Perth is the fourth most populated town in Western Australia and its capital city. It has a total of 19 gorgeous beaches and with nearly 3000 hours of sunshine every year, you can take full advantage of the fabulous weather.
Perth is home to Kings Park, a gorgeous public greenspace in the city centre that is actually larger than the Central Park in NYC and the biggest inner-city park in the entire world. This city is also the world's top producer of gold, so if you want to go on a field trip to learn about its history you can visit one of the gold mines!
Perth is also home to some amazing wildlife on both land and water. Come here if you want to go swimming with whale sharks, the biggest fish in the world, or find quokkas (nocturnal marsupials that are very cute) which can't be found anywhere else on the globe.
As you can see there are so many reasons to come to Perth. If you visit Australia and want to explore this big capital city, you will need to know how to get around! The city has buses, ferries, and trains to help you get from one place to the next, and we will tell you exactly how they work so that when you get to Perth you can start exploring right away. Remember to stow your suitcases, shopping purchases, or anything else you may be carrying around at a bag storage facility in Perth. Travel light to visit many Perth neighborhoods.
How to get around Perth by train
One of the best ways to get around Perth and its immediate surroundings is to take a train. Most of the suburbs can be reached easily by train, and if you use them alongside the buses, there is almost nowhere that you can't get to. There are two main train stations that you will use when you want to take the train around Perth. The Perth Station and Elizabeth Quay Station are where most of them arrive and depart from. These stations can take you to places outside of the Perth CBD, like Fremantle and Cottesloe Beach.
Perth has a Free Transit Zone for the trains which encompass the area between the Elizabeth Quay Station, the City West Station and the Claisebrook Station. You won't have to pay to use the trains in this part of the city centre, but you will need to have a SmartRider Card. These passes are definitely worth it, since you can reach some of the main tourist attractions for free by train. Take advantage of the Free Transit Zone to visit the Western Australian Museum or the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Neighborhoods like Northbridge can also be reached inside this zone.
Most of the train stations open as early as 5:30 am and services continue until about midnight, except for weekends when they run until about 2am so you can use them if you want to stay out in some of the bars or clubs on Friday and Saturday nights. During the daytime, the trains come as often as every 15 minutes or so, but later in the night, they slow down and only arrive on the half-hour.
If you are not traveling in the Free Transit Zone you will need to buy a ticket before you board the train. This is a simple process and can be done using one of the ticket vending machines which should be easy to spot and are located on each platform. There are a total of five different train lines that all travel in different directions around Perth. The first one, called the Joondalup line, goes north from Perth and towards Clarkson. Another line can bring you from the northeast to the midland, one goes from the southeast towards Armadale, another southwest to Fremantle and the other one goes south to Mandurah.
How to get around Perth by bus
The Perth city bus network is run by a company called TransPerth and they can be used to reach the Perth Airport terminals as well as most of the city's main attractions. They are efficient and a suitable way to navigate the city, especially since you can ride some of the buses for free. The main bus stops that you will use are located at the Elizabeth Quay Bus Station, the Perth Esplanade Busport found on Mount Bay Road and the Wellington Street Bus Station, which is close to the Perth Train Station. This is convenient since you can easily hop from the train to the bus or vice versa.
In order to get onto the bus you will need to hail it, since they don't always pause at the bus stops if no one needs to get off. For the buses that require tickets, you can buy them directly from the bus driver, or you can use the same SmartRider Card that you use on the trains. These SmartRider Cards can be purchased from various places around the city, like convenience stores, newsstands or select bus and train stations. The card costs about $10AUD and can be reused by loading passes onto it. These cards are great since you can load several passes at once and just activate them on the train or bus to use up your pass instead of buying a new one every time.
The SmartRider passes will also save you money since tickets cost less if you load it onto the card. Normal cash tickets for the bus are about $2.20AUD, but if you buy them using the SmartRider pass you will only have to pay $1.76AUD. Also, if you know that you are going to be moving around Perth a lot in one day then you can invest in a daily pass for $13.10AUD. These passes allow you to ride the trains and buses as many times as you want during the 24 hours that they are activated. There are several bus routes, and most of them run from 5:30 am until 10:30 or 11:30 at night. Times may vary during public holidays.
