Voted one of Lonely Planet's top cities for 2016, Fremantle's fascinating history, bourgeoning arts scene and vibrant dining precinct make it a haven for history buffs, culture purveyors and socialites alike. Situated a mere 30-minutes' drive from the heart of Perth, this up-and-coming bohemian borough takes plenty of cues from the big city, all while retaining the small town charm and laidback lifestyle that's put it on the map.
Fancy a day in 'Freo'? Pick up a car rental in Perth and explore the best of this humble portside town at your own pace.
Start your day like a local and make a break for Fremantle's favourite café, The Attic, where traditional brunch fare takes on a Middle Eastern twist. Housed in one of the city's characteristic heritage buildings, this rustic café captures Fremantle's old-meets-new atmosphere perfectly, with new age classics like banana bread with carob molasses and smashed avocado with toasted black quinoa all served in a charming exposed-brick enclave.
After you've filled your belly amidst The Attic's collection of lost and found antiques, fuel a trip to the Fremantle Markets with a stroll down the famed Cappuccino Strip, where steaming hot cuppas rival the best in the nation. Sample a bespoke single origin blend or a smooth flat white before losing yourself amidst the market's labyrinth of stallholders, stocking everything from freshly squeezed juices to hand-crafted jewellery.
If the markets leave you longing for a little bit more retail therapy, peruse the local boutiques and trendy galleries that call South Fremantle home. Known as the city's laidback beach 'burb, the shopfronts on the area's chic promenade range from designer fashion labels to vintage goods, with plenty of opportunities for al fresco dining interspersed in between.
Once you've worked up an appetite window shopping, grab a bite at South Terrace's well-loved organic café, Ootong & Lincoln, before trading in the cities modern shops for a tour through time. Make your way from Western Australia's oldest public building, the Round House, to the heritage-listed Fremantle Prison, where more than 100 years of colonial history culminate in a fascinating guided tour.
Continue your tour of the city's past in the historic Fremantle Arts Centre. Housed in one of the town's most iconic buildings, this old-meets-new institution juxtaposes contemporary exhibitions with the venue's classic Victorian architecture, letting visitors appreciate the artists of Fremantle's past and present all at once.
From the Fremantle Arts Centre, make your way to the Fishing Boat Harbour in time to see a classic Western Australian sunset dip behind the Indian Ocean. As night falls, stroll the esplanade to arrive at Little Creatures, where frothy pints of Western Australian craft brews are served waterside with salty beer snacks to match. Got a bit of extra time to spare? Stick around for one of the brewery's guided tours, which start in the Brewhouse at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm daily.
After you've sampled the city's hop-filled finest, make your way back to the heart of Freo on foot, where dinner – and your day's final destination – awaits. Meander your way through the historic laneways and you'll soon find yourself in the warm glow of Fremantle's latest fine dining venture, Bread in Common, where house baked loaves take centre stage at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cooked atop volcanic stones and amidst open flames, this all-day eatery's dough-inspired dishes are the perfect way to savour a day well spent.
See why this mini metropolis is set to be all the rage in 2016. Pick up a car hire in Perth and discover the best of Fremantle in a day.