If you have an extra day in the city, these short trips from Sydney (on a budget!) feature some of the best beaches, mountains, and lookouts in the area. Most will take you less than an hour to reach from the CBD (Central Business District, it’s what Aussies call downtown) and never more than two hours.

See also:

Short Trips from Sydney that Won’t Break the Bank

Things to do in winter in Sydney winter activities in Sydney Sydney Winter Activities

I will say that *I* consider these day trips because they get you away from the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, giving you the chance to see more of the Sydney area than just the cruise terminal.

However, I am well aware that as you can still SEE the Harbour Bridge from two of the places I’m recommending that my Sydneysider friends are likely to laugh at this list. Whatevs.

Hot tip: If you take these short trips from Sydney on a Sunday, you’ll save on transportation! On Sundays, the maximum amount you’ll spend on OpalCard transport (unless you visit the airport) is $2.60.

Manly

Short Trips from Sydney day trips from sydney

The “Q Station” in Manly. My friend and I missed the tour. Don’t be like us.

Manly got its name from the behavior of its original inhabitants, the Kay-ye-my clan (of the Guringai people). During the original invasion / colonization of the area, British Captain Arthur Phillip wrote that “[the indigenous people’s] confidence and manly behavior made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place.”

Today, the manliest thing you’ll see there is likely an old man in a budgie smuggler. If lounging on the beach with those guys isn’t your style, you can take a tour of the Quarantine Station (artfully rebranded as the “Q” station), where Sydney’s sick were once held for months on end waiting for the all clear.

But be sure to catch one of the actual tours though because the signage isn’t very good at the Q Station, so if you’re not with someone actually knows the history, it’ll be very boring to just wander around on your own.

After your tour, exit the Q Station and turn right to keep walking up the hill towards the North Head Sanctuary, a place with great hikes, views of the CBD, and whale watching opportunities.

Watson’s Bay via Taronga Zoo

Short Trips from Sydney day trips from sydney

You can take the ferry from the CBD’s Circular Quay to Manly’s southern sister, Watson’s Bay for great views and great chips. While you can make a return trip to Sydney and still have your fill of exploring in about three hours, if you’re looking for a longer day, you can make a stopover at Sydney’s famous Taronga Zoo. Or you can choose to do either / or.

I call Watson’s Bay Manly’s “southern sister” because it sits on / IS a small peninsula that juts out, reaching up towards Manly. Both places form the entrance to the body of water that becomes Sydney Harbour.

There’s lots of fun things to do in Watson’s Bay.

It’s quite a beachy town, so if the day is nice, grab some fish and chips and take a stroll up to the Gap Lookout. From there, you’ll want to follow the signs to continue your walk to Lady Bay Beach (just cover the kiddos eyes…as it’s a nude beach) and the South Head Heritage Trail.

Short Trips from Sydney day trips from sydney

If you stay long enough, make sure to watch the sunset over the Harbour Bridge in the distance before catching a ferry back into town.

Blue Mountains National Park

Short Trips from Sydney day trips from sydney

Blue Mountains National Park is short trip from Sydney in that you can (and should, if you’re time crunched!) do it in a day, but it’ll take ALL DAY.

Hop on the Blue Mountain’s Line from Sydney’s Central Station and take it to the town of Leura. Once there, grab some breakfast and stroll up and down the main street looking into all the fun shops.

From there, you can either take a 30 minute stroll up to Katoomba, or go back to the station and take the hourly train ride…which lasts all of 4-ish minutes.

From the station in Katoomba, it’s very easy to hop on a bus down to Echo Point, which is where the famous Three Sisters and stunning views of the Blue Mountains will be waiting for you.

Wollongong

Short Trips from Sydney day trips from sydney

Wollongong is one of my favorite short trips from Sydney that I’ve taken. A quick ride down from Central Station on the South Coast Line will get you there. Wollongong’s got lots of fun shops on its main promenade and plenty of good places to eat as well.

The beach is lovely (save for the industrial sludge in the background, but just ignore that) and the two local lighthouses make for great photo ops.

