Perth: a Complete Guide for Foreigner Visitors

perth travel advice

The State capital of Western Australia, Perth, is one of the most livable cities in the country.

Foreigners who want to make the best of their Australian visa come here for the pristine beaches, world-class surf, and the unique natural landscape.

In this thorough guide, overseas visitors can find useful information for a trip to Perth, including:

  • Perth weather and the best time to go
  • What to do in Perth
  • Documents needed to travel and AU visa requirements
  • Safety advice for Perth

The Best Time to Visit Perth

It is hard to match the beauty of the coast in Western Australia. Perth is home to some of the most famous surf spots in the world and the west-facing city is also ideal for memorable sunsets on the beach.

For these reasons, many tourists decide to travel to Perth during the summer, which runs from December through February. However, temperatures can be very high at this time, easily reaching 100°F (38°C). This is also the most expensive time to fly and book accommodation.

A more pleasant time for sightseeing may be late spring (September to November) when beachgoers can still enjoy the ocean, there is very little rain, and nature is at its most impressive. That’s why many consider November to be the best month to visit Perth.

What Is Perth Famous for?

Perth is indeed well-known for its coastal area and laid-back living. However, there is much to see and do here from taking selfies with the iconic quokkas (native friendly marsupials) to discovering local museums and historical landmarks.

Beaches within reach

There is nothing quite like a day on the Indian Ocean in Perth. Fortunately, it is easy to take a swim in Perth without having to go too far from the city center and its attractions.

Scarborough beach

Right in the heart of town, Scarborough beach is perhaps the most popular one, surrounded by skyscrapers, hotels, cafes, and restaurants. Those who enjoy a lively strip of sand should come here.

City beach

City beach is still very easy to reach in the northern suburbs and one of the locals’ favorite sunset spots. Ideal for families and outdoor activities.

Port beach

Port beach is the right place for those who are after calm and safe waters as there are hardly any breakers. Good for swimming, paddle boarding, jogging, but not for surfing.

Trigg beach

Trigg beach is a surfer’s paradise thanks to amazing waves and rips. For the same reason, it should be avoided by children and inexperienced swimmers.

Swanbourne beach

Nudists should head over the northern end of Swanbourne beach, which is not in public view. Swimwear is not optional on the rest of the beach but signs have been placed to avoid confusion.

Bathers beach

The most convenient strip of sand is perhaps Bathers beach in Fremantle where locals go for a quick swim during their lunch break.

Discover nature in Kings Park and Botanic Gardens

Kings Park is the green heart of Perth. Right in the city center, the park extends for 400 hectares and the Botanic Gardens are home to over 3,000 indigenous plant species.

Locals and visitors alike come here to jog, have a picnic with their family, or simply sit down and read surrounded by nature.

Free guided walks depart from the Kings Park visitor center every day at 10 am, noon, and 2 pm.

Fremantle prison: the only World Heritage Site in WA

Built in 1855 by convicts, Fremantle prison saw a total of 350,000 people incarcerated here before it closed in 1991. Of those, 43 were executed in the prison, the last one being serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke in 1964.

Today, tourists can learn about the building’s history thanks to a variety of walks and guided visits, including a scary torchlight tour and the tunnels tour, which includes an underground boat ride.

Opening hours: 9 am – 5pm

Entry fee: day tour adult/child $22/12, combined day tour $32/22, torchlight tour $28/18, tunnels tour $65/45

How old is the Bell Tower in Perth?

Although it was built in 1999, the Bell Tower in central Perth preserves a much older treasure.

The tower was specifically erected to host the royal bells of St Martin in the Fields, the parish church of Buckingham Palace in Trafalgar Square, London.

The 12 bells date back to the 14th century and have rung to celebrate historical events before being moved such as:

  • The victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588
  • The El Alamein in 1942
  • The coronation of every British king and queen since 1727
  • The return of Captain James Cook after discovering Australia for the Western world

The Bell Tower is a must-see in Perth. Moreover, the surrounding area is rich in other landmarks and attractions that tourists can enjoy, such as the famous Elizabeth Quay, where the city meets the Swan River.

Do You Need a Visa to Travel to Perth?

The vast majority of foreigners must hold a valid visa in order to enter Perth and Australia. Since a visa on arrival for Perth is not available, visitors from oversea must make sure to apply for their AU visa in advance.

Fortunately, a great number of nationalities are eligible for an Australian online visa which can be requested from the comfort of one’s home or office as long as the applicant has access to the internet.

Among the quickest travel permissions to obtain for Perth are the eVisitor visa (subclass 651) and the Electronic Travel Authority or ETA Australia.

Tourists will also need to present other documents when arriving at the border in Perth. These may vary depending on one’s specific circumstances and may include:

  • A valid passport used during the visa application
  • Proof of onward or return journey
  • Health and/ or travel insurance
  • Proof of financial means

Is Perth Safe for Tourists?

Perth has very low crime rates and is generally considered a safe city to explore and live in. Locals are friendly and will be happy to help should they be approached by tourists.

Of course, standard safety advice apply, including:

  • Keep belongings close, especially in public areas
  • Pay attention in crowded spaces like malls, on public transport, and while at the beach

Risk factors in Perth come mostly from the weather and wilderness which foreigners may not be used to. It is important to:

  • Use sunscreen and a hat during the hottest hours of the day
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Not hike alone in desert and wild areas if one is not familiar with the place

Distances are great in Western Australia. In fact, Perth is considered the most isolated city of its size in the world. That’s why those who plan on a road trip should bring enough food and water with them and consider purchasing a satellite phone for long and remote explorations.