Sightseeing Perth in a Day

Greetings, and welcome to Australia’s sunniest city. The long flight to Perth from the east coast will soon be forgotten when you begin exploring the city’s pristine beaches, lush parks, and vibrant arts scene. There’s plenty to do within the city itself, from spending time at the Perth Cultural Centre, where the state’s gallery, museum and library sit alongside theatres and contemporary arts venues, to enjoying the shops, cafes and bars of nearby Northbridge. But to easily see the best of Perth, hire a rental car to embark on a day-long sightseeing adventure. 

Here are some of the must-see landmarks and attractions you’ll want to see on your visit. 

Good Morning, Western Australia 

The first stop is one of the city’s icons: Cottesloe Beach. Perth may have what seems like more than its fair share of stunning stretches of sand, but this one – a 20-minute drive from the CBD – is the most popular. If it’s warm, go for a dip then head to Il Lido, located in a 1930s art deco cabaret hall on the beach, for a breakfast served with a side of sunshine. 

Just a short drive south of Cottesloe is Western Australia’s port city of Fremantle. Once a British penal colony, it remains a huge attraction for those interested in maritime history and convict times.  

Depending on how else you want to spend your day, you could visit the WA Maritime Museum and discover the city’s connections to the ocean. Also here is the Shipwreck Museum, where you can see artefacts like timbers from the Batavia, a Dutch East India Company vessel that sank off Western Australia in 1629, and the America’s Cup-winning yacht, Australia II. 

Don’t miss the Fremantle Prison, a UNESCO World Heritage site, for a glimpse into Australia’s convict history. Get right into what happened on this site by joining one of the many daily tours. There’s even one that explores the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the jail. 

If you’re around on the weekend, head to Fremantle Markets. As well as the traders who range from local bakers to young designers, there’s entertainment from buskers and amazing food. 

Swing By the Swan  

When you’ve had a fill of Freo fun, get back in your rental car and head around Perth to the north. About an hour later, you’ll arrive in Western Australia’s oldest wine-growing region, Swan Valley. There are still plenty of wineries to visit, but the offering here has expanded, and it’s now a hub for craft breweries and small distilleries as well.  

Considering one of you is driving, you may not be able to take full advantage of the tasting opportunities, but head to Old Young’s Kitchen, part of Old Young’s Distillery. Here, you can lunch on contemporary share plates using native ingredients beneath an arbour of vines.   

Once you’ve refuelled, there is plenty more to fill the rest of the day in Swan Valley. Guildford is a historical, picturesque town with heritage buildings, walking trails and antique shops. Take a hike along the Bells Rapids Walk Trail, which follows a stunning stretch of the Swan River. There are often grey kangaroos near the trail, but if you want to see more animals, drop into the Caversham Wildlife Park. 

Other Day Trips from Perth 

If you’re staying in Perth for longer or have already done Fremantle and the Swan Valley, there are many other options for day trips.  

Half an hour’s drive away is Hillarys Boat Harbour. While there are boutiques and restaurants at this busy marina, as well as AQWA (Aquarium of Western Australia), you’re going to park the rental car today and get on the fast ferry to Rottnest Island. Best known for the cute quokkas that seem to have no fear of visitors, there’s plenty more here for nature lovers.  

Rent a bike to pedal around the island. Make your first stop the Basin, a clear, shallow bay with a protected reef. There are plenty of other beaches where you can pause, especially if you decide to ride to the island’s West End, where you’ll find Cathedral Rocks and its colony of fur seals. Scan the ocean for playful dolphins and, from August to December, migrating humpback whales. Near the spot where you arrived on the ferry, you’ll find the Hotel Rottnest, which is a great spot for lunch. 

Another hugely popular attraction about two-and-a-quarter hours’ drive north of Perth is the Pinnacles, towering limestone formations within Nambung National Park. There are thousands of them, some reaching three-and-a-half metres, creating an eerie and captivating landscape. Follow the driving trail that winds its way through them. 

In the national park, you should also check out Lake Thetis, where you can see stromatolites, built by micro-organisms resembling some of the earliest forms of life. 


When you’re ready to sightsee around Perth, hire a rental car to make it easy.