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I always think of Fremantle as the beating pulse of Perth. It’s where the old meets new, 19th century buildings, clash with funky new cafes and the maritime feel is embedded throughout the whole port town.
No matter whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor, here’s my list of the best things to do in Fremantle.
Things to do in Fremantle
Drink a Craft Beer
Gone are the days when VB and XXXX set the standard for Australian beer. These days it’s all about craft beer and Fremantle is home to a growing number of local breweries.
Not to be missed, Little Creatures is a must stop destination for anyone visiting the Port City. Die-hard beer fans can even enrol in Beer School, which take place once a month.
Beer connoisseurs should make a beeline for the Sail and Anchor where you can choose from over 30 craft beers on tap.
If you don’t just want to drink beer, but eat it too, head across the road to The Monk. Here beer is an ingredient in half of the food choices on the menu.
Try a new Fremantle Cafe
In the old days, Gino’s on the Cappuccino Strip was the place for a decent cup of coffee in Fremantle. These days, thanks to what seems like a café revolution in Fremantle you’ll find a great coffee no matter where you find yourself in the port city.
In the West End, towards the Round House, you can’t go wrong at Chalkys, Blink or Hush. Or else, mix coffee and art at Moore and Moore Café and Gallery near Notre Dame University.
For a rustic and quaint ambience, try the middle-eastern themed The Attic on Bannister Street or watch the world go by at Il Cibo opposite the train station. See some great Fremantle coffee spots here.
Go to Prison
What do Mick Jagger and Alice Cooper do when in Perth? They go to prison. Both stars opted for a tour of the Fremantle prison on their short stay while on tour in Perth.
The Fremantle Prison is West Australia’s only World Heritage Listed Building and is one of Perth’s main tourist attractions. There are lots of tour options including the popular Tunnel Tour, Torchlight Tour and Great Escapes Tour.
Explore Bather’s Beach Precinct
The Bather’s Beach precinct is adjacent to the fishing boat harbour and is a lovely place to linger for a few hours. You can sit on the lounge chairs and enjoy a drink from Bather’s Beach House, take a stroll or swim on the beach and visit Kidogo Art House.
Explore the J-Shed Galleries
One of the top things to do in Fremantle is a visit to the Bather’s Beach Arts Precinct and the J-Shed Galleries. You’ll find the colourful J-Shed Galleries underneath the Round House and at the northern end of Bather’s Beach.
Here you can visit several art studios and galleries, including the new Fremantle Art Gallery which hosts a range of exhibitions by local artists. Not to be missed is a peek inside the studio of renowned sculptor Greg Price. You’ll see his bronze statues throughout Fremantle and Perth, including the famous Bon Scott Statue located at the Fremantle Fishing Harbour. For more on the statue see this blog post here.
You can also wander up to the top of Captains Lane from here where there are more working art studios, as well as the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Glen Cowan’s Gallery featuring his incredible underwater photography. Cliff Street can be accessed behind the J-Shed artist studios. Read more about the Arts Precinct here.
Visit the Fremantle Round House and historic West End
The Fremantle Round House is West Australia’s original prison and the oldest public building in the state. Let one of the friendly guides give you more insight into this historic building. You can enter for a gold coin donation and enjoy some of the best views of Fremantle and Bather’s Beach.
Rummage through the Vintage Shops
Unearth a treasure at one of many vintage and secondhand shops that are scattered throughout Fremantle.
You’ll uncover a trove of hand-picked retro and vintage gems at the secondhand stores in the Wollstores Shopping Centre and along the eastern end of High Street.
Go to a Fremantle Market
One of the best things to do in Fremantle as any tourist will tell you is to visit the Fremantle Markets. The Fremantle Markets are the place to go on the weekend for specialty shops, gourmet food and entertainment. Fremantle, however, is home to many other markets, which are well worth a visit.
In the summer months, there’s no better place to spend a Saturday evening than at the Sunset Markets at South Beach. Bring a picnic rug, watch the sunset and choose dinner from one of the many international food stalls. See more about the sunset markets here.
