Whether you’re daydreaming about your post-COVID Perth getaway, or you’re a “sandgroper” looking to uncover exciting new things in your city, you’re in luck! Perth is a dynamic, funky city that’s changed enormously over the last decade, at such a fast pace that it can be hard to keep up with all the awesome places to see and things to do.
Labelled the “capital of cool” by CNN back in 2015, Perth’s certainly earned its reputation by transforming from a remote, sleepy city (the capital of “Wait Awhile”!) to a must-visit destination attracting visitors and locals alike, drawing tourists from the furthest reaches of Australia and all over the world. From funky cafes and bars to world-class restaurants, hipster street art, and pristine white-sand beaches, there’s something for all ages and tastes to enjoy.
Of course, you may know some of the most famous Perth and WA attractions already. Maybe you’ve even Googled how to get that perfect quokka selfie. In the spirit of Perth being a hidden gem that’s only just starting to get global attention, here’s some awesome lesser-known spots that the locals love.
So let’s meet you (virtually) by the iconic giant Cactus that Perthites use as a meeting place, and show you a taste of what makes Perth so special. Save your favourites to your travel planner, and when borders reopen get in touch with an ATAS-accredited travel agent to make your dream holiday happen!
Sunset across the Perth City Skyline (Image from Tourism Western Australia).
Perth’s got the funk!
Who’s got the funk? Perth does! If you’re looking for quirky, playful spots, you’ll find them here in spades. Get your old-school game on at Nostalgia Box, Australia’s only video game museum, check out the Perth skyline up high and personal with (again, Australia’s only!) Twilight Abseiling courtesy of Spacechameleon Adventure Co. Perth’s bar scene is fantastic, too, and a great place to make new local friends – you can even pick their brains for more must-do recommendations!
Some particularly “funky” CBD bars include small bar Helvetica, Badlands Bar, Wolf Lane, and 399 Bar. There’s also the iconic The Aviary, conveniently located on top of the Perth Underground train station. To keep your post-video game spirit rolling into the night, there’s also the arcade game-themed Palace Arcade bar; or get a taste of Polynesia at the Hula Bula Bar.
Maybe you line a nice Gin & Tonic, or are you more of a rum person? Tequila? Whatever your flavour, if you’re a lover of good drinks & charming atmospshere, Perth’s niche bars are an absolute must! Browse gin in every kind of flavour from all over the world at Flour Factory, or let fate decide with a $10 spin of the lucky wheel. If you’re after something darker, the prohibition-themed rum bar Sneaky Tonys will transport you back to the roaring 20’s with it’s charm & character – just make sure you know the password! How about a taste of South America? If you can handle some heat, you’ll want to make the most of Mexican tequila bar Caballito’s weekly specials in the CBD, bravely boasting over 200 types of tequila and a full range of Mexican bites!
If the rush of adventure & adrenaline is more your style, don’t be fooled by Perth’s ‘laid back’ reputation, there’s no shortage of blood-pumping excitement to be had in & around the city. Drive an hour in just about any direction, and you’ll be met with vast landscapes and beautiful nature – the perfect setting to take everything in with one of Perth’s many skydiving options. Or, if hurling yourself out of a plane at 15,000 feet isn’t your cup of tea, why not tone it down a notch with the much less nauseating version, and try out the joys of indoor skydiving at iFly.
Finally, literally the whole of Fremantle is basically funk personified. There’s endless attractions, from Perth’s best coffee shops to a bustling art and music culture, exciting events, stunning heritage buildings and vibrant nightlife. You can tell your friends you went to Perth and spent a night in prison – the UNESCO-listed Fremantle Prison with its torchlight tours, that is! You’ll want to dedicate at least a day to exploring Freo’s nooks and crannies – here’s what Visit Fremantle suggests as the top ten things to see.
Bathers Beach, Fremantle (Image by Tourism Western Australia).
Get back to nature
Kings Park and Botanic Gardens is touted as a Perth highlight for good reason; one of the world’s largest inner-city parks (think Perth’s answer to Central Park, but slightly bigger!), its elevated location offers spectacular postcard-perfect views of the Perth skyline. You’ll also find thousands of native plants here, many of which can’t be seen anywhere but Perth and surrounds. If you visit the Wildflower State in Spring, you’re in for a special treat as the park comes alive and awash with colour!
