27 cool things to do this winter in Sydney

1. Vivid Sydney might be over, but Lightscape (the epic paid event in the Botanic Gardens) and Dark Spectrum (in the tunnels under Wynyard) are still on for a bit.

2. Go for a dip without the crowds. Prince Alfred Park Pool’s 50-metre, nine-lane pool is heated and open all year round.

3. Winter is the only time of year when you can walk under the romantic Japanese cherry blossom trees at full bloom. Auburn Botanic Gardens’ Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the season with an epic festival (you’ll have to wait until August – though mark the dates in your calendar so you don’t miss out).

4. We certainly don’t get the snow fall of our European cousins, but New South Wales has some beautiful alpine resorts that makes going to the snow a lot cheaper. Head to PerisherThredbo or Charlotte Pass to hit the powder. Check their websites for sweet deals on ski and snowboarding during winter.

5. Warm up by an open fire at one of the city’s historic pubs, like the British-accented Lord Dudley in Woollahra. Here are the best pubs with fireplaces in Sydney.

6. With shorter days and longer nights, it’s the best time of year to spook yourself silly with one of Q Station’s Ghostly Encounters. This one is scary enough that it’s only available for people aged 15 and over, and people under age 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

7. Warm your hands and belly with a delicious pie from Flour and Stone. Their chicken, tarragon and leek is a stunner, as is their beef rendang pie . Yum.

8. From May through August, humpback whales are heading north to warmer waters, which means you can go whale-watching on almost any stretch of Sydney’s coastline. Our pick is at Barrenjoey Lighthouse, 113 metres above sea level, and it’s free to enter on foot. Check out these other best whale-watching spots across Sydney.

9. Have your dessert in liquid form with an Italian-style hot chocolate from Rivareno. They make theirs with Valrhona single origin Grand Cru ‘Manjari’. You can even get it in affogato form.

10. Cool climate hermits might find themselves clambering the walls of their own homes in winter. Swap sofa scaling for a pair of sweatpants and hit up one of these Sydney indoor climbing centres to climb with purpose. You’ll heat up in no time.

11. Warm up with a cheesy raclette at Chouchou. It comes in a mini fondue pot and you get a burner so you can melt cheese and then dip in vegetables, cornichons, cured meats and bread. 

12. Winter is the best time of year to go on a bush walk – you’re working up a sweat, but the air keeps you cool. Make the trip to Cowan Train Station and follow the six-hour route to Berowra where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views at Naa Badu Lookout – find out more about the Great North Walk here. Or find the best walks in Sydney, here.

13. It’s open all year round, but for the true Swedish experience take an icy plunge into the pool followed by the warming dry heat of Icebergs sauna (it’s included in the price of your pool admission). It’ll soothe the shock.

14. Party like a Parisian at Bastille Festival Sydney in July, with French wine, food and firey entertainment by the harbour. Make the most of warming beverages and hearty European fare.

15. Hone your dart-tossing skills at La Di Darts. This humble pub pastime gets a 21st-century glow-up at this ritzy AR darts bar.

16. Summer may have the monopoly on stone fruits and berries, but in winter Sydneysiders can spend brisk, sunny days scouring for citrus. The humble mandarin is the king of this fruit-picking season, and you can grab bunches of them at Ford’s Farm for $3 per kilo.

17. Fans of cosplay will know that the best time to suit-up in dedicated costumes is when it’s non-sweaty weather. So, having the huge Japanese pop-culture convention SMASH! Sydney Manga and Anime Show in winter is wise thinking.

18. Gather around a hot pot at Spice World. Be the master of your own flavour and textural journey, dunking noodles, vegetables, delicate herbs, and thin slices of marbled wagyu into boiling broth pots.

19. Saint Peter only serves sustainably fished, Australian seafood, and since our aquaculture is at its finest in the winter months, there’s no better fish dinner in Sydney.

20. Catch a home game from the Newtown Jets at Henson Park. Entry is cheap, and you can buy a sausage sizzle and some beers and sit on the grass. A great Saturday out, even for those who don’t care about the footy.

21. Warm up around one of the Forrester’s famous Yorkshire puds, where there whole roast dinner is served inside the Yorkshire pudding.

22. Nothing whiles away a winter night like pitting your grey matter against others in a round of quiz questions. The Woolpack Hotel’s Tuesday night trivia (7pm) is a popular drawcard so get in early for a table.

23. Spend all day at the movies – without breaking the bank. Dumaresq Street Cinema in Campbelltown is Sydney’s cheapest movie theatre. All tickets for all sessions are just $7.50.

24. Conquer a bowl of ramen at RaRa. Put your name down for a table at this tiny Redfern bar where they’re using free-range, locally sourced meat and eggs in their surprisingly sweet and clear-flavoured tonkotsu.

25. Stacking it into the waves on your first surf lesson is embarrassing in the height of summer (so many witnesses!). Take advantage of less people in the water with a surf lesson at Bondi this winter.

26. If you just can’t leave the house unless the BOM says it’s 27 degrees out, perhaps you need to lay down in a heated room and pretend it’s exercise. One Hot Yoga keeps its rooms heated to 21˚C, 27˚C or 37˚C for yoga and Pilates.

27. When it’s cold, wet and miserable there’s only one thing left that’ll lift your spirits – acting like a child. Adult playground B. Lucky and Sons is a neon-lit fun house where you can play Mario Kart, Space Invaders, Air Hockey, the Claw, and many more classic arcade games.

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