A Tourist’s Guide to Spending Summer in Sydney

Year-round fun and adventure is what makes Sydney one of the most attractive destinations for backpackers from all around the world. That said, one of the best times to visit Sydney is summer (December to February) when you can make the most of the incredible outdoor lifestyle. 

Sydney is a place where cruising on the harbour is a daily part of life. It’s a place for picnics, beach visits and water activities such as swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking. Plus, it is renowned for its non-stop summer festivities, from Christmas and New Year celebrations to epic music festivals and open-air cinemas.

Sure you should keep in mind that it does get hot (pack light clothing, sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen) but manage your days well and there’s no better time to say G’day to Sydney. 

Here’s our guide to enjoying your next Sydney summer.

Sydney’s Best Beaches

Whether you’re a surfer, sunbather or snorkeller, Sydney has a plethora of spectacular beaches for you to explore. Famous beaches include:

Bondi Beach

While Bondi can get extremely busy, there’s no denying it’s one of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches. Offering consistently good waves, clear, turquoise waters and a crescent of golden sand that’s perfect for sunbathing and people-watching, Bondi is a must-visit. If you’re after a more peaceful experience, aim to arrive early and watch the surfers take to the waves with the sun rising in the background. 


Manly is home to the first world surfing championship back in 1964. It lives and breathes surfing and is the ideal beach for sporting enthusiasts, offering up everything from surfing and stand-up paddleboarding to beach volleyball and jet boating. For the less athletically inclined, a stroll along the promenade for an ice-cream and sunbathing on the golden beach will have you smiling in no time. 

Palm Beach

A one-hour drive north of Sydney sits Palm Beach, Sydney’s most northerly stretch of sand. The beach here is just as beautiful as Bondi, but far less crowded. It’s also home to the long-running television series “Home and Away”, and is a peaceful area which fosters rest and relaxation. Take a picture outside the infamous Summer Bay Surf Club and then cool off at any of the fantastic local venues with a post-swim drink.

Hidden Gems in Sydney

Camp Cove

Just a short walk from the Watsons Bay ferry wharf, Camp Cove offers million-dollar views that are hard to miss. Nestled on the harbourside of South Head, this calm and delightful beach is a family favourite and great for taking in stunning sunsets. Bring your snorkel to explore the rocks and pack a picnic for a leisurely lunch. 

Bronte Beach

Bronte is a great alternative for those wanting a quiet beach without sacrificing the great waves. Just a kilometre south of Bondi along the picturesque Bondi to Bronte walk, Bronte is where the ocean and land collide in great foaming swells. If this makes you nervous to swim, make the most of the relaxing Bronte sea baths at the south end of the beach. 

Collins Flat

Head off the main drag at Manly to find Collins Flat Beach, the home of tranquil waters and the gushing sounds of a nearby waterfall. Surrounded by bushland, it’s not easily accessible, meaning that during the week its possible that you could have the place to yourself.

Celebrations & Entertainment

After a day at the beach, there are tons of fun things to do in Sydney over summer. You can celebrate: 

Christmas Day

Christmas down under is a truly unique experience. For backpackers away from home, it might mean prawns on the beach, a refreshing swim in one of the many ocean pools, a scenic cruise on the harbour or a celebratory Christmas lunch at Maze Backpackers. 

New Year’s Eve

More than a million people make their way into the city for New Years celebrations on the night of December 31 each year. Focused on the Harbour there are plenty of vantage points, each offering a different experience. Choose a pre-paid event, hop aboard a ferry or yacht, or simply find a vantage point around the harbour and take in the show. 

Music Culture

Sydney loves hosting music festivals and throughout the summer there are plenty to choose from. From DJs at Bondi to the Australian & Asian touring Laneway Festival, there’s a fantastic lineup of acts no matter what your flavour is. 

Film & Cinema

If you love to wind down with a movie at night then you’ll love Sydney’s huge range of outdoor cinemas. Pack a rug and some snacks and sit back and relax under the stars. For a unique experience, check out Westpac OpenAir Cinema with its spectacular view over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge or take the water and enjoy a floating cinema. For 100 short films, be sure to check out Flickerfest and Bondi Pavillion. Keep in mind some other options, such as the free movie nights with Maze Backpackers.

Surviving the heat

Sydney can be notoriously warm during summer, so if you’re not a lover of extreme heat, you might want to make a plan for those extra hot days. Some survival tips include:

Chase the air-con

Public libraries, museums, art galleries and shopping centres all have air conditioning and will offer reprise on a hot day. Sydney has plenty of indoor art and culture to offer, so there’s plenty to keep you busy. 

DIY mister

Fill a spray bottle with water and put it in the fridge until its cold. When you’re going outside, take it and mist yourself with a refreshing spray throughout the day. Take a separate bottle of cold water for drinking and stay hydrated. 

Look for shade

Sydney’s array of parks offer plenty of shade for curling up with a book under a giant tree. The vast Royal Botanic Gardens curve around the Sydney Harbour and are a must-see and Hyde Park offers the gentle spray of the striking Archibald Fountain and a canopy of stunning fig trees. You can also head off into the bushland that surrounds Sydney. 

Stay Central

Whether you’re after Sydney’s most famous landmarks or Sydney’s best hidden gems, summer is the time to see Sydney. Need somewhere to stay in the heart of all the summer fun? Maze Backpackers offers affordable, comfortable and social accommodation and is Sydney’s Best International Hostel. Contact us today.