinct focused on and around James Street Mall in Northbridge, that’s also home to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, State Library of Western Australia, and the Western Australian Museum. Nearby, you’ll discover bookstores and vintage clothes shops.
Tuck into Peking Duck at Northbridge’s Little Asia
Along with arts and education, Northbridge is also a destination for eating and drinking and is the address of Perth’s Chinatown, although I prefer to think of it as a Little Asia. Because William Street is not only dotted with Chinese restaurants, it’s also home to Vietnamese noodle houses, Korean barbecue joints, and a few Thai and Japanese restaurants as well as plenty of Asian supermarkets, grocers and bakeries. One of my favourite things to do in Perth is to tuck into a classic Peking duck served with crispy skin, juicy meat, pancakes, spring onions, cucumbers and Hoi Sin sauce at Good Fortune Roast Duck House.
Amble the Elevated Walkway Above The Tree Canopy at Kings Park
Located on Mount Eliza on the edge of the CBD, Kings Park is one of Australia’s largest inner city parks. The 400-hectare park is home to 250 species of plants and 100 native animals, protected natural bushland, native botanic gardens, manicured lawns, walking tracks and cycling trails, and a wonderful elevated walkway through the treetops, high above a valley, which offers breathtaking views of the forest floor. The free Blue CAT bus will take you from the CBD to Kings Park, dropping you right outside.
Gawk at Native Australian Flowers at Banksia Garden
Kings Park is a park comprised of many parks and one of them, Banksia Garden, showcases Western Australia’s amazing wildflowers, including the banksia, of which 62 of 76 species are endemic to the state. Western Australia actually boasts the largest array of wildflowers on earth, with more than 12,000 species, including some 60% found nowhere else on earth. If you’re planning to travel beyond Perth, try to time your trip with the six-month wildflower season when much of the countryside is blanketed in colourful flowers.
Picnic Overlooking Panoramic Perth Views at Kings Park
Kings Park is also home to Perth’s best picnic spots and one of my favourite things to do in Perth is to spread out a blanket on the gentle slope beside Fraser Avenue, which is lined with majestic lemon-scented gum trees, or on the manicured lawns near the State War Memorial, which offers some of the city’s most gobsmacking skyline vistas. You can pick up some picnic supplies (artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, olives, and crackers) at Kakulas Bros (183 William Street, Northbridge), and grab some takeaway craft brews or a bottle of Western Australian wine from Vintage Cellars (891-893 Hay Street, Perth).
Do the Cruise from Perth to Fremantle
One of my favourite things to do in Perth is to take the Swan River cruise from Perth to Fremantle, departing from the Barrack Street Jetty in Perth’s CBD. It’s a very pleasant way to spend 70 minutes, especially on a sunny Perth day. Once you arrive at the historic, waterfront city of Fremantle – or ‘Freo’ as it’s called by locals – you can shop the lively weekend Fremantle Markets (South Terrace, Fremantle; Sat & Sun 8am-6pm), located in a Victorian-era market hall dating to 1898 with some 150 stalls selling everything from fresh local produce to handicrafts and gifts; sip a flat white and do some people-watching on Freo’s Cappuccino Strip; stroll around Fremantle’s West End to take in the beautifully preserved historic buildings and shop the carefully curated concept stores at stylish West End. See this Fremantle post for more West End tips, such as sipping coffee and browsing art at quirky Moore & Moore café.
Feast on Fish and Chips at Fremantle Boat Harbour
One of my favourite things to do in Perth is feast on fish and chips in the sunshine overlooking Fremantle’s fishing boat harbour, home to over 400 working vessels and leisure boats, as well as seafood restaurants, fish and chip shops, cafés, and bars. We like Joe’s Fish Shack, Cicerellos and Kailis Fish Market, founded in 1928 by the current owners’ grandfather. They all get busy on weekends, so arrive before noon to snag a table. After, drop into nearby Little Creatures for Australian craft beers.
Cook a Beachside Sunset Barbecue in South Fremantle Park
Fremantle might not boast the finest Western Australian beaches, but its pleasant stretches of sand make for fine spots from which to watch some of Australia’s best sunsets. While the main city beach, Bathers Bay, beside the Fishing Boat Harbour, is fine, we prefer the local’s favourite, South Beach, which has a creamy sand beach where you can kick back or you can enjoy a sunset dinner in the park, which has picnic tables and community barbecues. During summer there’s a Saturday sunset market here. There are barbecues and picnic tables you can use and we recommend gathering picnic supplies at Fremantle Markets and the Fremantle branch of Kakulas Sister (29-31 Market Street).
Cycle the Seaside Bike Tracks on Rottnest Island
One of my favourite things to do in Perth is to take the high-speed catamaran from Fremantle over to stunning Rottnest Island for a couple of days or at the very least an overnight stay; a day-trip is not long enough. (We recommend buying your Rottnest Island round-trip tickets here in advance to avoid missing out, especially during the spring and summer months.) ‘Rotto’, as the locals call it is a favourite getaway spot for Perthites for its gorgeous beaches, bays and coves. Swimming, surfing, snorkelling, diving, and fishing are all favourite Rotto pastimes of Perth’s locals, but we love to cycle the island’s seaside bike tracks, stopping here and there for some beach-combing or a dip in the crystal-clear turquoise waters.
Drink An Old Fashioned Milkshake at a Beachside Café
Growing up by the beach in Australia, weekend mornings meant training to be a nipper, a junior surf life saving member. The reward was a thick, cold, frothy caramel milkshake in a tall, icy, stainless steel cup. Some of Perth’s best milkshakes are made at The Orange Box café, located next to North Fremantle Surf Lifesaving Club, overlooking the sand dunes at Leighton beach. Here, Aussie childhood traditions are kept alive with old-fashioned flavours like vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, banana, and, my favourite, caramel.
Savour the Sunset Over the Indian Ocean from Cottlesloe Beach
Perth is home to some of Western Australia’s finest beaches, which are easily some of Australia’s best beaches, and one of those is Cottlesloe Beach. One of my favourite things to do in Perth is to savour the sunset over the Indian Ocean from Cottlesloe Beach. The best vantage point is from the lawns under the lofty Norfolk pine trees, where you can spread out a towel or picnic blanket and also savour the sea breezes along with the sweeping vistas. Alternatively, you could watch the sun go down with a drink in hand from The Beach Club or the Verandah Bar across the road at The Cottesloe Beach Hotel, famed for its Sunday session. (For more on Sunday sessions scroll to the bottom of this post).
Sip Cocktails at One of Perth’s Cool Rooftop Bars
Sinking back into a low-slung chair to drink in sweeping views of the city and Swan River as I sip a cocktail is definitely one of my favourite things to do in Perth. My top picks are The Rooftop bar at QT Perth (pictured above), Henry’s Rooftop Bar at The Reveley on Elizabeth Quay, the Rooftop Bar at Prince Lane, and The Aviary, one of Perth CBD’s first rooftop bars. All mix fantastic cocktails, have fab views, and serve up good food. The Aviary used to do a delish pulled pork banh mi and very moreish cheddar and mustard croquettes.
Dine on Western Australian Native Cuisine at Wildflower
Located in a beautiful light-filled dining room, Wildflower specialises in contemporary Australian cuisine made with wonderful Western Australian produce. The kitchen follows the six seasons of Aboriginal Australia, showcasing native ingredients in a five-course tasting menu paired with Western Australian wines. Depending on the season you might sample dishes such as Blue Swimmer Crab from Shark Bay with bonito emulsion, green tomato nectar, young zucchini, frozen avocado, and native herbs, or Dry Aged Wagin Duck cooked with wildflower honey and warm spices, with semi dried heirloom carrots, and muntries (native cranberries).
Lick Ginger Beer Vegan Gelato at Elizabeth Quay
Perth locals have mixed feelings about Elizabeth Quay, a riverside development that cost the Western Australian Government hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite the controversy, the manmade bay and marina have turned out to be a pleasant place to kick back with an oyster bar, pop-up eateries, night markets, festivals dedicated to food, beer and music, and Gusto Gelato. Sean Lee, Gusto’s owner, went all the way to Italy to ‘gelato university’ to perfect his craft and the results have converted Perth’s ice-cream and frozen yoghurt-loving locals to his sublime gelato. Flavours are wild, including roasted peanut; lemon, lime and bitters; and ginger beer with lime zest. Lee makes vegan, gluten free and dairy free gelato and offers gelato making lessons.
Play Crazy Mini Golf as You Sip Cocktails
With all that sunshine to bask in – it was 22 degrees Celsius and sunny today in Perth while it was snowing on Australia’s east coast – you can’t blame Perthites for loving the outdoors: surfing, swimming, running, walking, picnicking, and barbecuing are some of their favourite things to do in Perth. It takes a lot to get them inside, but the Holey Moley indoor mini put put golf course in Northbridge has succeeded with its 27 unique holes across three courses, set in a multi-sensory labyrinth of theme rooms (the Elvis room is very cool), along with music, food and cocktails sold from drinks carts along the way and at the Caddyshack cocktail bar.
Watch Rooftop Movies Under the Stars
It’s so hard to get Perth’s sun-loving outdoorsy locals indoors that they even have to put the cinemas outside. Located on the top floor of a Northbridge car park, Rooftop Movies is a retro-cool outdoor cinema open during summer only. Buy your popcorn, locally made ice cream, and piping hot churros from the vintage caravans, grab a bottle of Western Australian wine or craft beers, and sink into a beanbag sofa to watch a cult classic, arthouse film or new release, including quality Australian films. The only problem? The illuminated cityscape surrounding you is a stunning distraction.
Feast on Fiery Thai Food at Long Chim
Australian-born, Bangkok-based, Thai food master David Thompson’s Long Chim (Corner St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street, Perth) serves up some of the most authentic (and most fiery) Thai food in Perth in a big buzzy 170-seat basement restaurant with murals by Thai street artists Alex Face, Gong and Diamond One on the walls. Order a mandarin and lemongrass negroni and the Maa Long Chim menu – salads, soups, curries and stir fries with rice to share. On Fridays from 6pm to late, there are DJs and Thai eats in the Long Chim courtyard. If you’re on a budget or want to take away try Long Chim’s Tuck Shop.
Do the Sunday Sesh at the Guildford Pub
The ‘Sunday sesh’ – or ‘Sunday session’ to those who don’t speak Aussie – is a long, lazy Sunday afternoon spent socialising with friends at a pub, preferably in the sunshine in a beer garden. It’s as Australian as meat pies and kangaroos and a quintessential Aussie experience you can’t miss. Pubs offer cheap drinks, live music and host barbecues or roast lunches to ensure the locals linger. While some of Perth’s busiest pubs on a Sunday are the beachside watering holes, one of the city’s favourite places to spend Sunday afternoon is heritage-listed Guildford Hotel, built in 1886 in the historic town of Guildford, an outer Perth suburb near the Swan Valley. Order a do-it-yourself cocktail kit, chips with rosemary salt and Keen’s curry mayo, and some Korean pork belly bao buns, and settle in for the arvo. With the train station nearby, it’s easily accessible from Perth CBD. Before or after, stroll around the historic town to admire the handsome façades.