There’s no denying Sydney is a special place to be in summer. That said, the fresh, crisp days and cool nights of winter are pretty underrated, especially when you think about all things the Harbour City has to offer during the cooler months, including Vivid Sydney – arguably the headline act of the Sydney winter season. Don’t be fooled into thinking Vivid Sydney is the only reason you should visit Sydney this winter though, because the Harbour City has a couple more tricks up its sleeve that may just tempt you into extending your trip for a few extra days – think whale-watching expeditions, night-time helicopter flights, brewery tours. Adding to the temptation is the promise of 25% off Things To Do in Sydney when you use the code “SYDNEY25” at checkout.
So, what will you do when you visit Sydney in winter? Here are some suggestions…
Firstly, Discover Vivid Sydney
After taking a hiatus last year due to you-know-what, Vivid Sydney is back bigger, brighter and more breathtaking than ever before. The festival of light, music and ideas officially kicks off on 6 August and runs for 23 nights until 28 August, boasting a diverse offering of musical performances, public art activations, workshops and deep-dive discussions.
Sydney will once again come to life in a blaze of colour as the much-loved light installations take over many of the city’s most iconic sites. The sails of the Sydney Opera House make for the perfect canvas to showcase Yarrkalpa – Hunting Ground, Parnngurr Area, a collective painting by Martu Artists that depicts the Parnngurr community and surrounding landscape with colour, patterns and energy. Other spots around The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Barangaroo and Circular Quay will also transform into open-air outdoor galleries.
Music fans will be treated to an eclectic line-up that includes Sampa the Great, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, G Flip and Flight Facilities, with gigs being held across a number of special locations. Other must-see events include a virtual talk with English-born actor, activist and writer Jameela Jamil, a speed networking night for like-minded creatives, and an in-conversation session on conspiracy theories with Sarah Wilson and Dr Norman Swan. With a program this good, the best advice is to secure your tickets, ASAP.
Then Head Out On The Water
Just because the weather has cooled down a bit, doesn’t mean you should avoid getting out and enjoying yourself on the water – remember, this is Sydney, not Melbourne, so it’s not really that cold at all (or that’s what the Melburnians will say!).
There are a number of activities you can enjoy, but the one thing most people don’t want to miss are the whales. From May to November, migrating humpback whales make their way along the Sydney coastline, with the months of June through to August the busiest for sightings. Jump aboard a whale watching cruise and admire these gentle giants as they frolic in the ocean and journey to the breeding grounds up north in warmer waters.
Prefer to be even closer to the water? Hire a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore the secret beaches and hidden coves of the harbour, or pop your wettie on and plunge beneath the surface on a guided scuba dive off the coast of Botany. Alternatively, book onto an afternoon sail on a historic, real-life tall ship, or splash out by chartering a luxurious private yacht for you and your mates.
And Get Your Culture Fix…
On a rainy day in Sydney, there’s no better place to head for shelter than one of the city’s many galleries, museums and theatres. Catching a show at the Sydney Opera House is a must-do for locals and tourists alike, with performances ranging from classical operas by iconic composers to Broadway musicals, depending on the season. The Australian National Maritime Museum is worth checking out if you’re a fan of all things ships, submarines and the navy, while the Sydney Jewish Museum offers a sobering, but truly unforgettable experience. And sporting enthusiasts should go straight to the Sydney Cricket Ground for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour.
When it comes to family-friendly fun, you’re spoiled for choice. Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world, and home to more than 13,000 aquatic creatures, including stingrays, sharks, penguins, crabs and dugongs. The littlies will love the Shark Walk exhibit – a glass walkway that allows you to see a variety of shark species up close – and learning all about marine life at the interactive rock pool. A visit to Madame Tussauds is another great option, and gives you the opportunity to come face-to-face with Aussie A-listers like Chris Hemsworth and Nicole Kidman. The kids will have a blast taking selfies with their favourite sporting heroes and pop stars!
Before Getting A Shot Of Adrenaline
One way to stay warm this winter in Sydney is to get the heart pumping – and these couple of suggestions should do the trick. A 30-minute thrill ride aboard a high-speed jet boat is guaranteed to raise your heart rate – and maybe even give your vocal cords a workout, too. You’ll reach speeds of up to 75 kilometres per hour as you zoom past the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo and Rose Bay, and hang on for dear life as the boat spins, skids and slides across the water.
From the water to the sky, take things to new heights when you soar over Sydney in a helicopter. This isn’t any old chopper ride; this 25-minute joy flight takes place at night when the city lights are aglow. If you ever wanted a bird’s-eye view of the shimmering Vivid Sydney projections, this is your chance. For something even more exhilarating, look no further than an aerobatic flight in a stunt plane. Your daredevil pilot will take you through a sequence of loop-de-loops, barrel rolls and figure eights, all while pointing out the beautiful sights of Sydney – just make sure to keep your eyes open.
Finally, It’s A Feast For The Senses
If your idea of properly exploring a city involves eating and drinking in as many of the hidden bars, trendy cafes and fancy restaurants as you can find, Sydney’s culinary scene will not disappoint. Kick things off with a bang on a brewery tour of the CBD that takes in a number of venues, including an ultra-modern brewhouse and an old-school pub for a hearty lunch. Wine lovers will prefer a tasting session at Urban Winery Sydney, during which you’ll learn all about the winemaking process, get to sample six regional wines and even take home a complimentary bottle.
In terms of dining experiences, it doesn’t come much more spectacular than a meal at the Sydney Tower’s revolving restaurant. Boasting enormous picture windows and 360-degree views (on a clear day you can see the Blue Mountains), you can devour a delightful buffet lunch or dinner, with fresh seafood, antipasto and an impressive selection of desserts on the menu. Another foodie must-do is a guided tour of Chinatown. Over three jam-packed hours you’ll meet restaurant owners and chefs, take part in a traditional tea ceremony and try a variety of dishes from Korea, China, Thailand and Malaysia.
Ready to book your flights to Sydney? Webjet has an incredible range of Sydney airfares from all major domestic airlines. You can book your Sydney hotels and accommodation too, and don’t forget to score 25% OFF Things To Do in Sydney using the code “SYDNEY25” at checkout. (Please note some terms and conditions may apply to discount offer, and coupon code is in partnership with Destination New South Wales).
Hero: Vivid Sydney. Credit: Destination NSW.