There are lots of things to consider when you are trying to choose the best time to visit Sydney. The weather, public holidays and school vacation periods can all impact how much you enjoy your holiday, impacting costs and crowds.
Below we have covered the most frequently asked questions we receive about when is the best time to visit Sydney.
Weather and Average Temperatures
Our location in the Southern Hemisphere means the seasons are opposite to Europe, North America and most of Asia.
- Spring – September to November (7 days of rain on average)
- Autumn – March to May (8 days of rain on average)
- Summer – Dec to Feb (8 days of rain on average)
- Winter – June to August (6 days rain on average)
The wettest month of the year is generally March which has an average of 8 days but can get quite a few more.
These temperatures refer to the last 12 months. This has been a particularly dry year, so these rainfall numbers are only an indication.
Note these are average highs and lows. Summer sees plenty of days over 35°c.
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What are the travel seasons for Sydney
I love reading the general blurbs in most travel guides about Sydney’s travel seasons – while they are reasonably accurate for flight prices they don’t really hone in on the local fluctuations that happen for special events and festivals.
Traditional this the summer period from December to February but its more than that. Flight and hotel prices rise dramatically during school vacations (we call them holidays). Events like VIVID Sydney and Mardi Gras also push prices significantly.
Christmas Eve to 2 Jan is its own beast with any hotel within an hour of the city tripling its usual prices and many having minimum stays. Even many hostels require 5 nights over this period. For these days book as far in advance as you can. The YHA at Sydney Harbour is usually fully booked by August.
In a general sense, shoulder season runs from mid-February to the June and then again from September to November, BUT there are two big exceptions.
The first Saturday in March is the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. This festival which begins almost 2 weeks earlier sees a huge surge in visitor numbers. Hotels in the CBD, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills and the Eastern suburbs are heavily booked.
Another blimp in shoulder season is the 23-day VIVID Sydney Festival of Light and Ideas. in 2019 the festival attracted 2.33 million visitors including the sale of 85,887 Vivid Sydney travel packages to domestic and international travellers.
There are smaller price increases in the July and September school holiday periods and for the June and October long weekends.
Like most places in the world, winter means low season. In Sydney, the last week of June and most of July and all of August are great times for bargain flights, hotels and deals. There can be some really exception flights deals from the USA at this time of year.
When is the best month of the year to visit Sydney
So what are the pros and cons for each month of the year? Well, there are some variables so let’s cover these month by month.
You might also like to take a look at our Sydney What’s On pages that list the cities best festivals and events.
Sydney is warm and sunny most of January, the Festival of Sydney runs for 3 weeks and offers lots of free and paid performances across all genres of the arts.
School holiday so kids around and plenty of extra child-friendly activities. The peak season for accommodation and flights. This is one of the most expensive (and exciting) times to visit Sydney.
January is perfect beach weather, and the heat can get pretty fierce. The Cancer Council recommendation of Slip Slop Slap* should be heeded at this time of year!
*Slip on a shirt, slop and sunscreen and slap on a hat
The kids are back at school back, so prices and availability of accommodation improve, weather can be hot and more humid than other months. Rain tends to fall in heavy afternoon showers rather than day-long drizzle.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the biggest events in the city and parade weekend sees hotel rooms across the city heavily booked. The festival runs for 3 weeks, but the week either side of the parade are hectic.
If you want to stay near the action book at least six months out for the best choice. Easter may also fall in March and push prices up.
There is a public holiday for Anzac Day on April 25th. Accommodation around this date can become more difficult to find in the city centre so book early. If Easter is in April things, get even busier. It’s a lovely time to be here but with daylight savings coming to an end on the first weekend in April the days start to get shorter rather quickly.
The weather gets pretty chilly come may and its time to grab a jacket when you head out in the early morning or at night. Most of May is fairly quiet but the last week sees the beginning of the Vivid Festival. If you are keen to see the light shows, I think this is the best week to attend.
June is officially the beginning of winter. Temperatures can be cold, and there is usually quite a bit of rain. Vivid is in full swing. Book as early as possible if you intend to visit at this time.
It can snow over the winter in places like the Blue Mountains, Canberra and Central West NSW so if you are heading outside the city on trips be sure to dress warmly.
This past July has been fantastic but usually, days are cold but the skies lovely and blue. The Blue Mountains, west of Sydney hold their Yuletide Festival where the cold temperatures.
Whale Watching Season is in full swing, and from now until November you can spot these gorgeous creatures making the way north for the winter and then back south as spring kicks in.
August temperatures are cold but the skies can be lovely and blue. This is great weather for exploring the bars and restaurants of the city.
The beginning of spring and the perfect month to explore sydney on foot. You will still need to pack a jacket but its starting to get back to t-shirt weather. Gardens are pretty and its a great time of year for a picnic.
My personal favourite time of year. It’s warm and sunny, but not so hot that you ever feel uncomfortable. It’s also good food month, so outdoor dining is back on the cards.
Daylight saving begins on the last weekend of the month, and you can tell summer is around the corner.
The weather is as close to perfect as it gets, warm days, not too hot at night. This is the perfect time to hit the beach while the locals are still busy at work and school, leaving plenty of space on the sand for you.
There are no holidays, so price and availability of accommodation are good.
It’s finally summer, we have all been craving its arrival, but we pretty quickly start complaining about how hot it is. The mood about town is great with everyone looking forward to the holidays ahead.
Locals are rushing about with Christmas preparations. Shops are busy as are bars and restaurants.
When is the best time to visit Sydney according to Sydney expert?
We think the best times over to visit Sydney are early March and late October.
We suggest you consult the key holiday periods below and avoid booking your visit at these times if you are travelling on a budget.
NSW School Holiday 2020
These holiday periods vary slightly from state to state.
|First Day||Last Day|
|Autumn holiday||10 Apr 2020 (Fri)||27 Apr 2020 (Mon)|
|Winter holiday||4 Jul 2020 (Sat)||20 Jul 2020 (Mon)|
|Spring holiday||26 Sep 2020 (Sat)||11 Oct 2020 (Sun)|
|Summer holiday||17 Dec 2020 (Thu)||26 Jan 2021 (Tue)|
NSW Public Holidays 2020
While public holidays mean most of us get the day off, there are very few days when there is much impact on visitors. Other than Christmas Day and Good Friday shops in the city open most of the other public holiday. Attractions are also generally open.
|New Year’s Day||1 January||Wednesday|
|Australia Day||27 January||Monday|
|Good Friday||10 April||Friday|
|Easter Saturday||11 April||Saturday|
|Easter Sunday||12 April||Sunday|
|Easter Monday||13 April||Monday|
|Anzac Day||25 April||Saturday|
|Queens Birthday||8 June||Monday|
|Bank Holiday*||3 August||Monday|
|Labour Day||5 October||Monday|
|Christmas Day||25 December||Friday|
|Boxing Day||26 December||Saturday|
|Additional holiday||28 December||Monday|
|* banks and some government offices only|