While Sydney may be one of the sightseeing gems of the Australian tourism industry, the weather plays a huge part in limiting the number of activities to take part in when visiting the city - as far as things to do in Sydney on a rainy day go, making plans to get up and out of your apartment during wet weather can sometimes feel like a chore.
While there are a huge number of attractions and activities on offer in Sydney that range from zoos, to harbour cruises, to hot air ballooning, rainfall can immediately put a dampening on any plans you have - and as Aussies, we are often spoiled by our sunshine and have a low tolerance for rainy days in general.
Thus we've put together a list of the top things on offer in Sydney for rainy weather sessions in response to frequent questions from our customers that will provide you with plenty of entertainment - while hopefully keeping both your spirits and your bodies - high and dry.
1. The Art Gallery of New South Wales
Location: 1 Art Gallery Rd, Sydney, NSW Price of admission: FREE
One of the leading Australian museums of art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney is a staple destination for those visiting who are looking for a taste of culture, and acts as a great option for something to do on those rainy days. Comprised of five different levels, each presenting a diverse range of art and artistic styles, the gallery features a permanent collection that includes pieces of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Colonial and 20th Century European-influenced Australian art, galleries featuring tributes to old European masters, as well as Asian Galleries and sections dedicated to contemporary works.
Best of all, the gallery is open every day of the week from 10am to 5pm, with admission also being free, making it a highly flexible option for those days when the weather takes an unexpected turn for the worse and previous plans may need to be cancelled. Various temporary exhibitions also make regular appearances at the gallery in addition to the permanent fixtures, so be sure to check in advance for the latest exhibits currently on display. Lastly, the Art Gallery of New South Wales also contains a restaurant within, saving you from having to head back outside to brave the elements when heading to grab lunch.
2. The Australian Museum
Location: 6 College Street, Sydney, NSW Price of admission: FREE for general access; temporary exhibits charge a fee
The first, originally established museum in Australia, Sydney's Australian Museum was established back in 1827 and has built up a strong reputation over time in the fields of both natural history and indigenous studies. The museum aims to cater towards children as much as adults and thus features numerous interactive elements that encourage participation rather than just static observation while aiming to educate along the way.
The museum is segregated into different sections that showcase various exhibits, with several being free and others requiring an entry payment. With exhibits that range from galleries of dinosaurs, to extinct native Australian animals, to stuffed specimens of animals and an extensive number of bird and mineral displays, the Australian Museum covers every essential aspect that one might expect from a world-class facility. Well maintained, comprehensive, and interesting, the Australian Museum is a great way to while away time on a rainy day in Sydney.
3. Sydney Aquarium and Oceanworld Manly
Location: Sydney Aquarium - 1 Wheat Road, Sydney, NSW; Oceanworld Manly - W Esplanade, Manly, NSW Price of admission: Sydney Aquarium - Adults $38 (currently $22 special for Adults @ Kids Prices); Oceanworld Manly - Adults $19.80
Just because water may be cascading down from above doesn't mean you can't also enjoy it from underneath! These two world-class aquarium and oceanariums, Sydney Aquarium and Oceanworld Manly (now known as Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary), offer completely under-cover attractions that make for an enjoyable day out for both adults and families alike. Located within fairly close proximity of one another, with Sydney Aquarium being situated near Circular Quay and Oceanworld Manly further to the north alongside Manly Cove, both venues are easily accessible by public transport meaning that getting from A to B without getting saturated is a definite possibility.
Both venues contain thousands of tropical, cold, fresh, and saltwater fish, mammals and myriad other impressive creatures on display, with the ability to walk both through and under the various river and ocean settings, feeling and seeing the marine life swim beside and over you. A great day surrounded by water - without being covered in it!
4. Ten Pin Bowling
Location: Building 207, 122 Lang Road, Moore Park, Sydney, NSW Price of admission:
The classics never die, and Ten Pin Bowling is always a great and entertaining way for groups of friends and family to while away the hours indoors while providing a fun challenge.
Sydney's Strike Bowling Bar takes the standard bowling fare to another level by incorporating all the latest in modern audiovisual technology to enhance the experience - expect not only bowling but also large high definition screens playing all the latest chart-topping hits, neon lighting adding to the atmosphere, pool tables to shoot a round or two, private karaoke booths to belt out a few tunes, and a deluxe bar that offers drinks throughout (which may assist in boosting up the courage the participate in the aforementioned karaoke!). A great outing when the rain is pelting down, Strike offers plenty of entertainment offerings all under the one (sheltered) roof.
5. Visit Government House
Location: Royal Botanic Gardens/Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW Price of admission: FREE
While the neighbouring (and highly popular) Botanic Gardens might be a no-go during wet weather periods, Sydney's Government House provides a cultural and architectural alternative that is located within walking distance. A standing testament to the Gothic architectural style, the building is comprised of various rooms that feature an amazing collection of 19th and 20th century interior decorations and furnishings that showcase the high degree of craftsmanship the era is renowned for.
Upstairs rooms have been used as lodgings for such worldwide dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth, the Australian Governor and various visiting members of foreign royal families and heads of state, tours are held regularly by highly knowledgable and educated guides. Walk the halls, admire the paintings, appreciate the work that went into its construction - and, best of all, it's entirely free - but be sure to book ahead as places in the tours are limited and tend to fill up quickly.
Alternatively, if you're looking for a full range of things to do in Sydney once the weather clears up, be sure to check out our main section for our entire catalogue of available experiences!