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A shot of Bella the dog wearing a top hat at Papa Gede's
Photograph: Anna Kucera

101 fun things to do indoors in Sydney

Looking for places to go in Sydney when it's cold and wet? Here are some excellent ideas for indoor fun

By Time Out editors and Rebecca Russo
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Who says Sydney's all about the outdoors? When the weather takes a turn for the worse, take shelter with our guide to fun things to do indoors in Sydney. There's something for everyone, from entertainment parks to sport and fitness classes, workshops and talks and cultural venues that are warm and dry all year round.

Want to test your problem-solving skills undercover? Challenge yourself at Sydney's best escape rooms. Keen to get freaked exploring spooky tunnels and buildings with sordid histories? Book in for a one of Sydney's terrifying ghost tours.

 

101 things to do indoors in Sydney

Where to learn a language in Sydney
Illustration: Time Out

1. Learn a new language

Things to do Educational venues

Want to impress your friends with un peu de français? Whatever the motivation, Sydney is brimming with language courses to suit your linguist needs, whether it’s saying hello in Arabic or signing your name in AUSLAN. 

2. Go wild at Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq

Things to do Games and hobbies Alexandria

This little pocket of Alexandria is the perfect place to hide out on a rainy day. You’ve got indoor warehouses for climbing, boozing and bouldering, like Sky Zone, Rocks Brewery and 9 Degrees – plus an arcade of retro games, bowling and laser tag inside Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq.

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People learning how to throw axe at Maniax
Photograph: Anna Kucera

3. Chuck an axe at Maniax

Things to do St Peters

Keen to lob a hatchet at a wooden target? Head to this warehouse in St Peters to perfect your throw. Whether your style is two hands over the head or a one-armed power hurl, you’ll release a lot of stress with every axe that sticks to the board.

Screen printing at Makerspace and Company Marrickville
Photograph: Anna Kucera

4. Make something handy at MakerSpace &Company

Things to do Classes and workshops Marrickville

Marrickville is home to a huge warehouse where you can hire a workbench and finally finish that DIY project. They also run workshops in metal work, leather work, floristry, ceramics, textiles and wood work.

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Golden Age Cinema and Bar 2013 Bar interior
Photograph: Anna Kucera

5. Go solo to the Golden Age Cinema

Film Surry Hills

This 56-seat Art Deco cinema is a world away from the sticky popcorn covered seats of the multiplex cinemas. Get away from the crowds for an afternoon screening of the latest releases, classic picks or an indie film that isn’t showing anywhere else.

Cork and Chroma
Photograph: Supplied

6. Cork & Chroma

Things to do Classes and workshops Surry Hills

If you've always wanted to have a crack at painting, but you’ve never had the courage to sign up for a class, now is the time to take the plunge with Cork & Chroma. This Surry Hills studio runs daily beginners’ painting sessions, fuelled by a healthy serve of wine. 

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Art Gallery of New South Wales 2017 exterior daylight August feat Archibald Prize banners (C) AGNSW photographer credit Felicity Jenkins
Photograph: Felicity Jenkins

7. Experience Art After Hours

Art Sydney

Head to the Art Gallery of NSW on Wednesday for night-time exhibition access and a program of free music, screenings, and talks by experts, artists and celebs.

8. Visit the Museum of Human Disease (seriously!)

Museums Science Kensington

Hypochondriacs and WebMD enthusiasts, this one’s for you. For a stunning confrontation with your own mortality, pay a visit to this specialist museum housed within the University of New South Wales. In its possession are 2,000 specimens of human disease, obtained from the organs and tissue of autopsied patients who’ve generously given their bodies to science.

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12. DIY your home at Koskela

Shopping Rosebery

Interiors store Koskela runs workshops in embroidery, screen printing, jewellery making, carving and kintsugi – the Japanese art of mending broken ceramics.

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13. Dive into a shark tank at Sydney Aquarium

Attractions Wildlife centres Darling Harbour

Get closer to sharks, without entering the ocean. You can swim with sharks (who vary in size from 2.5 to 3.2 metres) and other marine life without a cage at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. The question remains: are you brave enough?

