Things To Do During Winter In Sydney

Things To Do During Winter In Sydney

Summer is the peak season in Sydney, as it is throughout Australia. Some of the characteristics that have made this harbour city famous are its seemingly unending stretch of golden beaches, its chic outdoor cafés, and its expansive parks.

green pine trees during snow season

The arrival of winter does not mean, however, that there is nothing left to do in and around Sydney.

Clear skies are common during the shoulder season, and temperatures rarely drop to the point where you wouldn’t want to be outside.

Things To Do During Winter In Sydney

Sydney, Australia experiences mild winters compared to other parts of the world, but there are still plenty of activities to enjoy during this season. Here are some things you can do during winter in Sydney:

1. Explore The Royal Botanic Garden

Exploring the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney is a wonderful way to spend time during winter. Here are some activities you can enjoy in the garden:

  • Take a Leisurely Walk: The Royal Botanic Garden covers a vast area with beautifully manicured lawns, colourful flower beds, and diverse plant collections. Take a stroll along the winding paths, soak in the serene atmosphere, and admire the stunning plant life.
  • Enjoy the Winter Blooms: While winter may bring cooler temperatures, the Royal Botanic Garden still showcases an array of flowers and plants that bloom during this season. Look out for winter-flowering species like camellias, daisies, and wattle trees.
  • Visit the Tropical Centre: Step into the Tropical Centre, a glasshouse that provides a warm and humid environment for tropical plants to thrive. Explore the lush vegetation, spot exotic plants, and learn about different ecosystems.
  • Explore Themed Gardens: The Royal Botanic Garden features several themed gardens, each with its unique charm. Visit the Oriental Garden for a taste of Japanese aesthetics, the Herb Garden for a sensory experience, or the Australian Rainforest Garden for a glimpse into the country’s diverse flora.
  • Attend Guided Tours: Join one of the guided tours offered in the garden to learn more about its history, plant collections, and conservation efforts. Knowledgeable guides will provide insights into the garden’s significance and share interesting anecdotes.
  • Visit the Calyx: The Calyx is a must-visit destination within the Royal Botanic Garden. This contemporary glasshouse hosts seasonal floral displays, interactive exhibitions, and educational programs. Check the schedule to see if there are any special exhibits or events taking place during your visit.
  • Picnic and Relax: Pack a picnic and find a picturesque spot within the garden to unwind and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. You can bring your food or grab something delicious from the various cafes and food outlets located nearby.
  • Attend Workshops and Events: The Royal Botanic Garden offers a range of workshops, talks, and events throughout the year. Check their website or inquire about any winter-specific activities that may be taking place, such as gardening workshops or photography sessions.

Remember to check the garden’s opening hours and any entry requirements before your visit. Enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the Royal Botanic Garden as you immerse yourself in nature’s wonders.

2. Visit the Art Galleries

Visiting art galleries in Sydney during winter is a fantastic way to appreciate and immerse yourself in the vibrant art scene of the city. Here are some art galleries you can explore:

  • Art Gallery of New South Wales: Located in The Domain, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is the leading public art museum in Sydney. It houses an extensive collection of Australian, Aboriginal, European, Asian, and contemporary art. Marvel at the diverse range of artworks, attend special exhibitions and participate in guided tours.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA): Situated on Circular Quay, the MCA is dedicated to contemporary art from both Australian and international artists. The museum showcases a wide range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, installation, and digital art. Explore thought-provoking exhibitions, attend artist talks, and take part in interactive workshops.
  • White Rabbit Gallery: Focusing on contemporary Chinese art, the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale is a unique and inspiring venue. The gallery showcases a collection of contemporary artworks from established and emerging Chinese artists. Explore the thought-provoking exhibitions and experience the rich cultural diversity of Chinese art.
  • Brett Whiteley Studio: Step into the world of renowned Australian artist Brett Whiteley at his former studio in Surry Hills. This intimate gallery space offers insights into the artist’s life and showcases his artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and drawings. It’s a must-visit for fans of Whiteley’s work.
  • Campbelltown Arts Centre: Located in the suburb of Campbelltown, this multidisciplinary arts centre showcases a range of contemporary artworks, including visual arts, performances, and community exhibitions. Check their exhibition schedule for upcoming shows and events.
  • Australian Centre for Photography (ACP): Photography enthusiasts should visit the Australian Centre for Photography in Darlinghurst. The ACP is dedicated to promoting and showcasing contemporary photography. Explore the gallery’s exhibitions, participate in photography workshops, and attend artist talks and events.
  • Commercial Galleries: Sydney has a vibrant gallery scene with numerous commercial galleries scattered throughout the city. These galleries feature a mix of established and emerging artists, offering diverse exhibitions and showcasing various art styles. Some notable commercial galleries include Sullivan+Strumpf, Olsen Gallery, and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.