A perfect picnic spot with spectacular views – Kings Park and Botanic Gardens (Image by Tourism Western Australia).
Head just north of Perth to Lancelin for ATV tours and sandboarding down otherworldly enormous sand dunes, stopping on your way at Yanchep National Park with its extraordinarily instagrammable Crystal Cave.
Finally, Perth has an abundance of national parks within the metropolitan city limits: check out the stunning Eagle View Walk in John Forrest National Park, the stunning Lesmurdie Falls, the Mason & Bird Heritage Trail in Korung National Park and many more.
Exploring Perth with kids in tow? There’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy (yes, you included!) For curious kids, head to the Cultural Centre precinct, where you’ll find the Art Gallery of WA; this world-class gallery is a perfect place to spark creativity and get inspired. The WA Museum has been under renovation for a few years now, with its grand re-opening in November 2020 – so if you’re going to be in Perth in or after November, don’t miss what’s set to be an incredible cultural institution! You’ll also find PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts) in this precinct, introducing exciting works from emerging and established contemporary artists alike.
Elizabeth Quay is perfect for a picturesque riverside stroll, with a fun water park (bring your swimsuits!) and a charming little merry-go-round. You’ll find the iconic Bell Tower here, home to the Swan Bells which include 12 historic bells originating from St Martin-in-the-Fields, dating back to before the 14th century and immortalised in the popular nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons with the line “You owe me five farthings say the bells of St-Martins”. The Bell Tower is the only belltower in the world where you can view ringing bells at their level, as well as see the bellringers performing their art – this is bound to impress the kids!
Heading to the northern suburbs of Perth, towards the Aquarium of Western Australia and Hillary’s Boat Harbour, you’ll find a lesser-known attraction that was a carefully-guarded secret until recently: The “Secret Garden”! This suburban fairyland, located in the Careniup Reserve, lit up Instagram with its Alice in Wonderland-esque scenery. Its fans kept its location a careful secret for many months, refusing to share its location and even sending people on wild goose chases until its location was exposed. Not only does it look like something from a magical world, but its history of secrecy gives it an exciting story! It’s now a mainstay favourite of Perth families, but with its popularity comes the obligation to protect it carefully: take only photos, and leave only footprints so that future generations can enjoy this fantastical place.
Hillary’s Boat Harbour (Image courtesy of www.hillarysboatharbour.com.au)
Life in, on and around the water
From the iconic Swan River winding its way through the Perth region like a Rainbow Serpent, to the friendly dolphins frolicking in the Venetian canals of Mandurah, the waters of Perth permeate the lifestyle of its residents. You’ll regularly see people jogging along (or sailing and kayaking on) the Swan River, enjoying riverside BBQs at Matilda Bay, or taking the scenic Transperth ferry across the Swan River to the Perth Zoo. The ferry journey is a hidden gem in its own right (and an affordable one at that, with fares starting at only 80c), or take one of the many river cruises departing Barrack St Jetty: from gondola to floating bar and much more.
Coastal Trail, Mandurah (Image by Tourism Western Australia).
Finally, whether you’re an avid lover of water sports or an absolute beginner, Perth’s the place to give it a go: from surfing to kitesurfing, stand-up paddle boarding to jetpacking (yes, jetpacking!), you’ll be spoiled for choice. Check out Destination Perth’s water sports special feature to whet your appetite for adventure!
Finally, Perth’s rich marine life makes it a great destination for diving: in particular, the Marmion Marine Park is an underwater paradise offering something for everyone, from youngsters first learning to snorkel to experienced divers seeking adventure.
Waiting for adventure?
We’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg: Perth has so much to offer, with plenty to see, do and explore. If you’re in WA, there’s so many reasons to #wanderoutyonder and #holidayherethisyear while celebrating your own backyard; and whether you’re looking for post-COVID holiday ideas or keen to explore your local areas as the restrictions lift, keep an eye on our blog for more Aussie destination inspiration!
Looking for more insights on the best of Australia from ATAS-accredited travel agents? Check out our features on Perth and Western Australia, learn about Australia’s Aboriginal tourism experiences, and find out what Aussie travel agents consider the most romantic places in Australia.