3 days in Perth Itinerary: Rottnest Island, Fremantle Prison, the Pinnacles

Spending 3 days in Perth means you will be outside the city for most of it.

While there are lots of interesting things to do in Perth, like lounging on sandy beaches, taking in exotic Australian wildlife, or ancient rock formations, most of them include a small day trip.

This post is a part of my Outback Road Trip series. 

3 days in perth

I spent two weeks in Perth in between tours and found the city to be a relaxed, interesting place … but not somewhere I would have gone out of my way to visit if it wasn’t a stop along the way on my grand tour of Australia.

3 days in Perth Itinerary:

Rottnest Island, Fremantle Prison, the Pinnacles

I grew up in Houston, Texas which is America’s 4th largest city. It’s got an economy heavily reliant on the oil and gas business. Houston is a great place to grow up and a good place to live. We have world-class museums, food from all over the world, and affordable housing, even in the really nice areas. But, it’s not a place that many tourists find themselves dying to visit.

Nearby New Orleans and Austin are much more suited to that.

3 days in perth

Perth is much the same. It’s Australia’s 4th largest city with a booming oil and gas industry. Many of my sister’s engineering colleagues find themselves on temporary work assignments all the way down here on the tail end of the upside-down.

In the most isolated city in the world. That’s right, Perth is just under a 4,000-kilometer drive from Sydney (clear across the continent!) and the nearest city is Adelaide…which is still a three-hour plane ride (not drive!) away.

Just like Houston, Perth is a great place to raise a family, buy a house that’s still affordable in Australia’s wild housing market, and settle into a relaxed lifestyle.

But for tourism, much of the things you can do in the city, you can do plenty of other places, too. The real draw of Western Australia is its wild and wooly outback regions. From the Bungle Bungles up in the Kimberley Region, to the world-class beaches (and kangaroos!) of Esperance in the south.

3 days in perth

But everyone needs a little bit of time to rest in between outback adventures.

So when I found myself in Perth for two weeks recharging after my three-week Darwin to Perth road trip, here’s what I got up to … when I wasn’t laid up in my Airbnb fighting off mono (love this for me).

Day 1 in Perth: Rottnest Island

rottnest island

Rottnest Island is just a quick ferry ride away from downtown Perth. The island is known for its stunning natural beauty, like crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, and picturesque landscapes. Visitors come to the island to enjoy these vistas and to engage in outdoor activities like swimming, snorkeling, and hiking.

rottnest island

But, if we are being honest, the real reason people come to Rotto is to get the ultimate Quokka selfie. Quokkas are small marsupials that are native to Western Australia and are known for their friendly and curious nature.

They are about the size of a domestic cat, with short brown fur, round ears, and a small nose. Quokkas have a pouch that is used to carry and nurse their young, similar to other marsupials like kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats.

Book your Rottnest Island Trip here.

Day 2 in Perth: Fremantle Markets and Fremantle Prison

fremantle prison

Known as “Freo” to the cool locals, the Perth suburb of Fremantle is calm, cool, and collected. It’s easy to get to on the train from Perth city center and is a great little “day trip” while you have 3 days in Perth.

Fremantle Prison is a former maximum-security prison that was in operation for almost 140 years until 1991. Today, it’s more of a museum and tourist destination. You can even stay the night there, as the YHA has a hostel on site. Lots of people tried to escape over the years and there were so pretty awful criminals held within its walls.

I enjoyed my tour, even though parts of it made me feel a bit queasy cause of the wild, intense history.

fremantle market

After your tour, mosey on over to the Fremantle Markets. It’s a bustling market selling everything you can think of: fresh produce, crafts, souvenirs, clothing, and accessories. There’s also live music and full meals on offer. I got some of the freshest orange juice I’ve had in my life there.

I had mono at the time (love this for me) and I swear that stuff was instrumental in my healing.

Fremantle Markets are open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and public holiday Mondays from 9am to 6pm. 

Day 3 in Perth Option 1: Perth City

3 days in perth

On day 3 of your 3 days in Perth, you might actually want to spend the day in Perth proper. These are two of the things that I had the most fun doing in the city.

Take in the views at Kings Park and Botanic Garden

This park has significant cultural and historical importance to the Aboriginal people of Western Australia, as the DNA Tower and the Western Australian Botanic Garden both celebrate the state’s Aboriginal heritage.

The park also plays an important role in the conservation of Western Australia’s native flora and fauna, as its botanic garden contains a wide variety of native plant species that are important for conservation and research.

It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset, go for a bike ride, or enjoy a view of Perth back down to Elizabeth Quay.

Catch some sun at a local Perth beach

fremantle market

If the weather is good (which in Perth, it most likely will be) consider spending a day down at the beach. You have a few options because there are luckily heaps of amazing beaches within a stone’s throw of the city.

Cottesloe Beach

Cottesloe Beach

Cottesloe Beach is about 15 minutes west of Perth’s city center. It’s known for its clear blue waters and white sandy beaches. It’s a great place for swimming, sunbathing, and watching the sunset. Cottesloe Beach is also known for its historic Indiana Tea House, which offers stunning views of the beach and serves a variety of food and drinks.

Scarborough Beach

Scarborough Beach is about 20 minutes northwest of Perth’s city center. It’s one of the city’s most popular beaches. It’s known for its wide, sandy beach, great surf breaks, and variety of restaurants and cafes. Scarborough Beach also has a beachside pool, skate park, and playground, making it a great place for families.

City Beach

City Beach is about 15 minutes northwest of Perth’s city center. It is more secluded and exclusive compared to the others. It’s known for its crystal-clear waters, white sandy beach, and stunning ocean views. City Beach also has a surf club and several restaurants and cafes.

Day 3 in Perth Option 2: Nambung National Park (Pinnacles)

Broome to Perth Road Trip

Book your trip to the Pinnacles here.

People visit the Pinnacles in Perth because of their unique and otherworldly landscape.

For real, they looked like something out of Star Wars. It’s about two hours north of Perth and makes a great day trip. They’re a collection of limestone formations (with some as tall as 5 meters!) rising from the yellow sand desert. The Pinnacles were formed over millions of years, and their unusual shapes and formations are believed to be the result of erosion and weathering.

You can book a quick day trip with plenty of different tour companies, or rent a car and head up the coast to spend the last of your 3 days in Perth.

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3 days in perth


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