Make sure to check the opening hours and any specific guidelines or restrictions before visiting the art galleries. Immerse yourself in the world of art, discover new perspectives, and appreciate the creativity of local and international artists.

3. Attend Vivid Sydney

Attending Vivid Sydney is a fantastic experience that combines art, lights, music, and ideas to transform the city into a mesmerizing spectacle. Here’s what you can expect when attending Vivid Sydney:

  • Light Installations: Vivid Sydney is renowned for its stunning light installations that illuminate iconic landmarks and buildings throughout the city. Be prepared to witness breathtaking displays of light, colour, and movement that create a vibrant and immersive environment.
  • Vivid Light Walk: The Vivid Light Walk is a must-see attraction during the festival. It features a curated route through the city, taking you past major landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Darling Harbour. Along the walk, you’ll encounter various light installations and projections that showcase the creativity of local and international artists.
  • Music and Performances: Vivid Sydney also offers a diverse program of live music performances, concerts, and DJ sets. You can attend concerts by renowned artists or discover emerging talent across various genres, including pop, electronic, classical, and more.
  • Talks and Workshops: Vivid Ideas is an integral part of Vivid Sydney, featuring a series of talks, panels, workshops, and seminars by leading creative minds and innovators. You can engage in discussions about art, technology, design, and other topics while gaining insights and inspiration from industry experts.
  • Food and Beverage: Vivid Sydney creates a festive atmosphere that extends to the dining scene. Numerous food stalls, pop-up bars, and restaurants participate in the festival, offering a wide range of culinary delights. Treat yourself to delicious street food, gourmet meals, and creative cocktails as you explore the festival.
  • Vivid Music: Vivid Music is a curated program of live music performances held in various venues across the city. From intimate gigs in bars and clubs to large-scale concerts in iconic venues, you’ll find a diverse range of musical acts to suit your tastes.
  • Vivid Ideas Exchange: The Vivid Ideas Exchange is a hub for creativity and innovation. It hosts talks, workshops, and interactive sessions that explore cutting-edge ideas, trends, and technologies across industries such as art, design, technology, and entrepreneurship.

Vivid Sydney usually takes place during May and June, but it’s essential to check the official website for the most up-to-date information regarding dates, locations, and specific events. Be prepared for large crowds, especially on weekends and popular nights, and consider planning your visit to make the most of the festival.

4. Go Whale Watching

Whale watching in Sydney is an incredible experience, particularly during the winter months when humpback whales migrate along the coast. Here’s what you need to know to enjoy a whale-watching excursion:

  • Choose a Reputable Tour Operator: Select a reputable tour operator that offers responsible and sustainable whale-watching experiences. Look for operators that follow guidelines to minimize disturbance to the whales and prioritize their welfare.
  • Whale-Watching Cruises: Book a whale-watching cruise from Sydney Harbour or nearby coastal locations. These cruises are led by experienced guides who provide information about the whales and ensure you have the best chance of spotting them. Cruises typically last a few hours and often include commentary, refreshments, and sometimes even hydrophones to listen to whale songs.
  • Best Time to Go: Humpback whales pass by Sydney during their annual migration between May and November. The peak season is generally from June to August, but whales can be seen earlier and later in the migration period as well. Check with the tour operator for the most optimal times for whale sightings.
  • Spotting Techniques: During the cruise, keep an eye out for signs of whale activity. Look for spouts of water rising from the surface, breaching (when whales leap out of the water), tail slapping, or the presence of birds congregating over a specific area. Experienced guides will also assist in spotting and identifying whale behaviours.
  • Whale-Watching Etiquette: Follow the guidelines provided by the tour operator to ensure a respectful whale-watching experience. Maintain a safe distance from the whales, never approach them directly, and avoid sudden or loud noises that may startle them. Listen to the instructions provided by the crew to ensure the safety of both passengers and whales.
  • Dress Appropriately: Dress warmly for the whale-watching excursion, as it can be cooler out at sea. Wear layers, a windproof jacket, and comfortable shoes, and consider bringing a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
  • Other Marine Life: While watching for whales, keep an eye out for other marine life that may be present, such as dolphins, seals, and various bird species. The waters around Sydney are teeming with biodiversity, so you might have the opportunity to spot other fascinating creatures.

Remember, sightings of whales are dependent on various factors, including weather conditions and the behaviour of the animals themselves. While every effort is made to locate and observe whales, it’s important to keep in mind that they are wild creatures and their appearance cannot be guaranteed. Nonetheless, a whale-watching excursion offers a memorable opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

5. Take A Coastal Walk

Taking a coastal walk in Sydney is a fantastic way to enjoy the scenic beauty of the city’s coastline. Here are a few popular coastal walks you can explore:

  • Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk: This iconic coastal walk stretches for about 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) along the eastern suburbs. Starting at Bondi Beach, you’ll pass through picturesque beaches like Tamarama, Bronte, and Clovelly before reaching Coogee Beach. Enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean, stunning cliffs, and plenty of spots to rest and take in the scenery.
  • Manly to Spit Bridge Walk: This scenic walk covers around 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) and takes you through Sydney Harbour National Park. Starting at Manly Beach, you’ll traverse along the coastline, passing through beautiful secluded beaches, lush bushland, and rocky headlands. The walk ends at Spit Bridge, where you can catch a bus back to the city.
  • Watsons Bay to Bondi Beach Walk: This picturesque coastal walk starts at Watsons Bay and winds its way south to Bondi Beach. Along the approximately 8-kilometre (5-mile) route, you’ll enjoy stunning views of Sydney Harbour, iconic cliffs, and several picturesque beaches, including Parsley Bay and Bronte Beach.
  • Coogee to Maroubra Coastal Walk: If you’re looking for a slightly less crowded option, the Coogee to Maroubra coastal walk is a great choice. This approximately 6-kilometre (3.7-mile) walk takes you from Coogee Beach to Maroubra Beach, passing through the picturesque seaside suburb of Malabar. You’ll encounter stunning coastal views, rock pools, and scenic lookouts along the way.
  • The Hermitage Foreshore Walk: Located within Sydney Harbour National Park, this walk offers a tranquil experience away from the bustling city. The approximately 1.8-kilometre (1.1-mile) track winds along the foreshore of Vaucluse, providing breathtaking views of the harbour, scenic coves, and beautiful natural landscapes.

Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes, carry water, and sunscreen, and consider bringing a hat or sunglasses. It’s also a good idea to check the weather conditions and tide times before embarking on the coastal walk. Take your time, enjoy the fresh air, and immerse yourself in the stunning coastal scenery that Sydney has to offer.

6. Explore The Rocks

Exploring The Rocks is a must-do activity when visiting Sydney. This historic neighbourhood is known for its cobblestone streets, charming architecture, and rich cultural heritage. Here are some things to do when exploring The Rocks:

