A must-do when in Perth Western Australia, is to take a day trip to Fremantle – a lovely port city nearby full of so many great things to do!
There’s something special about Freo – as the locals call it, it has such a unique charm and vibrant atmosphere.
Full of history yet effortlessly trendy, the lively port city is bursting with spectacular timeless heritage architecture yet has a very laid-back vibe.
You’ll hear live music on the streets, see cafes and restaurants full, and come across so many interesting photo spots.
With so many great tourist attractions to see and things to do in Fremantle, you’ll definitely want to spend at least a day here to soak up all that Fremantle has to offer. And the great thing is that it is so easy to get to from Perth!
Whether you’re just visiting Perth or you’re a local, follow this guide for the best things to do in Fremantle!
Where Is Fremantle?
The city of Fremantle is located extremely close to Perth, the capital of Western Australia. Fremantle lies just 18 km southwest of Perth, and for this reason it is often called Perth’s sister city.
Fremantle lies at the mouth of the Swan River, where it meets with the Indian Ocean.
As Fremantle is so close to Perth, it makes for the ideal day trip!
What Is Fremantle Best Known For?
Fremantle is known as being a major port for Western Australia. You’ll see big cruise ships, container ships and many ferries and leisure craft here – plus it’s also where you can get the ferry to the iconic Rottnest Island!
In addition, Fremantle is known for Fremantle Prison – the largest convict-built prison in Australia and the only UNESCO-listed building in the whole of Western Australia!
Fremantle is also known for having an amazing foodie scene and bar scene!
From the cafes down Cappuccino Strip to the delicious seafood restaurants at Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour and the food stalls at the historic Fremantle Markets, there is so much choice!
Why Is Fremantle So Popular?
Fremantle makes for an extremely popular day trip from Perth for both tourists and locals as it really has something for everyone!
Whether you’re into street art, heritage buildings, you’re a history fan or you’re just here for some delicious food or a lively evening out, you’ll find it at Fremantle!
Is Fremantle Worth A Visit?
Fremantle is absolutely worth a visit! The lively city has so many unique and fascinating things to see and do, and with so much Indigenous, convict and colonial history, Fremantle is truly fascinating to explore.
Far more than just being the place where you catch the ferry to get to Rottnest Island, exploring the city of Fremantle is a must-visit when in WA!
How To Get To Fremantle From Perth
Fremantle is very easy to reach from Perth by car or train.
Both journeys take around 30 minutes, and it’s an easy direct train from Perth so you may even prefer to take the train to avoid paying for parking in Fremantle (the parking ticket wardens are often around in Fremantle!).
Trains depart every 10-15 minutes to Fremantle from Perth and a single fare will cost you around $5. Fremantle is the last stop on the Fremantle train line, which departs from platform 7 at Perth City Train Station.
A lovely relaxing option to reach Fremantle is to actually take a scenic ferry cruise down the Swan River from Perth to Fremantle!
Getting Around Fremantle
As there are so many charming little corners of Fremantle to explore, Fremantle is best explored on foot. And getting around Fremantle by foot is easy as the sights are all fairly close to one another!
Stroll past the historic buildings, wander the markets, listen to the live music, admire the street art and check out the busy cafes, bars and restaurants and admire the street art. It’s the ideal way to take it all in.
If you prefer exploring by bike then you can hire bikes from the Fremantle Visitor Centre.
You can also explore Fremantle on a self-guided audio tour! This is a great way to explore Fremantle at your own pace and learn more about the city! The self-guided tours can be commenced from anywhere.
Fremantle does also have the free Fremantle CAT bus which departs every 20 minutes during the day 7 days a week. However, this is more of a residential route into Fremantle City as opposed to a sightseeing bus around the city centre.
The bus does stop off at a handful of the Fremantle sights: Fremantle Markets, Fishing Boat Harbour and The Esplanade Hotel, as well as stopping off at Fremantle Station, so it’s good if you want to just get from A to B or if you just can’t walk any more!
