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by Santorini Dave • Updated: November 15, 2018
What is the best time to visit Sydney, Australia?
- Best Time to Visit Sydney: October, November, late February and March. These months generally offer sunny weather, while avoiding the heat of mid-summer and school holiday crowds.
- Best Time for Good Weather: Late October to early April.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: October, November, March, and April.
- Best Time for Honeymoons: Late spring (October and November) and early autumn (March and April).
- Best Time for Outdoor Activities: Surfing and swimming in summer (December to February), but anything else, e.g. hiking, late spring (October and November) or early autumn (March and April).
- Best Time for Nightlife: Always good, with never a dull moment.
- Best Time for Saving Money: Avoid the school holidays when hotel rates are higher. Some hotels in the city center are cheaper on weekends, but always busy during the numerous festivals and sporting events.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: Avoiding the heat of mid-summer, and the crowds and higher hotel rates of the Australian school holidays, the best time is late spring (October and November) and early autumn (March and April). This also avoids the humidity, which can be draining at times, and (hopefully) the rain, which can be disruptive from April to September.
- Best Time for Outdoor Activities: The heat and humidity can be difficult during the summer (December to February) for anything like hiking. Although this is the prime time for swimming, the baking sun can take its toll, and crowds at beaches like Bondi and Manly can easily dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. To avoid the heat, humidity, hordes and hail, head outside in late spring (October and November) and early autumn (March and April). Serious surfers will know the best time is anytime, when prepared, but ask the experts if heading further north.
- Best Time for Beaches: The delightful Manly Beach, and those to the east, including iconic Bondi, are worth visiting any time of the year for walking, shopping, and admiring the views. But for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, the best times are from late spring (November) to early autumn (March), but always be careful of the burning sun and scary waves.
Sydney Travel Seasons
- High Season (December to early February): During this time, the weather is always hot, and the humidity can even drive the locals inside. Nevertheless, many Sydneysiders and tourists – Australian and foreign – head to the beaches and various sporting events at this time. Rates for hotels are always higher, even more so around Christmas/New Year, when schools are shut, and many offices and business also close.
- Shoulder Season: (mid-February to end of May, and September to November): This is the best time to visit because the crowds are less (it’s out of the school holiday period), hotel rates are lower, and the weather is usually still ideal for sightseeing, with crisp days, cool nights, and infrequent rain.
- Low Season: (June, July and August): Winter can be cold and wet, although heavy rain in summer is not uncommon, and winter days can often be sunny and dry. Prices for hotels are at their lowest, except for the mid-year school holiday period (around mid-July), and during major sporting events.
Sydney Weather by Month
- Sydney Weather in January: Start of the hottest and driest part of the year, although heavy tropical rain from the north is not uncommon. Be prepared for the sweltering sun, with the usual precautions, especially sunscreen.
- Sydney Weather in February: The heat will continue unabated throughout February, with little sign that it is the last month of summer. Paradoxically, this is actually the second-wettest month of the year, but most rain comes in short and heavy sub-tropical bursts, with negligible drizzle.
- Sydney Weather in March: The first signs of autumn are the falling leaves, especially the gigantic maple trees in the city center, so it’s a magical time to visit the numerous parks. And the gentle coastal breezes remind us that relief from the heat is nigh.
- Sydney Weather in April: Daylight saving finishes in the first weekend of April, usually signalling the end of the heat and humidity. The nights are becoming cooler and the days crisper and more pleasant. But, strangely, this is the wettest month of the year.
- Sydney Weather in May: Winter could start in earnest by now, with cold rainy days, although spring might linger a little longer. It’s a changeable time of the year, so be prepared for anything – T-shirts and shorts, or jacket and jeans. And buy an umbrella.
- Sydney Weather in June: The first month of winter will certainly bring colder weather, with a chance of heavy rain, sometimes gales and storms with hail from the coast. It never snows in Sydney, but temperatures can reach freezing in the Blue Mountains and regional cities. Always wear a thick coat, and be prepared for howling winds along the city streets.
- Sydney Weather in July: The middle of winter will be cold and often wet, but crisp and dry days are not uncommon either. It’s the coldest month for average highs and lows, but surprisingly, it only rains about 10 days on average.
- Sydney Weather in August: The winter continues with occasional biting winds, especially bracing along the coastal suburbs and beaches. Waves will be high (so ferries are sometimes cancelled), while winds howl around the city streets. Just grin and bear it. Relief is on the way.
- Sydney Weather in September: This is another changeable month. The winter may continue unabated, or signs of spring could fill the air. Be prepared for anything.
- Sydney Weather in October: Daylight savings starts during the last weekend in October, signaling the start of the warmer weather. The days are usually very pleasant, with days yet to be blighted with excessive heat or humidity.
- Sydney Weather in November: This is the last month to enjoy the spring weather, before it gets too hot, and the crowds make traveling around the city streets unpleasant, especially in overcrowded trains and buses.
- Sydney Weather in December: The first month of summer can still be pleasant, as spring may linger, although the heat prompts the start of the bushfire season in the hills and regional centers. Be prepared for scorching days, with all the usual precautions, such as a hat and sunscreen.
Sydney Holidays, Events and Festivals
Sydney Events in January
- New Year’s Day – this is another major holiday when many shops, almost all offices, and a few tourist attractions will close. Locals like to relax (and perhaps, recover from hangovers) with visits to the beach and barbeques in the parks.
- Cricket Test (movable, up to 5 days, early in the month) – held at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground, this annual sporting event is popular, so book tickets months in advance.
- Australia Day (26 January) – this public holiday is celebrated with events (such as citizenship ceremonies) for a few, while the majority flock to the beach or go shopping.