  • The Rocks Discovery Museum: Start your exploration at The Rocks Discovery Museum, located in a restored 1850s sandstone warehouse. The museum offers fascinating insights into the history and development of The Rocks, showcasing interactive exhibits, artifacts, and multimedia displays.
  • Walking Tours: Join a guided walking tour to learn more about the area’s history and stories. The Rocks Walking Tours and The Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Heritage Tour offer engaging experiences led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the neighbourhood’s past and its Indigenous heritage.
  • The Rocks Markets: Visit The Rocks Markets, held on weekends, to browse unique arts, crafts, fashion, and food stalls. Discover handmade jewellery, artwork, clothing, and sample delicious street food from around the world.
  • Historic Pubs: The Rocks is home to several historic pubs that have been serving locals and visitors for generations. Drop by establishments like The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, The Fortune of War, or The Australian Hotel for a pint of beer and soak in the old-world charm.
  • Susannah Place Museum: Step back in time at the Susannah Place Museum, a terrace of four houses that have been preserved to showcase different periods of working-class life in Sydney. Take a guided tour to explore the furnished rooms and learn about the lives of the families who lived there.
  • Argyle Cut: Marvel at the engineering feat of the Argyle Cut, a sandstone cutting that was blasted through a ridge to provide a direct route from Sydney Cove to The Rocks. The dramatic stone walls of the cut reveal layers of Sydney’s history.
  • Boutique Shops and Galleries: Explore the boutique shops and galleries scattered throughout The Rocks. From fashion boutiques to art galleries, you’ll find a mix of contemporary designs and unique treasures.
  • Sydney Observatory: Visit the Sydney Observatory, located on a hilltop in The Rocks. Take part in stargazing sessions, and astronomy talks, or enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline and harbour from the observatory grounds.
  • Dining and Cafés: The Rocks offers a range of dining options to suit all tastes. From cozy cafes and contemporary restaurants to traditional pubs and waterfront dining, there’s something for everyone.
  • The Rocks Markets: Visit The Rocks Markets, held on weekends, to browse unique arts, crafts, fashion, and food stalls. Discover handmade jewellery, artwork, clothing, and sample delicious street food from around the world.

Immerse yourself in the history, culture, and vibrant atmosphere of The Rocks as you wander through its laneways, soak in its heritage, and appreciate its unique character.

7. Enjoy Winter Festivals

During winter in Sydney, you can enjoy a variety of winter festivals that offer entertainment, cultural experiences, and seasonal activities. Here are some popular winter festivals to consider:

  • Sydney Winter Festival: The Sydney Winter Festival is a family-friendly event that takes place at various locations in the city. It features a range of winter-themed activities, including ice skating, ice slides, snow play areas, and winter markets. Enjoy the festive atmosphere, indulge in winter treats, and have fun on the ice.
  • Bondi Winter Magic: Bondi Beach hosts the Bondi Winter Magic festival, which transforms the famous beachside into a winter wonderland. Enjoy ice skating by the sea, live entertainment, art installations, and food stalls. The festival also includes events like a winter swimming competition and the Bondi Bergstation ski lodge experience.
  • Vivid Sydney: As mentioned earlier, Vivid Sydney is a major winter festival that combines light, music, and ideas to create a stunning visual spectacle. Explore the city as it comes alive with vibrant light installations, projections, live music performances, and creative talks. Vivid Sydney offers a unique and immersive experience that showcases the city’s creativity.
  • Winterland at Luna Park: Luna Park, a historic amusement park in Sydney, hosts Winterland during the winter season. The park is transformed into a winter-themed wonderland with ice skating, carnival games, winter-themed rides, and festive decorations. Enjoy the rides, play games, and savour winter treats.
  • Sydney Film Festival: The Sydney Film Festival takes place in June and offers a diverse program of international and Australian films. Explore a wide range of genres, including documentaries, feature films, and shorts. Attend screenings, filmmaker talks, and special events during this renowned film festival.
  • Christmas in July: Many venues and restaurants in Sydney celebrate Christmas in July, embracing the winter season with festive decorations, traditional meals, and holiday-themed events. Check out local restaurants, bars, and venues to find special Christmas-in-July experiences and indulge in a winter feast.
  • Winter Festivals in the Blue Mountains: If you’re willing to venture a bit outside Sydney, the Blue Mountains region hosts several winter festivals. The Yulefest in Katoomba, for example, offers Christmas-themed celebrations during the winter months. Enjoy traditional Yuletide feasts, carol singing, and cozy experiences in the charming mountain setting.

These are just a few examples of the winter festivals you can enjoy in and around Sydney. Be sure to check the specific dates, activities, and locations for each festival as they may vary from year to year. Embrace the winter season and join in the festivities to make the most of your time in Sydney.

