Sydney shines year round but if you’ve had the joy of experiencing the city in summer, you too know there’s something pretty special about the warmer months. When the days are longer and the nights are brighter, Sydney really puts on a show.
Whether you’re visiting the harbour city for the first time or the eleventh time, on a romantic getaway, girls weekend, lads vacay or a flying-solo staycation, you’ll never be at a loose end for things to keep you entertained and occupied.
And with alfresco dining, waterfront restaurants, rooftop bars, sunny walks, sprawling parks and on-water adventures, making the most of summer is effortless in Sydney.
Need some inspiration on where to start? We’ve mapped out a two-day itinerary including 37 different ways to get the most out of your time in Sydney in summer. Make the most of daylight savings in a city yet to be explored, all just a hop, skip and jump away from us at Aiden Darling Harbour. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Start with the day right with delicious L’OR coffee and breakfast at our Wayfarer’s Bar & Café – try our honey-smoked bacon and egg sandwich with sriracha mayo or crunchy granola with fresh seasonal fruit. Or walk a couple of blocks to our neighbour Mug Life for a tasty Reuben toastie or fresh smashed avo with feta, dukkah, chilli and lemon on rye (and perhaps a cheeky doughnut – hey, you’re on holiday!), kicking back alfresco.
Once you’re sufficiently fueled up, take a walk down to the waterfront which curls around Sydney Harbour. Strap on your running shoes and hit the pavement of The Bay Run, a seven-kilometre-long pedestrian and cycling circuit which is popular with locals looking to keep fit, or take a leisurely walk from Anzac Bridge to Pyrmont Bridge through Blackwattle Bay ending at Darling Harbour’s popular Cockle Bay.
Up for more adventure? Head to Circular Quay and hit the harbour at speed on Sydney’s fastest red speedboats, Oz Jet Boating. Don’t forget to pack spare clothes because you will get wet!
If you prefer to take control and travel at your own pace (albeit slower), gear up and embark on a half-day kayaking adventure on Sydney Harbour with Paddle Pirates in Glebe. Keep an eye out for wildlife, penguins and seals often seen frolicking the harbour.
Hungry after all of that exercise? Opposite the hotel and on the harbour foreshore is Barangaroo, one Sydney’s newer precincts and home to some of thee city’s best drinking and dining. Take a seat on the terrace and enjoy a wagyu beef taco or kingfish tostada and refreshing margarita at new Tequila Daisy.
Or wander Pyrmont’s tree-lined streets to bustling Union Square at the centre of the village and pop into indoor-outdoor Quick Brown Fox cafe. Its all-day menu is perfect for the indecisive, with a big variety of eats, from banoffee waffles to grilled haloumi salad and acai bowls.
Sydney is the home to some of the best public gardens and great green spaces in the country. On a sunny summer’s day it would be rude not to visit the famous-for-good-reason Royal Botanical Gardens. Organise a bike from the hotel or take a leisurely walk through the CBD before reaching the gardens. Visited before? A hop, skip and a ferry ride away, explore lesser known but equally as beautiful, Wendy Whitely’s Secret Garden in Lavender Bay where you will be surrounded by bangalow palms, figs, and lilies with harbour glimpses between the green ferns.
A fan of purple? Take a ferry from Pyrmont Bay Wharf just across from the hotel to Milsons Point and visit the most instagrammable street in Sydney, McDougall Street, Kirribilli, where the jacaranda trees are in full bloom in November and December, creating a picture-perfect purple tunnel.
Visiting with kids or just a big kid yourself? Ride the rollercoaster, play all the arcade games and eat all the fairy floss at Sydney’s iconic Luna Park, sat by the water by the Sydney Harbour Bridge, looking back towards the city.
Pack a picnic or grab some takeaway and head down to Pyrmont’s Pirrama Park where you can get yourself the best front row seat to a Sydney sunset.
