The port city of Fremantle (or Freo, as it’s often referred to by locals) is full of beautiful historic buildings and home to a lively music and arts scene. You’ll find the only UNESCO listed building in all of WA, Fremantle Prison, as well as plenty of other culturally significant sites that tell the story of Western Australia’s history.
Fremantle is known for its amazing food and nightlife scene so don’t be surprised if you spend the majority of your time eating and drinking your way around the city. From the delicious food stalls of the Fremantle markets to the popular cafes of Cappuccino Strip and the many dining choices along the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour, one thing is certain! You won’t be going hungry.
When I first landed in WA as a young and wide-eyed backpacker back in 2012, Fremantle was the first place I called home. I instantly fell in love with this vibrant port city and over the years it’s safe to say those feelings haven’t changed much!
Whether you’re a Perth local or just visiting on a holiday, I’ve created this list of 12 things to do in Fremantle that are a must for everyone! Fremantle is only 35 minutes from Perth city centre by train making it the perfect day out with family or friends.
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12 Iconic Things to do in Fremantle Both Locals and Tourists Can’t Miss
Without a doubt my favourite thing to do in Fremantle is heading to the colourful Fremantle Markets on a Saturday morning. This market has been running every weekend for over 100 years!
With more than 150 stalls to browse, you will find a huge variety of vendors from delicious food stalls, home-made coffee, fresh produce, hand-made clothing, jewelry, aboriginal art, authentic Australian souvenirs and so much more!
This is the place to pick-up the perfect gift. Whether you’re shopping for someone’s birthday present or looking for something unique to bring home to your family and friends, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for at the Fremantle Markets.
The market runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9am – 6pm.
Fremantle Prison Tour
Dive into Western Australia’s fascinating convict history when you visit the UNESCO Heritage listed Fremantle Prison. The building was originally constructed by convicts as a maximum-security prison in the 19th century and was used continually until 1991.
Over the years, many dramatic events took place at Fremantle Prison such as convict escapes, prisoner riots and executions. The last hanging at the prison took place as recently as the 1960’s!
Step back through time when you take a prison tour and listen to the dark stories told by your guide. There are a number of prison tours to choose from but the most popular one, and the one that we recommend doing, is the Torchlight Tour.
This fantastic tour takes you through the prison at night and the guides really bring those eerie, old prison vibes to life in the dark! Keep in mind that this tour is quite popular and requires booking in advance.
Click here to browse prison tours and book your ticket online.
On your explorations around Fremantle be sure to stop at the Roundhouse, a beautiful 19th century building which happens to be the oldest building in Western Australia. It was built to hold convicts in the 1830’s and eventually turned into a Police lock-up in the late 19th century. Nowadays it’s open to the public for visits and tours.
The Roundhouse is located on a hilltop overlooking the city of Fremantle and the Indian Ocean. If you plan your visit around 1pm, you’ll be lucky enough to watch the daily cannon fire. A practice that has been ongoing since the 19th century. For more info about visiting the Roundhouse, check out the official website.
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 3:30pm daily
WA Maritime Museum
Appropriately located on Fremantle’s waterfront, the Maritime Museum tells the story of WA’s nautical history, from the ocean explorers of the early days to naval defense during the wars. This fantastic museum is a must for anyone keen to learn how the state of WA was discovered and created.
The Maritime Museum is home to many permanent collections but throughout the year, you will find a number of pop-up exhibitions featuring fascinating maritime history from around the world, not always specific to WA.
For example if you visit the Maritime Museum from Dec 2020 – May 2021, you’ll be lucky to catch the Vikings: Warriors of the North, Giants of the Sea exhibit.
Click here to find out what’s currently on at the WA Maritime Museum.
Opening Hours: 9:30 – 5pm daily (closed public holidays)
Tickets: $15 adults, FREE children under 15
HMS Ovens Submarine – While you’re visiting, you might be interested in taking a guided tour of the HMS Ovens, one of the long term features of the Maritime Museum. Descend into the tight quarters of the Cold War era submarine to discover what life was like for the 63 people who once lived on board for extended periods of time.
At the time of writing, the HMS Ovens is temporarily closed to visitors. Find updated information about tours, tickets and planning your visit here.
Take a stroll down the lively Cappuccino Strip (also known as the South Terrace) to find a concentration of popular cafes, restaurants and historic pubs. If you’re looking for some of Fremantle’s best coffee, this is where you’ll find it!
Admire the classic old architecture of the buildings that line the street as you sip your coffee from one of the many outdoor patios and take in the buzzing atmosphere.
No matter the time of day, be it morning or late at night, Cappuccino strip is always the place to be. During the evenings (especially on weekends), there is plenty of live music to choose from and night clubs that stay open until the early morning hours.
The Fremantle Markets are located at one end of the strip marking the perfect spot to begin your Cappuccino Strip explorations. Some of the iconic places to check out in and around the strip are: Benny’s Bar and Cafe, The Sail & Anchor pub, The Attic (just off the main strip), Gino’s Cafe.
