22 fun things to do in Sydney when it rains

We hate to admit it, but occasionally Sydney's famous perfect weather gets interrupted by the rain. Here’s some fun things to do when the sun doesn’t shine.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Apr 2023 -
min read

Enjoy a yum cha brunch

Feast on delicious dim sum (and take in the general convivial atmosphere) at one of Sydney’s excellent yum cha spots. The Eight, East Ocean, Mr Wong and Uncle Ming's all offer delicious dumplings alongside Chinese tea and other classic Cantonese dishes. Be sure to try trolley stalwarts such as phoenix claws (whole chicken feet braised in black bean and garlic sauce), char siu bao (steamed barbecue pork buns), spring rolls, har gow (wraps filled with diced prawns, bamboo shoots and pork fat), salt and pepper squid, congee and custard egg tarts.

Couple enjoying food and drinks at Uncle Mings bar in Sydney's CBD

Uncle Ming's Bar, Sydney City

Check out an exhibition 

Head to one of Sydney’s fantastic museums and galleries, and check out their latest exhibitions. The Art Gallery of NSW houses Aboriginal, Asian and European artworks, as well as excellent special exhibitions. White Rabbit Gallery showcases contemporary Chinese art, with free guided tours – and a tranquil teahouse as you wait for showers to blow over. Other highlights include the MCA, the Powerhouse Museum and the Sydney Jewish Museum.

Break out of an escape room 

Grab your mates and head to an escape room for an afternoon of problem-solving fun out of the rain.  

Read more: The 10 best escape rooms in Sydney

The Cipher Room - Credit: Tim Clapham, Salix Reed Pty Ltd

The Cipher Room - Credit: Tim Clapham, Salix Reed Pty Ltd

Find a pub with a fireplace 

Cosy up by the fire with friends or a good book at one of the city’s pubs, like the Hero of Waterloo, Lord Nelson Brewery and Fortune of War in the Rocks. British-style pubs the Duke of Clarence and The Lord Dudley offer delicious Sunday roasts, and the dog-friendly Glebe Hotel does some excellent winter fare.  

Couple enjoying food and drink at Lord Nelson Brewery, The Rocks

Lord Nelson Brewery, The Rocks

Shop til you drop 

Stay dry and indulge in a little retail therapy in Sydney. The Queen Victoria Building, with its stunning mosaic floors and stained-glass windows, houses nearly 200 boutiques. Strand Arcade is another 19th-century jewel and a lovely setting for coffee and cake after you’ve splurged. Westfield Sydney features a posse of very upmarket European and Australian designer brands, and also has a stylish international food hall. It’s a short dash from here to many other shops and department stores on Pitt Street. 

Read more: The best shopping in Sydney 

Women shopping for clothing at Africanologie, Avalon

Africanologie, Avalon

Indulge in a spa day 

If you can't go outdoors, why not pamper yourself at a spa? Many of Sydney’s hotels have excellent options and you’ll also find some lovely boutique spots across the city too.  

Read more: 10 of Sydney’s most indulgent day spas 

Chi, The Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney CBD

Chi, The Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney CBD

Slurp on ramen 

A rainy day is the perfect excuse to enjoy some delicious ramen. Sydney is blessed with plenty of great noodle soup options, like RaRa Ramen in Redfern and Randwick, Chaco Ramen in Darlinghurst and Bondi, Gumshara in Haymarket, Rising Sun Workshop in Newtown and Mashi No Mashi in Pyrmont.  

Preparing ramen at Rising Sun Workshop, Newtown

Rising Sun Workshop, Newtown - Credit: andre&dominique

Get up close to wildlife 

You don’t have to be outside to experience Australia’s wildlife... you can see it up close and stay dry at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo in Darling Harbour. Both are within walking distance of one another, and Madame Tussauds is also next door if you want to make a day of it.

Dugong in SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Dugong at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbour

Laugh along to some comedy 

Who doesn’t like a laugh? Head to one of Sydney’s comedy clubs, pubs and clubs to enjoy a few jokes or see big international names at Sydney’s top venues.  

Read more: Where to watch comedy in Sydney 

He Huang at Stand Up Comedians - Credit: Mark David

He Huang performing with Stand Up Comedians - Credit: Mark David

Order a craft beer paddle at a brewery 

Sydney has a fantastic craft beer scene, with boutique breweries all over the city. Marrickville is especially a hotspot and you could easily pass an entire day on a self-guided tour between venues. Try out a variety of perfectly crafted ales, stouts and lagers while you shelter from the rain.

Read more: Discover some of the best breweries in Sydney 

Bartender pouring a brown ale available from Small Batch by Batch Brewing Co., Petersham.

