Luxury Escapes Guide to Perth
Famed for its golden ocean sunsets and glistening natural beauty, Perth is known to all as a burgeoning metropolis with sophisticated taste and a creative soul.
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Things to see and do
Get an art and culture hit at Perth Cultural Centre in Northbridge
Home to the state’s key arts institutions, the Perth Cultural Centre is a pulsating hub of activity all year round. Meet at the bright amphitheatre-style steps and make your way through the Art Gallery of WA, the Western Australian Museum, State Library and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA). Then grab a drink or a bite at Mechanics Institute, PICA Bar or Lot Twenty before catching a show at the breathtaking State Theatre Centre of WA. On a balmy night, there are plenty of rooftop bars to enjoy and drink soak up the city buzz.
Unwind with the friendly quokkas on Rottnest Island
Just 19km off WA, Rottnest is an idyllic ‘overseas’ getaway less than an hour’s ferry-ride away. The car-free island is a natural playground, featuring 63 pristine beaches and 20 turquoise bays, with coral reefs and wrecks to explore by snorkel. If you prefer to stay dry, there are hike and bike trails to keep you busy plus a host of tours on all aspects of the island. Nab a selfie with the world’s happiest animal, the quokka, then retreat to Hotel Rottnest beach bar for a sunset spritz. Indulge in Karma Spa’s Apothecary Massage Bar before making the journey back to Perth.
Get a taste of the city on a food and drink walking tour
Leave your belt at home and embark on an expedition of Perth’s eat streets with a knowledgeable guide. Whether you’re a fan of fromage, small bars, whiskey or coffee, Two Feet & a Heartbeat has a walking tour for you – try the Eat Drink Walk Perth for a literal taste of the bar scene, or the Perth Progressive Dining tour for a series of courses at various fine diners. For more low-key fare, Food Loose Tours takes you through the hidden gems of Chinatown and backstreet bars.
Enjoy a nature escape in the Perth Hills
Did you know there’s a swimming spot in the Hills? Lake Leschenaultia in Mundaring is a former railway-dam-turned-recreational-lake, ideal for a dip and picnic. Hire a canoe or a bike and explore the rugged scenery while there. Stretching through state forest, the Perth Hills have more than 40 walk, bike and wildflower trails as well as some spectacular elevated views. Walkers seeking an outdoor nature challenge will find short and long distance tracks, including the famous Bibbulmun Track. Cap off your visit at the cascading Lesmurdie Falls and lookout.
Explore cultural sites of importance with an Aboriginal guide
The traditional land of the Noongar people, Perth’s city is built among many sacred sites, ancient campgrounds and a network of forgotten lakes – all of which you can discover on a walking tour with a local Aboriginal guide. Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours and Experiences offers a special glimpse into the proud ancient culture and heritage of the area, including the Noongar history around modern landmarks such as Goomup (Elizabeth Quay), Karrgatup (Kings Park) and Goologoolup (Yagan Square). Learn Dreamtime stories, traditional songs and language on this spiritually connected experience.
Paddle or pedal your way around the Swan River
Snaking through 72km of the city, the Swan River has a wealth of vantage points to enjoy the scenery, but if you want to cover a lot of ground quickly, you can’t beat a set of wheels. For a fun, family-friendly option, glide along the foreshore with a guide from Segway Tours WA and see all the riverside has to offer. If cardio is more your style, hire a bike or kayak in East Perth and let your limbs do the talking. The flora, fauna and water will soothe the soul.
Catch a game or show at the world-class Optus Stadium
Voted the Most Beautiful Sports Facility in the World in the Prix Versailles 2019 international architecture awards, Optus Stadium is a glistening jewel in Perth’s crown. The 60,000-seat arena hosts a calendar of sporting and entertainment events throughout the year, or you can head to the City View Cafe for coffee or lunch and a stunning vista on the side. Surrounding Stadium Park is well worth a visit too, with restaurants, picnic spots, walk and bike trails and public art.
Stargaze at the Perth Observatory
Surely there’s nothing more serene or romantic than staring at the stars, so why not do it with less people around? The Perth Observatory in Bickley offers exclusive night tours – including the ability to book out the space if you’ve got cash to splash – and various pricing options for different group sizes. It includes access to a range of telescopes and a barbecue cooktop can be made available. Volunteers will take you on a visual tour of the southern sky.