But by going on the bus you might miss seeing a few places, plus it is just in the city centre for probably only a quarter of the whole route, so I wouldn’t recommend it to be your main way to see Fremantle.
The free Fremantle CAT bus goes all the way down to South Beach, so it’s great to hop on if you’re planning to head to the beach!
How Do I Spend A Day In Fremantle?
If you plan to walk around exploring Fremantle yourself on foot, the best way is to do a loop of the city centre.
A good itinerary starts at Fremantle Train Station: First head to the Whaling Tunnel, see Bathers Beach then head up to The Roundhouse.
Continue on to Fremantle Boat Harbour, Esplanade Park then to Fremantle Markets & Cappuccino Strip.
Visit Fremantle Prison next, then walk to the rainbow containers, before taking the bus back to the train station where you started.
16 Ultimate Things to Do in Fremantle For Tourists & Locals
1. Fremantle Prison
Western Australia has a fascinating convict history and there is no better place to learn about it than Fremantle Prison!
Fremantle Prison is a former prison that is the only UNESCO World Heritage Listed building in Western Australia.
Built by convicts in the 1850s, Fremantle Prison was a maximum security prison used as a place for punishments, including hangings and floggings.
Fremantle Prison was used continually as a prison until 1991 when it closed and the WA state government preserved it for its history. It is now the most intact such complex in Australia.
There are five really good tours you can do at Fremantle Prison to step back in time and get an idea of what it was like for convicts here!
‘Behind Bars’, ‘Convict Prison’ and ‘True Crime’ tours all tell the story of prison and convict life, as well as dramatic stories of daring escapes prisoners made!
Alternatively, you can go on the ‘Tunnels Tour’ – an adventurous tour where you will descend 20 meters below the prison into the labyrinth of underground tunnels and then explore them by boat!
There is also the evening’ Torchlight Tour’, full of scary ghost stories! This tour is really popular and takes you through the prison at night, but it is not for the faint-hearted!
You can also buy a tour package for 2 or 3 of the tours to save some money! I’d definitely recommend to book these tours in advance. They can sell out very quickly as they are some of the most popular things to do in Fremantle!
OPENING HOURS: Daily: 9 AM – 5 PM
Google Maps location of Fremantle Prison.
2. Fremantle Markets
Definitely try to time your visit to Fremantle to fall on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday as this is when the iconic Fremantle Markets are open! Visiting The Fremantle Markets is definitely one of the best things to do in Fremantle!
Built in 1897, The Fremantle Markets are housed in a stunning building and have been continually running every single weekend for over a hundred years!
They are a favourite spot for many and are one of Western Australia’s most famous tourist destinations.
There’s a great buzzing atmosphere inside the busy Fremantle Markets, with a real variety of things for sale at the 150 stalls, from handicrafts to local produce, homeware, artisan clothes, crystals and art, to fresh fruit and veg.
There’s also a great vibe outside with street artists often performing!
A really popular area of the markets is the food stalls section. There are so many different cuisines to choose from when you fancy a spot of lunch, and all the food is pretty decently priced.
Whether you fancy a Korean, Brazilian, Greek, Vietnamese, German or Indian lunch, or you’re after a good bakery, patisserie or just a good sandwich and coffee, you’ll find it here.
Plus there are plenty of stalls for those with a sweet tooth, including ice cream stalls, doughnut stalls, popcorn stalls and pancake stalls!
One of my personal favourites is the health food stall Roogenic, which offers delicious fresh healthy food and drinks.
This is the ultimate WA market experience that you don’t want to miss! It’s a great place to pick up a gift either for yourself or for your loved ones!
Fremantle Market runs from 9 am – 6 pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as Monday public holidays. The market is closed during the week so definitely try to visit Fremantle when the markets are open.
3. The Roundhouse
A visit to The Roundhouse is a must when in Fremantle.
Built in 1831, The Roundhouse (also known as the Fremantle Gaol) is the oldest building in Western Australia.
