Our hometown of Perth is a small city in the Australian state of Western Australia. Some of the best things to do in Perth city include exploring the city’s culture and history, dining out, walking through one of the many parks, and seeing local wildlife.
The City of Perth is popular with tourists who visit for its picturesque scenery, world-class restaurants, and sunny weather.
This article lists all the incredible things to do in the centre of Perth from locals, one of which was born and lived in Perth for over 50 years!
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Free or Cheap Things to do in Perth City
Perth has many natural attractions, cultures, and buildings to explore that are entirely free.
Swan River (Derbarl Yerrigan)
In Dreamtime, the Darling Scarp represents the body of the Wagyl (rainbow serpent/snake), who created rivers, waterways, and lakes – including the Swan River.
Situated on the edge of Perth’s CBD, the riverside has dual-use paths where you can walk, ride, or skate. The 10 km ‘bridges’ walk around the river (crossing at the Narrows Bridge and the Causeway Bridge) will take about two and a half hours. Allow time to stop for photos, a coffee in South Perth, a detour to Heirisson Island, a drink at The Point, or a gelato at Elizabeth Quay.
If that sounds too much, hop on the ferry from Elizabeth Quay to South Perth and walk from there.
Alternatively, hire a bike from About Bike Hire and ride around the river. It’s an easy flat ride, suitable for children.
If you’re a water sports enthusiast, you can sail, windsurf and kayak along the river. There are a couple of places on the Swan River that hire out kayaks and Stand Up Paddleboards – Funcats Watersports in South Perth and About Bike Hire near The Point, in the Point Fraser Causeway car park.
The Swan River is a great place to see the sunset in the city and beautiful at night when lights reflect on the river in South Perth.
Elder Street & Malcolm St
Walk to the top of St George’s Terrace to view this iconic historic building, once part of a large military barracks designed by Richard Jewell. It was built by convict labour in 1866 to accommodate the Enrolled Pensioner Force (also known as ‘Pensioner Guards’), who guarded the convicts on the prisoner ships to Western Australia. These British soldiers had an option to continue as convict guards or remain as settlers with a 10-acre plot of land.
Most of the convict work moved from Fremantle to Perth around 1860, so accommodation was required for the Enrolled Pensioners and their families. The Pensioners’ Barracks, built in a Tudor gothic castle style, had two wings and 120 rooms.
Between 1900 and 1904, the Barracks were converted to offices for The Public Works Department, which remained there until 1966.
Unbelievably most of this beautiful building was demolished in 1966 to make way for the Mitchell Freeway, leaving just the entrance. Unfortunately, the Brand government wanted to remove the arch, as the entrance is known, so Parliament House had a clear view down St. George’s Terrace. Thankfully, the public won, and the arch remained.
Other buildings designed by Richard Roach Jewell are boys’ schools in Perth and Fremantle, Wesley Church, the oldest section of the Treasury Buildings, Perth Town Hall, Perth Goal, and Government House.
13 St Georges Terrace
Perth’s Government House is a heritage-listed home of the Governor of Western Australia and a place for visiting dignitaries to stay. It is the second permanent Government House – the first built in 1837 was deemed inadequate by the fifth Governor of Western Australia, Governor Arthur Edward Kennedy (1855-1862), due to leaking roofs, termites, and porous walls.
The Foundation stone of the second building was laid on 17th March 1859, but was not completed until 1864. Designed by Lieutenant Colonel E.Y.W. Henderson in a Jacobean style, Government House has a Gothic feel and is one of the finest heritage buildings in Perth.
The beautiful 3.2 hectare garden is open to the public every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 12 pm and 2 pm (except for Public Holidays or otherwise advised).
St. Mary’s Cathedral – Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Bishop of Perth Rosendo Salvado laid the foundation stone of St Mary’s Cathedral in 1863, which was blessed and opened in 1865. The architect and master mason, Joseph Ascione, designed the cathedral in the Norman Gothic style.
In 1924, Bishop Patrick Clune CSsR, the first Archbishop of Perth, started to raise funds for a new Cathedral. The foundation stone was laid in April 1926 and opened (despite being incomplete) four years later. Architect Mr. MF Cavanagh designed it in the English Perpendicular Gothic style with large stained glass windows.
It wasn’t until 2006 that the Cathedral was closed to complete the construction and reopened in December 2009.
St. George’s Cathedral
38 St Georges Terrace
St George’s Cathedral is the principal cathedral of the Anglican Province of WA and the metropolitical Diocese of Perth. It was designed by Sydney architect Edmund Blacket and is a great example of Victorian Academic Gothic architecture, one of only a few cathedrals constructed of handmade bricks.
The foundation stone was laid on 2nd November 1880, but the first service wasn’t until August 1888.
In June 2001, the cathedral was listed on the Western Australia Heritage Register.
