A bridge reflected in the water
Matagarup Bridge on the Swan River

How to See the Best of Perth in 3 Days

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Updated March 2020

Perth to some travelers may feel like the “final frontier.”

A large city, sitting all by itself in the far west corner of Australia was named after Perth in Scotland.

Sir George Murray in 1829 was the British Secretary of State for the Colonies when Perth was established. His birthplace of Perth, Scotland, was chosen for the new colony.

But Perth, the capital city of Western Australia offers a relaxed place to stopover on your way to Asia. You can explore its aboriginal history, relax on white sandy beaches, and cruise the Swan River.

Perth is an easy city to navigate on foot or with free public transport. Or take a Captain Cook cruise to sample the wineries of the Margaret River or colonial history at the Fremantle Port.

Two Options to See the Best of Perth

We are adventurous by nature and were tempted to drive the Nullarbor 2,700km from Adelaide to Perth. But after reading reviews of the 4-5 day journey with three days of the same scenery, we took the easy option.

A flight between Adelaide and Perth is about 3.5 hours. Uneventful but quick.

This way we got to explore more of Perth, its beaches and nearby Freemantle.


Perth Airport to the City Center

View of a coastline from a plabe
Leaving Adelaide for Perth

Perth Airport has four terminals grouped in two separate areas known as precincts:

  • Terminal One (T1) and Terminal Two (T2) is one precinct
  • Terminal Three (T3) and Terminal Four (T4) is one precinct.

The drive between the two precincts is 15 minutes.

Taxis are available at each terminal but for the less expensive option take a bus to Elizabeth Quay Bus Station:

  • Bus Route 380 from either T1 or T2
  • Bus Route 40 from either T3 or T4

Tickets can be bought from the bus driver.

If you are staying a few days in Perth, and wanting to explore the nearby beaches or Freemantle, buy a Transperth SmartRider card. 

The card has to be loaded with a minimum of AUD10.00 to get the discounted fares. You can find the Smarte Carte kiosk at Terminal 1.


Getting Around Perth is Free

You have to love Perth for this. But trying to figure it out, needs some pre-planning at Transperth Free Transit Zone.

Basically, you have to stay within the free transit zones to ride for free. Red, Blue, Yellow or Black CAT buses are free and each has its own circuit. There are stops along each route where you can change to another CAT bus to continue your journey.

Look for the bus stops showing the Free Transit Zone logo for the inclusive free travel zones. Otherwise, you must buy a ticket.

If you bought the Smartrider Card, you need to tag on and off with your card each time you use the buses or trains.


Where to Stay in Perth

Mantra on Murray on Murray St is ideal for seeing the city center of Perth.

This hotel is within easy walking distance to restaurants, cafes, and shops. You have the Western Australia Visitor Center nearby, and its a 10-minute walk to Elizabeth Quay.

Drinks on ice at the Mantra Perth from Maura’s good friend Lulu

And if you want to load up on snacks, supermarket Coles and Woolworths are also nearby.

Where to Go for Breakfast

Try Miss Maud Swedish Pastry House for a Swedish pastry or a tasty bacon and egg toasted sandwich to get your day started.

Location: 97 Murray St, Perth

Start here for What to do in Perth

Perth is flat, the streets are in a grid pattern so walking is a breeze and you can’t get lost.

And when your legs get tired, there’s always the Free Transit Zone to hop on a bus to see more.

Perth is a relaxed city where you can enjoy pedestrian-friendly shopping, museums, and the fabulous Elizabeth Quay.

1. Shopping at London Court

Entryway with clock
London Court shopping

Walking through the archway into London Court is a unique experience.

You are transported back to Tudor England with a cobbled walkway, ornate facades and gargoyles peering down on you.

Known as a shopping arcade, it was built in 1937 by a gold entrepreneur, Claude de Bernales. In 1996 it was included in the Heritage Register of Western Australia.

You can browse at a number of boutique shops, or dine in the small restaurants and cafes.

Location: Between Hay Street Mall and St Georges Terrace.

2. Learn more at the Museum of Perth

Always a good place to start is to learn more about the city or area you are visiting.

The Museum of Perth is a little unique as it is a not-for-profit organization of the Perth History Association Inc. Their exhibitions guide you through the “social, cultural, political and architectural history of Perth.”