Bread in Common is another highly rated local favourite and an awesome brunch spot but it’s a few streets away from Cappuccino Strip, located on Pakenham Street.
►Discover the best of Fremantle’s food scene by taking a 3 hour Food Lover’s Walking Tour. Taste your way through the markets, stop at some of the best local bars & restaurants and gain insight into Fremantle’s colourful past with your local guide. Check tour prices and availability here.
Wander toward the waterfront stopping at Esplanade Park on your way. This large green space separates the Fishing Boat Harbour from the city and provides an excellent spot to relax and enjoy a picnic, let the kids play around in the shaded playground area, or take a ride on the Skyview Ferris Wheel.
The Skyview Ferris Wheel is an unmissable landmark of Fremantle. Take a ride 40 meters in the air inside one of its fully enclosed red gondolas for spectacular views over Fremantle, the Fishing Boat Harbour and even Rottnest Island in the far distance.
Tickets: $12/adult, $10/child, $10/couples
Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm daily, closes at 10pm on weekends.
Esplanade Park is also home to a number of events and festivals throughout the year. One of the most popular events is the Fremantle BeerFest which happens every year in November.
This is a great festival where you’ll find the largest selection of WA’s craft beer producers (including ciders and cocktails), plenty of delicious food trucks to choose from, and live music & performers. Check their official website for more info about the upcoming Fremantle BeerFest dates.
Lunch at Little Creatures Brewery
Are you a fan of craft beer? Even if you’re not, Little Creatures beer has made a name for itself over the years not only in WA but all over Australia. Pop in to try the famous Little Creatures Pale-Ale accompanied by one of their amazing wood-fired pizzas. Not a beer lover? Their Pipsqueak cider is pretty good too!
Stopping for lunch at Little Creatures is an essential Fremantle experience that you simply must have. In fact it’s so popular that sometimes you’ll have a hard time finding a table there on weekends! However they operate on a first come first serve basis and don’t take bookings.
You can either dine in the Great Hall surrounded by brewing tanks and people hard at work creating those delicious brews or in one of their outdoor beer gardens. Brewery tours run daily for those interested in learning more about the beer brewing process. You can find more info about booking a tour here.
WA Shipwrecks Museum
Located near the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour and housed inside a historic 19th century building, the Shipwrecks Museum is yet another fascinating Fremantle attraction that shouldn’t be missed. Inside the museum you’ll be taken on a journey through time to see original findings and exhibits from the many shipwrecks that occurred along WA’s coast.
You’ll get to see artefacts from the very first shipwreck in Australia and learn stories of the many sunken ships that belonged to the early Dutch explorers from the 1600’s. The collections include original remnants from the famous Batavia shipwreck.
Tickets: Free entry, donations welcomed
Opening Hour: 9:30am – 5:00pm daily (closed public holidays)
See What’s on at Fremantle Arts Centre
This stunning Gothic style building was originally built by convicts in the late 19th century. During its early years it served as a “lunatic asylum” for convicts, followed by a home for poor and elderly women, and later on the building was used by soldiers during WWII.
Nowadays the Fremantle Arts Centre is home to many different events and festivals throughout the year. Imagine watching live music inside a culturally rich, historic building. It’s a pretty cool experience! Find an upcoming event here.
You can also find a variety of art courses catering to children and adults that run frequently at the arts centre. From creative writing workshops to painting classes, there is something for everyone. Take a browse through their selection of art courses here.
Find the Best Photography Spots in Fremantle
Fremantle is an extremely photogenic city and it’s home to plenty of prime photography spots. Whether you’re chasing the perfect Instagram photo or just looking to shoot some beautiful scenes, here are some of the spots you shouldn’t miss.
Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour
There are many photo-worthy spots along the Fishing Boat Harbour, but one in particular comes to mind and that’s Bather’s Beach House. With it’s colourful vibes and prime location on the beachfront, there are many different angles that you could work here to achieve the perfect Instagram shot.
Besides the food and drinks themselves being photo-worthy, from the brightly coloured umbrellas to the adorable rainbow huts right next door, you’ll have plenty of choice here!
Overlooking the Fremantle Port and the Swan River is this unique and eye catching art installation. Constructed with 9 recycled sea containers, this vibrant rainbow sits next to the Canning Highway welcoming visitors to Fremantle and providing an excellent spot to grab a fun photo.
The most photographed attraction of the Esplanade park would have to be the Ferris Wheel. It’s bright white frame with red gondolas against a blue sky backdrop is certain to be a win on Instagram. Whether you capture your shot of the Ferris Wheel from the ground or of the amazing view from one of the gondolas above, you really can’t go wrong here!
South Mole Lighthouse
Lighthouses always make for an interesting photo opportunity and this bright green lighthouse is no exception! It’s location at the entrance to the Swan River means that the views from the South Mole Lighthouse are ideal for any photography enthusiast.
