There’s far more to life in Western Australia’s capital city than sandy beaches, bustling river fronts and famous botanical gardens. Make the most of life there with our guide to Perth’s hidden gems and secret spots.
1. Alfred Cove
The beautiful Swan River runs through Perth and there are plenty of popular parks and playgrounds that line the banks. Instead of joining the crowds to admire the river from these, head to Alfred Cove on the south bank. Here a number of boardwalks and viewpoints have been built out over the mudflats and seagrass, which are visited by many different species of migratory wading birds. It’s a great place to bird watch, but it’s also a great place to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
2. Claisebrook Cove
Just by Victoria Gardens to the east of Perth, Claisebrook Cove is one of Perth’s most picturesque and, for now, least well-known neighborhoods. The area has just seen a huge renovation project, transforming this waterfront area into a thriving hub with restaurants, riverside cafes, cycling, kayaking and fishing spots. You can take the CAT bus here for free – it’s right at the end of the line.
3. Secret Garden Cafe
In southern Perth, the traditional wooden exterior of the Secret Garden Cafe gives nothing away about the tranquil oasis that lies behind. Head inside and make your way to the garden – with this carefully-designed, leafy paradise out the back, the best seats in the house are definitely outside. From breakfast, lunch and dinner menus to a range of locally-roasted coffee blends and Australian wines, there’s literally no bad time to visit.
4. Marmion Marine Park
The first marine park established in Western Australia, this is one of the best places to snorkel and dive when in Perth. Marmion boasts shallow coral reefs, small islands, underwater caves, clear lagoons and shipwrecks, each brimming with colourful marine life. Humpback whales also pass through the warm waters here in May, September and October during their annual migration. Head to the stretch of coast between North Beach and Sorrento for a quieter trip with fewer tourists.
5. Heirisson Island
This island in the Swan River in eastern Perth is a nature haven in the heart of the city. It’s easily accessible and, historically the main crossing point for the Swan River, is an important area for Noongar people. Here a scenic park is also home to a small population of pretty relaxed kangaroos who don’t seem to mind people wandering past and can often be spotted enjoying the shade.
6. Sneaky Tony’s
Sneaky Tony’s prohibition era-style speakeasy is tucked away in Northbridge, making this bar the definition of ‘hidden gem’. Even if you find the door, you’ll still need the password to get in and enjoy their menu of rum-based cocktails. Each weekend the password changes and is announced on their Facebook page.
7. Mettam’s Beach
For a superb swimming spot that isn’t super crowded, head to Mettam’s Beach just a little north of popular Trigg beach. Nearby offshore reefs protect the beach and create a large natural rock-pool, meaning the waters here are calm and gentle. Don’t forget to pack your snorkel too; as part of the protected Marmion Marine Park, life beneath the waves here is diverse and plentiful.
8. Fremantle Prison Tunnel
To see a different side to Perth, trade the sunny beaches and hip streets for the Fremantle Prison Tunnels. Climb into a harness, head underground and descend beneath the city using a series of ladders to step back in time to explore Perth’s rich history. The tunnels were dug by the prisoners, often convicts transported from Britain in the 1800s, when hard labor was used as a punishment.
9. Lucky Chan’s Laundry + Noodle Bar
Perth is home to a whole host of rooftop bars popular with tourists, but Lucky Chan’s in Northbridge is a firm favorite of the locals. The menu here overflows with hipster ramen dishes, soft bao and dumplings, and the cool, colorful and industrial decor keeps this spot feeling fresh and unique. This is the place in Perth to get your fix of superb Asian cuisine.
10. Garden Island
Just off the coast of Rockingham, this slender island (10 kilometers long and just 1.5 kilometers wide) has been generally left alone through history and offers some quiet, scenic beaches for picnics and forest for exploring. There’s a naval base on the southern part of the island, but the northern half is open to the public and can be reached via a causeway to the mainland, or you can hire a boat or kayak and reach it under your own steam.