Perth was my first stopover in Australia. I stepped off the plane into 40 degrees, a sweaty mess layered in jackets and multiple pairs of jeans to avoid baggage charges. I didn’t know a single person on this continent and had no real travel plans, onwards flights, jobs or responsibilities tying me down. I connected with the most generous, welcoming people who put me up (/put up with me) for weeks out of their own good will. I’ll never forget that when I asked how I could repay their generosity, I was met with ‘just pay it forward’.
In Perth I spent my days working in a cafe, babysitting, at the beach, exploring with friends and chilling out alone. When you live somewhere with perfect weather, there’s always a way of entertaining yourself for free. The Instagram hashtag #PerthIsOK is laughable, but a valid defence of Perth’s credibility as a city so often overshadowed by Sydney and Melbourne. I recently took a trip to Perth and was reminded why I loved living here so much – reliably dry + sunny weather, great vegan food and the laid-back beach vibe. I’m grateful that I stayed 3 months before moving on to investigate the rest of Australia. If you are traveling Australia for longer than a couple of weeks, don’t overlook Perth. Here are some of the highlights:
Manna Wholefoods – this was my favourite old neighbourhood lunch spot. It’s a cafe and health food store a 5 minute cycle from my old house and right on the beach. Kind of The Happy Pear of Perth.
The Raw Kitchen – restaurant converted from a beautiful old warehouse. It serves fancy vegan dishes and also runs workshops in all things health.
Flora and Fauna – tiny hole in the wall cafe serving amazing lunches and vegan cakes. Better come early as it shuts at 2.30pm (much like everything in Perth..)
Fern – all vegan you can eat dinner by donation on a Monday night, perfect feed for a budget traveller.
Leake Street Cafe – a tiiiiiny hidden coffee shop in Fremantle (behind Kakula Sisters) with friendly service, great coffee and beautiful on the go lunches.
Pearth Organic Kitchen I used to work at this cafe when I lived in Perth and I can confirm they make one of the best coffees I’ve had in the city. If coffee’s not your thing, they sell smoothies, juices, turmeric & chai lattes and kombucha. Plus they have a cabinet full of amaaaazing healthy treats to go with your cuppa.
The Flour factory – a modern bar in an old flour mill conversion with a fun spin the wheel gin selector.
The moon – Billie and I used to frequent here all the time, it kind of became our spot. The espresso martinis and Toto Africa playing in the background won us over.
*If you feel like a boogie along with a drink, check out Late Night Valentine in Mt Lawley or The Bird in Northbridge.*
South Beach – I used to live 10 minutes from here – ideal location for a dip before grabbing a bite in Manna or one of the many great cafes nearby.
City beach – also lived near this beach when staying with friends in Floreat. Billie and I came here often and once we brought our own eggplant, zucchini, capsicums, potatoes and veggie burgers to grill (foil wrapped!) on the beach BBQs. It made a cheap but tasty picnic.
Cottesloe Beach – if you’re lucky enough to be in Perth in March you’ll catch the ‘Sculptures by the Sea’ exhibition.
Scarborough Beach – I remember coming to this gorgeous stretch of silky sand on my 20th birthday when I had been in Australia less than a week and I thought I was the luckiest person alive.
Freo Markets – iconic. must do in Perth. Come hungry and with a few dollars to spend on gifts (if that’s your thing!)
William street, Northbridge – if you’re looking for funky boutiques, record stores and vintage book shops, this is your street.
Leederville – also for the above
Melville Swap Meet – a car boot sale for all your pre loved needs.
South Fremantle Markets – my favourite way to start a Sunday morning in Perth. Last sunday I fawned over the plethora of vegan eats and picked up some reusable metal straws and a beach bag made of recycled packing tape.
There are many totally free things to do in Perth – here are some of my favourites:
Borrow a bike and cycle along the coastal trail from City Beach to (depending on your fitness level) Scarborough, Trigg or Hillary’s. It’s relatively flat, separate from the road and you have ocean views the whole way.
King’s Park – wander round the botanical gardens and then find the peak of the park where you can sit and eat a picnic while taking in Perth’s city landscape
Hyde Park – a much smaller local park. Bring a book and spend the day laying by the pond in the shade of the stunning old fig trees.
Art Gallery of WA – home to the state art collection, indigenous art, contemporary art. When I was there last week they had an exhibition which runs until September all about the history of sneakers, why certain ones become iconic and the social + cultural significance of running shoes.
Rottnest island – Hop on an early ferry to Rottnest, rent some bikes and spend the day beach hopping, snorkelling and exploring the island. There are no cars which means you become hyper aware to all the sounds of nature, it’s incredible.
Swan Valley – drive through the panoramic countryside, sip wine on a vineyard and eat lunch at The Swan Valley Cafe
Serpentine Falls – wait for heavy rain, then go chase some waterfalls!
WA road trip – If you only have a few days road trip down south to Dunsborough, Albany and Esperance. If you’ve got longer, something I’m dying to go back to Perth and do is a North WA road trip. Think incredible rock formations, sand dune surfing and swimming with whale sharks. My friend @krististors kept a photo diary of her travels up north on her Instagram which would be super helpful for planning a trip.
Thanks for reading, I hope this Perth travel guide has helped you plan your trip or discover new places in your hometown.
As collectively the contributors have traveled quite a bit of this planet, I’m aiming for the website to become an archive of travel info. What city should we do next?