Perth boasts stunning beaches, an abundance of parkland and a gorgeous setting on the sparkling Swan River. Add its warm Mediterranean climate and some of the best food and wine that Australia has to offer and tourists could be tempted to stay for ever. When you rent a car at Perth airport, the soaring Karri forests and boutique wineries of the state’s south-west are also in reach.
Most rental car drivers in Perth head straight to one of the city’s beaches. A favourite is Cottesloe, with its relatively calm waters, shady grassed areas and bustling café scene.
The Indian Tea Rooms have an amazing location overlooking the beach, while for a more funky spot a few minutes’ stroll along the sands, try the Blue Duck on John St. For those wanting more surf action, take the Sunset Tourist Drive up the coast to Scarborough Beach. Grab a meal or a great coffee at the Wild Fig at the south end. Further north is the amazing Aquarium of Western Australia where visitors can marvel at Western Australia’s marine life, pat stingrays in the touch pool and even dive with sharks.
Kings Park in the centre of Perth is renowned for its botanical gardens, pristine bushland and stunning views over the Swan River and city. Just a short drive from the park, visitors can jump on a ferry at the Barrack Street bridge and enjoy a river cruise down to the port of Fremantle at the mouth of the Swan River. With more than 150 heritage-listed buildings, including the Round House and Fremantle Prison, the city gives you a terrific opportunity to immerse yourself in Perth’s early history.
While the Northbridge area just north of the city is full of cheap eats and busy bars, take advantage of your Perth hire car to explore some of the city’s amazing cafes and restaurants. More upmarket dining areas include Highgate, Shenton Park, Leederville, Subiaco and Mount Lawley.
A visit to Perth wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the island of Rottnest, with its fantastic swimming and snorkelling. The island is car-free, so you’ll have to leave your rental car in Perth. Ferries travel regularly from the city centre or Fremantle to Rottnest, where you can hire a bike for the day.
Hire a car in Perth to drive down the coast. If you have time, plan a stop at the unspoilt Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, 45 km from the city. A short ferry ride from the coast, the islands are lovely for snorkelling and you might even see a penguin or basking sea lion.
Continue driving through rolling farmland until you arrive at the sprawling forests of the south-west around Margaret River and Yallingup. The area is a mecca for its beaches and food, from organic olive oil from Olio Bello to venison salami from the Venison Farm and amazing homemade ice cream at Miller’s or wine from Vasse Felix, there is something to tantalise everyone’s tastebuds. If you’re tired after all that driving or swimming, Caves House at Yallingup is the perfect stop to put your feet up, enjoy a glass of Margaret River wine and unwind.