Your Simple Guide to Sydney
From when to visit, where to stay, how to get around and key events – consider this the lowdown on visiting Sydney.
SYDNEY SEASONSWhether you want to experience our sweltering summer or enjoy a gentle breeze, read on for our guide for the best times to visit.
Spring (Sept – Nov) Average temperature: 11 - 23°C
Spring is one of the most beautiful times of the year to visit Sydney. The flowers are blooming (the botanic gardens are particularly spectacular) the sun is shining and the temperature is mild to warm with infrequent rainfall and clear skies. Some days you can even wear a t-shirt, but pack a light jacket in case of a cool change.
Summer (Dec – Feb) Average temperature: 18.6 - 25.8°C
Summer in Sydney is all about finding good air conditioning. It’s hot and sweaty, and the humidity will probably wreak havoc with your hair. The mercury has been known to tip 40°C and beyond – and on days like that, it’s best to stay in the shade – or inside. The heat and humidity can give way to heavy rain and storms. On the upside, Sydney’s summer conditions are perfect for cooling off in the sea. Just as long as you always have water on hand to avoid dehydration, slather on the sunscreen and wear a hat. Our UV rays are dangerous – and even on overcast days, it’s possible to burn.
Autumn (Mar – May) Average temperature: 14.6 - 22.2°C
Autumn in Sydney is generally mild, the sky is clear and it doesn’t rain often. Still, it's always a good idea to take a light jacket. Cool changes are common, and the temperature goes down with the sun.
Winter (Jun – Aug) Average temperature: 8.8 - 17°C
Don’t be fooled by the ‘mild’-sounding temp. While winter in Sydney can plummet to around 14 degrees during the day, even 18 feels really cold with the wind factor. It rains sporadically in winter, though days are generally dry with sunny spells. At night, it’s even colder – you’re going to want to make sure you have a good coat – or at least a cosy jumper and a scarf.
WHERE TO STAYDarling Harbour offers the perfect base for tourists with its vibrant waterfront, shops, restaurants and parks, just a short stroll to the CBD and key Sydney attractions.
Upmarket accommodation with spectacular views for travellers who like a bit of luxury.
SOFITEL SYDNEY DARLING HARBOUR
Enjoy five-star service with six-star views from the sophisticated rooms at the Sofitel. Take in the breathtaking view of the Harbour and skyline, relax by the infinity pool or indulge yourself at the Champagne Bar. 12 Darling Drive Sydney NSW 2000, Sofitel.accor.com
Plush hotel rooms, an award-winning restaurant and a state-of-the-art gym make this an excellent choice in an enviable location. Book a club room to enjoy Park Royal Club privileges including complimentary breakfast, twilight drinks and canapés. 150 Day Street, Sydney New South Wales 2000, panpacific.com
This historic converted wool store is the embodiment of industrial chic, just a short walk to the Darling Harbour waterfront. The rooms offer an eclectic brand of luxury from the ‘Shoebox’ perfect for a solo guest, right through to the 39 square-metre ‘Stirred’ room with king size bed, rain shower and floor to ceiling windows. Hot tip: Book directly through the official website to score free breakfast, happy hour, minibar, all day snacks and Wi-Fi. 139 Murray Street, Pyrmont, Sydney 2000, ovolohotels.com.au
NOVOTEL SYDNEY DARLING SQUARE
Adjacent to the Convention and Entertainment Centre, the Novotel in Darling Harbour is the ideal location for business and leisure travelers alike. 17 Little Pier Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney 2000, novoteldarlingharbour.com.au
Bliss out at the roof top pool and bar with its spectacular views over Sydney. This new hotel with its Manhattan-inspired décor offers a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. 319-325 Sussex Street, Sydney 2060, vibehotels.com
SAVEEnjoy the spectacular location of Darling Harbour – without breaking the bank.