Swim with wild dolphins in Rockingham
Answer the call of the wild and head 45 minutes south of the city to the sheltered waters of Rockingham, home to more than 200 bottlenose dolphins. There, you can swim and splash with these beautiful creatures on their own terms. Perth Wildlife Encounters takes out one cruise each day, allowing you to get acquainted with the friendly locals. Once spotted, fit your mask and snorkel and jump on in – the water truly is warm. The experience lasts for three to six hours and includes a light lunch.
Top places to eat and drink
Fresh from the pages of a magazine, The Shorehouse on Swanbourne beach is a quintessential WA diner. Relax under the striped umbrellas on the Deck for a post-swim coffee or a chilled wine at sunset – or set up stumps at an elegant table inside for a flavourful selection of small plates or meats straight from the Josper oven. Naturally, fresh seafood is in abundance. This is the type of venue where you’ll learn the meaning of a leisurely meal.
A much-loved foodie favourite in the heart of old Perth, Balthazar sits inside the base of an Art Deco apartment block opposite the river. It doesn’t get classier than that. The à la carte menu is peppered with classic French-inspired dishes, cooked to perfection, such as chicken and duck terrine, beef fillet and chocolate truffles. Wine pairings include a carefully picked selection of minimum intervention varietals. You can even get a bottle from the cellar to take home for later.
Inspired by the street food and markets of Thailand, Long Chim brings the bold tastes of Bangkok to Perth’s State Buildings from chef aficionado David Thompson. Inside an effortlessly cool space, the dishes bring the heat and flavour-punches, from starters like crunchy prawns and spicy pork with rice cakes, to Massaman beef curry and half roast duck. Drinks wise, there’s signature Thai-inspired cocktails, craft beer and a curated wine list. Happy hour is every day from 5-6pm.
Shadow Wine Bar
A sophisticated dining room and bar beside the Perth Cultural Centre, Shadow Wine Bar encapsulates the city’s casual-yet-elegant flair. Great for a date or a group dinner with friends, the Northbridge venue is close to the action while also providing a one-stop shop for a vibrant night out. The modern European-inspired menu heroes produce and proteins, and naturally, has a top list of wines from Western Australia as well as regions like McLaren Vale in South Australia and the south of Italy.
Set on the stunning rooftop space of COMO the Treasury, Wildflower is a truly special Perth dining experience. The contemporary menu works around the six seasons of the Noongar calendar – the traditional Aboriginal culture of the land – celebrating farm produce and foraging with native ingredients taking centre stage. Menu options include a two-course lunch, and four or six-course tasting selections for both lunch and dinner. Think south-west Wagyu beef grilled over jarrah or Abrolhos Island scallops with desert lime. Try a signature cocktail to complete the unique flavour experience.
A consistently delicious modern Italian eatery, Lalla Rookh’s produce-driven philosophy ensures that exciting plates will always drift from the aromatic kitchen. Put your faith in the chefs and try the il Capo (‘let us feed you’) menu of six seasonal shared plates, or explore menu specialties such as the crab spaghetti or smoked pork neck. Italian and Australian wines predominantly feature throughout the extensive list, and the cocktails are no slouch either. For a relaxed atmosphere with refined food, this one’s a winner.
Lulu La Delizia
One of Perth dining’s heavy hitters since it opened in 2016, this small Italian eatery arguably serves the best pasta in town. Named after the nonna of chef-owner Joel Valvasori-Pereza, Lulu La Delizia shares love and reverence at the table with culinary delights from the country’s north-east. From silky strands of spaghettini to plump clouds of gnocchi, pasta is front and centre in this charming Subiaco restaurant. Be sure to explore the Italian sweets, too. Italian and Australian wines round out the meal. Bellissimo.
Mary Street Bakery
The original Beaufort Street brunch spot is a local favourite for a reason. With a pink neon sign beckoning you from the footpath, Mary Street Bakery is where the love affair began, before other outlets sprang up around the city. Whether popping in for a coffee and escargot to go, or people-watching from a well-positioned table, you’ll find the (baked) goods here. Hearty fare is available for breakfast and lunch, including eggs, pasta and fried chicken and buttermilk pancakes.
A seaside cabaret hall in the 1930s, this Italian-inspired espresso bar and canteen is a Cottesloe favourite. It provides a little slice of European elegance across the road from the beach, with delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Passionate about pasta, wine, coffee and cheese, Il Lido is the perfect place to perch for a morning latte or sunset aperitivo, or a destination venue for something more substantial. Beach and brunch, anyone?