The Heritage Listed building has 8 cells and was used as a prison for indigenous prisoners and convicts until 1886 when it turned into a police lockup.
Nowadays The Roundhouse is open to the public and is run by volunteers. It operates on a gold coin donation (meaning – donate a $1 or $2 coin to enter, although you can of course donate more if you want to).
You’ll go up a few stairs to get to The Roundhouse, and there’s a nice grassy area here to sit and relax if it’s a nice sunny day.
You can also stroll over to the cannon by the flags and admire the views over the stunning turquoise ocean.
Afterwards, make sure to walk through the tunnel underneath The Roundhouse – a tunnel built by the convict prisoners to transport whale oil to the city from the harbour.
At 1 p.m. each day, the cannon will fire, as well as a re-enactment of the dropping of the Time Ball, so it’s great to time your visit around then! The daily cannon fire has been going on since the 19th century.
Opening Hours: 10:30 am – 3:30 pm daily
Google Maps location of Fremantle Round House.
4. Cappuccino Strip
Cappuccino Strip is the iconic famous street in Fremantle and a stroll down here is a must!
Occupying the busy section of South Terrace in front of Fremantle Markets and towards Bannister Street, the Cappuccino Strip isn’t just a place for coffee lovers.
It’s full of historic and popular pubs and restaurants, plus of course, cafes serving delicious coffee.
Sit at one of the many outdoor patios the cafes and restaurants have, enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and admire the classic facades that line the street!
A few popular spots include Gino’s Cafe, The Sail & Anchor Pub and Benny’s Bar & Cafe.
A great way to discover the best of Fremantle’s foodie scene is to take a Fremantle Food Tour. You’ll get to visit several unique bars and restaurants and taste your way through delicious local specialities at the Fremantle Market!
Especially on Friday and Saturday evenings the Cappuccino Strip is full of live music and late-night places to party!
5. Rainbow Containers ‘The Containbow’
The unique art installation named ‘The Containbow’ features 9 recycled shipping containers all painted different colours of the rainbow and placed into an arch.
The installation overlooks Fremantle Port, and seeing as Fremantle is Western Australia’s largest cargo port, it’s a nod to Fremantle.
The vibrantly coloured installation overlooks the Swan River and Fremantle Port, is very eye-catching and certainly makes for some fun Perth pictures! The Containbow sits next to the Canning Highway, to welcome those driving into Fremantle.
If you’re arriving via the train make sure to look out for it too, although you’ll be seeing it from a bit of a distance!
To get to The Containbow you can walk from the centre of Fremantle, it’s less than a 2km walk from The Fremantle Markets along charming sleepy residential streets.
Alternatively, many buses from Fremantle Train Station go right next to The Containbow. It’s about a 5-minute ride to the rainbow containers – you’ll see them on the side of the road!
6. Esplanade Park
Along Marine Terrace, you’ll find Esplanade Park – a lovely large park opposite Esplanade Hotel on Marine Terrace.
It’s here you’ll find the Fremantle Skyview Ferris Wheel – a 40-metre-high Ferris wheel that is one of Fremantle’s landmarks and best photography locations.
It takes less than 10 minutes to ride the Ferris wheel in one of the red gondolas, and especially if you’ve got kids with you it’s one of the best things in Fremantle to do!
The views over Fremantle and the Fishing Boat Harbour and the sea are great from here.
It costs $12 for adults and $10 for children.
Opening Hours: The Fremantle Ferris Wheel operates from 10 am to 9 pm 7 days a week (on Fridays and Saturdays it runs until 10 pm at night).
The park also has lots of green space and trees for shade to sit down and relax under, as well as a skateboarding area and a children’s playing area.
It’s also a popular spot for festivals throughout the year – including the annual Fremantle BeerFest in November!
This is Fremantle’s answer to Germany’s Oktoberfest, complete with food trucks, live music and craft beers (and cocktails and cider if you aren’t the biggest beer fan) from all over Western Australia.
