Fremantle is one of the most picturesque towns in Western Australia. This vibrant port is a great place to walk and explore some of the history behind this unique town. There are plenty of things to do in Fremantle such as learning about its maritime history, enjoying the arts, lying on a beach, or browsing the boutiques that line the streets. Freo, as we call it, is a must-visit for all tourists and is popular for a day trip or night out among the locals.
I would like to respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners, and First People of these lands. I would like to pay my respect to the Elders past, present, and future, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture, and hopes of their people.
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The Best Things to do in Fremantle
Fremantle Prison is the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Perth and was one of the earliest convict prisons, operating from 1855 to 1991. After closing, the prison was restored to its former conditions and opened to the public in 1992. There are five tours you can take, all with a slightly different theme: Convict Prison, Behind Bars, True Crime, Tunnels Tour, and Torchlight Tour.
The Convict Prison Tour concentrates on the history from its construction to the end of the convict era in 1886.
Behind Bars details how a convict-built prison transformed into Western Australia’s primary place of incarceration for men, women and children and served as a maximum security gaol from 1887 to 1991. See the main cell block and exercise yards as you learn about the daily life of the prisoners.
The True Crime Tour tells the stories of some of the Prison’s most notorious inmates, including bushrangers, thieves and murderers, serial killers, bank robbers and escape artists. This tour is not recommended for children under the age of 10 years. Read our review of Fremantle Prison’s True Crime Tour.
A tour for the adventurous is the Tunnels Tour, which we hope to do soon. You need to wear a hardhat and overalls, lock into a ladder system and descend about 20 metres below the Prison to explore the tunnels built by prisoners. Guides lead you through dry sections of the tunnels on foot, before boarding replica convict punts to explore the submerged passageways accessible only by boat. You may get wet, so a spare pair of socks is recommended.
A popular attraction is the Torchlight Tour but it’s not for the faint hearted. Your guide tells you sordid and ghastly stories in the dark with details of executions gone wrong, innocent people unjustly imprisoned and the guilty punished.
I highly recommend taking one of these tours while visiting the city of Fremantle.
Open 9 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week, except Good Friday & Christmas day.
Book direct with Fremantle Prison.
Western Australian Maritime Museum
Located on Fremantle’s waterfront, this sail-shaped landmark showcases the town’s colourful maritime history and houses the America’s Cup winning yacht, Australia II, and Parry Endeavour, the yacht that took solo yachtsman Jon Sanders three times around the world.
The Western Australian Maritime Museum consists of several galleries, showcasing the amazing maritime connection Fremantle has as a coastal town and port. You will see several boats and vessels, some suspended from the ceiling, including pearl luggers and an Aboriginal bark canoe.
The highlight for us was the tour of the Oberon class Submarine, HMAS Ovens, a Cold War-era vessel that lives outside the museum on the World War Two submarine slipway. This exhibit serves as a memorial to those who gave their lives while serving from Fremantle during World War Two.
The tour lets you discover what life is like aboard a submarine – not recommended for anyone who is claustrophobic! You also need a reasonable level of fitness to climb 9 metre high scaffolding stairs, steeply inclined ladders, and to bend through narrow hatchways.
Open 9.30 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week, except Good Friday & Christmas day. ANZAC Day 1 pm to 5 pm.
Book direct at WA Maritime Museum.
WA Shipwrecks Museum
The WA Shipwreck Museum is in the convict-built, 1852 Commissariat building and holds an outstanding display of maritime archaeology. The museum houses hundreds of relics from ships that were wrecked along Western Australia’s treacherous coastline, including a section of the hull from the Dutch merchant ship, Batavia (wrecked in 1629).
Open 9.30 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and Good Friday.
ANZAC Day 1 pm to 5 pm.
Free entry (suggested donation A$5).
