I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of winter. I am a summer girl, always have been. And, for the most part, Sydney accommodates me well.
Sydney weather is generally good all-year-round, but from June to -August when the sun fades at 5pm and the Sydney temperature drops, I like to pack my bags, get on a plane, and chase the sun around the world in pursuit of heat. Anyone else with me on this?
However, the time I do spend in Sydney over winter I like to fill with fun things. Despite the cooler Sydney weather, there is a lot to do. A load of festivals come to town from June – August, and you can still enjoy the outdoors by heading to the coast. What’s more, for a short time only you can bundle up in knit jumpers and drink copious amounts of red wine next to an open fire in the pub with friends. There are definitely upsides!
So, if you’re heading into winter in Sydney and are thinking, ‘what am I going to do?’ I have you covered. Here are 10 things I love to do in the winter that you will love too.
1) Swim outdoors
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you should stay indoors. Sydney-siders like myself keep active outside all-year-round, and that includes making the most of the outdoor pools.
North Sydney Olympic Pool complex overlooks Luna Park and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and is open whatever the Sydney weather from 5:30am – 9pm Monday – Friday. Better yet, the pool is heated! Either pay on the day, or purchase a membership package.
Bondi Icebergs is one of my favourite spots in Sydney, full stop. And it is somewhere I still like to frequent throughout the winter months. The pool is open to the public all-year-round, and if you don’t like to swim you can get a cocktail or a coffee and enjoy the views instead.
2) Take a hike
I love to do the coastal walks around Sydney. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, if the sun is shining it’s considered good walking climate in my book. The obvious choice is the Coogee to Bondi walk and the Manly to Split walk, but why not venture out of the city and take on some mountain hikes?
For something challenging but with great rewards, hike Mount Solitary in the Blue Mountains, or Careys Peak in Barrington Tops. Alternatively, trek to one of the spectacular waterfalls in New South Wales, such as Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park or Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains.
Most walking trails and hikes are just a bus or train journey away from Sydney centre, so book out one quiet Saturday this winter and head out to see the nature! What’s more, you’ll get the trails mostly to yourself and so won’t have to battle the crowds for the best Instagram photo!
3) Go to the pub
When Sydney temperatures are low and it gets really cold and drizzly outside, there’s no better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than in the pub. There are a plethora of cosy pubs around the Sydney that serve up a delicious roast dinner. The Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst; the Dove and Olive in Surry Hills; The Clock in Surry Hills; the Lord Dudley in Paddington – there are so many good pubs to curl up in with a tasty roast dinner schooner when it’s raining. Gather together a group of friends and reserve that corner table next to the open fire – divine!
Or, you could always throw a dinner party for you and your friends at yours! See my guide on how to master the perfect dinner party here!
4) Visit the markets
The beach may be somewhat off-limits in the depths of winter, but there is another way to spend your Saturday mornings – at one of the incredible markets dotted around the city! It is an activity that is certainly not dependent on the Sydney forecast.
Glebe Markets, Paddington Markets and Bondi Markets are treasure troves you can dive into it. They offer hand-crafted Australian goods such as clothing, accessories, homeware and an array of delicious food stalls.
5) Vivid Sydney
From 25th May – 16th June this year is Vivid Sydney – a light and music festival celebrating its 10 years of Australian creativity. The 23-day festival is a public exhibition of outdoor lighting installations and sculptures, with live music at popular venues including the Sydney Opera House. I’m so excited to see this again this year!
6) Sydney Film Festival
For all you film buffs out there, Sydney Film Festival is landing in the city on 6th – 17th June. Taking place at the majestic State Theatre (as well as other venues around the city), the festival will be showcasing newly-released films from all around the world that are creating a major buzz.
Films that are showing include British thriller Ghost Stories, the New Zealand-directed The Breaker Uppers, and films fresh from Sundance Festival including comedy drama The Miseducation of Cameron Post and spy thriller Beirut. Get your tickets quick, though. They are set to sell out fast.
7) Go to the library
One of the best things to do in winter, wherever you are, is curl up in a cosy bookshop with a coffee or hot chocolate and read your book. And, believe it or not, Sydney caters to this marvellously. My favourite bookstores include Berkelouw Books in Paddington – buy a book downstairs, then head up to the cafe, find a cosy corner and order a warm beverage. Better yet, it closes at 9pm so take your time, even on weekdays!
Another great book-stop is Gertrude and Alice near Bondi Beach. Delve into your favourite book and enjoy a tasty sandwich on the side – what more could you want!
For great brunch spots in the Surry Hills and Paddington areas, check out my guide! They’re the perfect place to spend a chilly Saturday or Sunday morning!
8) Sydney Tea Festival
All you tea lovers out there, I’ve got something you might like. Held for one day only (Saturday 19th August this year), the Sydney Tea Festival celebrates an abundance of different loose leaf teas, all for your tasting at markets, workshops and tea talks. So, grab your coat and scarf, and make your way down to Carriageworks to expand your tea prowess!
9) Luna Park
Luna Park is a Sydney landmark (well, to me anyway). Go to Luna Park in the winter to see the lights, enjoy a sweet treat or go on some rides. You certainly don’t need a 40 degree day for this trip!
10) Celebrate Christmas!
While the Northern Hemisphere is enjoying baking summer’s days, Sydney is a little more mild. But, seeing as we celebrate Christmas on the beach with a barbecue and ice cocktails, it only makes sense that we have our wintry, snowy Christmas in the middle of the year, right?
There are often wintry pop-ups around the city between June and August, and Bondi beach gets its own ice rink between June and July every year, so what are you waiting for?
I hope that with these 10 tips you can keep yourself busy over winter, regardless of the Sydney forecast. And, before you know it, it’ll be time to hit the beach again!