Written by Kat Mackintosh
Because it's so far away from anywhere else, Perth has to have everything. There's no popping to the next town over for a theatre fix or to do the shopping, so Perth's own arts, foodie and fashion scenes thrive. On top of that Perth has its own natural charms: one of the world's most beautiful coastlines - with beach after perfect beach - an often dramatic interior and it's neighbours with Australia's oldest wine growing region.
It needs to have this many charms though – at eight hours flying time from Sydney, people need to come here for a week at least. These are some of the highlights you can expect to see in seven gorgeous Perth days.
The very first thing you should do when you arrive in Perth is venture up to Kings Park. From the park you can see the city laid out in front of you along the Swan River. Kings is a big park, some of it manicured, some of it bush land so you can also pick out some of the local flora and fauna while the cool breezes help you acclimatise. A road runs though Kings Park that's open late, so it's quite a romantic spot to bring your paramour to enjoy a picnic watching one of Perth's spectacular sunsets...
But before you get too carried away, it's the beaches that probably have the greatest outdoor appeal – 80kms worth. Cottesloe, Scarborough and Swanbourne are some of the most famous. Cottesloe has a bit of surfing and a gorgeous tea house with gorgeous views; Scarborough is long and white and though calm enough for families, it's also popular with wind and kite surfers; and Swanbourne is the raciest - it's on army land and has got nude bathing on the beach and a rifle firing range behind the dunes. Insert joke about needing more than sunscreen to protect your privates, or about using sights to see the sights. Brighton and Trigg are other local favourites, but there are plenty of beaches to choose from.
Beyond the beaches are the national parks, and all the hiking, biking and horse riding you can do in them. Nambung National Park and its Pinnacles are far less famous than they deserve to be - they're genuinely fantastic: The Pinnacles are like free range stalagmites growing out of the yellow desert sand. A bit under two hours drive from Perth, this is a great place to come and take photos, drive around on the dunes and feel as if you're a long way from anywhere else.
Closer to the Perth metropolitan area are Greenmount National Park, where there are excellent riding trails, and Kalamunda National Park, which is at the start of the frequently well reviewed Bibbulmun Track.
If you're more interested in wildlife than scenery then Marapana Wildlife Park and the Cohunu Koala Park will make it easier for you to see all you came to see. And Perth's zoo and aquarium, like almost everything in Perth, are far better than a population this size could reasonably expect.
Perth's arts scene is rich and its history bloody and interesting. Among the interesting places for the culturally minded to visit are Australia's oldest Mint, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Western Australian Museum, which is a good place to learn a little something about the indigenous inhabitants of this pocket of green in one of Australia's driest areas.
Having breakfast on the weekend is big in Perth and if you're visiting you can get in a day early. Some people go surfing or swimming before breakfast, while others get up just before and come out to read the paper and wake up to the world. Either way it's a glorious thing to take breakfast on the beach. The Blue Duck near Cottesloe Beach is highly recommended.
Like everywhere else some people also have to shop on the weekend, and the farmers markets held in Subiaco on the weekends have some of the best local produce around. For an even more relaxed weekend head down to Fremantle, or Freo as the locals call it, it's about 30 minutes out of Perth City on the train. Fremantle's vibe is even more relaxed than the rest of Perth's. It's small, but it's also very beautiful – for the graceful old buildings, not just for the coast. People from Perth come down for the weekend markets and you should do the same. Wander the warrens of pathways created in the crush of the stalls coated in crafts and local produce and sit in cafes along the strip to watch the world go by at a weekend pace.
Cheap warehouse style accommodation left over from shipping draws smaller arts organisations out of Perth for the discounted rent, so there’s usually something going on in town arts wise and you can be pretty certain your restaurant food is going to be fresh and served with a local brewed beer or Margaret River wine. There are fish restaurants around the water, and while you may have to overlook some tourist friendly décor, it's worth it for the sunsets and the fresh fish. The oldest pub in town is the National Hotel, which is worth drinking in because it’s such a nice looking building.The main historic attraction is the Round House, which is Fremantle's oldest building, initially built as a prison.
Margaret River is a great day trip out of Perth – some people love this bit of rural coast for its world class wine - grown on some of Australia's oldest vines - some people love it for the equally world class surfing and windsurfing conditions. If you really love windsurfing you might also want to venture out to Lancelin, which is also known for its sand dunes grown to crazy sizes.
If you have more time for out of town trips consider visiting the famously friendly 300 strong pod of dolphins at Monkey Mia, or the cute and curious quokkas of Rottnest Island (they're sort of like tiny wallabies.). In fact if you have spare days both of these places are worth a longer visit – both have gorgeous, quiet beaches and interesting interiors as well as the wildlife... Too much to do already!
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