7 ways to spend a winter weekend in Sydney

Vivid Sydney, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney

Vivid Sydney. Image credit: Destination NSW

Winter’s only a few days away but that doesn’t mean you should collapse into a snuggie coma. Whether your passport is stamped Sydney or you’re looking for somewhere that has sun, the harbour city during winter is a hidden pot of gold.

Sydney’s magical in winter – says someone who can’t believe you don’t have to wear the uniform of an Eskimo. (My Eskimo uniform from Melbourne is currently on Gumtree). The weather is pleasant, there’s sun and it rains less during winter than any other time of the year. Plus, all the summer crowds, tourists and backpackers have buggered off. It’s a great time to shrug off the snuggie and appreciate a quieter side of Sydney.

If you’re not here already, grab a cheap flight to Sydney – Webjet can help you out – and get exploring.

Winter in Sydney, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, Sydney

Circular Quay

Here are seven things to do in Sydney in winter:

1. Go for a walk

Winter is a great time to lace up your walking shoes and explore Sydney by foot. It’s sunny, yet you’re not going to bake like a hot cross bun. And Sydney has so many delightfully delightful scenic walks. The hard part is choosing which one to do.

There’s Bondi to Coogee with its cliff top coastal views and enviously pretty ocean pools; there’s the real tourist’s walk from Woolloomooloo to Barangaroo via Circular Quay; and then there’s the Godfather of Sydney walking trails, Spit Bridge to Manly.

For more inspiration, I’ve previously written a post on the seven Sydney walking trails that have stolen my heart and are guaranteed to steal yours.

Winter in Sydney, Boats, Sydney Harbour, Taronga to Balmoral walk, Sydney

Taronga to Balmoral Walk

2. Watch for whales

If you’re lucky, you might even spot a whale or two. Between May and November, a duck-tonne of whales (nearly 20,000) also shrug off their snuggies, swimming north along Sydney’s coastline to warmer waters.

Some of the walks mentioned above also happen to be the best places to whale watch in Sydney. Convenient, right? Other prime whale watching lookouts are Cape Solander (Kurnell), Barrenjoey Headland (Palm Beach), Fairfax Lookout (Manly), Gap Bluff (Watson’s Bay), Bondi Beach (Bondi) and Bundeena (Royal National Park).

If you’re super serious about spotting a humpback, grab some binoculars and jump aboard a designated whale watching cruise.

Winter in Sydney, Whale watching, Sydney

Image credit: Destination NSW

3. Cosy up in a Sydney pub

The temperature in Sydney in winter hovers around the 17°C mark, dropping to 8°C at night. If you’re a soft serve and that’s too cold to be outdoors, holing up in a Sydney pub is the perfect hiding place. Drinking beer and eating schnitzel – a damn good situation to be in.

There’s something enchanting about a Sydney pub. They have more character than Oprah Winfrey and they’re about as close as you get to a London pub in Australia.

There’s those that are rumoured to be haunted (The Hero of Waterloo in Miller’s Point and Russell Hotel in The Rocks), those that are about being seen (Coogee Pavilion in Coogee and Beresford Hotel in Surry Hills), and those that are content with their traditional charm (Lord Dudley Hotel in Paddington and the Cricketer’s Arms Hotel in Surry Hills).

Of course, a pub experience wouldn’t be complete without a traditional Sunday roast – The Dove and Olive (Surry Hills), The Local Taphouse (Darlinghurst) and The Tilbury Hotel (Woolloomooloo) do a mean roast, potatoes and gravy.

Winter in Sydney, Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, The Rocks, Sydney

Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, The Rocks. Image credit: Destination NSW

4. See what Vivid Sydney is all about

Dialling up the winter magic factor big-time is Vivid Sydney, which is on 26 May to 17 June 2017. The annual festival of lights, music and ideas is an absolute show-stopper, with light installations of the mind-blowing sort taking over the entire city. There’s also live music, workshops and seminars, and lots of food trucks, pop-up bars and other cool stuff. To make life easy, Webjet has a bunch of holiday packages tailored to get the most out of Vivid Sydney.

Other winter events that have the potential to lure you away from Netflix are the Sydney Tea Festival at Carriageworks (20 August 2017), tea lovers rejoice; and Bondi Winter Magic (various dates throughout winter), offering a number of winter-themed events including a beachside ice skating rink.

Vivid Sydney, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney

Vivid Sydney. Image credit: Destination NSW

5. Go for a swim at Bondi Icebergs Pool

Embrace the cool weather and go for a dip at Bondi Icebergs Pool. Here the winter swimming season kicks off with blocks of ice being thrown into the pool – hence the name Icebergs.

While anyone can go for a casual swim, to be accepted into the die-hard Bondi Icebergs swimming club, swimmers must compete three Sundays out of four between May and September for a period of five years. Something to think about as you slink off to the sauna.

If you’re a little more marshmellow-like, snucka off to the heated lanes at Price Alfred Park Pool in Surry Hills or North Sydney Olympic Pool in Milsons Point. The latter has views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge that are disturbingly intimate.

Winter in Sydney, Icebergs swimming pool, Bondi, Sydney, Australia

Bondi Icebergs Pool

6. Visit one of Sydney’s museums and art galleries

Brush up on your art, history and culture and head along to one of Sydney’s many museums and art galleries. There’s the Australian Museum with its horrifyingly real stuffed spiders and snakes; the Australian National Maritime Museum, fittingly located in a city that’s entwined with the water; and the Powerhouse Museum for show-stopping science, design and innovation.

Although one of my personal favourites is the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, filled to the rafters with Sydney convict history.

And the good news? They’re all indoors, out of the cold. That’s if you think 17°C is cold.

Sydney in winter, Australian Museum, Sydney

Australian Museum. Image credit: ASEMUS

7. Go on a winter road trip

Two of the best places in New South Wales to rug up, light a fire and crack open a bottle of red – the Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains – are an easy two-hour drive out of Sydney. So, hire a car – Webjet can also help with that – and hit the road.

Hunter Valley – the Hunter Valley is the birthplace of 150 wineries, top-rung food experiences and scenery that will make your eyes weep. Drink wine by day, drink wine by night. Fun, fun.

Blue Mountains – the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains are STUNNING. There’s cute little country towns, breath-stealing cliff top lookouts and nature that’s just out of this world – any person with a pulse can’t help but be suitably wowed.

Winter in Sydney, Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Camyr Allyn Wines, Hunter Valley. Image credit: Destination NSW

What are you waiting for? Book a flight and discover the magic of Sydney in winter.


Sponsored by Webjet Australia. However, all opinions and experiences are my own.