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Beat the heat in Sydney
Image: Mitchell Moore

19 ways to beat the heat during Sydney’s sweltering summer

When the city starts to sizzle, seek out these cool retreats

By Maxim Boon
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Sydney’s summers are always scorchers, but this year, the mercury is set to peak at record highs. So, when the city starts sizzling, it’s worth having a few go-to places where you can beat the heat. We've compiled a handy list of the venues and activities where you can chill out, be cool, and generally escape the sweltering temps of Sydney’s summer months.

1. Get your skates on and head to Macquarie Ice Rink, where the average room temp is a blissful 14 degrees.

2. Take a little too long perusing the brewskies in a bottle-o cold room. We suggest investing in some cunning disguises if you intend on making multiple visits.

3. Go from A to B and back again on the light rail while being blasted by arctic air-con, either on the brand-spanking-new extension between Randwick and Circular Quay or on the existing Dulwich Hill to Central loop.

4. If you prefer your rail a little less light, you can enjoy an equally chill jaunt on the City Circle line. Be sure to tut knowingly at tourists schvitzing it up around Circular Quay.

5. Head to a water park or even a water playground (if you have kids). You can find an inner-city splash at Steel Park in Marrickville, Philip Ruddock Water Playground in Dundas Park, or the James Ruse Water Playground at Rose Hill (although water restrictions may affect their aquatic features). Otherwise, slide into wilder times at Sydney's flagship water park, Raging Waters.

6. Cool yourself down from the inside out with a gelato binge – there are heaps of cold and creamy options all over Sydney. You can’t go wrong with the gelato giants of Messina, but our favourite has to be this off-the-beaten-track, thoroughly Italian gelateria in George’s Hall. Mama mia, it’s good.

7. In fact, in Sydney you can indulge your frosty sweet tooth with an array of icy fare such as delicious Filipino halo halo, Taiwanese shaved ice, Iranian faloodeh or Indonesian es campur.

8. Let fancy food be your defence against the heat. Make friends with your fave fromage in a climate-controlled cheese room like the one at Fourth Village Providore, or get a carnivorous cool down in the fridges at the Meat Emporium in Alexandria. And how about Sydney Fish Market? Sweet talk a fishmonger or two and they might just pack you on ice (or at least shuck you a few perfectly chilled oysters).

9. Pay a visit to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium’s penguin enclosure, where the simulated frozen tundra is maintained at a delightfully frigid 6 degrees, all year round.

10. Go on a shopping spree in one of Sydney’s air-con’d retail palaces. Top of our list, while not the biggest mall, is the opulently styled Queen Victoria Building, a true architectural treasure of Sydney.

11. Grab the popcorn and settle into a movie marathon. If you want to make your cinematic summer respite a little more fancy, treat yourself to Hoyts LuxDendy LoungeorEvent Cinema Gold Class, where you can order snacks and drinks direct to your plush reclining seat. Alternatively, if you're yearning for a bit of old Hollywood glamour, drop into the Golden Age Cinema or the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace.

12. Being smart is cool – literally if you take a trip to the State Library. Its venerated (and ventilated) halls are kept carefully air-conditioned, and what’s good for precious books is also lovely for overheated Sydneysiders.

13. Artworks are also very susceptible to temperature extremes, so visiting one of Sydney’s excellent galleries – such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Carriageworks or the White Rabbit Gallery – is an excellent way to chill out while enjoying a lill’ bit of culture.

14. Without wanting to labour the point, museums are also filled to the rafters with delicate exhibits, valuable artefacts, and irreplaceable displays that don’t much like it sweaty. So expand your mind at one of the city’s marvellous institutions and enjoy the temperate side-benefits.

15. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a Sydneysider in possession of too much heat must be in want of a beach. And Sydney has more than got you covered, with ocean beaches, harbour beaches, secret beaches, nude beaches… you get the gist, we have a lot of beaches.

16. The big blue isn’t the only place to find cooling waters. Both saltwater and freshwater pools can be found across the city, so whatever kind of dip you desire, there are options aplenty to suit.

17. You can beat a retreat from the heat while giving your grey matter a workout by conquering a brain-teasing escape room. Pit your wits against cryptic clues and escape before your time runs out.

18. Melt away your stress with a trip to one of Sydney’s fabulous spas, the most delightfully indulgent way to avoid those scorching rays.

19. In aeons past, animals have burrowed underground to escape the elements, and it turns out, that’s not such a bad strategy in today’s Sydney. There is a host of incredible bars hiding beneath our city’s streets, but if we had to choose, Double Deuce Lounge, the Cumberland and the legendary Baxter Inn would be our top recommendations.

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