From this vantage point you’ll be able to see the Roundhouse, the Maritime Museum, Fishing Boat Harbour, and it’s also a beautiful place to watch the sunset from. For some contrast, head over to the bright red North Mole Lighthouse on the other side of the harbour!
Leighton Beach – North Fremantle
A gorgeous stretch of white sand giving way to vibrant turquoise water; these are the key ingredients that make for an awesome photo. You’ll find this gem in North Fremantle just south of the popular Cottesloe Beach. It’s not easy to get there by foot from the town centre, you’ll need a car to drive about 10 minutes north. Otherwise just ride the train for one stop (10 minutes) from Fremantle Station to North Fremantle.
Monument Hill at Sunset
Watching the sunset is always a magical way to finish off the day, so why not take a hike up to the top of Monument Hill for a gorgeous view over the city and port below to watch the sky light up in pretty colours?
This is a great place to capture the moment and remember your time in Fremantle. Aside from being a lovely sunset spot, this is also a war memorial honouring the soldiers who fought and died during WWI.
Dinner at Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour
To round off a busy day of exploring, there is one last thing to do in Fremantle that can’t be missed. Go for a walk along the Fishing Boat Harbour and pick out a nice place to have dinner with a beautiful ocean view. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to seafood restaurants on the Fishing Boat Harbour! You can’t go wrong with any of the options listed below.
Bather’s Beach House – A hot spot along Fremantle’s Fishing Boat Harbour, this relaxed beachfront restaurant is a Fremantle staple and long time local favourite. It’s the perfect place to finish off the day with a cocktail in hand while enjoying a waterfront sunset directly on Bather’s beachfront.
Kailis Fishmarket Cafe – Nothing but the freshest seafood at this popular spot. Choose from their wide selection of seafood on offer and enjoy your meal with seaside views. There is also a great wine list, check out their website for more info.
Cicerello’s – In the mood for some fish n’ chips? Look no further than Cicerello’s aka the “home of fish n’ chips”. This is the place to go for that classic fish n’ chips experience but for those after something different, their menu has plenty of other seafood dishes to pick from.
Joe’s Fish Shack – A highly rated seafood restaurant with great service and large portions. The seafood platter is a particularly popular dish featuring fresh W.A. crayfish, garlic prawns, oysters and smoked salmon. Joe’s Fish Shack makes an excellent choice for memorable dinner with beautiful views. Check their menu here.
Take a Trip to Rottnest Island
Planning to spend a few days in Freo? You’ll be glad to know there’s an island getaway only 30 minutes from Fremantle by ferry. Hop on the Rottnest Express to be transported to a paradise island surrounded by stunning white-sand beaches, plenty of great cycle routes, beautiful bays to snorkel in, and a ton of friendly quokkas roaming free.
Escaping to Rottnest Island makes the perfect day trip from Perth/Fremantle and an excellent addition to your time spent in WA! Ferries depart daily from B-Shed and Northport terminals in Fremantle. Check the ferry timetable and book your tickets here.
Where to Stay in Fremantle
Perhaps you like Fremantle so much that you’d rather spend your time there instead of basing yourself closer to Perth city. If that’s the case I don’t blame you, so here are a few highly rated places to stay in Fremantle.
Fremantle Bed & Breakfast – Centrally located in the heart of Fremantle, this beautiful B&B is set inside a historic building. Within walking distance to all Fremantle attractions, free continental breakfast included and comfortable rooms. This accommodation features both private and shared bathrooms.
Hougoumont Hotel Fremantle – A unique hotel with lovely modern decor, built using sea containers! Located on Bannister Street, this fabulous location will allow for easy access to all major sights around Fremantle. A light breakfast is included as well as complimentary wine and cheese in the evenings.
Esplanade Hotel Fremantle – Directly across from Esplanade Park, this lovely hotel features many great amenities. There are 2 pools, a fitness centre, 2 restaurants and 2 bars on-site, clean and spacious rooms, and a full buffet breakfast (at an extra cost). For those seeking some comfort and relaxation, this hotel is the perfect choice.
The National Hotel – Full of charm and character, this well restored heritage hotel is located in the heart of Fremantle and offers live music every night of the week. There is a rooftop bar with spectacular 360 degree views, spacious rooms, and a lively bar and restaurant.
How to Get to Fremantle from Perth
The easiest way to reach Fremantle from Perth if you don’t have a car is by taking the train. Trains to Fremantle depart regularly throughout the day from platform 7 of Perth City Train Station. The train takes around 35 minutes total and you can expect to pay around $7.50 for a return ticket.
More Things To Do In WA
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- The Ultimate 5 Day Perth Itinerary
- 6 Epic Weekend Trips from Perth
- Perth to Rottnest Island Day Trip Guide
- 20 Best Beaches in Western Australia
- 21 Stunning Photography Locations in Perth
- Where to Stay in Perth- A Local’s Guide to the Best Spots
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