City guide: Perth

Australian seaside city offers sun, arts, fine dining and bustling business.

Perth lures travelers with an invigorating mix of natural beauty, magnificent weather and abundant outdoor activities. You can hike, bike, swim and snorkel while still enjoying the amenities of urban life—world-class museums, gourmet restaurants and superb shopping. The sunny climate and relaxed lifestyle make for a local population that’s friendly, cheerful and easy-going.

As the capital of the state of Western Australia, Perth is home to the state parliament, supreme court and governor’s office and residence. Mining and petroleum production elsewhere in the state has an effect on the city’s economy. But most jobs in Perth are in the service sector; dominant industries include retail, business services and public administration. Tourism is increasingly important.

Getting to and from the airport

Perth Airport is located 12 kilometers (8 miles) from the downtown core. Transperth operates a public bus service from the airport to Elizabeth Quay Bus Station in central Perth. Signs indicate taxi stands outside all terminals. The trip into the city center takes about 20 minutes.

Getting around Perth

Perth’s public transportation is a network of buses, trains and ferries. The fare depends on the number of zones entered in a journey. Trips within Zone 1 include the city center and inner suburbs and cost AU$3 (US$2.29 using the exchange rate US$1=AU$1.31). If your trip to Perth lasts more than a few days, consider purchasing a SmartRider card. The card costs AU$10 (US$7.62) and can be reloaded. Using the card saves 15% off standard fares. The card lets a rider tap in and out of transit gates enabled with an electronic reader. Central Area Transit (CAT) operates free buses in the downtown core. Metered taxis can be flagged from the street. Uber also operates in the city.

Where to stay

For luxury and upscale hotel options, try Hyatt Regency Perth (99 Adelaide Terrace, Perth 6000; Ph: +61-8-92251234), Pan Pacific Perth (207 Adelaide Terrace, Perth 6000; Ph: +61-8-92247777) or Aloft Perth (27 Rowe Ave., Perth 6103; Ph: +61-8-61472468).

Midscale and economy options include Holiday Inn City Centre Perth (788 Hay St., Perth 6000; Ph: +61-8-92617200); Comfort Hotel Perth City (200 Hay St., Perth 6004; Ph: +61-08-92207000); Novotel Perth Langley (221 Adelaide Terrace, Perth 6000, Ph: +61-8-92211200); and Ibis Perth (334 Murray St., Perth 6000; Ph: +61-8-93222844).

Things to see and do

Kings Park is a highlight of any visit to Perth. The 400-hectare green space hugs the city center and Swan River. The park features a botanical garden with more than 2,000 plant species, several state war memorials and tracks for walking or jogging. Free guided walking tours leave from the visitor center at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.

The Art Gallery of Western Australia has expanded greatly since it opened in 1895 and now includes an impressive collection of indigenous art. It also holds an enviable collection of post-World War II works by Australian artists. Admission is free; small donations are encouraged. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; it’s closed on Tuesday.

Art lovers should also stop in at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA), housing performance, sculpture and video works. New exhibits open frequently. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Monday. Admission is free. The PICA Bar is a trendy live music venue within the museum; it’s the perfect place to enjoy a coffee or cocktail after your visit.

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Swan River is by catamaran. The small boats can be hired on the South shore. Keep the outdoor activities going by renting a bike near the causeway bridges and riding along riverside pathways.

Cottesloe Beach is a top choice from a long list of beaches in the greater Perth area. It’s in an area full of cafés and pubs. With white sand, turquoise water and spectacular sunsets, what’s not to love?

Where to eat

For fine dining with a view, make a reservation at Rambla on Swan. The outdoor terrace offers a sweeping panorama of the city skyline and the river. Modern Australian cuisine is expertly prepared with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. The menu offers seafood, including West Coast gold band snapper, and steaks from Black Angus sirloin to Margaret River wagyu beef. The quinoa and zucchini flower salad is an excellent option for vegetarians. Find it at 39/85 S. Perth Esplanade; Ph: +61-8-93672845.

Tuck Shop Café is especially popular for brunch; prepare for a frenzy of activity if you go Sunday morning. The specialty here is the meat pie, baked in individual portions with hand-rolled pastry and slow-cooked meat. Pair it with a gourmet coffee or freshly squeezed fruit juice. Tuck Shop’s friendly service and quality comfort food hit the spot. It’s at 1/180 Newcastle St.; Ph: +61-8-92271659.

Sauma’s take on Indian street food is a great success. At this lively establishment, diners pack into shared tables to taste the rich flavours of goat curry, lamb ribs and chicken tikka tandoori. The desserts are delectable—take your pick from gulab jumun (milk balls in syrup), coconut burfi (coconut ice) and mango panna cotta. An eight-course tasting menu is $50 per person. Find it at 200 William St.; Ph: +61-8-92278682.

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