In the time we spent living in Perth we had the chance to stay in 5 different suburbs of the Western Australia capital city. From city views to beach breaks, we got to experience it all! Here are the benefits and disadvantages of staying in each of these popular suburbs with my recommendations for where to stay in Perth.
Perth is a brilliant city. I cannot sing its praises enough for visitors looking to get a taste of quintessential Aussie life on their trip!
We moved around quite a lot in Perth, and while at the time it was a hassle it’s meant we’ve become well equipped to know where the best and worst places to stay are.
These are not ALL the places to stay in Perth, that would be impossible! Perth is a pretty spread out city, so there are lots of lively areas that are just as good for a balance between sightseeing and relaxing on your visit. I would say that these 5 cover a decent spectrum of the top suburbs, though. There’s a reason we chose them!
For a picture-perfect beach break, look no further than Cottesloe – located south of the river close to Fremantle. The people of Cottesloe are outdoorsy and laid back, making it an ideal place to stay for a home away from home vibe.
The hub of this suburb is at Cottesloe Beach which features the iconic Indiana Tearoom building. Although the tearooms are closed, it offers excellent facilities right by the beach including toilets, changing rooms, and a cafe kiosk.
What I love about Cottesloe Beach is that you feel especially safe there. The beach is protected by a stone jetty and in summer months has a shark net. This makes it secure and free from extreme waves for you to enjoy a swim. The grassy banks overlooking the beach also provide ample shade for when you need a break from the sun.
A short walk inland to Cottesloe village and you can browse boutique stores filled with bohemian clothing and delicate accessories. We especially loved the Boatshed Market – a grocery store that has a unique selection of foods and treats. Be warned though, the prices are much higher than your average supermarket. Also around Cottesloe you’ll find bars, cafes, and restaurants to suit every cuisine. Head to Napoleon Street for the best spots!
Where we stayed in Cottesloe
Our flat in Cottlesloe from this Airbnb listing was brilliant. Literally just 2 minutes to the South Cottesloe beach and 10 minutes walk to the main Cottesloe beach, we couldn’t have asked for a better beachside residence! The flat itself was a great size for a couple with all the amenities we could ask for. It felt like a proper little home, which we loved.
The only thing we found frustrating was how regularly the WiFi was down. We contacted the host about this and there isn’t much that could be done, unfortunately.
Aside from that, and the washing machine being outside the flat itself, there wasn’t anything to complain about in this listing. Ww would definitely recommend a visit. It’s worth noting that this a very popular area, hence the higher price. But it’s totally worth it for that location!
Pros of staying in Cottesloe:
- Right on the beachfront
- Safe and residential-friendly neighbourhood
- Perfect for water sports such as surfing and kitesurfing
- Outdoor gyms dotted along the coastline
- Has one of Perth’s best beaches
- Excellent train line connections to Fremantle and Perth CBD: 20 minute train to city centre
- A favourite with locals
- Plenty of facilities and eateries
Cons of Cottesloe:
- Can be expensive and it’s very desirable
- Not walkable to any major attractions
- Not the biggest backpacker scene
- When poor weather strikes it could be dull
- Beach and restaurants can get busy – as does the parking
Scarborough is a popular place to stay in Perth. It’s essentially Cottesloe’s more energetic sibling. It’s a thriving hub of activity, from the nightlife to the skatepark to the ocean waves!
Situated on the north coast of Perth, this surf town has a lot to offer. Boasting a big stretch of beach that is frequented by local surfers, Scarborough also had a beachside open air swimming pool if you’d rather avoid the sand. Along the esplanade is a range of cafes, bars, and restaurants to get your brunch fix, cooling smoothie, decadent gelato, or classy dinner. You name it, Scarborough has it!
Our favourite part of staying Scarborough was the Sunset Markets, running from November to April every year. Along the esplanade is a feast of food trucks offering every imaginable cuisine. Right alongside them are stalls of local artists, boutique clothing, and more. The party vibe is kept alive with bands playing and performances including fire dancers, acrobats – all sorts! Stick around for the iconic Western Australia sunset with a drink or ice cream in hand… Bliss.
Where we stayed in Scarborough
We stayed in this 3-bed villa in Scarborough. The house itself was mostly modern and stylish, and we loved the large outdoor space! Overlooked by a big green space also made the home feel secluded but not isolated. It was a nice place to stay, not our favourite, but it would be ideal for a group of friends or larger family rather than just a couple.