Short Trips from Sydney day trips from sydney

If you have time and like history, there’s also a heritage trail that winds throughout the city center.

If you have access to a car, don’t miss the Grand Pacific Drive which takes you right through Wollongong.

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Looking for things to do in Sydney in winter? Because the seasons are flipped in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s likely that it’ll be chilly during your “summer” trip from the USA, Canada, or Europe.

While it’s nice to know that unlike other parts of Australia, Sydney doesn’t get too TOO cold in the winter (think like in the 60’s℉ / mid-teens℃ during the day and 50’s℉/ low-teens℃ during the night), the dampness of the air can still make things feel quite chilly.

But if you don’t what to experience the brain-melting heat of actual Australian summer, then winter in Sydney is the best time to visit.

what to wear in Sydney during the winter packing list Australia

See also: 

The Best Things To Do in Sydney in Winter

There are things that are fun to do in Sydney year round, like climb the Harbour Bridge take a tour of the Opera House, but there are certain things you can only do in Sydney in Winter.

Here are my favorites:

Take in the Lights at Vivid Sydney

Things to do in winter in Sydney winter activities in Sydney Sydney Winter Activities

Vivid Sydney is an annual 3-week festival of “lights, music, and ideas” that typically runs from late May to early June. There are cool concerts and Ted-ish Talks that you can attend, but the main attraction is the light and sculpture  installations sprinkled throughout the city.

My friends and I started in Darling Harbour (you can use the Wynyard or Town Hall train stops), walked through Barangaroo, and down under the Harbour Bridge to Circular Quay to grab a bite at the many food trucks, and then ended the night taking in the Opera House and Royal Botanical Gardens.

While it was fun to see the city bathed in neon lights while munching on street food, Vivid Sydney is definitly something to do while you’re IN Sydney during the winter, but it’s not so awesome that you should make a special trip to the city to see it.

Go Whale Watching in Manly

Things to do in winter in Sydney winter activities in Sydney Sydney Winter Activities

Winter in Sydney is a great time of year for whale watching and nearby Manly is a great place to do it. Whale watching season in Sydney technically runs from mid-May through mid-November, so the winter months of June, July, and August are prime real estate for a great time.

You’ll usually see Humpback Whales on their annual migration down the New South Wales’s (oh ho ho) coast. If you’d like to book a boat tour, there are many companies that depart from both Sydney’s Darling Harbour and Manly, but if you’re lucky, you can take it the whales, and great views, from the many hiking trails on the North Head.

Hot tip: go to Manly on a Sunday! On Sundays, the maximum amount you’ll spend on transport in the Sydney area (unless you visit the airport) is $2.60.

Walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach

Things to do in winter in Sydney winter activities in Sydney Sydney Winter Activities

You can also try your luck whale watching on the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk.

I did the walk my first week in Sydney and will say that while Bondi, Coogee, and all the beaches in between (e.g. Bronte and Tamarama) are lovely, I definitly got tired and stopped having fun around Bronte Beach. But that’s probably because I didn’t bring any snacks with me.

This walk is one of the perfect things to do in Sydney in winter because the stunning views of the ocean and white sands of the beaches are the same all year long — but during the winter, you don’t have to fight with extreme temperatures and obnoxiously large crowds.

Go for a Spin at a Local Ice Rink

Things to do in winter in Sydney winter activities in Sydney Sydney Winter Activities

Ice skating is one of the best things to do in Sydney in winter simply because of the number of awesome options available to you. You should take the time to check out:

  • Luna Park

Every kid’s dream! During July, Luna Park has an ice skating / unlimited ride combo that’s sure to delight kids and anyone with an inner-kid. The park sells tickets by height, so if you, your boo, or your bestie is on the shorter side, you’ll be able to save big. Luna Park is also perfectly perched on the north edge of Sydney’s Harbour, so the views are unreal.

Get the deets here.

  • Bondi Beach

If you’re not too tired out after your coastal walk, you can stick around Bondi to skate and try to snag yourself one of the lifeguards from Bondi Rescue.

Get the deets here.