WOOLBROKERS HOTEL DARLING HARBOUR
With single rooms from only $80 and doubles from $95, this is budget accommodation in an excellent location. Sure, there are no bells or whistles, but the bed’s comfy, the room’s clean and it’s walking distance to most of Sydney’s top attractions. 22 Allen Street, Pyrmont, 2009, woolbrokershotel.com.au
HOLIDAY INN DARLING HARBOUR
This newly refurbished hotel is situated right between bustling China Town and Darling Square. It’s simple, comfortable accommodation – where children stay and eat for free.
68 Harbour Street Darling Harbour, 2000, holidayinn.com
ADINA APARTMENT HOTEL DARLING HARBOUR
Set in the vibrant hub of King Street Wharf, Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour offers studio and one-bedroom apartments for a no-fuss, self-contained stay. 55 Shelley Street, King Street Wharf, Sydney, 2000, adinahotels.com
MAJOR EVENTSIt doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, there’s always something exciting happening in Sydney. Read on for some of the key events that bring the city to life.
HANDA OPERA ON SYDNEY HARBOUR
March – April
Take your seat at dusk, in front of the harbour, and immerse yourself in the passion and intensity of the Opera. From the monumental set and colourful costumes, to spectacular fireworks, it’s a night out like no other.
SYDNEY WRITERS FESTIVAL
April - May
This celebration of words, writing and reading brings together writers from around the world to celebrate literature, explore ideas, and inspire readers through a vibrant program of storytelling, conversation and discussion, intellectual debate, educational programs, live performance, music and art events – both ticketed and free events.
May - June
One of the world’s largest festivals of light and music transforms Sydney into one of the most dazzling cities in the world. Head to Circular Quay and follow the mesmerising free exhibition of outdoor light sculptures, the spectacular light projections on the Sydney Opera House, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Customs House. There’s also a cutting edge contemporary music program. It’s inspiring and illuminating.
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL
Enjoy 12 days and nights of film premieres, industry talks and events and parties galore. The SFF celebrates the best of film, from filmmakers around the world.
CITY 2 SURF
This annual event allows you to experience Sydney by foot – at speed – as you run 14 kilometres from the centre of the city, to the beaches of Bondi. It’s both a fun run and a race for serious competitors, which takes you through East Sydney, Kings Cross, Rushcutters Bay, Double Bay, Rose Bay, Vaucluse and Dover Heights – ending at Bondi. City2surf.com.au
SYDNEY FRINGE FESTIVAL
September - October
Spread across numerous postcodes, the Sydney Fringe Festival is a celebration of art in all its forms, including visual art exhibitions, music performances, cabaret shows and film premieres. More than 3400 independent artists are welcomed to participate in over 150 venues across Sydney. It’s the largest independent arts festival in NSW.
GETTING AROUNDExploring Sydney? You’re spoilt for choice with transport options.
Not always as frequent as you might hope, buses in Sydney are nevertheless a decent and affordable travel option for getting from A to B.
Sydney’s trains offer an efficient way to get around with routes branching out in all directions, from the main station at Sydney Central. Hop off at Wynyard for a short walk to Darling Harbour, or Town Hall for the shops of Pitt Street Mall.
By Light Rail
The CBD and South East Light Rail is a new light rail network for Sydney. The 12km route which opened in December 2019, features 19 stops, extending from Circular Quay along George Street to Central Station, through Surry Hills to Moore Park, then to Kensington and Kingsford via Anzac Parade and Randwick. www.sydneylightrail.transport.nsw.gov.au
Australia’s biggest public transport project is revolutionising the way we get around. Still underway (and right through until 2024) the network will run from Sydney’s North West region under Sydney Harbour, through new underground stations in the CBD and beyond to the south west, for an effortless commute. www.sydneymetro.info
Head to the ferry wharf at Circular Quay to explore Sydney via the sea. Captain Cook Cruises offer routes that cover some of the city’s top attraction including Barangaroo, Luna Park, Taronga Zoo, Watsons Bay, Manly and more. www.captaincook.com.au
By Tourist Bus
Catch a ride on the open-top hop-on-hop-off bus to explore Sydney’s iconic landmarks at your leisure. It’ll take you everywhere from Darling Harbour, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Royal Botanical Gardens, Bondi Beach and beyond. www.bigbustours.com