The 7 best summer things to do in Sydney

Sydney is one of the world’s most famous destinations to visit, especially during the summer months. Its breath-taking harbour views, stunning parks and open spaces, and the seemingly endless sunshine are reasons enough to lure visitors and even locals. 

During the summer season, Sydney caters to different tastes and interests from outdoor concerts and al fresco dining to fun water activities and cultural festivals. This stunning city may be home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, but there is more to it than just postcard views. The secret is to visit Sydney during the summer and look to experience some of these more diverse activities.

Sydney during summer


Enjoy the best beaches

Bronte Beach
Sydney’s Bronte Beach.

Sydney offers some of the most picturesque beaches in the world like famous Bondi Beach which is renowned for its laid-back vibe and home to swimmers, surf enthusiasts and sun lovers. The beach itself is flanked by a wide array of cafes, takeaways, hot dining spots and shopping, from markets to the nearby mega mall. Alternatively, if you want some peace and quiet, visitors can take the 40-minute walk from Bondi to Bronte Beach around the picturesque headland. Bronte is also a great place for a surf break, has an ocean pool, plus a rock pool for kids and offers plenty of space for family picnics. 

For underwater lovers, Gordons Bay is the place to go. This mini-oasis nestled between the sandy stretches of Clovelly and Coogee is home to a 500-metre underwater nature trail that winds through reefs, sandy seabeds and swaying kelp hiding plenty of sea life.

Find Sydney’s hottest beaches here

Go for a pool with stunning view

Bondi's Icebergs
Enjoy dipping at Icebergs this summer.

Our ocean pools offer a refreshing escape from Sydney’s summer heat. These family-friendly pools let you experience the natural beauty of iconic spots from Bondi Icebergs to Maroubra’s Mahon Pool without the big waves. Or, for a special treat, book a staycation at a high-rise hotel such as the InterContinental Double Bay, The Old Clare, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, Park Hyatt Sydney, Kimpton Margot Sydney, or Crown Sydney. Their rooftop pools provide scenic views and summer retreats that will give you and your family the most amazing experience not to mention a worthy Instagram post. 

The best outdoor cafes

Sydney's MCA Terrace
The terrace overlooking Circular Quay at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Summer in Sydney offers no shortage of charming cafes where you can dine al fresco in style. Whether you’re looking for kid-friendly spaces, cultural attractions or Instagrammable views, the city has an outdoor cafe to match your mood. At The Grounds of Alexandria, both children and adults feel like kids again while enjoying breakfast or lunch thanks to the presence of farm animals, lush gardens and imaginative industrial design. In addition, North Sydney’s The Greens provides a similar vibe where there is plenty of greenery and room to roam. 

If you want to enjoy coffee with a splash of culture, visit Sydney’s most iconic panoramas at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s MCA Terrace, where contemporary art takes a backseat to unparalleled harbour views. Across the Harbour Bridge, hidden away in Kirribilli, The Flying Bear spills onto the docks of a historic sailing club, pairing boat marina views with fish and chips to match. 

On the other hand, if you want to fuel up after laying in the park, you may want to visit well-known Ashfield parkside café, the Outfield. This suburban café serves picnic-ready fare perfect for noshing in the grass post-swing set.

Cycle around Barangaroo Walkway

Barangaroo Walkway, Sydney
The Barangaroo Walkway.

The Barangaroo Foreshore Walkway spans an 11-kilometre pathway starting along the western side Sydney Harbour. Starting at the Anzac Bridge the walkway takes you through Pyrmont, Darling Harbour and the new Barangaroo developments and on to historic Walsh Bay. Or you could go all the way under the bridge and end up in Woolloomooloo, passing by some of the best sights along the harbour along the way.

Start with views of the historic shipping piers in Pyrmont then stop to snack at one of the many varied food options at Darling Square. The route also includes the Wulugul Walk that winds through the lush greens of Barangaroo Reserve, and past Sydney’s newest harbour swimming spot Marrinawi Cove, where you can take a quick dip. Additionally, the walkway provides the perfect Instagrammable angle to capture those stunning harbour views. 

Whether walking or cycling, you’ll also find opportunities to veer off the pathway to explore other breathtaking attractions such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Mrs Macquaries Chair, The Rocks or Sydney’s other historic neighbourhoods.

Summer fun at famous theme parks

Luna Park in Sydney
Enjoy the thrill at Sydney’s Luna Park.

One of the thrilling summer experiences in Sydney is a visit to some of our iconic theme parks. The historic Luna Park in Milsons Point features rides, games, views of the Sydney Harbour, and free entry, so you only pay for the activities you choose. The retro Wild Mouse, Tumble Bug and Whirly Wheel are just some of the exciting rides that await visitors when they visit Luna Park, alongside some more modern rides for thrill-seekers.

If there weather is hot, then head west to Raging Waters Sydney which serves as a perfect venue to cool off in summer. It has more than 40 slides and water-themed attractions, including one of the world’s tallest Skycoasters. Visitors shouldn’t also miss The Beach which creates breaking waves of up to 2.3 metres.

A bit further west, the famous Cables Wake Park on the Nepean River at the foot of the the Blue Mountains offers inflatable structures for jumping, sliding and ‘walking’ across water. They also have spots for wakeboarding, waterskiing, kneeboarding and other fun and thrilling activities.

If swinging through the trees is your things, then there is TreeTop Adventure Park in the lush Cumberland State Forest around Pennant Hills or in Western Sydney Parklands near Abbotsbury that both offer zip lines, swings, cargo nets and more for thrills among the foliage. 

Go boating on Sydney Harbour

Boating at Sydney Harbour
Go boating at Sydney Harbour and enjoy the view.

Port Jackson or Sydney Harbour as it is more commonly known, spans 240 kilometres of shoreline. It is adored by locals and visitors alike for stunning sights such as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge plus unspoiled beaches, gardens, and many more. Visitors can explore this expansive natural harbour by boat, kayaking, and even heritage cruises.

There is an array of options to choose from including sunrise paddle tours starting at Neutral Bay, lunch/dinner/twilight sightseeing cruises sailing aboard heritage ships. You’ll also find boat tours, such as those from Captain Cook Cruises, that run daily, and are also fun for ages 10 and above, or you can hire your own tinny out of Rose Bay.

The harbour also offers numerous spots to watch the start of the famous Sydney Hobart Yacht Race every Boxing Day or the speed SailGP in February.

Enjoy a Sydney summer festival vibe

Sydney summer festival
Experience the energetic vibe of Sydney summer festival.

Sydney’s summer accommodates several major annual music, food and cultural festivals each summer. These vibrant multi-day events can feature anything from concerts and live DJs, to cooking demos by celebrity chefs from across the globe. Attracting thousands of local and overseas visitors, they have become key fixtures of the city’s art and cultural scene all the way from December through to March and beyond.

The summer music festival events range from rock and pop to hip hop and electro dance music. One of the biggest is the Great South Nights festival which offers live music across Sydney and NSW from March 8-24.

Visitors and locals alike might also get to take part in parades, parties and free stage performances, which connect people from all walks of life. These festivals are highlights of Sydney’s tourist and cultural calendar. For more details click here is the ultimate guide to visiting Sydney. It provides up-to-date information on attractions, places to visit, restaurants, shops, visitor information and transport. The site is published by Cruise Media Australasia, a Big Splash Media company. Editor-in-Chief and Publisher: Peter Lynch.

All map distance references are taken from the Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay.
Images courtesy Destination NSW

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