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What to do in Sydney when it rains: Five fun ways to stay dry

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Sydney is at its sparkly best when the sun is shining, but of course not every day can be filled with blue skies.

When the grey clouds set in and the rain starts to fall you’ll be wondering what to do in Sydney when it rains. Luckily there are lots of ways to stay happy and dry.

Here are five of the best to help snap you out of a rainy day funk and put the smile back on your face…

1. A Day at the Museum

Sydney’s museums range from the more traditional to modern so you can be as old school or forward thinking as you like.

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. After years of threatening to close the original Powerhouse and open another one in Parramatta the NSW Government thankfully did a backflip on that one so you’ll still be able to enjoy this wonderful museum in the city.

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.

For a museum dedicated to the beautiful city you’re in, head to the Museum of Sydney 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.

Read: The best time to see Field of Light at Uluru

Train lovers can step back in time at the NSW Rail Museum in Thirlmere. Home to the biggest collection of rolling stock in Australia including Australia’s most powerful locomotive, the 260 tonne 6040 Garatt and the last Red Rattler. There are interactive exhibitions and displays, a roundhouse and turntable, and the chance to see unusual old carriages including those used to transport horses during World War I and an old Prison Van.

And while it’s not a museum you can also learn all about one of our most famous buildings with a behind the scenes tour of The Sydney Opera House.

2. Wander through an Art Gallery

Keep the cultural fixes rolling on a rainy day in one of Sydney’s best 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.

Read: Cremorne Point Walk – Sydney’s prettiest short walk

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) at Circular Quay is Australia’s home of contemporary art. The MCA Collection has over 4,000 works by Australian artists and shares all sorts of art forms including painting, photography, sculpture and moving image.

And a hot tip, if the weather clears up enough you can also enjoy a glass of wine on the cafe’s sculpture terrace or rooftop cafe and take in perfect views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

The state of the art White Rabbit gallery holds one of the world’s best collections of Chinese contemporary art. The former Rolls-Royce showroom in Chippendale is a short walk from Central Station and has four floors of original, thought provoking art as well as a Tea House that serves fine Chinese and Taiwanese teas and handmade dumplings.

And you can also step into the Brett Whiteley studio in Surry Hills. A time capsule of sorts to the great Australian artist the studio is complete with unfinished paintings he was working on when he died of a heroin overdose.


3. 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.

The aquarium has the largest Great Barrier Reef exhibit in the world, including the $5 million interactive exhibit ‘Day and Night on the Reef’ where you can see what happens over 24 hours on the reef complete with bioluminescent beaches and jellyfish swarms.

Other zones at Sydney’s Sea Life Aquarium include Dugong Island, the Shark Walk and Shark Valley where you can dive with the sharks 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.

Read: 20 Sydney tours and things to do for every budget

The aquarium also 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.

At the time of writing this (July 2020) the shark dive and penguin raft are temporarily on hold due to Covid-19 so if that’s something you’re super keen on doing then check with the aquarium before buying your tickets.

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

The Aquarium is a great thing to do on a rainy day in Sydney

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 and you can have fun climbing up into the Priscilla Queen of the Desert heel for a happy snap.

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.

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

4. Play games

Solve your what to do in Sydney when it rains problem by heading to an Escape Room and see how many more puzzles you can crack. You could try your hand at a secret service mission or a bank heist or find yourself taking on an assassin in the pub or joining a young wizard’s quest.

And while you won’t get to dress up in costumes like you do in the physical Escape Rooms there’s also a Virtual Reality Escape Room with smell, wind and heat effects to make it feel all the more real.

Read: Weekend getaways Sydney locals love

Bounce around at one of Sydney’s trampoline parks. There are lots to choose from around the city including Sky Zone Alexandria which has 100 interconnected trampolines and 30 climbing walls, and Flip Out with green trampolines in five locations around Sydney.

Or see if you can strike it lucky at one of Sydney’s ten pin bowling alleys, including the retro themed Manhattan Superbowl.

5. Retail Therapy

If you prefer to get your cardio shopping then you already know what to do in Sydney when it rains, but might appreciate a few tips on where to do it.

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.

Sydney's Queen Victoria Building

You can take a tour of Sydney’s beautiful Queen Victoria Building and learn all about her history before indulging in a QVB High Tea, get seduced by charms of The Strand Arcade, or spend hours pottering around in Sydney’s Westfield.

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 says rainy days in Sydney can’t be fun?

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

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.

Leave a Comment

  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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