If you’re looking for some amazing Perth Street Art, take a walk around the city. There’s art everywhere – it’s easy to find in the lanes and streets. There are not only works of art by Australian artists but many international ones.
A great tour is this Perth Street Art Tour by Oh Hey WA. Over the two hours, your guide will take you around Perth’s streets and laneways showing you murals and sculptures from Indigenous, local, and international artists.
Art Collective WA
This not-for-profit organisation is run by leading Western Australian contemporary artists. You can visit the gallery to view their artwork and buy any that catch your eye.
Open Wednesday to Friday 11 am – 4 pm and Saturday 12 pm – 4 pm or by appointment.
City of Perth Library
573 Hay Street/ Cathedral Square
Pop into Perth’s city library to relax, read the paper or a magazine, or have a coffee in the café. Visitors can explore the ceiling artwork, outdoor terrace, and floors for young adults and children.
Kings Park is a picturesque, inner city park offering panoramic views of the Swan River, city, and Darling Range. The flower and plant displays in the botanical gardens are stunning, and the picnic areas on the landscaped lawns are beautiful. There are also extensive playgrounds for children to enjoy themselves, and it’s all free!
Kings Park is one of Perth’s most popular tourist attractions, with six million visitors annually from around Australia and overseas.
1 Cliff Street, West Perth
Jacobs Ladder, just outside Kings Park, is a popular place for a workout in Perth. At most times of the day, you’ll see people running up and down the 242 stairs. It’s one of the ways to access Kings Park from the city on foot.
Corner of St George’s Terrace and Barrack Street
This small historical park, next to Government House, is the oldest garden in the City of Perth. Colonial botanist James Drummond first used the area as an acclimatisation garden in the 1830s, and in 1845 it became Perth’s first botanical garden. The gardens are named after Governor James Stirling, the first Governor of Western Australia.
You will find kangaroo sculptures, a huge Moreton Bay Fig tree, and a water feature in Stirling Gardens. It’s a quiet escape from the city – I used to enjoy having lunch under the shade of the trees when I worked in Perth.
Supreme Court Gardens
2 Barrack Street
Supreme Court Gardens, close to the Swan River and Elizabeth Quay, are over 100 years old and feature mature trees and garden beds. The area was planted in 1920 following the reclamation of the Swan River in 1903.
This park has public toilets and plenty of benches to rest while enjoying the flora.
The Supreme Court and the old Court House, the oldest building in the city, are in the gardens, which connect to Stirling Gardens.
John Oldham Park & David Carr Memorial Park (Narrows Interchange Park)
Mounts Bay Road
These pretty parks are linked by a passage under the Narrows Bridge, close to the city. Hidden away here, you will find beautiful waterfalls, water features, a playground, walking and cycling paths, barbecues, toilets, and exercise equipment.
Head to Elizabeth Quay for a nice walk around the inlet with restaurants and cafes, bars, playgrounds, luxury hotels, and boat tours.
647 Hay Street
This open-air shopping arcade sometimes has art installations and fake snow at Christmas (summertime for us!). Built by wealthy gold businessman Claude de Bernales in 1937, the Elizabethan-inspired arcade is a contrast to the modern Hay Street Mall.
Family Things to do in Perth City
20 Labouchere Road, South Perth
Not technically in the City of Perth, but only a short ten-minute ferry ride from Elizabeth Quay to South Perth. Home to more than 1200 native and exotic animals, including some of Australia’s most endangered species, Perth Zoo is one of the most popular Perth attractions.
310 Hay Street
The Perth Mint is Australia’s official bullion mint, built in the 19th century to refine gold from the Gold Rush. It’s a popular tourist attraction where you can take a tour and buy souvenirs, including Australian coins, gold, silver, and platinum. The mint is housed in a grand heritage building, one of Western Australia’s oldest heritage sites.
WA Museum Boola Bardip
Perth Cultural Centre
The WA Museum closed in 2016 and re-opened in November 2020 under the new and improved name Boola Bardip, meaning “many stories” in Whadjuk Nyoongar. It is free to enter until 10th October 2022.
Our favourite exhibition is Ngalang Koort Boodja Wirn, where you learn about Aboriginal culture, ancestral connections, law and lore, and their experiences. Don’t miss the huge blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling in the heritage-listed Hackett Hall.
Forrest Place, Murray Street Mall
Children will love running through this interactive water sculpture by Danish artist Jeppe Hein. Jets spray water into the air, creating nine “rooms” that allow you to stay dry until the water stops. You can watch from one of the cafes overlooking the Water Labyrinth while your kids cool down on a warm day.
It runs daily from 10 am to 6 pm unless there’s an event in Forrest Place.
Remember to bring dry clothes for the kids!
