I am made of photography,stories from the road and a good dose of passion. I am Ophélie, French-born traveler always on the go. My travel photography blog is about my travel experiences, tips and my addiction for adventure. To help you explore countries on your own… as an independent and curious traveller.
Written by Ophelie
Updated 18th of March 21
Will take 5mn to read
If you were a real Australian the time of traveling Perth? What to do in Perth for free or on a budget? How to experiment the authentic Aussie way of life, being traveller in Perth? Questions I asked myself… and will answer now for you! Away from the touristy crowd of the East, be a real Australian on the West Coast… with these 10 cool things to in Perth, directly inspired by locals. All based on my own few months stay there.
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Since I lost some of my pictures of Perth, I had to take them from Google Images, for the purpose of this only article. Copyright indicated.
Top 1 of fun free things to do in Perth: Spend the day as a cultural explorer
Street art and chill vibes for free in Perth' streets
It might sound cliché, obvious or maybe boring. But you know what? One of the very cool things to do in Perth is simply to wander its streets. And the best of all: it’s a totally free thing to do! It’s also a nice way to get a first impression of Perth’s laid-back vibes. So, let’s start exploring the city at Elizabeth Quay. Have a cider at one of the bars on the peer and walk along the water front where camels appear from times to times. The Bell Tower is a nice place to practice architecture photography. Then, head to Northbridge. The nightlife suburb is very relaxed during the day with Australian local street art, lots of cafes and parks. Hyde Park is super nice. And to see the fancier part of Perth, take the bus to Matilda Bay. Golf courses, nice restaurants and bars or simply paths to walk along the shore make this place worth a little visit. For watching sunset over the skyscrapers, you can’t skip a walk in Kingspark.
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Free and cool museum - Perth cultural centre
But Perth, it’s not only a bunch of nice streets. Belonging to the collection of fun free things to do in Perth, I name… the free museums! And indeed, like other free art and exhibition centres in Australia, Perth Cultural Centre in Northbridge is very surprising. The WA Gallery of Art gathers modern and aboriginal art within eclectic exhibitions. It also proves itself as a cool place for Instagrammers.
2. Be sporty - Fun free outdoor things like the locals!
Cliff jumping, kite surfing and surf
There is another thing besides drinking beer in Australia – people are very sporty and like outdoor sports. And Perth is also the perfect place if you want to get adrenaline… without spending much! Actually, most cool things to do outdoors are completely for free. The best is probably to try cliff jumping in Blackwall Reach. You can join groups of travellers who gather there to jump from the rocks and then go chilling out on the beach nearby. If you are already equipped, there is good places on the Swan River to practice kitesurfing – Melville waters and Point Walter are the most famous ones.
And not forgetting the Highlight: Surfing is almost a second nature for most inhabitants. Amazing wild beaches are only a few kilometres away from the city centre, making it normal to see locals there very early in the morning with their surf board and their coffee-to-go. My hint: Scarborough beach is super for this purpose.
These activities are all fun and free things to do while backpacking in Perth! So, no excuse left!
Cool things to do in Perth with others for sporty travellers - Facebook groups
- Perth footsteps
- Perth backpackers
- Backpackers in Western Australia
- Destination Perth (page)
3. Have a barbecue at South Perth Foreshore
Do you know this so famous view of Perth? With view on the skyscrapers? Having a barbecue there and playing the photograph made me love Perth even more. And actually, what’s more Australian than sharing food and above all beer outside with your roommates, friends or family? There are always green oasis in cities with barbecues already there. To use for free! South Perth Foreshore is THE place you should head to at sunset to light up the barbecue.
A real Australian activity and one of the cool things to do in Perth… which will convince you of the goods of being in Australia.
4. Enjoy open air cine sessions in Perth city
You see, the simplest things are often the best ones. And one of the best fun things to do in Perth at night is certainly the outdoor cine sessions. I fell in love with this concept when a traveller friend brought me to Northbridge Plazza to a little but cosy outdoor cinema. After that, we went to more spectacular venues. My favourite one is the rooftop Movies’ venue in Northbridge – among the skyscrapers, on the roof of a sixth-level building in the heart of Northbridge. And if some of these open air cine places are not for free, they are still cool things to do in Perth for travellers on a budget.
