When to visit
In Sydney, there’s rarely a bad day to spend outside. That said, peak travel season is roughly late December through January, during the heart of Australia’s summer.
Summer is ideal for visiting some of the southern hemisphere’s most famous beaches, or taking a sunset harbor kayak tour. Whatever you end up doing, wear sunscreen, as the Australian sun is unforgiving.
Fall’s mild weather is perfect for coastal walks between beaches from Bondi to Coogee, or the less crowded Manly to Spit Bridge route.
Rainfall peaks during winter, especially in June—never a better time to stay dry indoors at the Australian Museum or the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Dry, warm spring weather is best for exploring collections at the Royal Botanical Garden, or the trails and lookouts of Blue Mountains National Park.
Sydney’s public transport network radiates from the city center to the suburbs, and even national parks. The Opal smartcard is valid on buses, trains, ferries, and light rail.
Bus: TSW buses operate from hubs near central train stations, and are useful for reaching beaches, even taking the scenic route to Bondi. If you’re using the Opal card, tap when you board and disembark, otherwise you’re charged the max fare.
Rail: Sydney’s train lines typically get in and out of the city center faster than rideshares, but they also charge more during peak hours. The Blue Mountains Line runs from central Sydney to the national park in just over two hours, convenient for daytrippers who want to make the journey themselves.
On the water: If you have the choice and can spend a little more, we recommend taking ferries over buses and trains. Ferries operate as late as midnight, zipping around the harbour from Parramatta out to Circular Quay and Manly Beach. Water taxis are faster, pricier, and can pickup from nearly any point in the harbor.
Metro: The first line of the new Sydney metro opened in 2019 in Chatswood on the Lower North Shore; a second phase connecting the city center to the south side is currently under construction.
There’s no getting around Sydney’s glorious harbour: it’s a great place to start your trip. Boat tours explore it from every angle, even sailing past the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge on vintage tall ships. Portside, travelers mingle with locals at the old pubs, markets, and laneways of The Rocks historic neighborhood, also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art. After that, it’s a matter of finding a suitable outdoor scene, from the bronzed beach-strutting of Bondi to the national parks that ring the city, including the Blue Mountains.
An alternative to Sydney BridgeClimb for those wanting views but without the heights, try the lookout on the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s southeast pylon. From there, it’s a short walk across the bridge to Wendy’s Secret Garden, where you can look back at the city through an oasis of greenery.