Fremantle Arts Centre
The Fremantle Arts Centre is housed in a neo-Gothic style building constructed by convicts in 1860 as the Convict Establishment Fremantle Lunatic Asylum and Invalid Depot. It features a wide range of contemporary visual art by local, national, and international artists and is also a live music venue.
The café is a lovely spot for lunch and the shop stocks WA’s largest range of unique gifts and wares designed by local artists.
Grounds open 8 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week, reception, and shop 9 am to 5 pm, galleries 10 am to 5 pm
Canvas Café 8 am – 3 pm Mon to Fri, 8 am – 4 pm Sat & Sun (kitchen closes 2 pm weekdays and 3 pm weekends)
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday.
No visit is complete without visiting the Fremantle Markets, housed in an 1897 Victorian-era building, designed in the Federation Romanesque style. The building is one of only two surviving municipal market buildings in Western Australia.
Fremantle Markets were first opened in 1897, but the building became a packing and distribution centre in the 1950s until the early 1970s. In 1975, it underwent a complete restoration and now has over 150 stalls selling local produce, souvenirs, clothes, crafts, and fresh food. As you wander through, your mouth waters with the different aromas wafting from the food hall with its different cuisines. Buskers perform inside the markets, and you’ll normally find street performers between the markets and the Sail and Anchor pub.
Hall open Fridays 9 am to 8 pm, Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays 9 am to 6 pm.
Yard open Fridays 8 am to 8 pm, Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays 8 am to 6 pm.
Closed Christmas Day.
The Roundhouse, completed in 1831, is the oldest public building in Western Australia. This twelve-sided building was used as a gaol until 1886 and has since been a Police lock-up, accommodation for the Water Police, and a storage facility for Fremantle Ports. It is now open to the public.
The Round House held colonial and Aboriginal prisoners, including Nyoongar leader Yagan, and was the site of the colony’s first hanging. Aboriginal prisoners were held here before being transported to Rottnest Island.
The One O’clock Time Signals are re-enacted every day when the time ball is dropped, and the cannon is fired at 1 pm.
You can see Bathers Beach from here and the views of the Indian Ocean are stunning. Explore the tunnel beneath that was built in 1837 by the Fremantle Whaling Company.
Open every day 10.30 am to 3.30 pm.
Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Free entry but Gold Coin Donation requested.
Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre
The Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre is only open on Thursdays and Fridays, but if you are wondering what to do in Fremantle on those days, this centre is the perfect way to learn more about the Aboriginal history and culture. Find out about Dreamtime and the Noongar Six Seasons or join an Aboriginal art or cultural workshop, where you can participate in bush tucker tastings, do some painting or basket weaving and learn some words of the Noongar language.
Fremantle Fishing Harbour
I always enjoy wandering around Fremantle Fishing Harbour, watching the fishing vessels and recreational boats heading out to sea. Fremantle port is WA’s largest with the harbour being home to over 400 fishing boats. It’s also one of the best spots in Fremantle to enjoy fresh seafood in one of the surrounding restaurants or take a tour of Little Creatures Brewery, which includes a guided tasting of the full range of Little Creatures brews. Find out more here.
There are a number of tours that depart from Fremantle Fishing Harbour like the Jet Boat Thrill Ride. During this 20-minute adventure ride, you’ll experience a generous combo of high-speed maneuvers like fish tails, slide-outs, peach power stops, wave surfing and 270-degree spins. Check prices here.
Esplanade Park is always a hive of activity with about 100 Norfolk Island Pines providing plenty of shade. There’s lots of activities here with the Ferris Wheel, children’s playground, and usually some free entertainment. If you want to have a picnic in Fremantle, the Esplanade Park is one of the best spots.
The European-built Tourist Wheel takes you 40m above the boat harbour of Fremantle with spectacular views of the town, harbour, and coast. Book tickets ahead here.
There are several walking and cycle trails you can take to explore Fremantle’s history. The Manjaree Trail consists of interpretive signs explaining the six Nyoongar seasons. Download maps at Visit Fremantle.