Want to go out-out? Get dressed up and sip on an aperol spritz as the sun sets behind the Harbour Bridge at waterfront Opera Bar. If you prefer drinks at greater heights, visit Henry Deane, the rooftop bar of the Palisade Hotel. With spectacular views, it’s a venue that should be on every Sydney visitor’s list.
Closer to the hotel, world-class dining is ready and waiting, on the terrace of the upmarket Bar Clementine or settle in for a memorable degustation at one of Sydney’s best waterside restaurants, LuMi.
End the evening on a high note with a leisurely stroll back to the hotel with your favourite flavoured scoop of gelato from Gelato Messina at The Star. Rather a nightcap? Pop into one of Pyrmont’s newest bars The Laneway Pyrmont before calling it a night.
Sleep in or wake up nice and early, fresh from a good night’s sleep, ready to seize the day!
Grab a takeaway coffee or a fresh green smoothie from The Fine Food Store and explore the historic sandstone streets of The Rocks. If you’re visiting on the weekend make sure you set some time aside to shop the stalls of talented artisans at the outdoor The Rocks Markets.
Beat the crowds and get in early to visit one of Sydney’s most famous attractions, Taronga Zoo. Overlooking Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo is just 12 minutes from Circular Quay by ferry where you can see up to 4,000 animals and ride on Sydney’s only cable car.
Want to cool off from Sydney’s summer heat? Take a ride or walk to Balmain and take a dip at Dawn Fraser Baths. You can opt to do some laps of the iconic harbour pool or enjoy the protected beach for a swim and splash.
Is your preference to be on the harbour and not in it? Set sail on the Australian National Maritime Museum’s tall ship Duyfken, a replica of the first European ship to reach Australia in 1606. Experience Sydney Harbour with the wind in your hair while learning some of its early settlement history, just across from the hotel.
Tick a Sydney-bucket list item and have lunch at the iconic Sydney Fish Market, an absolute must-visit in the area for the freshest fish and chips, oysters or generous seafood platter, all enjoyed on a sunny summer’s day overlooking the water.
Not far from the hotel you will find serenity at The Chinese Garden of Friendship, one hectare of greenery, water features and stunning Chinese architecture. The best place to zen out on a summer’s afternoon or enjoy a high tea at The Gardens by Lotus, a heritage listed teahouse by day and sizzling Sichuan restaurant by night.
After a refresh at the hotel, enjoy a drink at Wayfarer’s or make the most of your stay in a balcony room and relax on your private balcony with a glass of wine overlooking Darling Harbour at “Golden Hour”.
Looking for some razzle dazzle? Get dressed up and head to The Star’s Cucina Porto for a little taste of Italy. Sip on an Aperol Spritz and enjoy a traditional woodfired oven pizza or delicious housemade pasta with beef and lamb ragu before seeing a show from the summer program at The Lyric Theatre.
Prefer a low-key evening after a jam-packed day? Visit The Quarryman’s rooftop for a sunset cocktail or a schooner of one of the 34 craft beers on tap. Stay at ‘The Q’ as locals affectionately call it for a delicious burger and fries or enjoy a gourmet pizza in the beer garden at The Gallon.
Or head back to the hotel to try the menu at Wayfarer’s, sampling one of a few dozen excellent local drops of wine on the menu, or perhaps one of the signature cocktails, while people watching out to Darling Harbour through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Bookings & activities
Our team of hosts would be delighted to assist with creating and booking a tailored itinerary of local activities for your trip. Get in touch with questions and requests, as well as other insider tips and suggestions on what to see and do in Sydney.
Please note, businesses and tour operators may have adjusted opening hours during special event periods and major holidays. Some activities require pre-booking and are subject to availability. It’s always best to check first!
A gift that keeps on giving?
Looking to treat someone special in your life? Perhaps as a birthday or engagement present, thank you gift or a romantic gesture?Take the guesswork out of the equation with an Aiden Darling Harbour gift voucher. Purchase here.