Perth comes into its own in summer with its unique charms – think arts festivals, swimming spots and quokkas. By Zoe Deleuil.

Perth’s summer heat is the perfect excuse to adopt the southern European approach of starting early with a swim at the beach before whiling away the afternoon somewhere cool and shady. Later on, savour the balmy night with a seaside feast or a movie under the stars.

Experience an open-air gallery in Kings Park

This summer will see Kings Park’s stately gum trees transformed into an open-airy gallery of light and sound for Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak, the free opening ceremony of the Perth International Arts Festival on February 10-12. The show runs from 8pm to 10.30pm over three evenings, with Saturday night likely to be the busiest, and no on-site parking, so allow time to stroll through the CBD and into the park along Fraser Avenue at dusk to catch the elevated views of Perth’s city skyline before heading deeper into the park.

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Sample some local seafood

Fish and chips at Clancy’s Fish Pub is a summer classic, but for something more elegant, try newcomer Odyssea Beach Café, where seafood takes a starring role: think beer-battered snapper, Fremantle octopus and freshly shucked oysters.

Reasons You Need to Go to Perth This Summer

Take a dip with the rays

Mettam’s Pool in Trigg is a favourite of families thanks to its shallow lagoon and reef, where on a clear day you may even see stingrays. Afterwards, visit either Kailis Trigg Beach or the laidback Yelo Café for coffee or brunch.

Wander through Fremantle

With its salty sea breeze, Fremantle feels a little like a Mediterranean seaside town, with food to match at old-school Italian cafés such as Gino’s on South Terrace. For something more intimate, small bar Strange Company offers craft beers served with cured meats and French cheeses, while Bathers Beach House will bring drinks to your deckchair. A local favourite is Fremantle Arts Centre’s shady courtyard, for free Sunday afternoon concerts.

Saunter through the State Buildings

If you’re staying at Como the Treasury, you could be forgiven for not wanting to leave. But even if you’re not staying at the hotel, there are many ways to soak up the grandeur of the 19th-century structure with an elaborate Victorian-era façade. Have a drink at Petition Wine Bar & Merchant (, or grab a bite at the hotel’s top-floor fine-diner, Wildflower. Or make your way to the central courtyard of Long Chim, where bookings aren’t required – just find a table and share David Thompson’s fiery Thai street food in the open air.

Reasons You Need to Go to Perth This Summer

Image: Como the Treasury

Sail across the sea to Rotto

Just 25 minutes by ferry from Fremantle, Rottnest Island never really changes, which is part of its charm. Accommodation ranges from hotel suites to ocean-side villas, and bikes are essential for reaching secluded beaches and the glassy waters of the famous swimming spot The Basin for a snorkel. Hot Rottnest Bar & Bistro has reliable pub food and the Boatshed Market in Claremont will deliver gourmet groceries to your villa.

Discover the best of Northbridge

The Alex Hotel is a compact central base with a relaxed vibe, an acclaimed restaurant, Shadow Wine Bar & Dining Room and a prime position next to the Perth Cultural Centre. Cool off at Chicho Gelato, a beautiful blue-tiled space with seasonal gelato – Manjimup cherry is on its way – and sorbet served in Sicilian-style brioche. Later, a rooftop-carpark-turned-cinema is a lofty spot to stretch out under Perth’s starry night sky.

Reasons You Need to Go to Perth This Summer

Find a shady spot in Hyde Park

The Hyde Park precinct is home to Instagram darling Chu Bakery, where you can order coffee and a matcha puff before heading into the deep green oasis of the park. Nearby Meat Candy dishes up Nashville-style fried chicken if you’re after something more substantial.

Stroll at dusk

With its calm waters and views towards the cranes of Fremantle Port Authority, Leighton Beach is an ideal spot for a dusk stroll. Afterwards, grab an alfresco table at beachside restaurant Bib & Tucker, where the rotisserie chicken is the local pick. 

Watch a movie in the pines

Matilda Bay on the Swan River is a classic summer destination. Set up under the peppermint trees for some dolphin spotting or order afternoon tea at the newly renovated Bayside Kitchen. Afterwards, wander through the shady gardens of the University of Western Australia to the Somerville, the university’s old-fashioned outdoor cinema. Screenings run through the summer until April as part of the Perth International Arts Festival, and are a chance to see intriguing films from around the world in a romantic setting, surrounded by Norfolk pines – bring rugs and pillows as it can get chilly.

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