Capital of a state which covers a third of the country, Perth looks lonely on any map - it's the only big city on the West coast. With so much space to spread out, you can enjoy the wonderful weather on one of many uncrowded, beautiful beaches in and around the city, or in its pristine parks filled with native flora and fauna.
The city has a sophisticated, cosmopolitan energy whilst retaining a laid-back vibe, and is busily shedding its reputation for being dull in comparison to its east coast counterparts. Northbridge is a great place to hang out – day or night. Look out for locally designed or vintage clothing in independently owned shops, visit the stunning aquarium or one of the contemporary art galleries, then book a table at one of the city's growing collection of foodie hotspots, from a simple curry house run by volunteers (Annalakshmi) to Neil Jackson's famous tasting menu. A word of warning though: don’t leave it too late, as most places stop serving food at 10pm, even on a weekend.
20km south of Perth, Fremantle (or 'Freo' to locals) is often mistaken for a suburb of its neighbour, but is really a city in its own right. Small enough to explore on foot, with frequent coffee stops on ‘Cappuccino Strip’, the historic port is the departure point for the ferry to Rottnest Island. Originally a internment camp during both World Wars, it’s now a popular day trip with locals and tourists alike, and one of very few places to find quokkas – small rat-like animals which gave the island its name (Rottnest is Dutch for ‘rat nest’). At only 11kms long and ringed by stunning white beaches, it is perfect for cycling around with leisurely picnic stops; or follow a snorkel trail with underwater plaques giving information on the fascinating marine life living among the pink coral forest (there are 13 wrecks nearby).