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Sydney, sweet Sydney! With an iconic harbour, fabulous beaches, dramatic cliff-top walks, hedonistic nightlife, world-class cuisine, museums, art galleries and superb shopping, Sydney is one of the world’s best international cities, with many spectacular things to do and places to visit.
So when is the best time to visit Sydney?
The most iconic city to visit in an Australia tour, the best time to visit Sydney is when the glorious summer weather embraces the city. From early December through to the end of January, Sydney is at its best. Sunshine and electric blue skies make being out-of-doors a blissful experience. Summer is the perfect time for a picnic by the sea overlooking the harbour or to enjoy indulgent dining at one of the fabulous outdoor restaurants and cafés.
Whether you are swimming at any of Sydney’s superb beaches, surfing in some of the best destinations in Australia, sailing or kayaking on the harbour, or enjoying a stroll along the Sydney Heads dramatic cliff walks, the balmy summer days will welcome you with open arms.
The Christmas and New Year holiday season also coincide with the local school holidays in Sydney. Peak or high season in Sydney generally runs from the 11th December through to the 31st January.
Sydney’s weather in December ranges from an average top of 25°C and an overnight of 18°C through to 26°C and an overnight of 19°C in January.
Sydney’s average rainfall in December is 77 mm falling on an average of 11 rainy days and 101 mm in January falling on an average of 12 rainy days.
Summer in Sydney is a great time to sample the best of the city’s al fresco lifestyle. Whether you are working on your tan and people watching at Bondi Beach, trying your hand at surfing on Sydney’s northern beaches, exploring the flora and fauna in one of its national parks or plunging into the whirlwind of cultural activity as the city’s live theatre, street performances, and art exhibitions burst into summer activity, you’ll discover the many faces of this dynamic city as the weather brings its denizens out to enjoy its endearingly sunny way of life.
On Boxing Day, watch one of the world’s great yacht races get off to a flying start as the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is unleashed in Sydney Harbour. If your schedule permits, spend New Year’s Eve in Sydney and watch the world-famous fireworks centered on the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. It's an experience memories are made of.
This is a far quieter and less expensive time to visit Sydney than in the peak summer months. Spring arrives in Sydney in late September and runs through to November, so dodge the tourists and enjoy Sydney’s Botanical Gardens in the full flush of spring or enjoy a leisurely walk through the historical “Rocks” area next door to Circular Quay and its quirky Museum of Contemporary Art.
Sydney’s low season coincides with its autumn, winter, and spring. The low season generally runs during autumn from February to April and then to winter from May to August followed by spring in September through November.
15 – 20°C from February to April, 9 – 17°C in May to August and 16 – 22°C in September to November.
101 mm in February to April, 110 mm in May to August, 77mm in September to November
Sydney is beautiful all year round. Just because it can get a little chilly and occasionally rainy, doesn’t mean Sydney hibernates through winter. It is actually the best time of the year for a walk in the Royal National Park, and the annual migration of humpback whales is truly a spectacular sight. Winter is also the perfect excuse to immerse your artistic sensibilities in Sydney’s wonderful art galleries and fabulous museums. Afterwards, refuel by exploring Sydney’s legendary cuisine and fine wine scene. Low season or not, there’s always something to see and do in this dynamic city.
February also brings the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, one of the biggest parades of its type in the world.
The weather is still beautiful, so take a harbour cruise or ferry ride. If you are in town in May, you are in for a treat with the Vivid Sydney Festival. A cruise provides a perfect ringside seat for this astonishing laser light and interactive display, all choreographed to music. The laser lights are projected onto prominent city buildings, with the lighting of the magical Sydney Opera House being the highlight of the festival.
Sydney’s shoulder seasons predominantly overlap Sydney’s autumn and winter months together with early spring in the city. It's a great time to avoid the tourist crush and enjoy the best Sydney has to offer.
There are effectively four shoulder seasons for Sydney. These run through April; June to July; September to October and through December.
15 – 23°C in April, 8 – 17°C in June to July, 13 – 21°C in September to October and 18 – 25°C in December
125 mm in April, 120 mm in June to July, 75 mm in September to November and 77 mm in December.
Spring in Sydney ushers in some of our favorite outdoor activities and high voltage festivals. Channel your inner Zen with kite flying on Bondi Beach, check out the native wildflowers coming into bloom on an unfussy coastal walk, or people watch on an inner-city stroll. Don’t miss the Botanical Gardens for a relaxing afternoon in the sunshine.
In October, the unique Sculpture by the Sea festival kicks off. Combining outrageous outdoor art installations with a scenic cliff-top walk, this is not to be missed. In November, you might catch the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival, when Sydney’s glamour set come out to play as million-dollar thoroughbreds thunder past the winning post.
Sydney, spectacularly wrapped around a seemingly endless harbour with its iconic opera house, ‘coat hanger’ bridge and sublime golden sandy beaches, offers a visual overload like few other international cities can summon. Our answer to the question, “when is the best time to visit Sydney?” is likely to be, anytime!
Check out our travel guide for best time to visit Australia for an overview of Australia’s overall weather.