7. Rottnest Island
Of course, we can’t mention Fremantle without talking about Rottnest Island.
Less than 20km from Fremantle lies Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) – a paradise island not only home to the famous quokkas (the happiest animals in the world!) but full of incredible white sandy beaches. 63 beaches and 20 bays to be exact!
Rottnest is the perfect island getaway for tourists, as well as being very popular with locals. And with it being just a 25-minute ferry from Fremantle, you absolutely need to head over to Rottnest Island when you’re in Fremantle!
You can either visit Rottnest Island for a full-day trip, and stay overnight in Fremantle to explore the city on the following day, or explore Fremantle in the morning and then head over to Rottnest at lunchtime to enjoy the afternoon there!
There are two ferry companies that operate ferries between Fremantle and Rottnest Island: Rottnest Express and Sealink Rottnest Island, and the ferries depart daily from B-Shed and Northport Ferry Terminals in Fremantle.
Check the ferry timetable and book your tickets here.
Rottnest Island is 11km long by 4.5km wide and is a car-free island which gives it a lovely remote feeling.
The best ways to explore Rottnest are to either hire a bike on the island and explore independently, or enjoy the views on the tourist bus that takes you to all the best sights. You can buy the joint ferry and bus tickets here.
When at Rottnest Island take a quokka selfie, enjoy the beaches, go for a snorkel and enjoy this tropical paradise. A trip to Rottnest Island is honestly one of the best things to do when in Fremantle!
8. Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour
A stroll around the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour is another one of the best things to do in Fremantle.
Just behind Esplanade Park, the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour is still a working fishing port and has a really lovely vibrant atmosphere. If you’re craving fish and chips for lunch, this is the place to go!
There are always lots of people here enjoying an al-fresco lunch at the waterfront seafood restaurants – popular ones being Kaili’s Fish Market and Cicerello’s Landing (named Western Australia’s number 1 place for fish and chips!) which both have nice views of the harbour.
Bather’s Beach House is located just around the corner on the beachfront and offers views out over the sea if you’d prefer!
The laidback restaurant is complete with bright colourful beach umbrellas and is the ideal place to enjoy some food or drinks, whether you wish to admire the views of the sea from the balcony or on the beach!
Whilst you’re at Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour, head over to Little Creatures Brewery to sip on a craft beer direct from the brewery! Fremantle has several breweries, but Little Creatures is known as the best one, plus it’s in a fantastic location!
Enjoy a beer in the beer garden, or inside surrounded by brewing tanks.
Here they have tasting paddles where you can sample 10 of their best beers! Daily tours of the distillery are also available if you’re interested to learn about the brewing process.
All creatures are welcome at Little Creatures Brewery, whether you enjoy beer or not (they serve cider as well)! And for the perfect food to go with your drink, Little Creatures serves delicious wood-fired pizzas too!
9. Admire The Street Art
Fremantle is a really arty city and has several impressive wall murals, so if you love street art you’ll enjoy searching for street art here in Fremantle!
My favourites are the Alice in Wonderland wall in Westgate Mall, and the pregnant lady with the Australian animals next to the Federal Hotel.
10. WA Maritime Museum
Located in Victoria Quay, the Western Australian Maritime Museum tells the interesting story of Western Australia’s maritime history, from the early days of ocean explorers to naval defence during wars.
It’s also home to some iconic vessels including the HMAS Ovens submarine, and has some really great exhibitions.
Entrance is $15 for adults and free for children under 15.
Opening Hours: 9:30 – 5 p.m. daily (closed public holidays)
Google Maps location of WA Maritime Museum
11. WA Shipwrecks Museum
Close to the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour in a historic 1850s building is Western Australia’s Shipwrecks Museum.
This is another great museum, showcasing exhibits and original artefacts from the many shipwrecks that have occurred along Western Australia’s coast in the past, particularly those of the early Dutch explorers from the 1600s.
