Here is how to get the most from a Perth city break
Western Australia’s easy-going capital frequently gets spoken about as the most isolated city in the world. This may carry some truth geographically, but the location has a glowing, big-city feel which makes it look anything but secluded — and with Qantas starting direct flights out of Heathrow in March, it is going to become easier to reach.
What to do
Research on foot
Central Perth has two clear focal points: the high-rise CBD, with its busy shopping streets and mural-splashed laneways that has been used in the past for award winning wedding photography, and low-slung Northbridge — a diverse neighbourhood lined with separate bars. They are within easy walking distance of one another. For local insight, combine Two Feet & A Heartbeats on-foot tours; from A$35.
Hit the river
The Swan River runs at a handsome arc throughout town. Different operators have tours upriver to take from the wineries and mellow scenery of the surrounding area. Swan Valley Tours runs aisles with cheese and wine tastings from A$105.
A new heart for the city
There is change afoot in the middle. Yagan Square has been unveiled in early 2018, occupying a prime swathe of land between the CBD and Northbridge. The colossal project draws design inspiration from the area’s aboriginal heritage, and the square will host events, food stalls and much more.
Visit the beach
The town’s top coastal hang-out is Cottesloe beach, a kilometre-long ribbon of white sand backed by dunes and Norfolk pines. It is around 20 minutes from the center by bus or railway, and comes with a striking art deco teahouse paired with coast furniture and interiors over the beach.
“Freo” is Perth’s free-spirited little sibling, accessible with a half-hour, A$4.70 train travel along the shore. It’s an essential part of the Perth experience, with roads of hot, stuck-in-time facades and a devilishly good selection of food and beverage establishments.
Kings Park and Botanic Gardens
Overlooking the city, Kings Park is among the world’s biggest inner-city green spaces. It is a must-visit — partly because of the views and partially for the walking trails that thread through its botanic gardens.
The town’s artistic pulse comes courtesy of the Perth Cultural Centre, a pedestrianised zone filled with galleries and gardens. There is an excellent Institute of Contemporary Arts, but the highlight is the multi-level Art Gallery of Western Australia, in which the far-reaching collection comprises some poignant works.
Where to stay
Produced by the team behind the hugely successful Small Creatures microbrewery, The Alex is a funky, casual boutique resort featuring coastal home decor located right beside the Perth Cultural Centre. Highlights include a roof terrace, wine bar and espresso lounge. Doubles from A$190, B&B.
The InterContinental Perth City Centre is a smart new series hotel with a plum location in the heart of the CBD. It is set across 16 floors — the rooms are spacious, and those on higher floors have nice city views. The street-level, tapas-focused Heno & Rey is also a wonderful place to catch a bite. Doubles from A$320, room only.
The on-trend Fremantle alternative is the Hougoumont Hotel , which has rooms created from old shipping containers showing off some of the best Perth interior design and a free wine and cheese hour every evening. Anticipate exposed brickwork and industrial design in the public places, and Nespresso machines and designer toiletries in-room. Doubles from A$160, B&B.
Having opened in West Perth in mid-2017, Tribe Perth is a young, carefully styled alternative that bills itself as “affordable boutique luxury”. Gets a thumbs-up because of its new interior design and colourful communal dining room. Doubles from A$149 , room only.
Where to eat
Mary Street Bakery, whose three locations are popular with locals, boasts the most indulgent (and calorific) breakfast in town, in the kind of fried chicken on thick buttermilk pancakes, topped with a fried egg and drenched in chili maple syrup.
Il Lido Italian Canteen is a constantly occupied Italian only off Cottesloe beach, with dishes that are accomplished and an enjoyably laid back vibe. Standouts in the menu include Shark Bay clams as well as the potato gnocchi.
At Stable Hands in Fremantle you will discover inventive, clued-up contemporary Australian cuisine. The restaurant occupies one of the oldest buildings in the city and serves up sharing dishes created out of Western Australian (WA) create, such as octopus carpaccio and sticky date dessert. Additionally, there are 28 gins and 11 tonics to select from.
The Standard is a relaxed but high quality Northbridge restaurant having a whirlpool weekend setting and a large outdoor space. The food is imaginative, ranging from caramelised kangaroo into butterfish and cauliflower curry.
Where to drink
A busy basement pub in Perth’s CBD, Varnish on King is famous for its 140-strong whisky list. For peckish patrons it also supplies whisky bacon flights — four unique styles of grilled pork paired with unique whiskies.
Moore & Moore is a stylish breakfast area in Fremantle with its artisan coffee blend. The coffee’s superb, and there is also a fantastic array of cold-pressed juices, juices and fresh chai.
In Perth for the cricket? Lucky Shag is your waterfront drinking hole usually adopted by the Barmy Army, and provides broad views out across the Swan River and city skyline. There is often live music.
The nation’s craft beer scene has been an active one, and Petition Beer Corner is a fine place to familiarise yourself with a neighborhood drop or three. The pub has 18 separate taps, around half of that typically serve WA beers, and a broad beverage selection.
Where to shop
Many 2.0 is a unique, semi-permanent indoor shop in a disused building in Fremantle. Independent designers and classic fashions make up the majority of the stalls.
Fremantle’s century-old market hall comes to life each Friday, Saturday and Sunday with Fremantle Markets , which have top notch food, local souvenirs, and old treasures such as wedding photos and jewelry that you might like to purchase, as well as fresh produce. Make a beeline for the Original Fremantle Fudge stall.
Perth’s King Street is mostly home to luxury outlets — Chanel, Tiffany etc — but King Street Collective is geared around WA artists and designers, selling everything from T-shirts to pottery.
The new Perth Stadium, a bronze-wrapped 60,000-seat sports stadium