4,405km (2,731 miles) W of Sydney; 2,389km (1,481 miles) S of Broome

Perth is probably the most outdoorsy of all Aussie cities. The climate, Perth's brilliant setting along the Swan River and the Indian Ocean, and the abundance of parkland mean that it's almost obligatory to get outside and enjoy the sun and fresh air.

Perth has a wonderful Mediterranean climate that gives it more hours of sun than any other major city in Australia, from October right through to April. This sunshine capital is also home to a thousand mining and exploration companies, which help bring a casual, but can-do feel to the city.

All these elements give Perth a youthful and friendly, energetic vibrancy. Perth is on the cusp of major change -- with significant developments and much intense discussion about how best to plan for the future -- as it struggles with the transition from what was a big country town into an international city.

Wander through the restored historic warehouses, museums, and working docks of bustling Fremantle; stroll through the 400-hectare (1,000-acre) Kings Park in the middle of the city; visit art galleries and museums; eat at some of the country's best restaurants; enjoy the riverside parks and gardens; catch a few waves at one of the beaches; stock up at the Aboriginal art and souvenir stores; and pedal your bike around Rottnest Island, a small reef resort 19km (12 miles) offshore, to find a great snorkeling spot.

More than most other Aussie capitals, Perth gives you good choices of side trips: Drop in on the Benedictine monks in the Spanish Renaissance monastery town of New Norcia, nip out to the Swan Valley vineyards, visit the weird landscape of the Pinnacles, or spend a few days in Margaret River country, one of Australia's top wine regions.

Perth's climate is fabulous for most of the year. Most visitors focus on the brilliant summer months of December through March, with lots of sun, sea, and sand, though the sea breeze can get strong. The winter months of June to August can be cold and rainy but still average 6 hours of sun a day, while April to May and September to November are often superb with mild, fine days.