Location: Atlas Building, 8-10 The Esplanade, Perth

Hours: Monday to Friday (plus first Saturday of the month) 10:00 – 16:00

3. Check out The Perth Mint

One of the best things to do in Australia is to visit The Perth Mint, more for the gold than the coins.

In 1899 when gold was discovered in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, about 600km from Perth, The Perth Mint was established.

If you take one of their tours you actually get to see gold been poured. And if you want to do some shopping, the selection of items is exquisite.

Location: 310 Hay Street, Perth

Hours: Monday to Sunday 9:00 – 17:00


4. Don’t Miss Elizabeth Quay

City lights at night

One of the best things to do in Perth is to explore Elizabeth Quay.

This area has been transformed into a pedestrian-friendly place for everyone to enjoy down at the Swan River.

You can:

  • Admire the 470sqm interactive water feature at the BHP Water Park
  • Take a river cruise from Barrack Street Jetty
  • See inside the iconic Bell Tower for St Martin’s Bell
  • Cross to the Island over the 20-meter high suspension bridge
  • Marvel at the Spanda on The Landing
  • Take in the views of Perth
  • Enjoy the evening lights of the 1km Esplanade
Tall modern tower building
Bell Tower, Elizabeth Quay, Perth

5. Admire the Views at Kings Park

Kings Park and Botanica Gardens on Mount Eliza has some of the best views of Perth and the Swan River.

View of a city by a bay
View of Perth city from Kings Park

You can reach the park from Elizabeth Quay, about a 2km walk. or if the weather is hot, public transport is the better option.

It is a great place to take a picnic and a book, relaxing under the shade of the trees.

A new feature of the park is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk and the Giant Boab tree.

Location: Fraser Ave, Perth

6. Why You’ll Love the Optus Stadium

A sports stadium
Perth Optus Stadium

The new “state of the art” Optus Stadium, has a great mixture of events.

If you love the sports of Australia: cricket, rugby, rugby league or soccer, Optus Stadium has bought these events to this stunning new stadium.

But it’s Australian rules football that features most at the stadium.

For those not keen on sport, Optus Stadium also holds concerts like:

  • U2, P!nk, Ed Sheeran, Metallica, Adele amongst others.

7. Experience the Fringe Festival in Perth

Lovers of comedy, music or musicals, you’ll want to be in Perth for their annual Fringe Festival, the third-largest in the world.

Street performers entertain live on the street as people stop to enjoy the performance. Around Elizabeth Quay, you’ll find plenty of food stalls to keep you in the midst of the festival energy.

Perth Fringe Festival Dates:

  • 15th January to 14th February 2021



8. Spend a Day at Fremantle

Fremantle Port is 23 km from Perth city center and was once a British penal colony.

It is easy to explore on foot and makes a great day trip from Perth city. You have beaches, lighthouses, 19th-century Victorian buildings, and a fabulous weekend market.

How to Get from Perth to Fremantle

Take the train from Perth City Center and buy an all-day pass for AUD 9.00 which includes buses. And if you are traveling on a Sunday, an all-day pass may be cheaper.

Not only can you explore Fremantle, but also the beaches along the route.

Save up to Enter Fremantle Prison

View of a prison through a gate
Fremantle Prison, Perth

Fremantle Prison is an impressive building for convicts and prisoners from the 1850s to 1991.

You can book a paid tour for about AUD60 or have a look around the courtyards and perimeter buildings for Free. The history of the prison details the prisoners didn’t have a pleasant time, which is the point.

Location: 1 The Terrace, Fremantle

Check out Fremantle Market

An old brick building
Fremantle Market

Fremantle Market opened in 1897 in a beautiful corner Victorian building.

Inside the variety of stalls for food, crafts, gifts, and jewelry will have your attention, as well as the coffee and places to eat.

We loved the organic range of fruit, vegetables and healthy foods on display. Enjoying a cold tea made from lemon wattle and ginger, dressed with fruit and was delicious.

A red fruit drink
Lemon wattle and ginger drink

Opening Hours: Friday to Sunday, 9:00 0 18:00 (20:00 on Friday only)

Location: South Terrace &, Henderson St, Fremantle

Enjoy a Beer at Little Creatures Brewery

A unique place to have a beer in Fremantle is at Little Creatures Brewery and Bar.