- School Holidays (from mid-December to end of January) – the main summer holidays differ slightly in each state, but this is a time of higher hotel rates and occupancy, and busier public transport. But keep an eye out for community events designed for the young ones.
- ‘Silly Season’ – this extends from around 20 December to the first week of January, when many businesses (but not those for tourists) are closed, and very little gets done anywhere, except sunburning and after-Christmas shopping.
- Sydney Festival – a 3-week extravaganza of music, theater, dance, arts, and circuses across the city, with many free events.
Sydney Events in February
- Chinese New Year (movable, January or February) – celebrated by the sizeable Chinese community, particularly in the inner-city Chinatown and suburban Parramatta. Expect plenty of parades, packed restaurants, and dragon boat races in Darling Harbour.
- Sydney Mardi Gras (end February to early March) – now one of the world’s premier Gay and Lesbian events, with thousands marching and many more watching the extravaganza. Events are held across Sydney, but primarily within the Surry Hills and Oxford Street area, culminating in the parade on the first Saturday in March.
Sydney Events in March
- Sydney Royal Easter Show (movable, March and/or April) – the country’s largest, with agricultural displays, kids’ rides, and plenty more fun for the family over about 10 days.
- Saint Patrick’s Day (17th) – locals and the sizeable number of resident backpackers love to party, and this Irish holiday is a good excuse to don a silly green hat and drink lots of Guinness.
- Biennale of Sydney (late March to mid-June) – the country’s largest display of contemporary art is showcased across numerous galleries.
- Moonlight Cinema (last week in March) – the parklands in Paddington are converted into an open-air cinema, with hundreds of films shown.
- Rooftop Cinema (for about 5 weeks from late March) – the amusement centre of Luna Park hosts an outdoor cinema with personal headphones for patrons.
Sydney Events in April
- Sydney Comedy Festival (April-May) – featuring local and international acts at large theaters and intimate cafés across the city.
- Anzac Day (25th) – sombre commemoration of Australian history, with memorial services, and a military parade through the city center.
- Easter – (moveable, March/April) – Australians love public holidays, and this is a cracker. Most shops, offices, tourist attractions, and even pubs close on Good Friday, while many cafés and other places of interest to visitors may close for 4 days. Basic tourist facilities will remain open over Easter, but public transport will be limited. Be prepared.
Sydney Events in May
- Vivid Sydney (late May to mid-June) – mind-blowing entertainment, music, dance, light shows, and workshops across the city, with the Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo and Darling Harbour, among others, all spectacularly illuminated at night.
- Sydney Writers’ Festival (1 week, early in the month) – the largest of its kind in Australia, the joys of literature are celebrated with over 500 events for everyone.
- Semi-Permanent (3 days, usually late May) – an inspirational gathering of artistic minds from across the world, with displays, talks and debates.
- Sydney Film Festival – 12 days showcasing 200+ local and foreign films and documentaries that are sure to entertain and provoke.
Sydney Events in June
- Football – a choice of matches 4 or 5 times a week in local, interstate and international rugby league, rugby union and soccer, and the country’s unique Australian Rules Football.
Sydney Events in July
- NAIDOC (first week) – celebrates the culture and history of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with awards, events, displays, and workshops all over Sydney.
Sydney Events in August
- City2Surf (2nd Sunday) – with up to 80,000 participants, the city’s largest fun run (14km) starts in the city center, and finishes in Bondi. It is followed by mass relief for runners, and entertainment for everyone.
- Sydney Science Festival – for about 11 days, the world’s greatest minds descend on Sydney for talks, events, exhibitions and workshops.
- Sydney Tea Festival (dates to be determined) – fanciers flock to Sydney to celebrate leaves, pots, and all things tea-y.
Sydney Events in September
- Rugby League Finals – the main sporting code in Sydney is rugby league. Although a few teams are from interstate, every weekend this month there is almost certainly at least 1 final somewhere in Sydney, with the Grand Final on the final Sunday of the month.
- Bondi Festival of the Winds (second Sunday) – the skies above Australia’s iconic beach are filled with kites of all shapes and sizes.
- Surry Hills Festival – as winter slowly dies, the streets of Surry Hills come alive throughout the month with pop-up bars, street performances, and street-side cafés.
- Cabramatta Moon Festival (usually last Sunday) – this multi-cultural area bursts with celebrations, dance and music for the young and old.
Sydney Events in October
- Sculpture by the Sea (mid-October to early November) – held at Bondi, this claims to be the world’s largest free exhibition of sculptures.
- Oktoberfest in the Gardens (last Saturday) – the Domain parklands burst with beer halls, bratwurst stalls, and polka bands.
- Sydney Beer Week (late October to early November) – coinciding with Oktoberfest, this festival celebrates the joys of beer with carnivals, tastings and awards.
Sydney Events in November
- VolleyFest – some of the world’s best beach volley-ballers are on display over 3 weeks on Manly Beach.
- Newtown Festival – community-minded arts, music and other events are held throughout the month to generate funds for, and awareness of, the less fortunate in this inner-city area.
Sydney Events in December
- Christmas Day – this major Christian festival is celebrated widely. Almost everything is closed (often by law), including shops, pubs, restaurants and tourist attractions, and public transport is almost non-existent. Basic tourist facilities such as hotels still operate, but even taxis will be hard to find.
- Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (26 December) – Sydneysiders love watching boats sail towards the Tasmanian capital from prime harbor-side spots.
- Post-Christmas Sales (from 26 December) – for anyone with any money left over, major stores offer substantial discounts for several days. Crowds can be crushing as shopaholics line up for hours for the doors to open.
- New Year’s Eve – Sydney folk love to party, and the fireworks above the Harbour Bridge are so exceptional they are beamed live across the world.
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