Perth bike rides – Cycling around the Swan River

Perth bike rides – Cycling around the Swan River

Cycling Swan River
Cycling Perth’s iconic Swan River is one of the best Perth bike rides and something everyone should do at least once. You don’t need to be Cadel Evans to cycle around the Swan. You can go fast, take it slow, take the kids or go it alone. No matter how you do it, it’s something everyone can do and it’s the best way to see the sights. Lycra’s optional, a map’s essential.

It’s about 50km to do the whole Swan River circuit. If that sounds like a lot, it’s mostly flat and unlike the Tour de France there are no mountains to conquer. You can shorten the route by using the Narrows Bridge and omit going along the South Perth foreshore and Heirisson Island. Similarly, you can extend the bike ride by including the Canning River and cycling along the Mt Pleasant foreshore. Adding Kings Park to the ride is also an option.

There are plenty of spots along the way to rest for coffee, lunch or a picnic. You can also quite easily catch the train back too if you don’t want to do the whole thing. Of course, there’s also nothing stopping you from turning this into a physical challenge. The point though is that you can make it as physical or leisurely as you wish.

Where to Start?

Cycling around the Swan River is one of the most scenic bike rides Perth has on offer. The good thing about cycling the Swan River is that it’s a circuit, which basically means that you can start anywhere along the river and end up back at the same spot without having to backtrack.

If you’re coming by car there are plenty of car parks along the river foreshore where you can park for free.

If you’re catching the train the best train stations to start the ride are; Fremantle Train Station or the Esplanade in Perth. You could also alight at any of the stations between Claremont and Fremantle, including Cottesloe, Mosman Park and North Fremantle. From these stations, it’s a fairly short ride through suburbia to the river and cycle paths.

Which Direction?

It’s a good idea to factor in the wind direction when you decide on what way you’re going to go. If it’s a seabreeze day, you will want to avoid cycling into headwind especially if you’ve already been in the saddle for a few hours. For that purpose, I would recommend that you go in a clockwise direction and start on the western side of the river first. Either way, if it’s a strong wind you will still feel it, but it will facilitate things going in this direction.

How not to get lost

For the most part, there are purpose built cycle paths which make finding the way easy. This is more true for the eastern side of the Swan River than it is for the coastal side. For most of the way from the city, across the narrows, to Applecross and all the way to East Fremantle you’ll find an excellent bike path which is almost impossible to miss.

The other side, around North Fremantle, Mosman Park, Claremont and Dalkeith is where things get trickier. There are a few areas here where you will need to cycle on roads or pedestrian pathways. Around Christ Church Grammar School in Claremont, you will need to ride up to Stirling Highway and then head back down to the river.

Make sure you have a map with you if you are unfamiliar with this area.  There’s very little signage to indicate where the cycle path is meant to be which can be quite confusing at times.

You can find a good map here and here.

Where to Stop

There are plenty of places along the way that are worth stopping for. If it’s coffee or lunch you’re after, these places are all directly on the foreshore and casual enough for bike wear;

Matilda Bay Tea Rooms, Nedlands
Keanes Point Cafe, Mosman Park
The Left Bank, East Fremantle
Zephyr Café, East Fremantle
Blue Water Grill, Heathcote Reserve, Applecross (you’ll need to go up the hill for this one but it’s worth it for the views)
Deep Water Point Reserve, Mt Pleasant
Mends Street Jetty, South Perth
The Boatshed, South Perth
Barrack Street Jetty, Perth

Have you cycled around the Swan River? Share your tips in the comments below or ask a question about riding around the river.

You may also like:

10 Easy day trips from Perth

How to spend a day in the Swan Valley

Where to swim with wild dolphins in Perth

WA Explorer is the outdoor guide to West Australia. Subscribe to the newsletter for travel tips straight to your inbox. 


  1. Bonny says:

    What a great idea. It’s been way too long since I’ve ridden around the Swan River and it’s a perfect activity for those clear blue-sky winter days.

  2. Nina B says:

    I should do it more often too! I always see new things that I never noticed before and love looking at all the houses along the riverside suburbs.

  3. Iris says:

    This goes on my Perth-list 2016, thank you!

    • Amy JS says:

      50km around the swan river? Following the map provided. That estimation is highly innacurate

      • WA Explorer says:

        No, the estimate is not far off the mark. The route estimates that you take in Fremantle and cycle anti-clockwise towards South Perth, Perth then follow the river past Nedlands, Claremont, Mosman Park and back to Fremantle. The start and end point of course is up to you.

        • Amy JS says:

          I’m going to try it again today. Can anyone tell me where there is free parking along the foreshore. I’m coming from NOR

          • WA Explorer says:

            You can park at the University of Western Australia for free on weekends, from there you can access Matilda Bay but there’s plenty of other options just depends where you want to cycle.

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