When is the best time to visit Sydney & New South Wales?

There isn’t exactly a bad time of year to visit the Harbour City and New South Wales as it doesn’t have the dramatic weather swings of the Northern Territory or Queensland

Weather will still have a significant impact on your trip though. It gets seriously hot in Sydney in summer and surprisingly cool (compared to most people's expectations of Australia) in the middle of winter.

Time of year will also affect the cost of your trip too, rates are higher in summer and during public holidays.

With all this in mind here is everything you need to know about the best time to visit Sydney and New South Wales. 

 

Check your dates

Sydney is a city that sees dramatic swings in price and availability for visitors. Due to Europeans seeking winter sun, Sydney’s hotels can be extremely expensive and often fully booked in advance between November and February.

If price is a major factor in planning your trip to Sydney then try to go for the shoulder season and avoid this busy peak period. 

 

Public Holidays

Public holidays make things a bit busier too, so whilst there is a great atmosphere during Australia Day and Anzac Day, you’ll need to book well in advance.

Whilst Sydney isn’t so affected by school and public holidays as other parts of Australia (many Australians like to leave the city during these times), the wider New South Wales area is more affected.

Best time to visit Sydney: Avoid Public Holidays

We often had to book our weekends away at this time long in advance or risk being unable to secure accommodation anywhere within a few hours of the city. 

Read more: Our favourite weekends away from Sydney

Make sure you plan around the following:

  • Australia Day - 26th January

  • Easter (Everything, including Supermarkets) close on Good Friday

  • Anzac Day - April 25th

  • Queens Birthday - Second Monday in June

  • Labour Day - First Monday in October

 

The Vivid Festival can also dramatically increase the cost of accommodation. This happens at the end of May and in to the first few weeks of June each year. It's a fantastic time to be in Sydney but just make sure you plan ahead. Restaurants with great views of the Harbour Bridge or Opera House also get heavily booked out during this period. 

 

Weekends

Accommodation during the weekends outside of Sydney is also more limited throughout the whole year, with some places having minimum stays of two nights stay or more (this is primarily in the Blue Mountains). 


Best time to visit Sydney & NSW: Spring/Autumn

The Spring and Autumn are our favourite times to explore the state as a whole. The days are generally beautiful with temperatures in the mid-twenties, and at night it stays in double digits. 

 

Spring & Autumn in Sydney

Spring and Autumn are a good time in Sydney as the temperatures mean you can go to the beach, but may feel a chill when in the water. 

It's a lovely time to be in city, with humidity far lower than in the summer months. However, an exception to this is if you visit in November (just before it really starts heating up), we had five wet Novembers in a row in Sydney!

The upside is that the beautiful Jacaranda trees will be in bloom. They turn huge swathes of the city a beautiful lilac colour, just watch out for their petals on the ground though, they are very slippery! 

The sunrises and sunsets are at their best at this time of year.The shoulder seasons in the rest of New South Wales are also a great time to visit as the temperatures are perfect for hiking and  exploring.


 

Still a good option: Winter (May - Sept)

Sydney & New South Wales actually have a distinctive winter and you’ll need a jumper for this time of year. But winter is Sydney is actually the best time to visit for guaranteed dry weather. In our five years in Sydney, the winters were like droughts. We went months without rain and the majority of day has clear skies and sunshine. 

It is colder at night, but just bring warm clothes. Whilst major hotels will have heating, motels and AirBNBs will only have a few blankets and an small electric heater! New South Wales is still in denial that winter exists.

 

Sydney

Despite the shorter days (sunset is about 5pm), winter in Sydney has a lot to offer. The weather is great and it is also when the Vivid festival is on. This is our favourite festival in Sydney, when the city has light projections on all the major landmarks.

It is also when the Humpback Whale migration happens just outside the harbour (sometimes even in the harbour if you are incredibly lucky). You can hop on a boat and 20 minutes later more often than not you will start seeing whales!

Night time temperatures in Sydney are cool, but warmer than the rest of New South Wales. Temperatures at night can drop below 10C, but not by much. You’ll need warm clothes in the evenings.

It is also not the time of year for sunbathing and swimming at the beach (without a wetsuit). The sea is very cold and the air temperatures are pleasant, but hardly a sunbathing heat.

 

New South Wales

Winter in New South Wales can get pretty cold, especially at night. This however can be a really cosy time of year, especially in the Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains where the fires blaze in the restaurants on foggy nights.

The winter is a great time for bush walking in the Blue Mountains. The cool day time temperatures make the uphill hikes much easier and there is almost never a bush fire risk.

Similar to Sydney, this is not really the best time to visit the coast if you want to sunbathe or swim!


 

Heat & Humidity: Summer (Nov - Feb)

Sydney & New South Wales can get seriously hot in the summer and with it comes constant humidity. Temperatures can regularly go into the high 30s/low 40s and almost overnight, the humidity arrives and doesn’t leave again until March. The night time temperatures are above 25C for the whole time and the humidity can make sleep difficult without air con.

If you are a hiking fanatic like us this is also the time to keep an eye on bush fire warnings. Whilst we hike throughout the summer you may find certain areas inaccessible. It also usually means you need to start hiking extremely early to avoid the worst heat of the day. 

However, this is the time to hit the water.

 

Sydney

Whilst cooler than inland, Sydney swelters in the summer. However, the beaches come alive. If you love surfing, swimming or sunbathing, this is the time of year for you. The beaches get busier, but there are so many that you can find a quieter one a little further out if you choose. 

However, the extreme heats make it hard to be outside for too long when not in the water, and Sydney doesn’t do indoors that well. 

Read more: The top ten beaches in Sydney

 

New South Wales

The coast is the only place to go in the Sunmer in New South Wales and the sea is a beautiful temperature. Whilst Sydney’s major beaches can get busy, rural ones will still be pretty quiet. If you’re a beach lover, this is the best time to go to New South Wales.

Worst time to visit New South Wales: Summer

While the coast can be tolerable, inland New South Wales can be unbearable. We once went to wedding in the Hunter Valley where the daytime temperature was 45C and dropped to the mid thirties at night! Add in the humidity and you get some seriously challenging conditions.

However, places like the Blue Mountains can be ok due to their higher elevation. 

Read more: Top ten beaches in New South Wales


 
 

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