As the first stop for most visitors to Australia and the capital of New South Wales, Sydney receives over four million international tourists annually. The weather is pleasant throughout the year, with plenty of sunshine and a relatively small variation in temperature and rainfall from season to season. Summer here runs from December to February. From June to August, winter brings cooler nights, light rain and a refreshing sea breeze.
Although many choose to visit in the spring and summer to make the most of the city's famous beaches, Sydney in winter is more suited for those sensitive to the sun or high humidity levels. Plus, events like Vivid and opportunities for whale watching offer a unique perspective on this harbor city. Read on for our complete guide to visiting Sydney in winter.
Sydney Weather in Winter
Sydney has sunny, mild weather for most of the year, except for a couple of periods of extreme heat during the summer months. Winter is a great time to visit if you prefer milder temperatures and less intense sun. You should be prepared for the occasional rainstorm during these months, but nothing that will seriously affect your travel plans.
- June: 64 F (18 C) / 50 F (10 C)
- July: 64 F (18 C) / 47 F (8 C)
- August: 67 F (19 C ) / 49 F (9 C)
Sydney gets between 10 and 11 hours of daylight throughout winter. Temperatures drop lowest in July, averaging 55°F during the day and 45°F at night. June is Sydney's rainiest month, with an average of 5.2 inches in rainfall. You can expect around eight rainy days in June, six in July and five in August.
The humidity is much lower than in summer, sitting at approximately 50% throughout winter. The UV index also hits its lowest point, meaning you won't have to worry so much about the fierce Aussie sun. August is the least windy month, although wind is not a particular issue in any season.
It is possible to swim in Sydney in winter, especially if you use a wet suit. Water temperatures hover around 65°F with consistently big surf. You might be lucky enough to see snow on the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney during your visit, but the city itself rarely experiences anything more than a heavy frost.
What to Pack
Sydneysiders are known for their laid-back yet sophisticated style inspired by the city's coastal lifestyle. During the cooler months, you can't go wrong with jeans, a waterproof jacket and comfortable shoes for long days of sight-seeing. Throw in a sweater to layer on when necessary and some dressier options if you're planning on dining at one of the city's more upscale restaurants.
On sunny days, you'll likely find yourself reaching for short sleeves, a hat and sunscreen. Keen surfers hit the waves year round in Sydney, so don't forget to pack a wet suit if you're planning on joining them.
Sydney Events in Winter
Sydney's winter calendar is packed with ways to enjoy the city's milder weather, from arts and culture festivals to wildlife spotting and sporting events. Many free and family-friendly events take place through June, July and August, drawing visitors from all over the country and the globe.
- Vivid: Known for the colorful light shows that light up Sydney landmarks like the Opera House from mid-May to mid-June, Vivid also features free and ticketed live music performances, talks and workshops with a focus on creativity and technology.
- The Archibald Prize: The entries of this portrait prize make up one of Australia's most anticipated exhibitions and can be viewed at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney throughout winter.
- NAIDOC Week: In the first week of July, NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, with special exhibitions, performances and festivities in Sydney and across Australia.
- City2Surf: This popular running event is usually held in August, when over 80,000 people complete a scenic 8.6-mile course. Registrations open annually in April.
- The State of Origin: One of Australia's great sporting rivalries, the State of Origin, is a rugby league (NRL) tournament between NSW and Queensland, played in winter. Catch an Origin game during your stay, or check out a rugby union or Australian Football (AFL) match.
- Whale-watching: Visit from mid-June to mid-July to have the best chance of seeing humpback whales on their northern migration past Sydney.
Winter Travel Tips
- You're unlikely to need serious winter clothing in Sydney, just a rain jacket, warm layers and water-resistant footwear.
- Keep an eye out for one of Sydney's many pubs and bars with an open fireplace to stay warm after dark.
- Crowd levels spike during the two-week NSW school vacation in early July, so make sure to book well in advance if you're planning on traveling at this time.
- Accommodation in the city center also fills up on weekends during Vivid festival.
- The Queen's Birthday public holiday falls on the second Monday in June, making the preceding weekend a popular time to travel and celebrate. (This is a symbolic date, as Queen Elizabeth's actual birthday is on the 21 April.) Some services, including banks and post offices are closed on public holidays, but many retail and hospitality establishments remain open.
- The Queen’s Birthday long weekend also marks the start of the ski season in the state's alpine region, a six-hour drive south of Sydney.
To learn more about if you want to visit Sydney in winter, read our guide on the best time to visit.