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Make A Lifetime of Memories With These 15 Things To Do In Sydney During Winter

Adriana Aziz
May 18, 2023
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Australia is known for its beautiful golden beaches, turquoise blue waters, great outdoor activities, big, fantastic parks, and wonderful cliff tops with breathtaking views. In Sydney alone, visitors can very easily plan a whole range of exciting fun holiday adventures for both the young and old alike! 

Of course, when planning a vacation, most people tend to lean towards travelling during summer with so many different things to do in Sydney. However, what if you’ve planned to visit the city during the winter season? Well, don’t worry because there is a lot that you can do! If you’re looking for the best things to do in Sydney during winter, we have got you covered with a list of very entertaining and diverse activities that also include some adventurous elements to them. 

If this is your first time in Sydney, or perhaps your first visit this time of the year, be assured that winters here have a beautiful charm of their own. With its clear, crisp winter's air, Sydney can look and feel different during the months of May to September. Moreover, winters offer a great opportunity to get out the fancy winter jackets and boots, sip hot cocoa as you walk down the street with a cold breeze hitting your face, and enjoy varied activities that you would not normally think of.

With that, let’s jump into our top 15 things to do in Sydney during winter!

1. Get Cultured at the Museums

large old ship docked next to Sydney Maritime Museum

Sydney is a hot spot for museums of all kinds. You will find a large number of museums located around The Rocks, and Circular Quay in Sydney. If you enjoy viewing artefacts and art, and appreciate Art-Deco-inspired architecture, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art which also offers a stunning view overlooking the Circular Quay and Opera House (visit the rooftop café for the best view in the house). The museum is home to permanent art collections, and also hosts international art shows and exhibitions. There is also the Museum of Sydney, as well as the Justice and Police Museum that are located at close proximity to the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Additionally, there are a number of museums in Darling Harbour that are worth visiting, as well as other areas around the city. The Australian Museum in Darlinghurst houses Australia’s largest collection of natural history and cultural artefacts. It is considered the crown jewel of all the Sydney Museums (of which there are many!) This is the country’s oldest museum, and it houses a large collection of over 20 million art pieces. These include a large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection of history and culture. It lies next to the oldest park in Australia called ‘Hyde Park’. 

In the same area, for contemporary art, science, design and innovation, visit the Powerhouse Museum. They hold permanent displays and exhibitions, as well as temporary exhibitions, tours, and workshops. Other museums around Sydney include Sydney’s Jewish Museum, Australian National Maritime Museum, Camden Museum, and Sydney Cricket Ground Museum. 

2. Go Whale Watching and Be in Awe of These Majestic Creatures

large whale breaching the water in Sydney Harbour

Annually, from May to November, you can witness the unique northern migration of nearly 40,000 humpback and southern right whales as they travel along Sydney’s coast. These giant whales undertake the yearly migration from the cold waters of Antarctica to the Pacific Ocean where the water is warmer. The peak of the migration happens between the end of June to early July. Some of the sights might include breaching and dominant males showing off which can be very entertaining! 

To see mothers and calves swim slowly along the coast on their migration towards the south, try whale watching in October and November. Look out for whales doing their unique tail slapping, lobtailing, spy hopping, or blowing. You might also spot orcas, blue whales, sperm whales, minke whales, and dolphins along the New South Wales coast. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you can also see some whales in the Sydney Harbour as they undertake their annual migration. 

Be sure to carry your binoculars for better sightings. Of course, if you want a closer look at these majestic mammals, book a whale watching tour or cruise. During the season, these cruises depart from Darling Harbour, Manly, and Circular Quay on a daily basis.  

3. Take a Ferry Ride to Taronga Zoo

Sydney Harbour as seen from Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo is an award-winning zoo with over 5000 Australian native animals, as well as many endangered animals of over 350 species. Some of the animals they work with include the Red Kangaroos, Tree Kangaroos, Koalas, Sun Bears, Sumatran Tigers, Asian Elephants, Gorillas, African Lions, Chimpanzees, Giraffe, Meerkats, Regent Honeyeaters, Southern Corroboree Frogs, and Capybara.

 

You can also enjoy being with the animals safe in the knowledge that the zoo has a strong commitment to the conservation of native species, wildlife rehabilitation, and release of injured and orphaned animals. The conservation work is not just in Australia but around the world. They work at protecting and sustaining wildlife in their natural habitat, as well as habitat recovery. The zoo also has a wildlife rescue team for those animals injured in fire, drought, or heat. 

