Sydney is a summer city. Sure, there’s plenty to do in winter and the Harbour sparkles no matter the time of year. But it’s summertime when Sydneysiders really come into their own. Dip your toe into everything the city has to offer with these 10 must-dos.
Laps under the bridge
Set on Woolloomooloo Bay, in close proximity to the Royal Botanic Garden, Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool must be the most scenic spot to do laps in the city. Stop paddling for a moment to take in the view, grab a towel and head for The Poolside Café for breakfast and a Campos coffee.
1C Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney; (02) 9358 6686
Sydney has ice-cream options to spare so pick your poison and eat it before it melts. Gelato go-to Messina is proliferating, with stores dotted all over the city from Bondi to Parramatta; Enmore’s Cow and the Moon was deemed the best gelato in the world in 2014; and Aqua S, with its fairy-floss-decked sea-salt soft serve, is mixing things up. There’s a Venetian-themed Gelataria Gondola in Chatswood; a gelato burger you can only get at Cremeria De Luca in Five Dock; and watermelon-and-feta flavoured confections at Hellenic-hued Pagoto in Marrickville.
See also: The Best Gelato in Sydney
Rides and slides
Summers have been significantly more fun since Sydney got its very own Wet’n’Wild water park. It’s no longer necessary to take a trip to the Gold Coast. If who fancy hurling yourself down an insane waterslide (with names such as the Tantrum, Bombora and Whizzard Twist – each more dastardly than the last) you need look no further than Prospect. There are 42 water slides in the park so enthusiasts may require more than one visit – season passes are available.
427 Reservoir Road, Prospect; 13 33 86
Movies al fresco
Why sit in a popcorn-encrusted velour chair in a darkened cinema when you could recline on a blanket with a picnic, while watching a film and an equally dramatic sunset? Sydney has plenty of outdoor movie options, such as the relaxed Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park, the gorgeous Openair Cinema at Mrs Macquaries Point and, for Inner Westies, the Openair Cinema at Sydney Uni’s Cadigal Green.
SEE ALSO: The 13 Best Pizza Places in Sydney
It’s been more than 100 years since the aptly named Sir Henry Parkes dedicated Centennial Park a public space for the people of Sydney. It’s 189 hectares of land in the Eastern Suburbs, where local residents having been cycling, picnicking, playing sports and otherwise recreating ever since. There are heritage buildings, pavilions, gates, lakes and sculptures dotted throughout. The best way to see it in all its Victorian glory is from the saddle. The Centennial Park Equestrian Centre can set you up with a horse and saddle and there are hand-led pony rides for the kids.
114-120 Lang Road, Centennial Park
The waters surrounding Bare Island, a tiny island complete with a historic fort, are swarming with fascinating sea creatures. Glimpse seahorses, crayfish, octopus, abalone and enormous bull rays just offshore from Botany Bay in the city’s south. One of Sydney’s most popular dive spots, it’s connected to La Perouse via a footbridge.
The Sydney Festival takes over the city in January each year and there are always amazing shows and events for all ages.
Sail up to the bar
Drop anchor at The Island, a floating bar located… well, anywhere you like, really. Generally speaking, the 350-square-metre bar bobs around off Double Bay and opens every weekend in summer. The only way to reach it is by boat – if you don’t have one, there’s a 48-seat private water taxi from Double Bay for just this purpose. The Island bills itself as a European-style beach club, with the cocktails served in a coconut to prove it. There’s a sea pool off the side for when it gets too hot on the d-floor. Guests must purchase tickets ($45 gets you entry, return water taxi and a drink on arrival) to attend the weekend Beach Club parties – numbers are very limited.
Shoes off, bowls on
An Australian who hasn’t played lawn bowls is like an American who’s never tried a hamburger or a Brit who’s unaware of cricket. It’s weird. Still, if you’ve never set bare foot on lush green, we’ve got just the place. Clovelly Bowls has to be Sydney’s best-positioned bowls club. It’s so gorgeous that weddings regularly take over its ’70s-style function room and well-dressed ladies-who-lunch can be seen buying a glass of vino at the bar with locals. The view is just that good. It’s located along the route of another iconic Sydney summer activity, the Bondi to Coogee walk. It’s a winning combination, even if your bowling technique needs work.
1 Ocean Street, Clovelly; (02) 9665 1507
Sydney’s ocean baths (there are more than 40 of them) are an excellent alternative for swimmers who don’t fancy being dunked by a wave or clocked in the head by a surfboard. They’re all stunning: Bondi Icebergs pool is an obvious choice and Wylie’s Baths in Coogee, where a full day of swimming and sunbathing can be had for the princely sum of $5 ($2.40 for kids), are great options. For something on the quiet side, it’s worth checking out Maccallum Seawater Pool on the western side of Cremorne Point. Built in the 1920s, it has a lovely timber deck where swimmers can lie to dry off – glance up from your book to see Sydney Harbour in all its sparkly glory.