Entrance is free, donations are welcomed.
Opening Hours: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm daily (closed public holidays)
Google Maps location of WA Shipwrecks Museum
12. South Mole Lighthouse
Located at the entrance to the Swan River, the bright green South Mole Lighthouse is a lovely place to stroll over to and take pictures of.
From here you can also get nice views of the Maritime Museum, Fishing Boat Harbour and The Roundhouse, plus it’s a great sunset spot.
From here you’ll also be able to see the bright red North Mole Lighthouse on the other side of the harbour.
13. Visit The Beach
Fremantle also has four lovely beaches, and a great thing to do once you’ve explored the city is to go and relax at one of the beaches!
Sun bake in the sun and relax after all the walking you’ve done or even go for a dip in the beautiful turquoise ocean!
You may just choose to visit Bather’s Beach – the closest beach to the city, or you may choose to visit South Beach, or even cross over the river into North Fremantle to Port Beach or Leighton Beach.
14. Fremantle Arts Centre
Built by convicts in the late 19th century in an impressive gothic-style building is the Fremantle Art Centre, although it originally served as the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum, and then as a Women’s home, before being used by soldiers during WWII.
Nowadays the Fremantle Arts Centre hosts many festivals and events throughout the year, as well as art courses and exhibitions. Find an upcoming event here!
15. Monument Hill
Monument Hill is a lovely park on top of a hill that’s the perfect spot in Fremantle to go and watch the sunset! You’ll get stunning views of Fremantle City and Harbour, plus the Fremantle War Memorial is also located here.
There’s plenty of space to park here, or alternatively, it’s just a 20-minute walk from the train station.
16. Evenings in Fremantle
Fremantle is a lively place in the evenings too, with some of the most popular bars being Mojos Bar, L’chaim Bar, Freo Social or Who’s Your Mumma.
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen and Duck Duck Bruce are popular for dinner, and Metropolis is a fun nightclub if you want to dance the night away afterwards!
Where to Stay in Fremantle
You may actually choose to stay overnight in Fremantle as opposed to Perth, especially if you’ll be doing a day trip to Rottnest Island.
In that case, there’s plenty of great accommodation in Fremantle that caters to all types of budgets and styles.
Here are the ones I recommend, all of them being based in the city centre. If you don’t find one perfect for you then choose from a wider selection here at Booking.com.
One of Fremantle’s most popular hotels, this beautifully restored heritage hotel also has a restaurant, a bar and a rooftop terrace with spectacular views and live music every night.
The National Hotel is full of character and charm and is located in the heart of Fremantle.
This modern 5-star heritage hotel also has a bar, restaurant and terrace, plus it offers à la carte breakfast.
Built using shipping containers, the 4-star modern boutique Hougoumont Hotel is situated in a great location on Bannister Street and offers affordable and luxury accommodation.
Complimentary light breakfast is included, as well as bicycle hire, fresh fruit, unlimited bottled water and complimentary cheese and wine in the evenings!
Directly in front of Esplanade Park is the Esplanade Hotel, a stunning hotel with 2 outdoor pools, a fitness centre, 2 restaurants and 2 bars.
This is the ideal place to stay if you’re looking for a relaxing stay.
For those on a budget and looking to stay somewhere totally unique and different, stay at the YHA at Fremantle Prison!
There are dorm rooms as well as private rooms, and you can stay in actual cells prisoners were kept in! My parents stayed here and they LOVED it so it’s not just for young backpackers!
Things To Do In Fremantle Summary
Fremantle is a fantastic place to visit, full of history and character, and so many things to do!
It makes a perfect day trip from Perth, or a great stop on any Western Australia itinerary, whether you’re heading exploring the southwest of WA such as Bremer Bay, Albany and Esperance, or if you’re heading north of Perth on a road trip to see the Jurien Bay sea lions or even heading further up north from Perth to Exmouth or even Broome!
Like this post on Things to do in Fremantle? Pin it!