The location of the zoo offers a beautiful outdoor view as it overlooks Sydney Harbour. For those looking to get the most out of Taronga Zoo, you can choose to stay overnight for a truly immersive experience. It is open 365 days a year and, as an added bonus, you get to take a scenic 12-minute ferry ride to the zoo from Circular Quay. We advise attending a presentation or carefully listening to the keeper when they talk and share their knowledge of the animals. 

4. Enjoy the Amazing Coastal Walks in the City

view of the ocean as seen from the coogee to bondi walk

Winter in Sydney can have many sunny days that should be enjoyed with enthusiasm. One of the best mindful activities you can do is a brisk or leisure long walk along the cliff tops. A must-visit walking route in Sydney is one which takes you from Bondi to Coogee, and showcases the stunning coastal scenes. 

For more amazing cliff walks with dramatic views of Sydney, as well as the Macquire Lighthouse, walk the Federation Cliff Walk, and South Head Heritage Trail. They start from Watsons Bay to Dover Heights. These walks also offer excellent vantage points to view the migrations of the whales along the coast.

5. Winter Sport Adventures on the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales

panoramic view of the snowy mountains in New South Wales

Snowy Mountains in the Australian Alps have several peaks that are over 7000 feet high, including Mount Kosciuszko which is the highest in Australia. Also known as “The Snowies”, this pristine part of Southern New South Wales offers plenty of adventurous and memorable things to do in winter. You can stay in a winter resort, or on a working farm with farm animals nearby. You can snowboard, ski, snowshoe through the backcountry, go tubing or toboggan on the slopes, and so much more. 

The resorts offer facilities for all different experience levels. From late June to the middle of September, you can also ski at night which is pretty magical considering the amazing starry nights at the Snowy Mountains. Note that there is consistent snow at Charlotte Pass which is the highest resort in Australia. The alpine village of Thredbo holds night fireworks on Saturdays which are breathtaking against the backdrop of snowy mountains. It also organises flare fun where experienced skiers light up the Supertrail with flares. Everyone, including the kids, love the change in this alpine terrain. 

Another great thing to do in Sydney during winter is to visit Australia’s only mountain gondola (whether you ski or not) for a beautiful scenic ride. If you want a dip in a warm thermal water body in the middle of winter, visit the Yarrangobilly caves. You can also enjoy fresh local winter produce and food at local farms like the Crackenback Farm, or sample the local beverages at a Distillery. 

6. Attend the Sydney Vivid Light and Art Festival

Sydney's Harbour Bridge with lights during the Vivid light festival

This is Australia's largest festival for food, music, lights, and ideas. The city is lit up with spectacular light displays, and 3D artworks and installations. This annual showcasing of Sydney's amazing buildings and iconic structures is something that cannot be missed. Start your walk from Darling Square, and stroll through the vivid colour that cast Sydney into a surreal realm. 

The music stage is usually held at Sydney’s Darling Harbour where international artists immerse you in vibrant music with DJs, concerts, and dance performances. There are also workshops undertaken by great entertainers which are theatrical or immersive. The light art, music performances, and food makers will ignite your creative senses, and leave you wanting more. You might want to do more than a night’s stroll to really experience everything the festival has to offer. One great way to view the Sydney Vivid Light and Art Festival is from the water. Aboard a cruise that offers a range of food options from fine dining to casual eating options. 

7. Visit the World Heritage-Listed Blue Mountains

view from the top of the three sisters in the blue mountains

You can do this as a day trip, and will certainly not have any trouble getting there with plenty of available travel options to visit the Blue Top Mountain. This trip will offer you gorgeous views along with the iconic Three Sisters Rock formation. 

The steep cliffs and stunning waterfalls in winter allow you to relax and soak in nature which is quite refreshing if you’ve been exploring more of the city life in Sydney. You can also visit the site of the 2000 Olympic Games at Homebush, and then visit the regions of Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba, and Blackheath. On your way back, you can either travel via the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens, take the world’s steepest railway which is an exciting experience in itself!