At the water’s edge, you can cool off with a great tasting beer, brewed in a massive shed that used to be a crocodile farm.

Couple toasting with two beers
Enjoying a beer at Little Creatures

They call this massive shed the “Great Hall” because you are surrounded by the brewing process of tanks and aromas.

Location: 40 Mews Rd, Fremantle

Cannon Fire at Old Round House

An old canon pointing out to sea
Canon at Old Round House, Fremantle

If you walk along the Fremantle foreshore, passed Bather Beach, the breakwater is the Green Lighthouse.

At 1 pm there is a  blast the canon from in front of the Old Round House. The canon was used to provide a time check back in the old days for mariners.

Location: 15 Captains Lane, Fremantle

Enjoy Beach Time: Are there Sharks?

When it’s hot in Western Australia, the beaches are popular.

On our way back to Perth city, we stopped at Cottesloe Beach between Fremantle and Perth.

A beach with white sand and blue water
Cottesloe Beach

The water at Cottesloe gets deep quite quickly so you don’t need to be too far from shore. (And as we always have sharks on our mind in Aussie water, as long as someone is further out than us, we should be ok!)

After a great day in Fremantle, it was time to check out places to eat in Northbridge.

9. Find out why Northbridge is Popular

Near the train station, a popular place to eat is William Street, Northbridge. Here you can find Asian cuisine at reasonable prices.

An alternative is the Aviary Rooftop Bar and Restaurant for delicious soft shell crab sliders, fries, and beer. The bar is very cool with an open area with large shade sails and umbrellas.

Location: 140 William St, Perth

Summer Night Rooftop Movies

If you are in Perth city during the summer months, ask at the local tourist office for the schedule of Rooftop Movies. It is an open air space on top of a car park building.

The movie schedule runs from November to March.

Or maybe see Perth at night from Elizabeth Quay or book a river cruise.


10. Cruise the Swan and Margaret Rivers

Seeing a city from the water always has a different perspective.

A cruise is one of the best ways to take in the wonderful sights of Perth. You can choose from a:

  • Twilight cruise
  • Cruise to Fremantle
  • Swan Valley winery cruise

Captain Cook Cruises can take you along the Margaret River to local Perth wineries like Sandalford and Mandoon Estate for wine tasting or lunch.

Bridge on a river
Cruise the rivers of Perth

Rottnest Island Day Trip from Perth

One of the must-see things to do in Perth is a visit to Rottnest Island, a nature reserve of 19km2. What makes it popular is the white sandy beaches for swimming, snorkeling, and the very friendly wallaby marsupials, the Quokka.

Woman with a small furry animal
Maura with one of the cute Quokka

It’s a 1.45-hour journey from Perth city to the island. We travelled with Captain Cook Cruises from Elizabeth Quay.

The team on board were great, very enthusiastic and helpful. There is an on-board commentary as you cruise the Swan River giving information of places of interest along the shoreline.

And when you get to the island, Pedal and Flipper Hire have bikes for hire at AUD30.00 per adult for the day, including helmet and a bike lock.

The terrain of the island isn’t too hilly so biking is a lot of fun. Bike stands are available.

A tall white lighthouse
The lighthouse in the middle of Rottnest Island

The alternative is the Hop on Hop Off bus at AUD20.00 per person. The loop travels in one direction to all the popular places of the island.

Some of the highlights of the island are:

  • Snorkel at Salmon Bay
  • See the Pink Lake
  • Swim at The Basin
  • Find WWII gun emplacements
  • See the views from one of the many lighthouses
  • Get a selfie with a Quokka, small wallaby marsupial
The beaches on Rottnest have white sand and clear blue water

Seeing Perth Your Way

A city lit at night is always memorable and Elizabeth Quay does it well during the day or evening.

Making a stop at Perth on your way to Singapore, Bali or New Zealand gives you another perspective of Australia.

Perth airport is expansive with its four terminals with low budget airlines or the national airline Qantas. Otherwise its a four-wheel-drive across the Nullarbor.

When you arrive in Perth, take your time.

Book a stay at the Mantra on Murray so you are at the heart of the city.

Then you can spend your time to find these 10 what to see places in Perth for the best experience.