Perth' outdoor cine locations (in 2020)
Luna outdoor cinema, Leederville – from December to February. 17 to 22$.
Northbridge Plazza – from March to May
Rooftop Movies, Northbridge – better to book in advance. From 16 to 28$
Mov’in bed – East Perth. From October. From 40$.
5. Go out for a wild night
Cool places to go out in Perth city
In another spirit, I want to share with you some cool places to go out for backpackers and travellers in Perth. It’s here about having a fun night out in Perth. For travellers addict of unexpected wild nights.
Start at Brass Monkey. Nice bar in Northbridge with several areas and an outdoor dance floor, it’s a mix crowd of locals, international students and backpackers. The spot I want to send you now is The Bird. A little bar hiding a backyard with sofas and tables. The best is for sure the dance floor under the sky, with electro and deep house music. Entrance is not free, though.
And when The Bird closes around 2am, direction Geisha… the other electro night club in Perth Northbridge. Bigger mainstream clubs well known by backpackers are the Villa or Coconut Grove – a nice rooftop cocktail bar and club.
Electro music in the wild - bush parties
And now, let’s level up the game on the scale of the cool things to in Perth – the Australian bush parties. They are small raves which take place near Perth at ‘secret spots’ – mostly, in the countryside or on beaches surrounding the city. However, you’ll need to plan a trip by car to go in. Register into ‘bush doof’ Facebook groups to get details of the events. Or just ask fellow backpackers at your hostel and share house. These parties are well-known from the travellers’ community.
6. Go to Fremantle for an afternoon …
45 mn away from Perth CBD by train, Fremantle is a piece of heaven. For backpackers and photographers. Right on the shore of the Indian Ocean, it’s the historical part of Perth. Don’t get scared by the word ‘historical’ – there is some very fun stuff to see there. One of the fun free things to do is simply to roam the streets near the citadel. Take your camera with you, if you are photography addict. A cool spot to see is from the fortress, overlooking at the street below – a giant yellow arc painted on several houses. A nice piece of street art. Pay also a visit to Fremantle’s market on the harbour. Facing the sea, it’s a nice place to go on the weekend for food or drinks.
7. … to ‘hipster’ bars in the evening
At the end of the day, Fremantle is a little gem to discover Perth from the local side. There are a bunch of small bars frequented by students and artists, with local live music. You might end up playing pool with cool Australians, after a concert of local artists in a very familiar and relaxed atmosphere. I name here the Mojo’s bar. More inspiring places to go out in Fremantle: Ronnie Nights, Clancy’s fish pub or The Newport Hotel. Take also a look at the hostels – most of them have a bar with regular backpacker parties. Fremantle by night is definitely one of the cool things to do in Perth if you want to meet locals and explore the authentic artistic vibes of Western Australia.
8. … or have a date on Fremantle's Bathers beach at sunset
Yes, that is an Australian thing… having a soooo romantic (Tinder?) date on the shore of the Indian ocean facing one of the most amazing sunsets you can see in the country. I name Fremantle and its little but precious Bathers beach – more authentic and quieter than South Beach. Logically, dating couples were the second population after photographers on this beach. And I understood why. The guy doesn’t even need to be entertaining to spend a good time there – the landscape is enough to make you fall in love (at least, with the place).
And if you still need more ideas to do non-touristy free things in Fremantle, take a look at this handy list.
Curiosity makes the awesome traveler you are.
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9. Go for a short road trip near Perth
What to do in Perth on the weekend? Australians really love being on the road. And near Perth, it’s quite easy to find fun or quiet nature spots to go on a short trip, like locals do.
Short excursion to Perth’s Power Line
That’s the ultimate fun free thing to do in Perth with a 4w4 – the Power Line. What’s that? An old track following the power line giving electricity to Perth. Aussies are full of imagination… A very local thing to do is to go there with the 4×4. I almost threw up when we did it but I admit it was still fun experience. It’s like doing a rally in the middle of the Australian bush.
