The best time to visit Sydney, Australia isn’t during the summer
This might seem a little counterintuitive, as most Australian tourism ads focus so much on the summer fun in the sun.
When you think about the land down under, tall blonde surfers in bucket hats with sunscreen overapplied across the bridge of their noses probably come to mind.
But I’ve spent multiple summers in Sydney.
And honestly? It was hell.
The Best Time to Visit Sydney, Australia
* If you want to visit outside of the school holidays, you can check the dates each year here.
If you are visiting Australia from the northern hemisphere, the seasons down there are upside down and backward. However, the nice thing about Australia is that each new season starts officially on the first of the month. They don’t bother with following the solstices, which honestly makes everything easier to keep track of.
Here’s an easy breakdown:
This is the worst time of year to visit Sydney. It’s hot and for some reason, not enough places in Australia have reliable air conditioning. Yes, energy prices on the continent are significantly higher than in most other places, but when the night air has the same consistency as hot soup, you’ll want some relief.
There were multiple nights I cried with two fans pointed at me while laying on an ice pack because it was 95 degrees at 10:00pm and the humidity was at 89%.
I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, even my psychotic former boss. Well, maybe on her.
You can go swimming, but you’re gonna roast. You might get heatstroke on a hike. Also, all the kids are out of school for summer break and a lot of their parents are on holiday, too. Everything is crowded. Do you really want to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge when it’s sweltering?
Everyone in the entire city is at the beach. Somehow, it’s even hotter. The kids are still out of school. Every other tourist in the world is in town because Lonely Planet said Bondi Beach is lovely this time of year.
The kids are finally back in school. But it’s still hot. You can go to the beach or on a hike and it’s a little less crowded, but it’s probably raining.
This is when I first moved to Australia in 2018. It was marvelous. It was easier to get a bed in a hostel on short notice and the coastal walks were not as crowded. It’s starting to get cooler at night this time of year as well, so you might be able to actually rest with just a fan.
Great to visit if you like swimming, surfing, and hiking. It’s still warm enough to enough the beach, but not so hot that you’ll be uncomfortable. The kids are also all back in school and things have quieted down around the city.
There are two weeks of school holidays in the middle of the month, but it doesn’t impact tourist spots as significantly as the summer holidays. April is officially off-peak season, so you might start noticing discounts on flights and smaller groups on tours, etc.
This is when I first arrived. It’s starting to get a little chilly and the clocks have turned back, so it’s dark before 6pm. However, if you are up and at ’em, you can enjoy smaller crowds and pleasant weather. Sydney also usually puts on its annual Vivid festival during May.
I really like winter in Sydney. It’s chilly, but I usually got by in jeans and a light jacket. It never really got painfully cold, even without heating in my apartment. But this is because I am always hot. Like when I stay in hotels I put the aircon at 60 because I’m not paying for the electricity hot.
Vivid finishes up in June, so the crowds leave with the festival. It’s cold to go swimming without a wetsuit, but the coastal walks will be gorgeous and empty.
School holidays are this month. Public schools usually get two weeks and private schools get three, so there might be an uptick in crowds, but tourism is pretty steady. This is solidly off-season now, so look out for discounts.
It’s starting to warm up again by the middle of August and the sun is setting later and later. I’m a Leo, so honestly consider this the best month to visit Sydney for arbitrary reasons.
This is my favorite time to be in Sydney. If you can manage a trip for this time of year, plan for it. The city is coming alive again after winter. It’s warmer day by day, but still cool enough to get a good night’s sleep.
Two weeks of school holidays again this month, but things aren’t too crowded. Depending on the year, you can even start swimming and surfing without a wetsuit (if you’re brave) this early.
Chef’s kiss. I love October. Spring has truly sprung in the city. People are having picnics in the park and enjoying the beach. In my humble opinion as someone who hates things that are crowded and overheats easily, October is the best time to visit Sydney.
Kids are all in school. One November it was 104 degrees while I was at a boat party in Sydney Harbour. There was the option to swim because they had some shark nets out. I didn’t get in, but was sweating so much it looked like I did anyway tbh.
Final thoughts: When should you visit Sydney, Australia?
Listen: Flights to Australia tend to be kind of expensive. The island nation is far from pretty much everywhere, so realistically, you should plan to visit when tickets are the cheapest. If you find a good deal: go.
However, summer in Australia is hazy, hot, and humid. If you want to visit the Great Barrier Reef or the Outback while there, summer is the wet season (and stinger season!) up north. So your trip might get completely rained out and you are at a bigger risk of running into a jellyfish on the reef. Out by Uluru, most of the hikes are closed by 9am and there are literally millions of flies all trying to infest your body through your eyes and nose.
It’s just not worth it, in my opinion.
Instead, aim to visit Sydney (and the rest of Australia) in the shoulder season instead, like the spring and fall.
Emily’s all over the place. She’s an expert on working holidays, studying abroad, and turning your #GapYear into a #GapLife. Learn how here.