Popular Perth (Fremantle) Shore Excursions
Just a short walk from where ships dock, the Western Australian Maritime Museum on Victoria Quay is a modern building housing several unique galleries that showcase WA's maritime past. It's also home to the winning America's Cup yacht, Australia II, a military submarine and many other iconic vessels that form part of Western Australia's maritime history. (It's open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Fremantle Prison, Western Australia's only World Heritage-listed building, was built by convict labor between 1852 and 1859. Today, it provides a fascinating insight into Australia's convict past. Its colorful history includes hangings, floggings, dramatic escapes and riots. The prison has been preserved and is now a historic precinct and one of the state's top tourism attractions. (It's located at 1 The Terrace, and it's open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
If you're in town on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, the Fremantle Markets on the corner of South Terrace and Henderson Streets are a fun and lively place to spend a few hours. More than 150 stalls sell everything from local fruit and vegetables to artisan cheeses, arts and crafts, jewelry, ceramics and antiques. This is where many of the local artists exhibit their works and is the place to grab a really unique souvenir of your visit to Australia. They also put on special events with buskers and petting zoos for kids and grownups who want to get up-close with Australian wildlife. (It's open Fridays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Perth is a cosmopolitan and pretty city with plenty of bars and restaurants, and the city's Central Business District (CBD) is a vibrant area well worth a visit in its own right. It's also where the locals work, shop and eat. The CBD is bordered by the Swan River, Kings Park (see below) and the railroad; the main retail district is the pedestrian malls of Hay Street and Murray Street.
Sitting atop a hill, above the Perth CBD, Kings Park and Botanic Garden is set among 2.5 square miles (4 square kilometers) of natural bushland with more than 2,000 Western Australian plant species. A glass and steel walkway takes you through the treetops to provide a fascinating angle on the amazing fauna; from there, you also get great views of the city. The walkway is free and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If you want to visit the Swan Valley wineries, you have several options. Shore excursions are typically all-day tours that take in some of the region's most famous wineries, including Houghton, along with some smaller boutique wineries like RiverBank. The Swan Valley wine cruises, run by several companies, take you along the Swan River (an aquatic playground for yachts and smaller boats that cuts through the city), through modern-day Perth, past historic towns and into some great wineries to taste some of the region's finest tipples. It is also possible to book bus tours of the wineries independently, but you'll need to get yourself to whichever pickup points are nominated by the tour company.
One of Freo's classic pubs is the Sail & Anchor Pub, which has been pouring cold beer since it was built in 1854. The building itself has been restored to much of its former glory. It's a sprawling place with serious beer-drinkers downstairs and a more relaxed vibe upstairs on the verandah. (You'll find it at 64 South Terrace. It's open Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday until midnight, Friday and Saturday until 1 a.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.).
Cottesloe in Perth is the most popular of all beaches in Western Australia, thanks to its fine white sand, framed by perfectly manicured lawns and Norfolk Pines. It's a great place to swim, surf or snorkel, and there are plenty of good pubs and cafes in the area. The Fremantle train station connects directly to Cottesloe train station, which is about 600 meters from the beach.
Scarborough is another favorite Perth beach. It's a long, straight stretch of sand that has consistently good waves, which means it's popular with surfers. There are also plenty of picnic areas and public barbecues as well. It's about a 20-minute drive northwest of the city and regular buses connect from the CBD.
City Beach is named because it's the closest one to the city center. Apart from good swimming and surfing, there's also a boardwalk that links up with Floreat Beach. Visitors will find plenty of cafes and restaurants, picnic areas and playgrounds for kids.
Bathers Beach is a nice swimming spot in Fremantle with calm waters, making it a favorite with families. It's an easy walk from the port, located between the Maritime Museum area and Fremantle's fashionable West End.