Despite all its positive attributes, there were a few things we didn’t like about staying in this suburb of Perth. We only had one car, and when it was used by Kaz each day to get to work I felt a bit stranded. There is no nearby train line, so I relied on the bus system of TransPerth (which in Perth is excellent) to get around.
We also generally didn’t click with the area’s vibe. There are some gorgeous parts of Scarborough, but also some not so nice parts. A lot of the area inland from the beach is heavily residential, so there isn’t a whole lot to DO beyond visit the esplanade. As a result, the car parks around the esplanade are almost always full. The main roads in and out of Scarborough are always busy… It makes for a less relaxing place to stay when you’re always worrying about traffic!
Pros of staying in Scarborough:
- Vibrant nightlight and beachside restaurants
- Great for surfers with a long stretch of surfable beach
- Likely less expensive accommodation & better value for money
- Ideal for families as well as adults-only visitors
Cons of staying in Scarborough:
- No direct train line so reliant on buses for connecting to city: 35 minute bus/train to city centre
- The Rendevous Hotel is considered a bit ugly… There are prettier beach spots in Perth
- Not a very swimmable beach. The waves are too rough and dangerous
- Can be really busy during peak times. If you’re not within walking distance of the esplanade, except car parks to fill up quickly.
We spent the majority of our time living in an Airbnb in the Northbridge area of Perth. Now, our first impressions of Northbridge were… Complicated. We’d previously been told that Northbridge wasn’t such a desirable place to live. On arrival it didn’t seem so bad, but it’s certainly true that there are far fewer residents in the central areas of Northbridge than elsewhere in Perth.
We soon realised that living in Northbridge has benefits and disadvantages. Although we were incredibly close to the city itself, as well as Northbridge’s eclectic mix of entertainment, food, and culture, it meant it wasn’t a very peaceful area of town. With lots of people flooding William Street on a weekly basis there are often rowdy scenes to observe around Northbridge. We didn’t encounter anything especially dramatic (the odd brawl in the street from intoxicated individuals mostly), but we did hear a handful of stories. Northbridge is not a risky place to be, but it pays off to take care of your surroundings as you would in any inner city around the world.
Where we stayed in Northbridge
We lived in this a lovely top floor flat with city views and a shared pool, but at the cost of noisy bars and clubs down the road and screeching train lines nearby. If you’re after serenity and peace during your visit to Perth I would not recommend Northbridge. This is the place to stay if you’re after nightlife, vibrant city energy, and accessibility.
Despite the quirks and oddities of Northbridge, we LOVED it there. To be a stones throw to so many awesome attractions and events was thrilling. If you’re staying in Perth for a short time and would like to maximise your visit, you should stay in Northbridge to reduce unnecessary travel time.
The flat itself was super comfortable and felt incredibly homely. Obviously after staying there so long we found things we would choose to change such as having a larger kitchen (I HATED the sink… why is it round?!), and the sofa wasn’t the comfiest. BUT, it suited us so well. It was a short 20 minute drive to the airport, close to Kaz’s work. It had an open plan living space for us to socialise, and best of all the office space overlooking the city was ideal for my job while I was working from home.
As mentioned, we stayed in this flat for the best part of a year, so it really became our little home. If you happen to visit, please check out the guestbook where I proudly signed our names!
Pros of staying in Northbridge:
- 5 minute walk to city centre
- Close to the bustling William Street district of bars, cafes, restaurants, and activities
- 5 minute walk to Yagan Square with food market & regular local events
- Quirky vibes
- Great nightlife options
- Accommodation can get a city view
- Close to train line to connect to other area
Cons of staying in Northbridge:
- Sometimes considered a bit rough as an area
- Not very peaceful as busy throughout the week
- May hear the train tracks and bells throughout the day & night
East Perth has all the benefits of inner city accommodation without the price tag. Even better, is that you’ll likely get a quieter night’s sleep than if you stay right in the heart of Perth’s central business district!
Around the Hay Street and Adelaide Terrace areas of East Perth there are plenty of sky rise apartment complexes. Many of these you’ll find available on Airbnb or Booking.com, and several are hotels. The abundance of choice for accommodation in East Perth makes is clear winner as one of the best areas to stay in Perth.