Photograph: Supplied

14. Get lost inside Carriageworks

Art Eveleigh

Worth visiting for the space alone, Carriageworks is the latest incarnation of the Eveleigh Rail Yards. With a program of large-scale theatre, dance and installation works, Carriageworks is gaining a reputation as the venue for the most progressive Sydney drama, dance and art.

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State Library of NSW Mitchell Reading Room
Photograph: Supplied

16. Go to the State Library

Things to do Sydney

The grand old dame of libraries is the oldest in the country – stepping inside you can almost feel the weight of all the words that have been read between its walls. The studious, and those seeking respite from the bustle of the outside world, can ensconce themselves in the high-domed, light-filled Mitchell Reading Room.

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19. Go bouldering at 9 Degrees

Things to do Sports Alexandria

Climbers don’t use ropes or harnesses but instead scale shorter walls beside thick, padded flooring. The benefit here is that you won’t need a climbing partner, equipment or much training.

20. Observe the night sky at Sydney Observatory

Museums Millers Point

Taking a night tour of Sydney Observatory will make you feel small again. The museum is open to the public throughout the year and each twilight tour includes marvelling at constellations in the planetarium and looking through the telescope in the historic domed tower.

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MCA Art Bar
Photograph: Sam Whiteside

21. Party at the MCA Art Bar

Museums The Rocks

Party like/with an artist at this semi-regular social event, curated by a different artist each edition. Entry gets you late-night exhibition access, art-ivities, performances, party tunes – and a terrace bar with killer views.

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People on trampolines at Sky Zone
Photograph: Anna Kucera

24. Take a leap of faith at Sky Zone Alexandria

Sport and fitness Alexandria

Sydney’s indoor trampoline park has multiple zones, so you can bounce off the walls, from side to side and into a pit of giant foam squares if you want to. Once you’re tired of jumping, they’ve got indoor climbing walls, dodgeball games and something called the Leap of Faith too. 

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25. Play pub trivia at the Taphouse

Bars Darlinghurst

Mondays are quiet in Sydney, but there’re hijinks to be had at Darlinghurst’s beloved beer barn. Trivia starts around 7pm and Oscar is your sassy host with a truly terrible cheesy playlist that features Cher and the Corrs – hilarious and awful. Winners walk away with a $40 bar tab.

26. Up your plant game at Plantify

Shopping Leichhardt

You can’t help but be drawn to this cute cottage filled to the brim with succulents, ferns and leafy terrariums. Once inside, you’ll find more carefully curated greenery to purchase and take home.

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A tea room with chandeliers
Photograph: Supplied

27. Have tea at the Tea Room in QVB

Restaurants Sydney

There are three pages of tea on offer at this QVB classic. That’s a whopping 35 teas including their ‘splendid Earl Grey’ blend and a stand-your-spoon-up-in-it assam bari. Sitt up nice and straight on your little velour chair and pick at dainties off the three-tier tray.

28. Explore the depths of the Powerhouse Museum

Museums Ultimo

The Powerhouse is the largest museum in Australia, with a collection of 385,000 objects, 22 permanent and five temporary display spaces, and more than 250 interactive exhibits. It covers science, technology, creativity, decorative arts and Australian popular culture – there's truly something for everyone. 

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Two women wearing rollerskates
Photograph: Supplied

29. Learn to skate with RollerFit

In a RollerFit class you’ll learn to skate backwards, perform tricks and play games with other roller skating buddies. They run classes for all levels, so don't worry if you've never skated before.

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31. Make your own perfume at Work-Shop Sydney

Things to do Chippendale

And master many other hobbies at this venue that runs fun and affordable classes for Sydneysiders. They’ve got evening and weekend classes in cheesemaking, Japanese bookbinding, blending your own gin and even stuffing your own dead animals (Taxidermy 101).

32. Swing through the sky at Sydney Trapeze School

Sport and fitness St Peters

Sydney Trapeze School runs classes and workshops including aerial, juggling jumping stilts, acrobatics, trampoline, tight-rope walking and flying trapeze. It’s also the only indoor trapeze school in Sydney, a short walking distance from St Peters train station.

