I’ve been asked a lot recently about what I’d do with three days in Perth. Since I’ve visited now a few times, and last time for three days, I decided to write a post with some tips.
If you want to stay in the city the two hotels I’d suggest are Como The Treasury and The Hyatt Regency. I haven’t stayed at either but friends have and recommend both for different reasons. Como is gorgeous, it’s centrally located and is renowned for good eating and drinking options. The Hyatt Regency is a big brand hotel that has everything you’ll need and is generally very reasonably priced. Use booking.com to book both of these.
The alternative is to stay by the beach (I’m sure there are other alternatives but they’re the two I’d choose from). Perth’s coastline is nothing short of stunning. The white sand, relatively deserted beaches and cute little towns are a holiday in themselves. Airbnb offer a good range of options. My favourite areas were Scarborough, Cottesloe and Fremantle.
It’s Australia and it’s big so I highly recommend hiring a car. I hired through Avis and the rental was only around $50 per day (with an excess of around $3,000 if there was an accident, my travel insurance policy takes care of this so I don’t pay extra to insure through the car rental company).
By far and away my favourite day trip was to Rottnest Island. I’d never visited this dinky little island before. It’s only 35km from Perth and I kind of thought it would be a bit naff. Which it is in some ways. But it’s naff with QUOKKAS. If you haven’t heard of quokkas then google them. The only place in the entire WORLD these gorgeous little marsupials are found is Rottnest Island. Isn’t that amazing? Quokkas are like an especially furry miniature kangaroo. They stand about 50cm high and they’re particularly special because they’re so friendly. Whilst no doubt they’ve been fed in the past, you’re no longer supposed to feed them. But they’ll still mosey on up to you and check you out. They are simply adorable.
My big tip about Rottnest is to book the ferry. You can leave from several points, Perth city, Hillary’s Pier or Fremantle. Different ferry companies operate from different locations. Travel times will vary depending where you choose to depart from so check before you go. The departure from Perth travels all the way up the river and takes an especially long time.
Once you arrive at Rottnest you have a few options. Among other things there’s a golf course, there are beaches and there are nature tours. We decided to hire bikes and explore for ourselves, which I’d definitely do again. If you book the ferry in advance you can also elect to hire bikes directly through the ferry company. This is handy as you’ll have your bike from the moment of disembarkation until you re-board, with no need to arrive back in time to have your bike returned (latest, 3.30pm). To circumnavigate the entire island it’s about 25km to 30km, or you can do shorter loops depending on time. The main aim is to get to one of the spectacular beaches.
With no word of a lie, I’d compare the beaches on Rottnest to some I’ve seen in the Maldives. With crystal clear water and fine, shiny white sand the visibility is excellent. We didn’t snorkel but plenty of people did. The only downside for me is that I hate the cold water and the temperature was probably about 22 degrees C so only just ok for me to swim in (yes I know I’m a wuss!).
There are places to eat at Rottnest but the advice given to me, that we followed, was to buy some picnic food at the supermarket and eat it along our way. The supermarket has an excellent range of fine foods, fruit, veg, dips, crackers, cold meats and more. They even provide free plastic cutlery for you to take away.
Once you have your bike and your food, cycle to a beach and sit and enjoy the absolute serenity.
The Swan Valley
Many people have been to WA and made the trip down to Margaret River and been wowed by the scenery, the wines, the food and the general good time. You don’t hear people talk like that about Swan Valley. There’s a reason for that. It’s a bit shit. Ok, so that might be harsh, but as far as winery regions in Australia go, it’s way, way down the list.
I guess I’d just imagined that it would be pretty like the Barossa or even rustic like the Hunter Valley. It’s not though. We had a car so we toured the area over a half day. To be fair, it was a 40 degree C day so every time we got out of the car we were sweltering. I was driving so I couldn’t do much tasting and my cohorts were not really keen on wine tasting either. All in all probably a bad combination if we were to get the most out of the day.
My tip then is that if you are going, then read this article by my friend Lara. She suggests a wine cruise from Perth, which is basically a tour of sorts. This means a) no one has to drive and, b) no one has to make any decisions. We didn’t do the cruise because it was our last day and we needed to be at the airport before the cruise would have finished 🙁
The one winery I would recommend was Olive Farm Wines. The staff were super knowledgable and their wines lovely. There’s also the Cheese Barrel located next door, they do lovely cheese platters for eating in or taking away. And you could also stop by one of the chocolate shops, there’s two and both are good.
There’s no doubt the beaches on Rottnest blew everything else near Perth out of the water. Still, Perth’s beaches are nothing to sneeze at. Located so close to the city the beach suburbs boast a pretty idyllic lifestyle. The coast stretches, unadulterated, for hundreds and hundreds of kilometres (I believe). We saw about 50 of those kilometres and I can vouch for lovely white sand, a mix of gentle bay waves and more serious surf breaks. We did a little beach crawl taking in Cottesloe, City Beach and Scarborough (well, at a different time). City Beach was my favourite and Cottesloe didn’t quite live up to its reputation in my eyes (could have been something to do with the bulldozers setting up an art exhibit!). The beach from Scarborough up to Trigg and beyond has a brilliant running track for those who are keen.
Aka Fremantle, about a 30 minute drive south of Perth, is definitely worth a stop off. The colonial architecture is absolutely stunning and there’s an abundance of great food and drink. We didn’t make it to the beach but I hear that’s quite good too.
See a Sunset!
There’s really nothing like a western sunset. Watching the sun slide down over the water is even better. Not that I’d know because we managed to miss all three sunsets when we visited! One reason was legit – we were off to see Adele 🙂
We didn’t have too many opportunities to eat out but here’s a mix of the ones we did manage to try, and others that were on my list.
Casual Italian tapas style. Mostly high stools in a super casual space with lovely staff. The wine list is almost exclusively natural and organic, the food is Italian inspired but with a few modern twists. We loved sitting on the street and watching the passers by too.
Bivouac was closed on the only evening where it was feasible for us to come into town (so we went to No Menu, directly opposite). Eat Like a Girl recommended it though as did our Airbnb host.
The Hardware Store
Down the road from our Airbnb accommodation we found The Hardware Store. Perfect for our caffeine fix we were also delighted to find their breakfast menu was pretty freakin’ wonderful too.
The Raw Kitchen in Fremantle
Husband and I visited here in 2015 on our way back from Margaret River. The cavernous, exposed brick room reeks of a hippy hangout. The menu is primarily vegan and the ingredients were gorgeously fresh and healthy. Raw Pad Thai was fabulous.
Little Creatures in Fremantle
We only popped in here for a quick snifter but I could easily have stayed for longer. The brewery site co-exists as a bar and restaurant. Along with our beers we had a crispy pizza bread with rosemary and salt. Yum. There’s seating out the front and back so you should be able to find a seat away from the breeze should you need to.
One of my revelations from living in Singapore has been the easy access to the West Coast of Australia. Whilst I’d been on a few work trips many years ago, these past five years have given me an opportunity to explore much more of this wonderful state. Can’t wait to be back in May and get to Ningaloo Reef finally!!
Do you have any Perth tips to share?