This Elizabeth Quay water playground is an excellent space for families to enjoy an interactive water feature that uses jets and lighting. Parents and carers can relax on one of the benches or the decking.
You can visit Heirisson Island as part of the 10 km Bridges walk or from Riverside Drive (access is via The Causeway Bridge). The island is an important part of Nyoongar heritage, and you’ll see a statue of Whadjuk Nyoongar warrior Yagan which represents his strong leadership and resistance fighting during the early settlement of the Swan River Colony.
You may see some Western Grey Kangaroos on the island, which were brought onto the island in 1998.
Kings Park’s Playgrounds
Head up to Kings Park for a choice of playgrounds – Rio Tinto Nature Playground, May Drive Parkland, Poolgarla Family Area, and Saw Avenue Picnic Area. Our girls loved the nature playground and the “dinosaur” playground (aka May Drive Playground) the best when they were younger, and we spent hours there.
DFES Education & Heritage Centre
25 Murray Street
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Education and Heritage Centre is housed in Perth’s first purpose-built fire station, which operated from 1901 to 1979. This museum has interactive displays, historical documents, and a fire engine to explore.
DFES’s Education and Heritage Centre is open from 10 am to 3:00 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and is free to enter.
Fun Things to do in Perth City
Funcats Watersports hire catamarans that you can sail around the Swan River in. Our family enjoys this activity, and they’re easy to use as long as you listen to the instructions and pay attention to the wind direction.
Wander the Laneways
Spend a fun morning wandering around the laneways in Perth.
Wolf Lane is one of the coolest, with street art, restaurants, bars, and coffee.
Howard Lane is another trendy lane with bars and street art.
For boutiques, Shafto Lane has you covered, and you can stop for some lunch and a drink at one of the eateries along the way.
McLean Lane, behind the Pier Street Car Park, features artworks, original cobblestones, stunning feature lighting, and Hifumiya, Perth’s first Japanese udon noodle house.
The 370m suspension pedestrian Matagarup Bridge provides access between East Perth and Burswood. The bridge quickly became a Perth icon and lights up in different colours to support major local, state, and international events.
Matagarup, meaning a place where the river is only leg deep, allowing it to be crossed, is the name given by traditional land owners to the area around Heirisson Island. The flowing arches represent the Wagyl, a water-serpent of great importance to local Noongar culture, and a pair of swans.
You are now able to climb & zip line from Matagarup Bridge.
Tick sky diving off your bucket list with this 14,000 ft Perth city sky dive where you’ll experience 60 seconds of freefall. Float over the coast and see stunning aerial views of the Swan Valley and Perth.
The Bottomless Brunch has been a favourite fun thing to do lately. There are many places where you can enjoy a boozy brunch in Perth. Some of the most popular are:
Strike Bowling & Escape Room
Strike Forrest Chase offers ten bowling lanes, two karaoke rooms, and two escape rooms.
413 Murray Street
Visit Perth’s live comedy club for laughs from some of the funniest stand-ups from Australia and around the world.
Romantic Things to do in Perth City
Departs Crown Towers
Enjoy a six-minute scenic helicopter ride over Perth with your loved one. This scenic flight takes you over Perth’s iconic sites, including Kings Park, Optus Stadium, Elizabeth Quay, and the Swan River, perfect for celebrating any occasion.
Romantic Gondola rides are not just for Venice. Perth has its very own Gondola tour, which departs from Elizabeth Quay.
Despite being modelled on the traditional Venice gondolas, this one is very much Western Australian. The hand-crafted vessel was designed and made in Perth from solid Western Red Cedar.
You can choose a 15-minute, 30-minute, or an exclusive one-hour sunset tour.
I love rooftop bars and always hunt them out on our trips. Perth has some cool ones of their own, some with scenic views of the city and Swan River, making a romantic afternoon or evening.
Some of my favourite rooftop bars in Perth are:
- 18 Knots Rooftop Bar @ DoubleTree by Hilton Waterfront
- The Aviary
- Rooftop at QT
- Songbird Bar @ The Ritz
- Aurora Rooftop Bar @ The Melbourne
- Henry’s Rooftop @ The Reveley
- AGWA Rooftop Bar
Watch the Sunset
Pack a picnic and head up to Kings Park to watch the sunset over the city. It’s one of the most romantic spots in Perth and the location for many weddings, including ours.
Moonlit Outdoor Cinema
Kings Park is also the location of Moonlit Cinema, held during summer at May Drive Parkland, showing the latest releases, contemporary and classic movies.
Private Water Bike Tour & Picnic
This water bike tour is perfect for a special celebration or romantic date – glide along the river and see the spectacular views of Perth’s city skyline. After, relax with a beautifully styled, fully catered picnic on the banks of the Swan River overlooking the city.
These water bikes are safe, stable, easy to use, and suitable for most ages and abilities.