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33. Go to a free talk at the Apple Store

Shopping Sydney

The big apple on George Street regularly runs free talks and masterclasses from all sorts of people. They’ve held a class on street style photography with the man behind Men in this Town and a fashion illustration class inspired by Fashion Week. You don’t even need to own an iPhone to attend.

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The Cipher Room Espionage escape room
Photograph: Supplied

35. Escape from the Cipher Room

Things to do Games and hobbies Erskineville

You and your co-players have just one hour to locate the secrets that Agent 'M' has hidden somewhere in the room. To find them, you're going to have to look for clues, follow a bunch of hints and crack a bunch of codes. OooOOOoOoooh.

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37. Cycle up a mountain at Scenic Cycle

Things to do Sydney

You can cycle through the cliffs of Southern France or the harsh terrain of Arizona, all without leaving the CBD. Scenic Cycle is like a spin class but with beautiful locations projected on a screen.

Two men flying a plane
Photograph: Supplied

38. Fly a plane at Sydney's Flight Simulator

Things to do Sports Alexandria

Have your own Top Gun moment and write cheques your body can cash at Jet Flight Simulator Sydney. You take complete control of an aircraft within the safe confines of a warehouse in Alexandria. Simply select which airport you’d like to fly from – there are 22,000 on the list.

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42. Take a ghost tour of Manly Quarantine Station

Travel Manly

Did you know the old (and allegedly haunted) Quarantine Station on North Head at Manly hosts ghost tours? If you are looking for a fright in the night then this extreme ghost tour is for you (ages 18+ only). Not advised for anyone with a fear of deadly infectious diseases.

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iDarts Zen at Time Out Sydney Pub Awards 2016
Photograph: Anna Kucera

44. Play darts in one of these Sydney pubs

Bars Pubs

If you like your schooner with a side of danger (they are very sharp) and enjoy blowing off steam the old fashioned way (by throwing things at a wall) then perhaps consider these haunts that our resident, anonymous pub darts fanatic has highlighted as the best.

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People in go-karts at Ultimate Karting Sydney.
Photograph: Ultimate Karting Sydney / David Cowan

45. Unleash your speed demon at Ultimate Karting

There are a number of indoor go karting tracks around Sydney. This one near Campbelltown is spread over an acre and it has a fleet of European Sodi go karts that you can race around the shot-blasted concrete track – great for tyre grip.

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City Recital Hall Angel Place 2017 interior photograph for Sydney Flash Mob Choir 2017 Feb 3 feat Richard Gill and choir photographer credit Simon Bernhardt
Photograph: Simon Bernhardt

47. See a show at City Recital Hall

Music Sydney

Beautiful acoustics and a diverse all-year program of classical, choral, baroque and chamber music make this a great place to take time out and contemplate the bigger things in life – or just tune out with a soundtrack.

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Children on trampolines at Flip Out
Photograph: Flip Out

49. Flip out at Flip Out

Sport and fitness Western Sydney

Kids (and adults) will be bouncing off the walls at this land of trampolines. There are two jumping indoor arenas to allow for maximum jumping fun in all kinds of weather and are open till late for the adults.

Woman gracefully dances at Sydney Dance Company Studios
Photograph: Gez Xavier Mansfield

50. Pirouette like a pro at Sydney Dance Company

Things to do Classes and workshops Ultimo

Whether you want to learn how to fondue (that’s ballet talk for bending, sinking or melting on one leg), high kick or get low, Sydney Dance Company is your one-stop shop for dance classes. There’s absolute beginner right through to advanced.

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51. Have a poke around the Sydney Bus Museum

Museums History Leichhardt

It’s all aboard for a one-way trip to public transport geekery at the Sydney Bus Museum, which has a huge collection of vintage buses kept at the hundred-year-old Leichhardt Tramshed. You’ll be able to poke around everything from the 1924 Ruggles, a cute, boxy little thing for only 22 people, all the way up to those stuffy white-and-blue Mercedes-Benz buses.