If you’d prefer to walk with a guide, this two-hour walking tour of Fremantle covers Fremantle’s Indigenous culture, early European exploration, British colonisation and convict history through to its hip bohemian present. Check prices here.
Fremantle is a trendy shopping area with boutiques full of funky and independent designs. A lot of new designers choose Fremantle to launch their new collections in one of the many shops in Market and High Streets.
Fremantle has a variety of beautiful beaches for you to enjoy.
Bathers Beach is closest to the centre of Fremantle, just around the corner from the fishing harbour. Here you will find Western Australia’s first licensed beach area with lounge chairs on the white sand.
South Beach, in South Fremantle, has a large expanse of grass which is perfect for a bbq overlooking the ocean. If you’re here during summer, pop down on a Saturday for some tasty food truck delights at the South Beach Sunset Markets.
Leighton and Port beaches have long white sandy beaches with beachside cafes and are where the locals hang out. You’ll see lots of them cycling, running, walking their dogs, and just enjoying our beautiful weather.
If you want a drink, try Bathers Beach House, or head to Fremantle Fishing Harbour.
Another great location is Monument Hill which has views over the city and one of the best vantage points in Fremantle. While there, check out the The Fremantle War Memorial.
Enjoy a cruise along the Swan River from Perth to Fremantle (or the other way round), passing luxury homes, yacht clubs, and city sights. You can read all about it in our Swan River Cruise review.
If you have a little more time and have explored Fremantle, hop on a ferry over to our beautiful Rottnest Island. You can read all about it in this guide on visiting Rottnest Island.
Getting from Perth to Fremantle WA
The easiest way to get from Perth to Fremantle without a car is by train, which takes 30 minutes. Trains depart from Perth station to Fremantle station about every 20 minutes.
The nicest way to travel from Perth to Fremantle is on a Swan River Cruise.
Getting Around Fremantle
A free CAT bus operates daily around the Fremantle city centre, departing every 20 minutes from Fremantle Train Station. The service is fully accessible and runs seven days a week, except on Good Friday, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.
Fremantle is easy to walk around and my favourite way of getting around this historic town. Not only do you get some exercise, but you also walk past points of interest you may not get to see on a bus.
If you want to cycle, a bike tour is a popular choice, or you can hire a bike free from the Fremantle Visitor Centre for a refundable deposit.
Download a copy of this Fremantle Map.
Food and Drinks in Fremantle
Fremantle is a great place to dine during the day or evening and has a wonderful nightlife with clubs, pubs, and bars.
The “Cappuccino Strip” reminds me of Europe with table and chairs outside cafes and restaurants. Here you can enjoy a coffee or something stronger at one of the licensed premises and some have live music, open mic nights and cabaret.
If you’re looking for fish and chips, try Joe’s Fish Shack or Ciccerello’s at Fremantle Fishing Harbour.
Little Creatures serves up delicious chips and pizza with their amazing craft beers. They’re also child-friendly with a sand pit out the back.
We enjoy the view from the upstairs balcony of The National Hotel, which overlooks the centre of Fremantle and is a good vantage point to people watch.
Fremantle has a range of accommodation to suit most budgets including hotels, apartments, bed & breakfast, motels, and backpackers.
My choice of where to stay in Fremantle:
The National Hotel
The highly-rated National Hotel has been refurbished to include 12 luxury styled ensuite rooms, a spectacular rooftop bar, and a restaurant right in the heart of Fremantle.
My Thoughts on Fremantle
Fremantle is always on the top of my recommendations of places to visit when they come to Perth. It has a wonderful vibe with lots of things to do and plenty of food and drink options. If you have the time, try to stay at least one night to experience the nightlife and take an early morning stroll around the harbour.
Other Things to do in Perth and Western Australia
For more ideas on what to do in Perth and Western Australia along with travel tips, read this ultimate Western Australia Travel Guide.
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