If you don’t want a picnic, there’s also a Sunset, Bubbles, and Brews Water Bike Tour.
Harvest Your Own Pearl Experience
Barrack Square, Elizabeth Quay
This unique experience allows you to harvest your own pearl straight from the oyster. Your guide will reveal fascinating information about pearl harvesting and techniques while you sip on sparkling wine and enjoy canapés.
You will then harvest your own pearl, valued between A$500 and A$5,000, which you get to keep.
The private hour tour ensures a romantic and personalized experience ideal for a couple.
Quirky Things to do in Perth City
Locate a Secret Bar
Add some fun to your drinking destinations with these secret hidden bars:
ANZAC Bell Tour
Ring the historic bells during an interactive chiming demonstration and learn about the meaning behind the ANZAC Bell. This tour includes seeing the 6,500 kg ANZAC Bell ring at midday, and you’ll receive an ANZAC Bell medallion, which you can take to the Perth Mint for free engraving.
The Observation deck is a lovely place to see stunning views of the Swan River and Perth City.
Things to do in Perth City at Night
Twilight Hawker Markets
Take a trip around the world as you enjoy authentic flavours from across the globe. Experience Perth’s best International Street Food Market every Friday from 14th October 2022 to 24th March 2023.
Barrack Street Jetty
Admire the city’s twinkling lights as you cruise along the Swan River while enjoying dinner and listening to live music. Australian wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee and tea are included in this dinner cruise, and you can buy spirits from the bar.
His Majesty’s Theatre
825 Hay Street
For those looking for a bit of culture, book tickets for a show at Perth’s His Majesty’s Theatre. The Edwardian Baroque’ building was constructed in the early 1900s and is now home to the Western Australian Ballet and Opera.
Flight Club Darts
383 Murray Street
UK dart experience Flight Club allows you to play with friends in a semi-private playing area, which holds up to twelve guests. Social Darts is A$18 per person.
The bar has a nostalgic fairground vibe and serves classic cocktails, including sharing trophy cup cocktails for two. Food is mainly sharing plates, although there are a few individual options.
Perth Small Bar & Street Art Tour
This popular small bar and street art tour by Oh Hey WA allows you to discover the city’s street art scene and trendy small bars in small groups of less than ten. Your guide will take you to Perth’s newest and coolest independent venues, where you’ll enjoy discounted drinks.
Tours of Perth City
Perth Hop On Hop Off Bus
You can get around the city for free on the CAT buses. However, if you are short on time, the Hop On Hop Off Bus takes you to the major attractions and includes a commentary. Read the full Hop On Hop Off Perth Bus review here or book tickets here.
Swan River Cruise
Barrack Street Jetty
To see the city from a different perspective, book a Swan River Cruise departing from Barrack Street Jetty. You’ll see riverfront attractions like the Bell Tower and Kings Park and glide past affluent riverside suburbs to reach Fremantle, where the river meets the Ocean.
Perth City Riverside Segway Tour
Barrack Street Jetty
A different way to see the city is on a segway tour. This one-hour tour takes you past the Bell Tower, through Elizabeth Quay to the base of Kings Park to explore John Oldham Park, where you’ll see hidden areas of parkland, beautiful fountains, and waterfalls.
Walking Tour by Oh Hey WA
This 4 km walking tour by Oh Hey WA explores the streets and laneways of Perth to discover food, art, and architecture. Your guide will tell you stories of Perth, learning about the history and culture on this two and a half hour tour.
Two Feet & a Heartbeat Walking Tour
This two-hour walking tour takes you to one of Perth’s most beautiful buildings, the historic State Buildings, the heritage precinct, the old theatre district, and former educational sites.
Coffee or tea at a local café is included in the price.
Perth City Scenic Seaplane Flight
Take off and land in the Swan River on this 20-30 minute scenic seaplane flight. See a birds eye view of Perth from the Cessna 208 Amphibian.
Save money planning your holiday
Flights: We use different sites to get the best possible price for flights. Check matrix.itasoftware.com to get an idea of the cheapest dates, but you can’t book through this site. Compare the cost of flights with Kiwi.com and try different routes.
Accommodation: We mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties. We also book through Stayz for private accommodation as they are usually cheaper than Airbnb.
Car Rental: To compare rental car company prices, we use Discover Cars, an award winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are highly-rated.
Tours: We use third-party sites Viator, Get Your Guide & Klook due to their free cancellation policies, instant confirmation, price guarantees, and mobile ticketing. We occasionally book through Red Balloon too.
Mobile: Telstra has the best coverage in Western Australia. We buy our sims through Boost who provide 4G/4GX coverage on full Telstra 4G Mobile Network. With up to 82GB for 28 days or 240GB for 12 months, unlimited national calls & text, and international inclusions on selected plans, you’re sure to find the right prepaid SIM for you. See plans here.
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