Small Batch by Batch Brewing Co., Petersham

Catch a movie at an old-world cinema 

When it is wet outside, make your way to one of Sydney’s old-world cinemas, like the heritage-listed Ritz Cinema in Randwick, the underground Golden Age Cinema in Surry Hills, or the Chauvel and Palace Verona cinemas in Paddington. Or for something a little different, head to Govinda's for movies and all-you-can-eat Indian food. 

Golden Age Cinema & Bar in Surry Hills, Inner Sydney

Golden Age Cinema & Bar, Surry Hills

Learn how to make your own gin 

From understanding the distilling process to choosing your own botanicals, a lot goes into making the perfect gin. Try it for yourself at some of Sydney’s distilleries, including Archie Rose and Manly Spirits Co. Take a cocktail-making class or simply just enjoy sampling some of the city’s spirits.  

Read more: The best distilleries in Sydney 

Browse a bookstore 

Winter is the perfect time to hunker down with a good book, and luckily there are plenty of places to find your next read in Sydney. Getting lost among the shelves is also half the fun!

Read more: The best bookstores in Sydney 

Man browsing books at the Berkelouw Paddington book store on Oxford Street, Paddington

Berkelouw Paddington, Paddington

Try axe throwing 

Let off some steam indoors and try axe throwing. The 'sport' is exactly as it sounds: you hurl axes (after some instruction) at targets and challenge your mates to see who has the best aim. Check out MANIAX in Marrickville, Kiss My Axe in Alexandria, and Throw Axe in Penrith.

Friends enjoying an axe-throwing experience at Throw Axe, Penrith

Throw Axe, Penrith

Go wine tasting 

You don’t need to travel to one of NSW’s many wine regions to sample the state’s best wines, as there are plenty of wine-tasting opportunities right here in the city. Drop by the Urban Winery in Moore Park, Mille Vini in Surry Hills and Handpicked Cellar Door in Chippendale – just to name a few options.

Read more: Where to go wine tasting in Sydney

Couple tasting red wines at Handpicked Cellar Door, Chippendale

Handpicked Cellar Door, Chippendale

Catch a show  

Whether you’re into musicals, theatre, dance or live music, Sydney has you covered. See a West End classic at one of the city’s theatres or treat yourself to a show at the Sydney Opera House or the beautiful State Theatre

Live music at The Beresford, Surry Hills

The Beresford, Surry Hills

Sign up for a cooking class or food tour 

Take the opportunity to learn a new skill with a cooking course or explore some of Sydney’s different foodie hubs on a tour.  

Read more: The top fod tours & cooking classes in Sydney 

A variety of Asian hawker-style street food from Spice Alley, Chippendale

Spice Alley, Chippendale

Go indoor climbing/bouldering 

Get active at an indoor rock climbing or bouldering centre. No experience is required, and you’ll be taught the basics before you ascend. There are lots of places across the city including BlocHaus Bouldering, Climb Fit Kirrawee and Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym. 

 Climber on an overhung wall at BlocHaus Bouldering, Marrickville

BlocHaus Bouldering, Marrickville

Seek out the best hot chocolate in town 

If you have a sweet tooth, then nothing beats a cosy hot chocolate on a cold rainy day. Head to one of the Rivareno stores in Barangaroo, Darlinghurst and Potts Point for thick, rich Italian style hot chocolate made with Valrhona single origin Grand Cru ‘Manjari’. Or go French at Manon Brasserie, served with cream. The Grounds of the City is also known for its delicious cocoa-based beverages, along with Black Star Pastry in Newtown.

TikTok-viral French hot chocolate at Manon Brasserie

TikTok-viral French hot chocolate at Manon Brasserie in the QVB

Go indoor skydiving 

Head west for an adrenaline rush at iFLY and try indoor skydiving. No jumping out of a plane is required, but you will experience the same thrill as real skydiving. There are plenty of other adrenaline activities in Penrith, if you still have energy to spare.

Discover Sydney's hidden bars

Sydney has an awesome hidden bar scene if you know where to look, with secret speakeasy-style bars serving up cocktails and delicious snacks. Try Baxter Inn for an extensive whisky menu, Cantina OK! for the best margarita in town and Old Mate's Place for rooftop views.

Read more: 10 of Sydney’s best hidden bars 

Couple ordering cocktails at Palmer and Co, Sydney CBD

Couple ordering cocktails at Palmer and Co, Sydney CBD

Learn about Sydney's fascinating history 

Use a rainy day to learn about Sydney’s past. The Museum of Sydney’s changing exhibitions trace the evolution of the city since European settlement. Discover convict history at Hyde Park Barracks, uncover the dark side of the city at the Justice & Police Museum and maritime history at the Australian National Maritime Museum.  

Read more: Museums & heritage tours in Sydney

Hyde Park Barracks. Image Credit: James Horan

Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney City - Credit: James Horan

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