8. Go to the Theater

Going to the theatre in Sydney during winter is a great way to enjoy live performances and immerse yourself in the art scene. Here are some options for theatre experiences in the city:

  • Sydney Opera House: The Sydney Opera House is an iconic venue known for its stunning architecture and world-class performances. Catch a theatre production, opera, ballet, or musical in one of its multiple theatres, such as the Joan Sutherland Theatre or the Drama Theatre. The Opera House hosts a diverse range of shows throughout the year, featuring both local and international talent.
  • Capitol Theatre: Located in Haymarket, the Capitol Theatre is a historic venue that hosts large-scale musicals, theatre productions, and live performances. Enjoy Broadway hits, blockbuster musicals, and acclaimed theatrical performances in this grand theatre.
  • Sydney Theatre Company: The Sydney Theatre Company is one of Australia’s premier theatre companies, known for its high-quality productions and talented ensemble of actors. Check their season program to see what plays and performances are on offer during your visit. The company performs at various venues, including the Roslyn Packer Theatre and the Wharf Theatre.
  • Belvoir St Theatre: Belvoir St Theatre is a renowned venue for contemporary and innovative theatre productions. Located in Surry Hills, it showcases a diverse range of performances, including new Australian plays, classic works, and experimental theatre. Experience thought-provoking and boundary-pushing performances at this vibrant theatre.
  • Hayes Theatre Co: For musical theatre enthusiasts, the Hayes Theatre Co in Potts Point is a must-visit. This intimate venue specializes in presenting musical productions, including both established and emerging works. Enjoy a unique and immersive theatre experience in this boutique theatre setting.
  • Ensemble Theatre: Situated in Kirribilli, the Ensemble Theatre is dedicated to producing a wide range of quality theatrical works. It focuses on intimate and character-driven productions, featuring talented actors. Enjoy engaging dramas, comedies, and thought-provoking plays in this cozy theatre setting.
  • Other Venues: Sydney has a vibrant theatre scene, with various other venues hosting theatrical productions throughout the year. Keep an eye out for performances at venues like the Seymour Centre, Riverside Theatre, and the New Theatre, which offer a mix of classic and contemporary productions.

Be sure to check the websites of the theatres or ticketing platforms for current shows, schedules, and ticket availability. Winter is a great time to indulge in theatre experiences and witness captivating performances in Sydney.

9. Visit The Blue Mountains

Visiting the Blue Mountains is a popular excursion from Sydney, offering breathtaking natural beauty, stunning views, and numerous outdoor activities. Here’s what you can do when exploring the Blue Mountains:

  • Scenic World: Start your Blue Mountains adventure at Scenic World in Katoomba. Experience the breathtaking scenery from the Scenic Skyway, Scenic Cableway, and Scenic Railway. Take a thrilling ride on the world’s steepest passenger railway, explore the rainforest via elevated walkways, and enjoy panoramic views of the Jamison Valley.
  • Three Sisters: The Three Sisters is an iconic rock formation in the Blue Mountains. Take a short walk to Echo Point in Katoomba to witness this natural wonder. Enjoy stunning views of the Three Sisters and the surrounding valleys from the lookout and learn about the Aboriginal legends associated with this significant site.
  • Bushwalking and Hiking: The Blue Mountains offer a multitude of bushwalking and hiking trails suitable for various fitness levels. Explore the many tracks that wind through the national park, such as the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, Federal Pass, and National Pass. Marvel at cascading waterfalls, ancient rock formations, and lush vegetation as you immerse yourself in the pristine wilderness.
  • Wentworth Falls: Visit Wentworth Falls, a picturesque village in the Blue Mountains known for its stunning waterfall. Take a stroll to the top of the falls or embark on longer hikes to explore the surrounding bushland and enjoy panoramic views of the valley.
  • Jenolan Caves: Venture deeper into the Blue Mountains to discover the fascinating Jenolan Caves. Explore the underground limestone caves on a guided tour and marvel at the intricate formations, crystal-clear pools, and majestic chambers. The Jenolan Caves offer a unique and awe-inspiring experience.
  • Aboriginal Culture: Learn about the Aboriginal heritage and culture of the Blue Mountains. Join a guided tour or cultural experience to gain insights into the ancient traditions, stories, and connections to the land. Participate in activities like bush tucker tastings, traditional performances, and art workshops.
  • Scenic Lookouts: The Blue Mountains are renowned for their stunning vistas, and there are numerous scenic lookouts where you can soak in the breathtaking views. Some notable lookouts include Govetts Leap, Pulpit Rock, and Sublime Point Lookout. Witness the vastness of the valleys, the blue haze that gives the mountains their name, and the dramatic cliff faces.
  • Leura Village: Explore the charming village of Leura, known for its beautiful gardens, boutique shops, and delightful cafes. Take a stroll along Leura Mall, browse unique stores, and enjoy a relaxing meal or coffee in one of the local eateries.