Plan 5-6h to complete the track and enough fuel! You can also exit along the way through cut-offs. Track is located along Great Eastern HWY, 40 km east of Perth.
Trip to Perth’s beaches from the city centre
Because Perth is so far away from everything and every tourist, its beaches have nothing to do with the ones in Melbourne or Sydney. If you are a traveller who loves deserted places, you’ll put Perth’s beaches on the top of your fun free things to do list! Plus, they are very close from the city and easy to reach within 30 to 40mn by bus or train. The Urban list gives you more detailed insights into best secret beaches to go in Perth.
Scarborough – cool place to go for surfing and taking coffee in the little bars and cafes there
Bailey Beach, Trigg – near Scarborough, way quieter.
Mosman Beach – North Fremantle. Very peaceful spot.
Cottesloe – for travel photography. Rather ‘touristy’ place.
A day excursion to Perth national parks
No need to drive all the way up to the famous national parks on Australia’s West Coast. If you are limited in time and budget, you’ll also find natural gems in Perth and surrounds’ national parks. Often skipped by travellers who don’t stay long in Perth, it’s your chance to see Perth’ countryside away from tourists. Serpentine falls are nice in winter when water is flowing. Yanchep is my favourite one because of the huge kangaroos which walk in total freedom in the park. Mind your steps, they often lay down lazily across the path! Go also to the lagoon nearby – very impressive transparent turquoise waters over there.
Yanchep national park and lagoon – with kangaroos, koalas and caves to explore
John Forrest National Park – view on Perth city
Day trip to Rottnest island
What to see in Rottnest on a one day trip? The quokkas! You know, these little cute (or weird, depends on the point of view) things which look like a mix between kangaroo and giant rat. They are still very fun though. Anyways, Rottnest is a small island full of absolutely beautiful beaches. If you travel Perth on a budget, the ferry fare can seem a bit pricey.
As backpacker, you can get a package deal at most hostels and backpackers’ agencies for circa 120$ with bike renting.
Ferry prices: from 70$, including admission fee on the island (19$)
Companies: SeaLink, Rottnest Express
25mn ferry journey
Weekend trip to Margaret River and Hamelin Bay
As real Aussie, you don’t mess around with camping… I have never seen such a culture of camping in another country than Australia, and it is even more true on the West Coast. It’s part of their Life. A lot of them, besides the surf board, are proud to exhibit the latest roof tent or the most high tech in-built kitchen in their 4WD.
In any case, you’ll find plenty of places behind sand dunes to put your tent and wake up at the sound of the waves. Free campgrounds with facilities are spread out. Wild camping is also common. It’s probably the coolest thing to do to live the local way of life, especially with Perth as starting point. It will cost you little to go with travel partners.
A typical thing that locals use to do is to go away to the near surfer place Margaret River – 3h by car south of Perth. It’s also a hot spot for backpackers when looking for harvest jobs in summer (grapes mostly). I liked Margaret River for its impressive waves on the beach… and all the surfers to photograph, also. But the best spot remains Hamelin Bay, a few km away. There are giant rays swimming at your feet on the beach. Very fun and very free thing to do!
2 days excursion to Jurien Bay
Jurien Bay is my other highlight of cool things to do around Perth. It’s perfect as well to spend a weekend. I lived there for 3 months and couldn’t get bored of the most deserted and awesome beaches I’ve seen. Just an impressive feeling to have such beautiful beaches for you alone. For a weekend trip, the journey is also worth it. Make a stop for a few hours at Lancelin bay and head to the Pinnacles.
10 - Do an Instagram photo trip in Perth and surrounds
I think that I already mentioned it… the West Coast and its main city Perth are inspired places for beginner photographers. Because the West Coast and Perth are still places forgotten by most backpackers, it is your occasion to show a different Australian experience.
In Perth: Elizabeth Quay, Kingspark, Perth cultural centre, Cottesloe, Matilda Bay, South Bank Forescue, Fremantle city centre / harbour and Bathers beach
Around Perth: Margaret River, Hamelin Bay, Albany national park, Jurien Bay
You made it! Maybe you have other questions about traveling Perth? Drop a message on Une Poudre d’Escampette!