8. Get Adventurous at Luna Park Sydney at Milsons Point

front view of luna park and milson's point ferry terminal

If you are seeking adventures and thrills, look no further than Luna Park Sydney to enjoy state of the art rollercoasters, and plenty of thrilling joyrides. Whether you go on a solo trip, or with a group of friends or family, you are guaranteed to come away with nothing but fun memories. There are rides, concerts, shows, sideshow games, and food stalls to fill your day. Besides the Ferris wheels, carousel, and slides, they have the thrilling Big Dipper that does a 360 degree loop. This is Australia’s fastest and tallest rollercoaster, and the first in the world with its inline seating launch. 

Other popular attractions at Luna Park include:

  • The Sledgehammer: it spins and swings at the same time, taking you high up into the Sydney sky as it moves back and forth. 
  • The Boomerang: it twists and turns, and drops forward and backward. 
  • The Hair Raiser: it takes you 50 meters above the sea level, and then drops you back down at a high speed of 80 kmph. 
  • The Rotor: is a time capsule that will awake all your senses. You will find the floor vanishing beneath you as you hold onto the wall. Hold on for as long as you can before you drop back down. 

If you’ve got young kids, the Little Nipper, Silly Sub, Loopy Lighthouse, and Cloud Nine are awesome attractions for children to enjoy with parents right next to them. Also check out the Volare ride which is the largest wave swinger ride in Australia. These are just some of the many fun activities you can explore at Luna Park Sydney in winter. 

IMPORTANT: Check the height restrictions and safety requirements prior to partaking in any of the activities. 

9. Sail Around the Sydney Harbour

white sail boat in Sydney harbour

One amazing way to view Sydney is on a cruise sailing along the Sydney Harbour. You can enjoy fascinating views of the Sydney Opera House, bush land, and rugged cliffs. Depending on what you are looking for, and your budget, you can enjoy a delicious charming lunch aboard a cruise, take part in a cultural tour, or even take a ferry. There are different cruises like the Sydney Harbour Tall Ships, Sydney Harbour Heritage Fleet Cruises, and the Sydney Showboat cruise at night. Tribal Warrior Harbour Cruises will include stories about local Aboriginal people, their traditions, the Indigenous names for the landmarks around Sydney, and a traditional Aboriginal performance on an island. 

The ferry from Circular Quay can take you to harbour islands like Cockatoo island for the convict site which is a UNESCO World Heritage site; Garden Island to visit a naval museum; or the former military facility called ‘Fort Denison’ for a panoramic view of the harbour. You can also see the iconic harbour in all its glory by taking a ferry to Manly. 

10. A Trip to Beautiful Byron Bay

view of Byron Bay looking into the ocean from Cape Byron Lighthouse

This beautiful paradise offers so much to do regardless of the season. If you enjoy the outdoors, do the 3.7 km Cape Byron Walking trail that takes you through lush green rainforest and clifftops, and also crosses the Cape Byron Lighthouse. This point will offer you sights of the Pacific Ocean with a 360-degree view where you might even be able to spot a whale or two. 

If you enjoy music performances, check out the 3-day Splendour in the Grass Festival that usually happens in July. Byron Bay also holds the Byron Bay Writers Festival over 3 days in winter. 

You cannot leave Byron Bay without checking out the bustling local markets where colourful stalls offer art, food, crafts, local produce, and a whole exciting range of things. As a popular tourist attraction in Sydney for all classes of people, you never know, you just might rub shoulders with a celebrity or two! 

11. Visit the Royal Botanic Garden

botanical garden looking into Sydney's CBD

On a clear, crisp winter’s day, enjoy a stroll amongst nature to explore the diverse collection of Australian and exotic plants at the Royal Botanic Garden. You can learn more about the Aboriginal culture and the history of Warrane. Warrane is the Gadiga name for Sydney Cove. You can take part in the Aboriginal Bush Tucker tour and/or the Aboriginal Harbour Heritage Tour, or simply stroll around enjoying nature at your own leisure pace. The Calyx lies at the centre of the Botanic Garden, and offers presentations, workshops, cafes, shopping and, of course, plants.

In the native section of the Botanic Garden, they have the Bicentenary Garden, the Australian Rainforest Garden, Australian native Rockery, and Cadi Jam Ora. Under their international umbrella, they have the Palace Rose Garden, Herb Garden, Palm Grove Garden, the Fernery, the Succulent Garden, the HSBC Oriental Garden, and the Tropical Garden. The Royal Botanic Garden also showcases the Light Festival on its grounds. 