52. Have a ball at Strike King Street Wharf

Things to do Games and hobbies Darling Harbour

The narrow entrance to Strike King Street Wharf is somewhat akin to the bowling lanes that are the star of the venue, but there’s a lot more on offer here than pins and spares. There's also five schmick karaoke rooms, three escape rooms and a bright new Japanese pop-art aesthetic.

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53. Explore the National Maritime Museum

Museums Darling Harbour

For a city whose history has always been entwined with its harbour, the sea and water travel, it comes as no surprise that this museum is one of the finest when it comes to maritime treasures. Enter the world of underwater warfare at the National Maritime Museum. Explore the last of the big gun destroyers, board a submarine and learn the difference between port and starboard.

Couple fighting
Photograph: Willie B. Thomas

54. Kick butt at the Krav Maga Defence Institute

Sport and fitness Self-defence Surry Hills

Unlike many martial arts that have a strong spiritual component, Krav Maga is all about the practical self-defence. You’ll learn to get out of a choke hold, a seated choke hold, how to free yourself from someone dragging you across the room by your neck and how to throw off someone trying to choke you while you’re fighting a secondary opponent.

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Alcoholic bubble tea with stuffed panda on straw at B.Luck and Sons
Photograph: Supplied

55. Get boozy and play arcade games at B. Lucky & Sons

Attractions Theme parks Moore Park

B. Lucky and Sons in the Entertainment Quarter is a neon-lit fun house where you can play Mario Kart (in costume, if you like), NBA hoops, Space Invaders, Air Hockey, Jurassic Park, the Claw, and many many more classic and new-age arcade games.

56. Ollie off an indoor street course at Monster Skatepark

Sport and fitness Sydney Olympic Park

Monster Skatepark is one of the best-equipped parks in Australia, with an indoor street course as well as outdoor ramps. There are sessions for BMXing, skateboarding, girls only and scooters. If you’re a little rusty, you can hire helmets and pads at the park. 

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Flotation tank at Sydney Float Centre
Photograph: Supplied

60. Zen out at Sydney Float Centre

Health and beauty Spas Brookvale

Immerse yourself in a cocoon-like sensory deprivation tank. Filled with lukewarm water and mixed with Epsom salts, the relaxation pods create a weightless environment, which encourages deep relaxation. 

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Woman sitting in an art gallery.
Photograph: Katherine Griffiths

61. Perfect your photog skills at the ACP

Art Photography Darlinghurst

There’s a lot more to taking a beautiful photograph than just pointing your iPhone at something. Find a digital camera and sign up for the five-week Camera Craft 1 course at the Australian Centre for Photography (ACP). 

People shopping at the Cannery in Rosebery
Photograph: Tim da-Rin

62. Shop away at the Cannery Rosebery

Shopping Shopping centres Rosebery

What was once a soup canning warehouse in Rosebery is now home to providores, boutique bottle shops and artisan delis. The shopping precinct is an indoor market that includes natural wine and craft beer bottle shop the Drink Hive, family-owned traditional butcher Kingsmore Meats, plus organic grocery store Wholefoods House.

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63. See stand-up at Papa Gede's

Comedy

Papa Gede's, a much-loved laneway cocktail bar in the inner city, adds comedy to its cocktails list on the third Tuesday of the month. The line-up is curated by Chris Leben and Rose Piper, and tickets are $10 both online and on the door. 

Exterior of Rose Seidler House
Photograph: Nicholas Watt - Sydney Living Museums

64. Pay a visit to the Rose Seidler House

Museums Sydney

American architect Harry Seidler built this house for his parents, Rose and Max. The original 1950s colour scheme has been restored, and the furnishings are by important post-war designers such as Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. It’s run by Sydney Living Museums, and guided tours are available on request.

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STORY CLUB 2016 March 7 feat Nakkiah Lui 2 photographer credit Yaya Stemper (c) Giant Dwarf
Photograph: Yaya Stemper

66. Sit down for Story Club at Giant Dwarf

Every month, Story Club pick a theme and gather sacrificial celebrities to wax lyrical in a giant armchair in front of a crowd and read true stories out of a giant book. It goes down monthly at Giant Dwarf. 

