You can easily experience all of Perth’s ‘must sees’ and ‘must dos’ in as little as five days, including sightseeing, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins and more.
At a glance:
Begin your day the way many Perth locals love to start theirs, by taking in the iconic cityscape on a morning walk, run, drive or cycle along the Swan River foreshore. For another nature-based experience, walk, cycle or catch a bus to Kings Park and Botanic Garden – one of the world’s largest inner city parks. Head to the Information Centre to pick up maps and find out about regular guided walks and cultural tours.
Perth's iconic Cottesloe Beach is as pretty as a picture; and can be enroute on the way to Fremantle, which is a 30-minute drive or train ride from Perth; however, if you’d prefer to take the scenic route, hop on a Swan River cruise from Barrack Street Jetty. On arrival, grab a sidewalk table and a coffee on Fremantle's bustling ‘Cappuccino Strip’, or go in search of artisanal baked goods for a delectable breakfast or brunch. Take a wander through Fremantle’s maze of streets, filled with Georgian and Victorian-era architecture, where local independent fashion designers flaunt their eclectic styles.
In the evening, head to one of Perth’s many new bars or restaurants where chefs plate up the finest fresh local produce with premium wines. Book an early table and catch a show at the Perth Arena, Perth Concert Hall, State Theatre Centre, or His Majesty’s Theatre.
Head to Perth’s idyllic island playground – a car-free Class A reserve known as Rottnest Island, or ‘Rotto’ for short. A morning ferry from Fremantle will get you there in just 25-30 minutes. Regular ferries also run from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty and Hillarys Boat Harbour. At only 11 by 4.5 kilometres, Rottnest is easy to explore in a day. Pick up maps and guides from the Rottnest Island Visitor Centre and choose your preferred method of transport – the Bayseeker Bus, bike hire or walking. Before leaving Thomson Bay Settlement, stock up on water and picnic supplies at the island’s bakery, cafes or general store.
Head up to Oliver Hill to discover some of Rottnest’s military history, or follow the coast to Little Salmon Bay. Take your pick from the island’s 63 white-sand beaches and 20 clear bays for a lazy picnic lunch. Little Parakeet Bay is a picturesque spot for a swim and snorkel. Keep a look out for Western Australia’s cutest marsupial, the quokka, seeking shade under the trees and shrubs.
Return to Thomson Bay and head to the cafes or bars for an afternoon drink, taking in the view of Perth’s city skyline from across the Indian Ocean. Head back to the jetty to catch the afternoon ferry back to Perth, Fremantle or Hillarys.
Setting off early to Margaret River, allow at least 45 minutes for the journey to Rockingham, where you can decide if you would like to experience a wild dolphin swim or watch the tour from the jetty. Tours depart daily from September to early June, and run for three to six hours, depending on dolphin activity and sightings on the day. For more marine encounters, take the short drive south to Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Ferries and wildlife cruises to Penguin Island run from September to June, and introduce you to Western Australia’s largest colony of little penguins, as well as rare Australian sea lions and a variety of seabirds.
Continue on to Margaret River region and depending on when you arrive - grab some picnic supplies in Dunsborough and head up the cape to a string of breathtaking white-sand beaches, including Meelup Beach, Eagle Bay and Bunker Bay. Alternatively, drop by Eagle Bay Brewing Co to sample their hand-crafted beers and gourmet produce. At the very tip of the peninsula stands Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park. Enjoy the stunning views from the top by taking a fully guided half-hour tour of the lighthouse.
From here, walk the first section of the Cape to Cape Track – one of the most diverse scenic trails on Earth. Or, if you’re visiting between September and December, take your binoculars up to the nearby lookouts and watch for migrating humpback whales. Stay overnight in the Margaret River region.
Drive through the region today, where you can swim, surf or fish from the quiet beaches, or relax near a sheltered lagoon. Head into Margaret River town, where your pace becomes a pleasurable crawl between wineries and cellar doors. Stock up on wine and gourmet delights, then explore the spectacular limestone caves which lay beneath the surface of Leeuwin Naturliste Ridge. See fossils in Mammoth Caves, mirrored underwater lakes in Lake Cave and straw stalactites in Jewel Cave. Do a fairy tale drive through towering karri forests to Hamelin Bay, where you can snorkel with stingrays and walk the idyllic sands of Boranup Beach. Next stop is romantic Augusta, where lighthouse-tipped Cape Leeuwin parts the Indian and Southern Oceans. Spot whales from here or Flinders Bay between June and September. Go water skiing, fishing or boating on the Blackwood River, or cruise up it past melodic birds and historic caves.
Wake up and head to coastal town of Prevelly to have breakfast overlooking the Indian Ocean. Visit some local artisans and head to the Busselton Jetty, located a 40 minute drive north of Margaret River town.
The Busselton Jetty experience takes you 1.8 kilometres out to sea, on the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere, and the second longest in the world. Stroll or take a train ride over the waters of Geographe Bay to the Underwater Observatory, your window to Australia's best artificial reef. The Underwater Observatory invites you to take the eight metre plunge, via stairs or a lift, to the ocean floor. Through eleven viewing windows, you can marvel at forests of vividly coloured sub-tropical corals and sponges, and the sheer diversity of marine life, without zipping on a diving suit.
After having lunch at one of the many local eateries in Busselton, take the 2.5 hour drive back to Perth.