Whether you choose to embark on a bushwalking adventure, immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture, or simply enjoy the natural beauty of the area, a visit to the Blue Mountains is sure to be a memorable experience.

10. Indulge In Winter Cuisine

Indulging in winter cuisine is a delightful way to embrace the colder months in Sydney. Here are some winter dishes and culinary experiences you can enjoy:

  • Hearty Pies: Pies are a quintessential comfort food during winter. Look for local bakeries and pie shops that offer a variety of savoury pies, such as beef and Guinness, chicken and mushroom, or lamb and rosemary. Enjoy these delicious, warm pastries with a side of mashed potatoes or mushy peas.
  • Roast Dinners: A traditional roast dinner is a perfect choice for a warming winter meal. Many pubs and restaurants in Sydney serve roast dinners with roasted meats like beef, lamb, or pork, accompanied by roasted vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, and rich gravy.
  • Hot Chocolate: Warm yourself up with a decadent cup of hot chocolate. Look for cafes that offer specialty hot chocolates with flavours like dark chocolate, salted caramel, or mint. Some places even serve extravagant hot chocolates topped with whipped cream, marshmallows, or shaved chocolate.
  • Slow-cooked Stews: Winter is the perfect time to savour a comforting bowl of slow-cooked stew. Whether it’s a classic beef stew, a hearty lamb tagine, or a vegetable curry, these dishes are packed with flavours and make for a satisfying meal. Enjoy them with crusty bread or creamy mashed potatoes.
  • Soups and Chowders: Soup is an excellent choice for a warming lunch or dinner during winter. From creamy pumpkin soup to hearty chicken noodle soup or seafood chowder, there are plenty of options to choose from. Pair it with crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwich for a complete meal.
  • Winter Seafood: Sydney is renowned for its fresh seafood, and winter is no exception. Indulge in dishes like grilled fish, seafood paella, or a seafood platter featuring oysters, prawns, mussels, and more. Enjoy the flavours of the sea while overlooking Sydney’s beautiful waterfront.
  • Mulled Wine: Mulled wine is a classic winter drink that combines red wine with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel. It’s often served warm and makes for a cozy and aromatic beverage. Look for bars or restaurants that offer mulled wine on their menu during the winter months.
  • Winter Desserts: Treat yourself to indulgent winter desserts like sticky date pudding, warm apple crumble, or rich chocolate fondant. These comforting desserts are perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth and ending a winter meal on a delightful note.

When exploring Sydney during winter, be sure to try these delicious winter dishes and seek out restaurants, cafes, and pubs that embrace the flavours of the season. Embrace the warmth and comfort of winter cuisine as you enjoy the culinary delights that Sydney has to offer.


Winter in Sydney offers a range of exciting activities and experiences that allow you to make the most of the season. From exploring the Royal Botanic Garden and visiting art galleries to attending Vivid Sydney and going whale watching, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Additionally, taking a coastal walk, exploring The Rocks, and indulging in winter festivals and cuisine provide further opportunities for adventure and immersion in the vibrant atmosphere of the city.

Don’t forget to plan a visit to the Blue Mountains to witness its breathtaking natural beauty. Whether you’re seeking cultural enrichment, outdoor exploration, or cozy winter delights, Sydney has plenty to offer during the winter months. Embrace the season and create lasting memories in this captivating city.

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