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

50 fun things to do indoors in Sydney

It's raining, it's pouring, but Sydney's not boring. Here are a heap of ideas of where to go when it's cold and wet outside.

By Rebecca Russo and Maxim Boon
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Sydney: the city of blue skies, alfresco living and fabulous times in the great outdoors, right? Well, hold on a second. The Harbour City is not always a great place for fun in the sun, as this summer's persistent rains have proven.

When the weather takes a turn for the worse, you don't need to hunker down at home. Why not take shelter in style with our guide to the most fun things to do indoors in Sydney? Whether you're in search of a crafternoon, a cultural adventure, or a cocktail with a view, there's something for everyone on our list of venues where you can stay warm and dry, all year round.

Or why not wait out the rain in one of Sydney's most luxurious staycation locations.

101 things to do indoors in Sydney

Tickets at Archie Bros Flying Circus
Photograph: Robert Polmear

1. 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.

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

2. 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.

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Screen printing at Makerspace and Company Marrickville
Photograph: Anna Kucera

3. 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.

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

4. 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.

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Cork and Chroma
Photograph: Supplied

5. Release your inner Matisse at 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. 

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

6. 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.

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at Museum of Human Disease
Photograph: Supplied

7. 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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Shark Dive Xtreme at Sydney Sealife Aquarium
Photograph: Supplied

9. 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?

State Library of NSW Mitchell Reading Room
Photograph: Supplied

10. Thumb through the shelves of 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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Art hanging from roof at White Rabbit Gallery Super Natural Exhi
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

11. Head to White Rabbit Gallery

Art Chippendale

This state-of-the-art, four-floor temple to post-millennial Chinese art hosts Judith Neilson’s epic collection, a shop and a tea house that serves dumplings.

12. 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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Two women laugh as they sculpt clay with wine and cheese on the table
Photograph: Supplied/Clay Sydney

14. Mould a masterpiece at Clay Sydney

Things to do Classes and workshops Marrickville

For a super-relaxed pottery-making experience, Clay Sydney is a great chilled-out option. Its most popular sessions are its Wine and Cheese classes, where you can enjoy a drink and a nibble as you learn the basics of ceramics.

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A tea room with chandeliers
Photograph: Supplied

16. Have high tea at the QVB Tea Room

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.

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17. 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. 

18. 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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Person holding cards at Employees Only
Photograph: Anna Kucera

19. Get your tarot read at Employees Only

Bars Cocktail bars Sydney

After a night in this deco-inspired CBD speakeasy, you'll wonder why all cocktails aren't served with a side helping of psychic insight. The bar's very own resident seer will read your tarot and maybe, just maybe, reveal some juicy deets about your future.

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The Cipher Room Espionage escape room
Photograph: Supplied

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

24. 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

25. 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.

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

26. Catch a concert 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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Woman gracefully dances at Sydney Dance Company Studios
Photograph: Gez Xavier Mansfield

29. 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.

Bus people at Sydney Bus Museum
Photograph: Steve Burrows

30. 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.

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Pool tables at Strike Bowling
Photograph: Supplied

31. 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 are also five schmick karaoke rooms, three escape rooms and a bright new Japanese pop-art aesthetic.

Outside at Australian National Maritime Museum
Photograph: Supplied

32. 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.

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Couple fighting
Photograph: Willie B. Thomas

33. 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.

34. 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

37. 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. 

Woman sitting in an art gallery.
Photograph: Katherine Griffiths

38. 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). 

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

39. 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.

Show at the Imperial Hotel Erksinville
Photograph: Supplied

40. Tuck into Drag N' Dine at the Imperial Hotel

Bars Erskineville

The epicentre of drag in Sydney, famously featured in the opening scenes of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, is also a great place to sit down for a spot of dinner. Best of all, your meal will come with one of the most fabulous nights of entertainment from some of Sydney's best kings, queens and in-betweens.

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Bar 83
Photograph: Supplied/Robert Walsh

42. Drink in the views at Bar 83

Bars Sydney

Sydney's highest cocktail lounge can be found on the 83rd floor of the Golden Bucket and boasts the most spectacular panoramas of the city (even when it's raining). It's got a stellar cocktail menu and retro decor that Austin Powers would be proud of.

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Shelves with beauty products
Photograph: Supplied/Slow House

44. Feel the heat at Slow House

Health and beauty Spas Bondi Beach

Within the walls of this light-filled, stone-walled space on Curlewis Street, you'll find a stylish ‘wellness space’ that brings together the elements of fire and ice. Sweat it out in a private, light-wood-panelled sauna for an hour, and then immerse yourself in a shallow ice bath with water set to exactly six degrees for a cooling contrast.

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Cycology
Photo: Cycology

45. Sweat to the beat at Cycology Club

Sport and fitness Surry Hills

This trend-setting Surry Hills spin studio is all about the atmosphere and techo beats. Under the guidance of your 'cycologist' (fitness instructor, natch), you'll be led through a high-powered choreographed spin workout set to techno, pop and RnB tunes – basically anything made to groove to. It's kind of like a rave, except you'll feel fantastic after.

Mark Spencer

46. 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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Zero Latency VR arena
Photograph: Supplied/Zero Latency

47. Slay zombies at VR arena Zero Latency

Attractions Theme parks Mascot

Do battle against the undead, travel to far-flung corners of the galaxy, and live your best robot life in the distant future – all without ever leaving Mascot. This next-gen VR arena features cutting-edge tech which allows you to roam freely through virtual worlds, without any pesky wires or annoying tethers getting in the way. 

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Mini golf course in Newtown
Photograph: Robert Polmear

50. Play some putt putt at Holey Moley

Attractions Theme parks Newtown

Head along to Sydney’s mini golf bar Holey Moley. They’re punny and playful, with holes called ‘Baby’s Got Pac’ and ‘Smells Like Tee Spirit’. They’re serving up snacks like pork belly bao, sweet potato fries, and panko prawn on lettuce cup. They’ve got super sweet cocktails too, like the lolly-filled ‘Sugar Caddy’ and chocolatey ‘Happy Gilmoreo’.

When the sun is shining...

Generic Orange
Generic Orange
Photograph: Nathan Rupert

Where to go fruit picking near Sydney

Things to do

There’s something irresistibly romantic about getting outside and gathering nature’s bounty with your own bare hands. The fruit is guaranteed to be fresher and sweeter, and the journey will be more gratifying with the knowledge that you’re supporting our region’s hardworking farmers.

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