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Dance class in a dim room.
Photograph: Daniel Lidmila

67. Have a boogie at Groove Therapy

Things to do Classes and workshops

Rock up to 107 Projects in Redfern on a Monday or Tuesday evening and you’ll find activewear-wearing folk seeking out one thing: a soul-soaring dance session. This is the ultimate drop-in dance class for wannabee groovers who have been too self-conscious to shake it in a structured setting before.

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70. Join Sydney's sea shanty group

Yes. We're serious. It's a group of folks who get together and sing sea shanties. Every Monday night from 9pm, the Redfern Shanty Club bunkers together to clap, holla and fumble their way through renditions of ‘Barrett’s Privateers’, ‘Molly Malone’ and ‘Haul Away Joe’ at the Dock bar in Redfern.

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Group of paintballers
Photograph: supplied

71. Enjoy paintball without the mess at Spitfire Paintball

Things to do Sports Concord West

Nothing is more satisfying than blasting your friend with harmless ammunition. Now you can play paintball without the paint and without going outside. ‘Reballs’ are soft rubber paintballs, meaning you can catch the train home without looking like a cartoon artist, and they shoot straighter as well. And it all happens under cover, so rain never stops play.

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73. Have a LOL at Cafe Lounge

Bars Surry Hills

This Surry Hills stalwart delivers the goods to those in need of a LOL fix on a Monday night. Comedy Lounge Mondays shows off local laughpeddlers who dish out snappy stand-up from 8pm, alongside happy hour drink specials.

74. Take a tour of the Macquarie Lighthouse

Attractions Vaucluse

Take in the city’s views from the top of Australia’s oldest operating lighthouse. Learn the history of this 19th-century building on a guided tour or (if you dare step outside) visit the grounds free of charge.

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Women in a yoga class
Photograph: Katie Fergus

75. Retreat to child’s pose at One Hot Yoga

Sport and fitness Yoga, pilates and meditation Potts Point

Baby, it’s cold outside – so get into the heated chambers of this Potts Point yoga studio and stretch like a cat against a hot radiator. They’ve got two studios warmed to 27 degrees and 37 degrees and classes include Hot Mat Pilates and Slow Hot Flow yoga.

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78. Tour the Susannah Place Museum

Museums The Rocks

Built in 1844, this terrace of four houses – including a corner shop, original brick privies and open laundries – gives an idea of what 19th-century community living was really like. Entry to the museum is by guided tour only, between 2pm and 5pm (last tour is at 4pm). Book ahead if possible. Note that steep, narrow stairs are involved.

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79. 'Swim' at the Cliff Dive

Bars Darlinghurst

Whether you want to get down to grime and hip hop at their weekend parties, or feel like having a nostalgic night at the Naughty Noughties, you’ll be sure to have plenty of reasons to dance under the club’s sea of fake fishes.

80. Smash pinball at the Courthouse Hotel

Bars Pubs Newtown

This beloved Newtown boozer is famous for its expansive beer garden, but if it’s wetter than Davy Jones’ locker this is still an excellent place to loiter thanks to their dedicated pinball room. Gather all your gold coins, order a jug of Young Henrys or Stone and Wood and bask in the colourful glow of the eight pinnies that will put your reflexes to the ultimate test.

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82. Host your own soiree

This social-experiment-meets-party connects groups via a roving dining experience, culminating in an after party with all those involved. It's a little bit Come Dine With Me meets First Dates, with a Sydney twist.

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83. Defy gravity at AerialFit

Sport and fitness Yoga, pilates and meditation Castle Hill

Outside of their standard yoga and Pilates classes, AerialFit offers brave yogis the chance to get creative in an unusual practice, hanging from hoops, silk fabrics and even a trapeze. They run six different suspended classes, each with a fresh twist of circus, dance and endurance.

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Art Gallery of New South Wales 2017 exterior daylight August feat Archibald Prize banners (C) AGNSW photographer credit Felicity Jenkins
Photograph: Felicity Jenkins

86. Watch an old movie in the Domain Theatre

Art Sydney

Did you know the Art Gallery of New South Wales screens free movies on Wednesdays and Sundays? The films change often, but you could get anything from Hollywood greats like Cabaret and Vertigo, or foreign language or Australian classics.

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