Perth, Australia – Love It Or Leave It?

Perth, Australia

I was excited to visit Perth for the first time, although I wasn’t sure why. I’d read a good deal about it, but even after copious research I couldn’t say exactly what there was to see and do there. Instead it sounded like a perfectly nice, clean, efficient Australia city. That’s great, but I needed to answer the question why anyone would want to travel there specifically, and I think I sort of answered it. Maybe.

I spent my first evening on foot, exploring the small cafes and bars of the city on a unique walking tour with local company Two Feet and a Heartbeat. The tour is a popular one, a review of some trendy restaurants not many residents and far fewer visitors know exist. Liquor and food laws changed a few years ago in Perth, allowing for the existence of small, independent establishments that weren’t possible beforehand. It was one of the first steps in bringing life back to a somewhat forgotten downtown.

Like so many urban cores, over time Perth became more businesslike; people moved into the suburbs and only came in to work. Up until the law change, there weren’t a lot of reasons to stay after work or venture in on the weekends. That’s all changing though, and the restaurants led the way.

Today there are more than 100 small cafes, serving up everything from Chinese inspired cocktails to classic Spanish pinxtos. Young professionals are a constant customer base, but so are older residents who want to see the city return, to have some new life blown into it.

Not even this review of nice places to eat though could answer the question of what there is to see and do in the city. Western Australia is a great place to visit and to reach regions like the Margaret River, Shark Bay or even the Goldfields, you must first travel through Perth. But the question becomes, why stay in the city for more than a day or two?

It wasn’t until my partner came into town when I began to really crack the answer to that question. We wandered around a lot on foot, explored the trendy Northbridge neighborhood, home to artists, Bohemians and great food. It’s also home to the annual Fringe Festival, which was underway while I was in town. It’s one of many festivals that take place in Perth each year and is a great showcase of all things slightly strange and definitely creative.

More than just the Northbridge though, we explored Kings Park, walked through the downtown and spent a day in Fremantle, technically a separate city but now considered by some to be a notable suburb of Perth.

I left the city feeling happy. Happy to have seen it, happy to maybe return one day but still not quite sure what I was happy about. If asked, I don’t have a laundry list of sights to see or places to visit. I don’t think that’s what makes Perth a nice place to visit, although I’m sure that the tourism officials will cite a laundry list of museums to prove me wrong. But I think the best way to enjoy Perth is to just live it. Actually, that’s the best way to experience any new city, and the only way to learn to love a new place. So skip some of the touristy things in Perth (what few exist) and instead just enjoy life in the city. Spend a day at Cottesloe Beach, grab a coffee downtown and head to Fremantle for dinner. Just relax and breathe in that fresh air, because while it doesn’t have an opera house or famous laneways, it’s no less fun a city to explore.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

5 thoughts on “Perth, Australia – Love It Or Leave It?”

  1. I’ve never been to Perth, but I’ve been to other places where I’ve gotten that same feeling of not knowing what to see or do there. One strategy I’ve found that works for me is to combine the best of “just living it” and still having something tangible to do: use the city as a base for your evenings and hotel stays but strike out on day trips from there. I love having a fun, semi-busy day but being able to come back in the late afternoon to chill, wander, have a good meal, and meet up with locals at bars or coffeehouses. Not a perfect solution for everyone, but one that has worked for me.

  2. I lived in Perth for 15 months and did my postgraduate degree there at the University of Western Australia. Your right that there is very little touristy stuff to do, there is actually very little to do period. Its a beautiful city and great for exploring on foot. The trips out to areas like Rottnest, Mandurah, Margaret River, and right down to the bottom at Port Augusta and up to Monkey Mia. You need a car to visit the surrounding area properly and quite a bit of time as it take a long time to drive to some of these places, we are talking days. Take to the river though like a local and you will see the best that the city has to offer. We always said when we lived there that Perth would be a fabulous place if you were rich and had a boat!

  3. I’ve been to several cities that don’t have much for tourists but would be nice places to live, Charlotte, B.C. comes to mind. Perth apparently did that mold.

  4. I lived in Perth for 5 years, while I was studying in Freo and Bentley. Currently based in my hometown, Kuala Lumpur. Been here over a year now and mate, believe me when I tell you, I think about Perth every single day. Like you, I don’t know what it is that I love or miss in particular (besides memories and friends) but yeah, Perth is such a beautiful city. I own a cafe here in KL but I hope to settle down back in Perth… which I truly call home.

  5. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your insight into Perth. It’s true, it’s not a place full of must see attractions and stunning scenery like Sydney. In essence it’s still a bit country town trying to be a city. A lot has changed over the last five years, especially downtown Perth with the new liquor licences and much better quality restaurants. I think it’s still very much a city in transitions. But like the rest of WA, it’s not the towns that are the main attractions, it’s the surrounding, the scenery and all the outdoor stuff that’s on offer.

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