In the surrounding area you’re just a short walk to lots of open space around the Swan River such as Langley Park and Elizabeth Quay. Heading further east you’re also within walking distance of the WACA and Gloucester Park stadiums for sporting fans.
Although we enjoyed the relative peace and quiet in East Perth, we found the area generally lacking any distinct character. It’s a pretty functional inner suburb, and it doesn’t wow with any great attractions besides the Perth Mint, in my opinion. Having said that, it’s position in Perth means you’re close enough to walk to other areas easily. So it’s whether you prefer to be removed from the heart of a city, or right in the midst of it all.
Where we stayed in East Perth
Our 2 bedroom flat in East Perth was an unusual one. We believe we were the first ever visitors, as the place was sparkling new! A few quirks to note though: it’s in a serviced apartment/hotel complex. This means that although there is a pool, gym, and cafe in the building, it will definitely be shared by a large mix of people. Additionally, the building itself is rather dated and some aspects could really do with modernisation.
The flat itself was great and ticked all our boxes. We noticed a couple of small annoyances such as a tiny hot water cylinder (only 1 shower’s worth!) and limited kitchen utensils but these are easily overlooked for a short stay. We had a small balcony, but of all our views this left a lot to be desired. The issue with this flat and why we chose to move back to Northbridge is simply the vibe. We found it less homely, more clinical. We missed staying in a proper apartment complex, rather than a hotel.
Pros of staying in East Perth:
- 10-20 minute walk to city centre
- Perfect location for exploring the city: close to the Mint, Riverside Drive, & stadiums
- Close to Langley Park for some green spaces
- Quiet at weekends when offices are closed
Cons of staying in East Perth:
- Can feel disconnected from the hub of the city
- Prices are often high
Fremantle, or fondly referred to as Freo by locals, is port city south of Perth. Although it’s the farthest from the city, it’s well-connected by train.
Freo also has plenty to offer in its own area. There’s a wealth of maritime history to discover at the shipwreck and maritime museums, as well as Fremantle Prison, and the roundhouse cannon. With a vibrant art scene and plenty of shopping experiences too it’s an ideal area to stay in Perth to suit a variety of interest. I can easily say you won’t get bored while staying in Fremantle during your visit to Perth!
One can’t talk about the best areas to stay in Perth without thinking about the beaches. Fremantle has several excellent nearby beaches to enjoy. The long stretch along Port Beach and Leighton Beach is a fabulous place to enjoy Western Australia’s desirable coastline. Closer to Freo’s centre is also Bather’s Beach, and further down the coast is South Beach – our favourite for swimming! All the beaches offer changing facilities and many have a beachside cafe for refreshments.
Where we stayed in Fremantle
We actually stayed with family in Freo, in the North Coogee end just a 10 minute walk from South Beach. However, we did find some gorgeous listings such as this high-end luxury penthouse and this more down to earth homely spot in a similar area.
We loved staying in Freo. For us, it’s easily one of Perth’s best suburbs for visitors as there are so many attractions without compromising that local Aussie lifestyle. To stay within walking distance of a beautiful sand beach makes for a relaxing and enriching break.
If you choose to stay in a different area of Perth during your visit, I’d highly recommend a day trip to Fremantle to enjoy the sights!
Pros of staying in Fremantle:
- Popular with locals
- Lots of art and cultural attractions and things to do
- Plenty of tourist activities such as Shipwreck Museum, WA Maritime Museum, Fremantle Prison, & Fremantle Arts Centre
- Great for shopping opportunities at Fremantle Markets
- Free CAT bus to get around
- Good train line directly up the coast into the city
- Easy ferry connection to Rottnest Island
- Beautiful beaches – all the way down to South Beach
Cons of staying in Fremantle:
- Furthest away from Perth CBD: 35 minute train to city centre
- Can be busy and crowded at peak times
No matter where you choose to stay in Perth, I can absolutely confirm that there is so much to see and do in each suburb that you’ll be spoiled for choice! We found each area provided different benefits, and each suited us more or less depending on what we were after.
I hope from this post it’s clear that Perth has so much variety in each location. It’s important to choose somewhere that you’ll feel most comfortable and able to maximise your visit.
Have you visited Perth and found a great area to stay? Is there anywhere you’d recommend us to try?
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