Art Gallery of Western Australia, Suzanne Long / Auscape International

Northbridge, which lies north of the city centre across the train line, is Perth’s centre for the arts and the heart of the city’s nightlife. This inner-city suburb is connected to the city centre via a walkway that crosses Perth Railway Station and leads directly to the Perth Cultural Centre. Bounded by Roe, Francis, Beaufort and William streets, the Perth Cultural Centre includes the state museum, art gallery, state library and Perth’s institute of contemporary arts. William Street and the streets further west are packed with restaurants and bars that offer great eating, drinking and nightlife.

Art Gallery of Western Australia

The state’s principal public art gallery, founded in 1895, houses collections of Australian and international paintings, sculpture, prints, craft and decorative arts. Till March 2015, the gallery will be hosting exhibits from New York's Museum of Modern Art. Perth Cultural Centre, James St Mall; (08) 9492 6622 (24-hour information line) or (08) 9492 6600; open 10am–5pm Wed-Mon; general admission free; free guided tours available.

Western Australian Museum

At this comprehensive museum you can see a 25-metre whale skeleton, the 11-tonne Mundrabilla meteorite and ‘Megamouth’, a rare species of shark. There are exhibitions concerning the state’s Aboriginal people; the origins of the universe; and dinosaur, bird, butterfly, mammal and marine galleries. The interactive Discovery Centre is great for children. Within the museum complex is the Old Gaol, built in 1856 and used by the Swan River Colony until 1888. Perth Cultural Centre, James St Mall; (08) 9212 3700; open 9.30am–5pm Thurs–Tues; admission by donation; free guided tours available.

Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts

Commonly referred to by its acronym, PICA, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts is where you can sample the latest in visual and performance art. There is an ever-changing program of exhibitions. Perth Cultural Centre, James St Mall; (08) 9228 6300; open 11am–6pm Tues–Sun; general admission free.