With over 5 million inhabitants and nearly 20% of the entire Australian population, it should come as no surprise that Sydney is a melting pot in the purest sense. Influences are drawn from Asian, Arabic, and European sources, blending to create a unique Sydney culture that includes cutting-edge music, engaging arts, and an unbelievable food scene. For that reason, coming to Sydney is both familiar and foreign at the same time and it’s why the city draws such an impressive number of both international and domestic visitors.
Best time to visit Sydney
From top to bottom, Sydney’s weather doesn’t change that much, making it a sunny and welcoming destination any time of year. Depending on how much time you plan to spend outdoors or on the beach, you’ll need to schedule accordingly to make the most of your trip.
March-May: Get the best of both worlds with a visit to Sydney in the fall. You should still be able to catch a few glorious days at the beaches, but the number of other travelers will be considerably lower.
June – August: As long as you don’t mind skipping the beach, winter in Sydney is an exceptional bargain. Temps are obviously cooler than summer, but you’re still looking at a pleasant average high of about 15-16 C. The upside is that you’ll get to explore the real Sydney without much of the tourist-oriented interactions.
September – November: A great time to visit, spring offers very comfortable weather (bring layers and plan to shed them) as well as the start of the beach season in late October. Not quite as packed as summer, you’ll still notice a considerable amount of travelers on the Sydney streets.
December – February: During Sydney’s summer, temperatures are usually an ideal 26 C, but heat waves, dry spells, and excessive humidity are known to happen. This is also the prime tourist season as huge crowds come from afar to enjoy the city’s vivacious beach lifestyle.
See Sydney Harbour (Port Jackson) – The opera house may be its most famous landmark, but the real treasure in Sydney Harbour is the harbour itself. And the best way to see it is definitely by boat. Guided tours can be pricey, so a budget option would be to simply take the ferry to Manly, which travels a similar path.
Surf at Bondi – When in Sydney, spending time at Bondi or another world-famous beach is almost required, but why not do more than just bask on the sand? Surf instructors abound and providers like Manly Surf School make it easier than ever to ride your first wave.
Bar Hop in Newtown – You could hit up the swanky joints in the CBD, but move further inland to Newtown for a more authentic experience. Start off with craft brews at Young Henry’s (only open until 7pm), move on to DeepGroove, and finish at The Midnight Special.
Visit The Rocks – As a historic neighborhood in Sydney, The Rocks sees its share of tourists, but it’s still worth visiting if only to see the remnants of Australia’s formation as a colony. Also, the close proximity to the Harbour Bridge makes an easy combo of sights possible.
Eat in Haymarket – For probably the best mix of Asian cuisine at reasonable prices, Haymarket’s eateries run the gamut from Vietnamese to Chinese to Filipino to Thai and all points in between. Some top choices are Chonsiam, Mamak, and Din Tai Fung for their colorful dumplings.
Sydney Festival – The grandfather of all major events in the city, the Sydney Festival is a 3-week long exploration of music, contemporary art, dance, theater, and pretty much everything else arts-related that you can imagine. Held each January, the festival features a mix of free and paid events, ranging from musical headliners like Nick Cave to underground Australian artist installations.
Days Like This – If you want to hear underground house artists before they break through to the mainstream, then Days Like This in March is where you want to be. Combining established DJs with plenty of up-and-comers, the talent on display during this one-day festival is certainly world class.