Things to do in Perth

Must-see Perth sights

At once remote and full of life, Perth is known for its bustling nightlife, amazing attractions and awe-inspiring natural wonders.

  1. See the spectacular views
  2. Visit St George’s Cathedral
  3. Discover the fascinating flora
  4. Head to the aquarium
  5. Explore the bustling marketplace
  6. Learn about the city’s terrifying prison
  7. Get gold fever
  8. Appreciate the country’s amazing Aboriginal art
  9. Relax on the beaches

With endless sunshine, abundant attractions and outstanding bars and restaurants, Perth is the perfect place to explore all year round. From the largest aquarium and largest collection of Aboriginal art in the country, to historic prison sites and bustling marketplaces, explore all this and more with these Perth holiday packages

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. See the spectacular views

This distinctive Swan Bell Tower on the waterfront houses the bells of London’s St-Martin-in-the-Fields Church, presented to WA on the 1988 bicentenary. The eighteenth-century bells are rung by a team of volunteers who practice their art here in the first designated “Ringing Centre” outside of the UK. There is also a display about the history of the bells and an open-air viewing platform on the sixth floor, from which you can take in spectacular city and river views.

Unmissable: The first settlers put their tents in the Stirling Gardens in 1829. A group of structures in the park date back to this.

2. Visit St George’s Cathedral

The redbrick, Gothic Revival St George's Cathedral is Western Australia’s main Anglican cathedral. It was consecrated in 1888. In addition, it is one of very few cathedrals worldwide to have been constructed of handmade bricks. It also features a jarrah roof, Fremantle limestone, Italian marble and a Caen stone pulpit.

Unmissable: Look out for some impressive stained-glass windows.

3. Discover the fascinating flora

The Botanic Garden opened in 1965 and is a showcase for Western Australia’s unique flora – the state has half of Australia’s 25,000 species, most of which aren’t found anywhere else on earth. The elevated Lotterywest Federation Walkway runs from the garden’s entrance for 620 metres, gradually rising in height until you are some sixteen metres up in the forest canopy looking down on marri, karri, tingle and jarrah trees.

Unmissable: The highlight is a spectacular glass-walled bridge with sweeping views of the park and the Swan River.

4. Head to the aquarium

This is the country’s largest aquarium and is well worth a visit to get an overview of WA’s fascinating marine life. The highlight is the walk-through aquarium representing the ‘Shipwreck Coast’, where sharks, loggerhead turtles and stingrays glide effortlessly over your head. There’s also a touch pool, saltwater crocodiles from the tropical north and a kaleidoscope of fish from Perth’s Coast.

Unmissable: If you’re feeling brave, you can also dive or snorkel with the sharks!

5. Explore the bustling marketplace

The cheery Fremantle Markets include a fruit and veg market, and a more tourist focused section crammed with stalls selling souvenirs, arts and crafts and New Age paraphernalia. The buskers who play here are said to be some of the city’s best.

Unmissable: If you’re looking for markets, check out the Town Square Markets in Margaret River, which sell art and crafts.

6. Learn about the city’s terrifying prison

Built by convicts and first housing prisoners in 1852, Fremantle’s hillside prison complex was only decommissioned in 1991. For most of its life the prison held the very highest security prisoners, in surroundings that were almost constantly criticized for their bleakness – it is said that after closing it took two and a half years to get rid of the smell. You’ll see cells from various periods in the prison’s history, including that of Aboriginal prisoner Peter Irwin Cameron, who dot-painted his entire cell.

Unmissable: The excellent ‘Doing Time’ tour, sometimes guided by ex-wardens, takes you around the main building.

7. Get gold fever

One of the city’s finest buildings is the splendid Perth Mint. Operating from its original 1899 base, Perth’s mint was responsible for producing and distributing gold sovereigns for Britain’s colonies. It still trades in precious metals in bar and coin form, as well as minting for international clients. Its fascinating exhibition includes the world’s largest gold bars and the most extensive collection of gold nuggets.

Unmissable: Don’t miss one of the fascinating demonstrations of gold pouring in the refurbished foundry

8. Appreciate the country’s amazing Aboriginal art

The Art Gallery of Western Australia houses one of the country’s most highly regarded collections of Aboriginal art, plus the official state art collection, which features an array of contemporary and classic works by Western Australian artists as well as some impressive modern British pieces. The collection is arranged chronologically in a series of interconnecting displays, starting with works from 1800 and finishing in the present day.

Unmissable: There are plenty of special exhibitions featuring historical and contemporary works, check the website to see what’s on.

9. Relax on the beaches

Perth’s closest beaches extend along the Sunset Coast, 30km of near-unbroken sand and coastal suburbs stretching north of the Swan River, bordered by the Indian Ocean and cooled by afternoon sea breezes. Two of the most popular are Cottesloe Beach and Scarborough.

Unmissable: Como, Canning Bridge and Applecross on the south shore of the Swan River make wonderful picnic spots.

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