Five Things To Do in Sydney on a Rainy Day

Cloudy skies at Sydney Harbour Bridge with the Sydney Opera House in the background
Sydney is at its sparkly best when the sun is shining, but of course not every day can be filled with blue skies.

So what can you do when the grey clouds set in and the rain starts to fall?  Here are five ideas to help snap you out of a rainy day funk and put the smile back on your face…

1. Sea Life at Sydney Aquarium

Outside the city may be wet, but inside Sea Life Aquarium at Sydney’s Darling Harbour you can stay nice and dry even as you’re surrounded with one and a half million litres of water in the Oceanarium.

Sea Life is one of the largest aquariums in the world, with over 13-thousand marine animals from 700 different species. Following a $10 million makeover in 2012 Sea Life has new themed areas including the Tropical Bay of Rays, and a Claws section where you can get freaked out by “Crabzilla”, the largest crab in the world otherwise known as the Japanese Spider Crab.

The aquarium has a world first of its kind penguin exhibit where guests get in a raft and travel through flurries of snow and see the Southern Lights before arriving at a replica of an explorers hut. With lots of penguins along the way.

While you’re at the aquarium make sure you visit the lovely Dugongs, the adorable penguins, you can even snorkel with the sharks or just fall in love with the colourful fish in the Great Barrier Reef exhibit. The perfect way to see some of Australia’s beautiful fish without having to learn how to dive or hopping on a plane.

You can grab tickets with a free cancellation option and no booking fees for Sydney Aquarium through Wotif here.

The Sydney Aquarium is a great rainy day option

Left: One of the Dugongs at Sydney Aquarium | Right: Fun photo moments to be had at Sea Life, Sydney’s Aquarium

2. Waxy fun at Sydney’s Madame Tussauds

Just next door to Sea Life is Australia’s version of Madame Tussauds, the famous wax museum that started in London in 1835.

As well as the usual international celebrities and dignitaries, the Sydney one has lots of Australians in the mix.

Having visited both the London and Sydney museums, I personally think Sydney’s one is a lot more fun. Sydney’s Madame Tussauds is filled with opportunities to get up close to the wax figures and interact with them, including stepping into the Psycho shower or climbing up into the Priscilla shoe.

You can also save a few dollars by buying a combo pass for Sea Life, Madame Tussauds and Wild Life Sydney, the zoo which is part of the same complex along with Manly SEA LIFE and Sydney Tower Eye.

Hide in Hitchcock's shower on a rainy day - Sydney's Madame Tussauds invites visitors to interact

Having a Priscilla moment at Sydney's Madame Tussauds on a rainy day in Sydney

3. A Day at the Museum

Sydney has some wonderful museums to choose from, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

The Australian Museum has been part of Sydney since 1827 when it became the country’s first museum. It’s filled with natural science and cultural artefacts, and often plays host to great travelling exhibitions such as the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

The Powerhouse Museum celebrates design, science, technology, arts, social history and more, and uses interactive displays and virtual reality to help keep visitors engaged for hours.

On the other side of Darling Harbour from the Powerhouse you’ll find the Australian National Maritime Museum. Considering Australia is the world’s largest island, there’s plenty to cover in this one, and you can also clamber on board a daring class destroyer, HMAS Vampire.

And for a museum dedicated to the beautiful city you’re in, head to the Museum of Sydney which is built on the site of the first Government House which was built for Governor Phillip in 1788. Its foundations may be hundreds of years old, but this is a modern museum and has a lovely cafe to boot.

4. Wander through an Art Gallery

You can continue to get a cultural fix in Sydney on a rainy day thanks to the city’s beautiful art galleries.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is home to incredible pieces of international and Australian art, and is physically beautiful in its own right. It’s free to visit and you could easily while away a rainy afternoon soaking up the beautiful collections under this gallery’s roof.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) at Circular Quay was reborn in 2012 with a $53 million upgrade leading to 50% more space to display artworks. It may be bigger, but it’s reason for existing remains the same – to be the only museum in Australia dedicated to contemporary art. It also has incredible views of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge which can be enjoyed from the cafe.

And a hot tip, if the weather clears up enough you can also enjoy a glass of wine on the cafe’s balcony and take in perfect views of the Sydney Opera House.

Other galleries to check out include the state of the art White Rabbit in Chippendale and the Brett Whiteley studio in Surry Hills which is a sort of time capsule to the great Australian artist, complete with unfinished paintings he was working on when he died of a heroin overdose.

Sydney's Queen Victoria Building

Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building

5. Retail Therapy

Of course there’s more frivolous fun to be had in Sydney too, including enjoying a bit of a retail therapy fix. You can stay dry all day if you head to any of the shopping complexes, but I’d recommend heading into the city where you can also enjoy beautiful architecture.

You can take a tour of Sydney’s beautiful Queen Victoria Building and learn all about her history, get seduced by charms of The Strand Arcade, or spend hours pottering around in Sydney’s Westfield, which changed the whole feel of the city when it opened three years ago.

Even if you’re being frugal it’s fun to window shop, and then treat yourself to a little lunch. Then maybe a movie, or drinks with friends. Who said rainy days in Sydney couldn’t be fun?

So how about you? What’s your favourite way to keep happy and dry when Sydney turns on the waterworks?

And of course there are lots of great things to do in Sydney when the sun is out. Here’s a list of 20 Sydney tours and things to do for every budget.

This post contains some affiliate links, so if you click on a link and book something I will get a little something to help pay those blogging bills, but don’t worry, it’s no extra cost to you

Five Things to Do in Sydney on a Rainy Day

About the Author

As a journalist who loves to travel and is fond of a chat I'm oh so happy when I'm sharing travel tales and tips. When I'm not travelling or writing about it I can be found out and about with friends, curled up at home with a good book or watching an addictive tv show promising I'll stop after one more episode. Amanda on Google +

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  1. Ella Rich says:

    Wow these are really amazing ideas to chill out in rainy days of Sydney. I would like to check out the museum and art gallery soon. Thanks for sharing these ideas.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    These all sound like such fun things to do. I think I’d be perfectly content with the chance to go to Sydney in rain or sun! Australia is creeping up to the top of my travel wishlist.

  3. Rain is always a thrill killer when on holiday, I’d love to see some more of these – such as Hobart, Melbourne, Wellington etc…

  4. LOL love those pics of you at Madame Tussaud’s! The Priscilla one is really well done and it looks like you’re going to give Alfred a little fright! 😛

  5. Didn’t think Sydney gets much rain! The wet stuff dampens the spirits though when you’re counting on sunshine – so it’s good to have a back-up plan (especially now the weather is less reliable around the globe).

  6. Anna Van says:

    Still so many things to do in Sydney on a rainy day! Don’t forget Sydney’s great cafés/restaurants, we truly have some great food and drinks in Sydney to comfort you during the rain 🙂

  7. Nice right up for tourists so they don’t get dampen by the wet weather!

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