On Sunday mornings, do what the locals do and head to the Farmer’s Market. Here you’ll find a great range of local organic produce and entertainment. The markets are also an excellent choice for a Sunday breakfast and you can choose from a wide range of international food stalls.
Have at swim at a Fremantle Beach
Fremantle beaches are some of the best and cleanest city beaches in the world. Spend a lazy day at South Beach where you can swim to the yellow pontoon, laze under the Pine trees and mingle with the myriad backpackers who seemingly make this their home during the warmer months.
Port Beach and Leighton Beach in North Fremantle are other great spots for a dip in the Indian Ocean. Come here for a long walk along the beach or on windy days watch the kitesurfers.
Closer to town, the historic Bathers Beach is also an inviting spot for a swim. While away the afternoon and head to the fishing boat harbour for the best fish and chips in Fremantle.
Discover Maritime History
Fremantle’s history is irrevocably linked to the sea and the Fremantle Maritime Museum is a great place to explore this affinity with the ocean.
The museum is home to America’s Cup winning Australia II, the history-making Endeavour in which Jon Sanders circumvented the world three times, and many other iconic vessels.
You can also take a tour of HMAS Ovens, a Cold War-era submarine.
The Shipwreck Gallery located on Cliff Street is also worthy of a visit and recounts stories of West Australia’s early maritime history including the fabled stories of the Batavia and other shipwrecks that occurred along the west coast of Australia.
Check out an Art Gallery
Spend an afternoon at the heritage listed Fremantle Arts Centre. Visit the free exhibitions from local, national and international artists. The centre also offers a great café, beautiful garden and gift shop. For the best free thing to do in Fremantle, head to the Arts Centre on a Sunday afternoon for the free concerts in the courtyard.
The Kidogo Arthouse is worth a visit just to for the location itself. Situated at Bather’s Beach in a picturesque 1884 limestone building, this is a great gallery to visit as you stroll around the historic precinct. In the summer months, Kidogo also transforms into a cute little beachside café and bar.
Enjoy contemporary art at Moore’s Building Contemporary Art Gallery. The gallery is a subsidised space by the City of Fremantle and frequently exhibits work from emerging artists and students.
For Aboriginal Art head to Japingka Art Gallery which showcases incredible artworks and regular exhibitions by a wide range of Australia Aboriginal artists.
Also, visit the Bather’s Beach Art Precinct for a peek at working art studios and galleries.
Hang out at the Fremantle Esplanade
If you have kids, you definitely won’t want to miss a trip to The Esplanade. The skatepark is a fantastic addition to Fremantle and the Ferris Wheel is worth a ride for the fantastic views of Fremantle and the coastline. Kids will love the shady playground under the Pine Trees.
Walk the Fremantle Trails
Pick up a trail card from the visitor centre in Kings Square for self-guided walking tours. There are 11 tours to choose from and include trails for art and culture, convict history, retail and fashion, CY O’Connor and maritime history to name just a few.
Alternatively, take a guided walking tour with a Fremantle local and see all the best sights, including street art, historical sights and enjoy a coffee along the way. See tour options here.
Discover the local Music Scene
Music buffs will know that Eskimo Joe, John Butler and San Cisco all have links to the Port City. Take in some live music at The Fly by Night Musicians Club or Mojos in North Fremantle, which regularly features local musicians.
Music lovers will also love Mills Records, where you can find a locals board, with recording from Fremantle and West Australian acts.
Plan your trip
Fremantle Tours and Activities
There is a wide range of tour options available that will show you the best things to see in Fremantle.
Scenic Perth to Fremantle Cruise– take a leisurely one-way cruise to or from Fremantle to Perth and see the sights of the picturesque Swan River.
Fremantle’s historic tram tour – discover Fremantle on the historic tram, you can hop on and off as many times as you like.
Fremantle Craft Beer Day Tour and Cruise from Perth – full day tour with a cruise from Perth to Fremantle, including pub lunch and beer tasting in Fremantle.
Fremantle Historical Bus Tour – 90 minute guided bus tour taking in the major sights around Fremantle with plenty of photo opportunities along the way.
Fremantle has a large selection of fantastic places to stay. For a list of unique places for all budgets, check my blog post here for the coolest places to stay.
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