12. Go Ice Skating

girl figure skating at an indoor ice skating rink

During the winter holidays, a range of ice skating rinks pop up all around the city. There is the Pittwater Ice Skating Spectacular which is great for smaller children who want to give ice skating a go thanks to the penguin-skating aid helpers around! You can also visit the Darling Harbour Ice Rink. 

Ice skating is the perfect winter evening activity whether you are on a date, looking for a fun family outdoor activity, or spending time with friends for a few laughs. You can even go solo to burn a few calories and get your body energised during the cold winter months in Sydney. The Chill Fest at Koshigaya Park in Campbelltown also sets up their open-air ice skating rink where you can make a whole night of it with the food, rides, and entertainment. 

13. SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

bottom view of Gray Nurse Shark in Sydney Aquarium

If you want to stay indoors on a cold winter’s day but would like the space to move around and get the feel of being outdoors, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is a perfect spot for a solo walk, or an outing with your family. To get a fascinating glimpse into the amazing underwater marine life of Australian waters, visit the SEA LIFE Aquarium Sydney any time of the year. It features an array of Australian sea life with more than 13,000 fish and water animals making up about 700 species. You can visit the Aquarium 7 days a week from 10 until 4 pm. 

14. Explore the Iconic & Uniquely Designed Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House at night time illuminated during the Sydney Vivid Light Festival

You can walk through this performance art World Heritage-Listed Opera House enjoying its marvellous edifice, unique engineering, and architecture. To heighten your experience there and get immersed in the world of the Opera House, get a ticket to any of the shows there which may include the Sydney symphony orchestra, theatre performance, an opera, a music concert, dance performance, or workshops. Dress up in your finery and enjoy the old luxury of the Opera House as it puts on a dazzling show for its audience.  

15. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

top view of Sydney Harbour Bridge with people climbing to the top in the background

Sydney Harbour Bridge, also nicknamed the ‘Coathanger” (because of its arch shape) has provided a link between Sydney CBD to the North Shore since 1932. It provides a safe passage for vehicles, rails, bicycles, and pedestrian crossings. 

 

For daredevils looking for an adrenaline rush, the climb along the Sydney Harbour Bridge promises to live up to their expectations. The breathtaking scenery from the bridge across the river is stunning. The climb is organised by experienced climbers so you will be wearing a safety harness as you do the climb. 

More Things to Do in Sydney

Bondi Iceberg swimming pool in the late afternoon

Sydney is teeming with amazing activities you can do in winter. Some of them include the 3-day Camden winterfest which has entertainment and food (ideal for a family outing). You can also watch a movie in an old cinema like The Chauvel in Paddington where it still retains its barrel-vaulted ceiling in one theatre. Alternatively, you can go to an Art Deco Cinema like the Ritz Cinema which is heritage-listed, or sink into the green velvet chairs of the Golden Age Cinema. 

If you are a daring, endorphin seeker, you can take a chilling dip at Bondi Iceberg. For street shopping, wander through the many markets that are held in Sydney like the Paddington Market, Rozelle Collectors Market for Bric-a-brac, The Round She Goes Market for vintage, perused items, or the Carriagework Farmers Market in Eveleigh. 

Tips for Travelling to Sydney in Winter

a view of Sydney Harbour at dusk during winter with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in the background

It is recommended to read the websites of any of the sites you plan to visit ahead of time. This will help you plan your visit, inform you of any special show or concert being held, or if they are closed for renovations. Websites also tend to offer discounts for online purchases of tickets. 

Be sure to be prepared for any weather change during the day. Carry windproof clothing and warm clothing for icy winds that are funnelled by high rise buildings that blow down the winding streets. It is best to dress in layers that can be peeled off depending on the weather temperature. If you are going to be at one area or spot for a while, carry a blanket or a camping chair to sit on. Make sure to carry sufficient water in a thermal bottle that can be refilled along the way.

Whatever it is that you choose to do in Sydney which there is plenty, be prepared to be amazed by what this vibrant city in one of the most beautiful countries has to offer! Rest assured that no matter how long or short your trip is, you will never run out of things to do in Sydney during winter! Book our cleaning service, to get more time this winter, and if you're up for cleaning your home yourself, check out our winter cleaning checklist

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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