  • St. Mary’s Cathedral

The rink is a little small, but it’s convenient because it’s right in the CBD at St. Mary’s Cathedral, less than a 5-minute walk away from the St. James’ train stop. Skates are included in your admission ticket and the music played is on point.

Things to do in winter in Sydney winter activities in Sydney Sydney Winter Activities

Hot tip: the little blue kangaroos aren’t just for kids. Get your boo or bestie to push you around on one when your feet start to hurt.

Enjoy the Sydney Film Festival

Things to do in winter in Sydney winter activities in Sydney Sydney Winter Activities

Each June, Sydney celebrates the silver screen with the annual Sydney Film Festival. In any given year there are more than 300 screenings of over 180 films from 50+ countries.

There’s also always  engaging talks, parties and special events. So, whether or not you’re a movie buff, if you’re looking for things to do in Sydney in Winter, the film festival is your best bet of keeping warm.

Feel Cultured at the Biennale of Sydney

Things to do in winter in Sydney winter activities in Sydney Sydney Winter Activities

Created in 1973, Biennale of Sydney is an bi-annual showcase of nearly 1,800 artists from more than 100 countries. It holds an important place on both the national and international stage and is a must-see for any art or history lovers visiting Sydney during the winter.

It usually runs from March to June every other year and has multiple installations at multiple locations throughout the city.

Upcoming Biennales will be in 2020, 2022, 2024, and 2026.

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Wondering what to wear in Sydney during the winter? Here’s a packing list for Australia to help you out.

What To Wear in Sydney during the Winter

Before moving to Australia, I was cautioned about two things: its cost of living and its sheer size. “Budget extra time and money,” all the guidebooks warned. But guess what they all forgot? WINTER! So much for sunny Australia…ya girl is a popsicle.

what to wear in Sydney during the winter packing list Australia

And, given that American and European summer and Australian winter coincide, it’s likely that when you visit, it’ll be chilly, so here’s what to wear in Sydney during the Winter (so you’re not freezing like I am 90% of the time):

Pullovers

Winter in Sydney is eerily similar to “wear a sweater in the morning, but leave it in the car at lunch because you’re roasting, but you’ll turn into a popsicle at dinnertime without it” season in the Northern Hemisphere. Having a pullover is great option because you can slide it on and off throughout the day, depending on how you feel.

Here are a few to try out:

Tights

Tights have been lifesavers for me!

I brought lots sundresses and shorts with me, assuming that living in Australia would be like living in a perpetual oven. I was so wrong.

So, if your plan is to be in Sydney for a few days (or weeks!) and then trek to warmer parts of the country (like Cairns for the Great Barrier Reef or the Outback for Uluru), feel free to bring those warm weather clothes — just bring some tights to pop on underneath while you’re in the south.

Here are a few to try out:

Scarves

Not just a fashion statement, when planning what to wear in Sydney during the winter, scarves are actually pretty functional. A fun scarf will not only keep you warm in the perilous wind tunnels of the CBD, but can also make the outfit you spent all day exploring in suitable for a night out in Newtown.

Here are a few to try out:

Camis for Layering

Layers y’all. All about the layers. Not only can wearing an undershirt keep you warmer on a rainy Sydney night, but they’ve also been known to help shirts fit better and (in the words of my fave, Tan France) “elevate your look.”

Here are a few to try out:

Boots

What to wear in Sydney during the winter? Not flip flops (or thongs, as the Aussie’s call them…lol) or your trusty Birkenstocks. That’s for sure. It’s cold. It’s rainy. You want to keep your toes from getting frostbite. I’ve been living in my boots since I arrived down under and would suggest the same for you if you visit in the winter months.

Here are a few to try out:

Dark Jeans

Sydney is this really weird mix of New York and California.

I thought it was going to be all about laid back surfer vibes, and bits of it is, but there’s still a thrumming intensity that echoes around the palm trees. Everyone in the CBD looks so important in their suits and pencil skirts, and since traveling abroad is all about embracing a new culture, you’ll want to bring a dark pair of jeans to fit in with the local fashionistas. Rocking your regular baby blue jeans will make you stick out like a sore thumb…a sore foreign thumb.

Here are a few to try out:

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