Best Time of Year to Visit Sydney, Australia

Hyde park, Sydney | © Taras Vyshnya/Shutterstock
Hyde park, Sydney | © Taras Vyshnya/Shutterstock
Photo of Caitlin Morahan
18 April 2018

With beach-worthy summers, breezy autumns, fresh winters and colour-filled springs, it’s no surprise Sydney is consistently ranked among the world’s most liveable cities. Whether you prefer the heat of the summer for optimal beach weather or cooler, crisp winter mornings for a busy day of sightseeing, Sydney will have the perfect climate for you to plan your visit.

Summer – December to February

Summertime in Sydney is the best time to enjoy everything outdoors. Australians themselves live predominantly outside during this season – and for good reason. It’s the best time to enjoy longer days, with afternoon drinks at waterfront venues, sunset cruises, picnics, and every water sport you can think of – kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and have you really been to Australia if you haven’t given surfing a try?

The temperatures can really rise during this time, so make sure you’re prepared for it – wear sunscreen, a hat, and take water with you wherever you go exploring.

Summer has festivities galore as well. Experience a true Aussie Christmas in the heat – sunny beach days and cold seafood lunches are our tradition here. On Boxing Day, the gruelling Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race starts in Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Festival, a month-long celebration of the arts, is on in January and runs until Australia Day on January 26.

Bondi Beach on Christmas Day, Australia | © Victor Rodriguez/Shutterstock

And of course, there is no fireworks display quite like that of Sydney on New Year’s Eve. Sydney Harbour hosts one of the most beautifully dazzling displays of pyrotechnics in the world. Get in early to secure your spot – people camp for days for the perfect viewing location.

Autumn – March to May

Autumn sees the summer crowds dwindling, with Australian students going back to school and university, and adults getting stuck into the working year. It is, however, the perfect time for international tourists to visit. The days are warm and the nights mild, and it’s the perfect time to visit famed Taronga Zoo on the other side of the harbour, go hiking at the national park and ride the ferry through the waterways of Sydney Harbour without the pulsing summer crowds.

During May, Sydney comes alive with its Vivid Festival. Sydney is illuminated with creative light works imagined by some of the world’s leading imagineers – their word, not ours, but it’s the perfect way to describe the artists and engineers who bring the light displays to life. The concept of the Vivid Festival is to explore innovative ideas across technology, design and culture. There are displays stretching all over the city, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo, and the historic Rocks neighbourhood. The festival is opened by lighting up the sails of Sydney Opera House with lashings of colour and light sequences.

Opera House, Sydney | © aiyoshi597/Shutterstock

Anzac Day on the 25th of April is another holiday that has Australia taking the day to reflect on their history and have a few beers together. The date marks the anniversary of The Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (hence the acronym ANZAC) landing on the shores of Gallipoli in 1915. You might want to attend one of the many Dawn Services around the city and suburbs and afterwards try your hand at two up in a pub or RSL.

Winter – June to August

As the temperatures lower, so do the prices. Although the weather is significantly cooler than in summer and autumn, there are clearer, sunny days and the air seems to boast a new, crisp freshness. It’s the perfect time to visit Sydney and especially its surrounds. Places like the Southern Highlands have beautiful wine regions that are stunning in the frost, and perfect to rent a little cottage with a fireplace for the weekend.

Contrary to popular belief that Australia is a sauna all year round, we do actually have snow – south of Sydney are the Snowy Mountains, which are about a six-hour drive from Sydney. The snow fields of Thredbo, Smiggins Hole, Perisher and Blue Cow provide excellent runs for all levels of snow sports enthusiasts.

The Queen’s Birthday long weekend falls in winter and aside from these couple of days, costs in Sydney will be significantly lower.

If you want to take advantage of the chill in the air reminding you of the festive season in the Northern Hemisphere, take a drive to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and experience Yulefest with roaring log fires, Christmas dinners, and carols all around.

Spring – September to November

By the time September rolls around, temperatures are warming up, the flora is blossoming to the height of its beauty, and the days are perfect for relaxing in the mild sunshine or exploring the city on foot.

Spring is the driest season in Sydney, so you aren’t likely to get caught in a torrid rainstorm that will spoil a day of sightseeing. Rather, it makes walking tours in Sydney more enjoyable when you’re able to appreciate the iconic landmarks and natural landscapes without sweating through your clothes or huddling from the wind.

The view of Opera house, Sydney | © ArliftAtoz2205/Shutterstock

If you’re interested in marine-focused activities, Sydney’s whale-watching season runs from May through to November. Specific cruises depart from Circular Quay and Darling Harbour to look for the humpbacks. If you fancy a road trip, driving south to Jervis Bay will increase your chances of seeing these gentle giants. With the natural wonders in full bloom, a picnic in the Royal National Park or the Botanical Gardens are simply a must.

The tail of a Humpback Whale, Sydney | © ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock