Perth, Australia was founded on June 12th, 1829 (my birthday…not the year though!) by Captain James Stirling as the center of the Swan River Colony, and it has developed into a clean, friendly, easily accessible, and beautiful city, right on the ocean. To me, it embodies everything that defines Australia—rugged yet sophisticated, modern but rustic, relaxed but bustling. Fewer people venture here because it’s further from main attractions on the East Coast of Australia, making it a great spot to immerse yourselves into the local flare. The city is now a hub of activity and growth thanks to mining and off-shore oil drilling but has gotten a little pricey over the last few years. It often gets skipped because it is so far west but I can tell you it’s worth the journey (all of Western Australia is!)
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Perth
1. Kings Park and Botanic Garden
2. Famous beaches
3. Rottnest Island
5. Mandurah Estuary and Peel Inlet
Other Things to See and Do
(Click the title to expand the text)
1. Take in the history
The Perth Royal Mint provides a fascinating demonstration of how to pour liquid gold and transform it into solid gold bars. You’ll also learn the story about how the notorious gold fields in Western Australia were discovered, including the harshness of those early Gold Rush days.
2. See the Art Gallery of Western Australia
This gallery was founded in 1895 and houses the state’s most distinguished art collection. It includes post-WWII works, as well as Indigenous pieces. It’s open Wednesday-Monday from 10am-5pm. Admission is free but donations are accepted.
3. Hang out in Northbridge
Northbridge is the hub of nightlife here and is also home to amazing restaurants and clubs. It’s a great place to eat but an even better place to party at night!
4. Visit the Perth’s Cultural Center
The center contains an art gallery, museum, the state library, and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. On a rainy day, the museum has a very engaging exhibit on the history of the area.
5. Have a “Sunday Session”
The Aussie tradition of a “Sunday Session” (Sunday drinking) is at its finest in Perth. Perth’s Sunday Sessions are famous throughout the whole country — people get dressed up like they are going out on a Saturday night. Make sure you go to the Cottesloe Hotel for the best scene in town.
6. Climb the DNA Tower
From this tower, you can get panoramic views of the city skyline, Swan River, Darling Scarp, and the Indian Ocean. It is the highest point in Kings Park. You only have to walk up 101 steps for the view!
7. Hike the Bibbulmun Track
Stretching over 950km long, this trail is one of the world’s greatest. It winds through karri and tingle forests, down misty valleys and along the coast. Trails vary from one day long to several weeks for the whole hike. Cabins are offered along the entire way for pit stops and rest breaks.
Budget hotel prices – Hotel rooms that sleep 2 start around 195 AUD. These hotels usually have air-conditioning, a private bathroom, free WiFi, and most offer free breakfast. On Airbnb, a shared room in a home averages about 26 AUD. You can find whole apartments starting around 85 AUD per night.
Average cost of food – Restaurants in Perth are really expensive. Most main dishes are 20-30 AUD, though cheaper, less fancy restaurants are closer to 15 AUD. If you cook your meals, expect to pay 90 AUD per week for groceries that will include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic foodstuffs. Grab and go places cost around 8-10 AUD for sandwiches. Fast food is around 15 AUD for a meal. The best value food are the ethnic restaurants where you can get a really filling meal for 10 AUD!
Transportation costs – The city is very spread out and not very walkable, so you might have to resort to paying a bit. There’s a free bus service (the CAT bus) in the CBD, otherwise, you can ride in on the paid bus (the train is best for getting to suburban areas). A ticket is good for 2 hours of unlimited travel within your chosen zones. Travel within zones 1-2 ranges between 3-4.60 AUD. Rides that are 3.2 km or less cost 2.10 AUD. A one-day pass costs 12.40 AUD. A “SmartRider” card can save you 15% off every ride, but it costs 10 AUD and you must put a minimum of 10 AUD onto the card. Taxis are crazy expensive so if you aren’t going to walk, bus, or train it, use UberX. It’s much cheaper. An Uber to the airport is 20 AUD versus 35 AUD with a taxi!
Suggested daily budget
60 AUD / 43 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
- Plan your budget for a Sunday Session – On Sundays, Cottesloe fills with young adults engaging in one of the country’s favorite tradition. Aussies love to drink and love Sundays, so a Sunday Session is a great combination. Save some money so that you can partake in all the local rituals.
- Watch for sales – Airfare to Perth is usually very expensive, which is why so few people are able to visit the city. Tiger Airways has great fares from the east coast – check mid-week when fares are the cheapest.
- Couchsurf – Accommodation in Australia can be quite pricey. If you plan ahead, you can usually find really nice Couchsurfing hosts all throughout the country. This way, you not only have a place to stay, but you’ll have a local host that can tell you the best places to go and things to see.
- Take the ferry – If you are going to Fremantle, take the ferry, which while slower, is also cheaper than the train. Bonus—it’s also much more scenic.
- Work for your room – Many hostels offer travelers the chance to work for their accommodation. In exchange for a few hours a day of cleaning, you get a free bed. Commitments vary but most hostels ask you to stay for at least a week.
- Drink goon (box wine) – Goon is infamous on the Australian backpacker hostel trail. This cheap box of wine is the best way to drink, get a buzz, and save a lot of money at the same time. Four liters typically costs 13 AUD (compared to a six pack of beer for the same price). Drink this before you go out and save on spending money at the bar (where it is about 10 AUD per drink).
- Cook often – The best way to reduce your costs is to cook as many meals as possible. ALDI is the cheapest supermarket in the country, followed by Coles and then Woolworths. All hostels have large kitchens.
- Seek out free internet – The internet in Australia is painfully slow and expensive (just ask any Australian how they feel about this), but libraries and McDonalds have free WiFi that you can use.
- Save money on rideshares – Uber is way cheaper than taxis and is the best way to get around a city if you don’t want to wait for a bus or pay for a taxi. The Uber Pool option is where you can share a ride to get even better savings (though you can get your own car too). You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.
My Must Have Guides For Travel to Australia
This book shows you how to take money out of the travel equation and and master the points and miles game. It will show you how to easily collect and redeem travel points for free airfare and accommodation so you can get you out of your house faster, cheaper, and in comfort.
Kristin Addis writes the solo female travel column for this website and her detailed guide addresses all the concerns women have about traveling and gives the specific advice and tips you need to conquer the world and stay safe.
This book will teach you everything you need to know about landing your dream job and features interviews with dozens of teachers, recruiters, detailed information on the top teaching destinations, sample resumes, advice on nailing your interview, and much more.
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach how to master the art of travel so that, no matter how long you want to travel for, you’ll save money, get off the beaten path, and have a more local, richer travel experience.