The free Cat Buses are probably one of the best ways to see Perth while saving money. The free Cat Bus stops can be found around central Perth, Fremantle, Joondalup as well as the Northbridge area, and there are a few lines that you can choose from. They are all color-coded and make complete loops around the area. The red Cat Buses travel from east to west, the blue line goes from north to south, and the yellow Cat Buses travel free between East Perth and West Perth.
Each of these lines follows independent schedules but in general, they begin running at about 6 am or 7 am on weekdays and 8:30 am on weekends, and usually stop arriving between 6 pm and 7 pm at night. On weekdays they come every 5 to 8 minutes or so depending on the line and every 15 minutes on weekends.
Perth also has a tourist bus called the Perth Explorer which offers tours and a hop-on, hop-off service. This can be a great way to see the main tourist attractions in the city although you will have to pay for one-day or two-day tours.
How to get around Perth by car
There are a couple of ways to drive around Perth, either by using a taxi or by renting a car and driving around yourself. There are two main taxi service companies called Black & White Taxis and Swan Taxis, and you will find both circling around the city. If you have a hard time spotting one, you can head directly to one of the taxi ranks located at Hay Street Mall near Barrack Street, William Street, and Perth Railway Station. As with all other major cities, taxis are a convenient but expensive service so if you don't want to spend a lot of money consider taking an Uber instead.
If you would rather have your own car to do things like hiking and exploring outside the city, then you can speak to the people at one of the car rental companies. Hertz, Thrifty, Avis, Budget and Europcar are the main companies, but you can also rent a car at the Perth Airport. In general, Perth is not too difficult to navigate by car since there are well-placed signposts and clearly defined roads. However, be aware that driving around in Australia might be a bit different than what you are used to. Australians have the steering wheel on the right side of the car and drive on the left side of the road, so that can take some getting used to! As always, obey the speed limits and be mindful of your surroundings. Road information and speed limit signs are written using the metric system.
Another way to get around Perth is by public ferry. The ferry jetties are located in several spots around Perth, like the Elizabeth Quay jetty, Barrack Street jetty and the Mends Street jetty. The ferries can be used to reach several places like the Perth Zoo or the neighborhood of South Perth. If you want to reach Rottnest Island you will have to take a private ferry.
In general, the ferries run from about 6:30 am to 7:30 pm, except on weekends when they stop at around 9:30 pm. Some select ferries might run even later until about 11:30 pm, but times vary depending on which ferry you are taking and the time of year. They usually depart every 15 to 30 minutes or so and rides do not take long. You will have to buy a ticket to get onto the ferry and they can be bought from a designated ticket vending machine found on the wharf. Taking the ferries is fun and it is a great way to get to other parts of the city across the Swan River.
Can I get around Perth by foot?
If you would rather save money by walking around the Perth metropolitan area you absolutely can. The city is safe and has a low crime rate so you can feel safe walking around the streets while visiting Perth. Some people even enjoy backpacking in Perth, but if you don't want to walk all of the time you can always use the public transport services to get one from one area to the next.
A benefit of walking around any city is that you have easy access to all of the city's greatest attractions, and with the beautiful sunny weather it can be quite pleasant to explore Perth by foot. It can take a while to get from one neighborhood to the next if you are traveling at a walk but since you will have quick access to the public transportation you can easily hop on a bus whenever you need a break. Read our guide on where to stay in Perth and look for walkable neighborhoods; you'll find many!
Another popular way to travel in Perth is by bicycle. Many local citizens and tourists choose to bike around the city and there are even some dedicated cycle paths for you to ride on. You can take a picturesque journey alongside the Swan River all the way to the Elizabeth Quay or Narrows Bridge, for example.
If you forgot to pack your own bike you can always rent one from the shops in the Perth CBD, which in general costs about $10AUD for a regular adult bike. You are welcome to bring your bicycle onto the trains and ferries but you should avoid doing so during the peak hours when they are the busiest.
The Perth Travel Guide
Perth has a comprehensive network of public transport; Transperth buses and Cat stops, trains, ferries and taxis will help you get around the entire city and you shouldn't have any issues finding a bus stop or train station near where you need to go. You can either buy a cash ticket right before getting on the bus and train or load your SmartRider Card, and consider buying a daily pass for unlimited travel.
It is a good idea to plan ahead and check the Transperth website to make sure that you have all of the up to date information before your vacation, especially if you are traveling with someone who requires special assistance. Whether you are here on a day trip or for a whole week we hope that getting around this city is simple and one of your favorite journeys in Australia.