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Rain clouds over Sydney
Photograph: Unsplash

The best things to do when it rains in Sydney

Don't despair! You don't need the sun to have fun in Sydney. Here are our favourite rainy day activities

By Time Out editors
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Just because the skies are falling, doesn't mean you have to sit around doing nothing. We've picked out the best things to do in Sydney when it rains, from movie marathons and indoor climbing centres to our favourite pubs with fireplaces and cheap and cheerful eateries.

Don't let the rain get you down. Here are our top etiquette tips for being a good Sydneysider when the heavens open.

Rainy day activities in Sydney

Baxter-Inn-007.jpg
Daniel Boud

1. Head underground

Bars Cocktail bars

There's a lot of good reasons to head down rather than up when you're feeling parched. Underground it's always party o'clock, because even if it's 2pm, it feels like after dark. Drinking below street level is also deliciously climate controlled so in a torrential downpour, your best bet is posting up in one of Sydney's best booze cellars.

9 Degrees Indoor Bouldering Climbing Gym
Photograph: Supplied

2. Go indoor climbing

Things to do Games and hobbies

When it's too wet to go for a jog in the park, there are ways to work up a sweat indoors. Purpose-built climbing gyms are popping up all over this fine city – so grab a buddy and get climbing.

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Mahon Pool at the northern end of Maroubra Beach
Photograph: Anna Kucera

3. Take a dip in an ocean pool

Sport and fitness Pools

When you're already wet, does it matter? These ocean pools can be beautiful in rain, and you'll have them all to yourself when you dive in for an exhilarating dip. Fair warning though – stay well clear when the winds pick up, or if the weather turns stormy. 

Interior view of the Sydney Jewish Museum.
Photograph: Supplied/Sydney Jewish Museum

4. Visit a museum

Museums History

Sydney’s museums are where you’ll uncover stories about the people who’ve made this city what it is today, its natural history and the science, design and innovation that’ll propel us into the future. They're also indoors! 

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Exterior at Randwick Ritz
Photograph: Daniel Boud

5. Have a movie marathon

Film

Even as the world becomes filled with screens and accessing movies becomes as easy as looking at your phone, Sydney's top cinemas are thriving, because Sydneysiders love the communal experience of watching a film. So what are the best cinemas in Sydney? We've ranked them according to the quality of film selection, the architecture and the overall pleasure of the experience. Many cinemas have strict capacity limits, so booking ahead of your visit is advised.

Hugo Weaving and Wayne Blair stand side-by-side in STC show Wonnangatta
Photograph: Prudence Upton

6. Take in a show

Theatre

Netflix and chill is our go-to for wet weather, but you can get an even better entertainment fix if you brave the outdoors. Book in for a night of culture with one of the best live performances in the city right now, from cabaret and drag to the highest-brow theatre.

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Fujiyama Noodle Bar Chatswood
Photograph: Anna Kucera

7. Enjoy some delicious cheap eats

Restaurants Chinese

If the rain's got you down, nothing lifts the spirit like a good feed. And if you're looking for a feast that won't break your finances, there are plenty of cheap eats that taste a million bucks for just a handful of dollars. We've picked out some of our favourite budget banquets, where you can dine on a dime in style.

8. Find a pub with a fireplace

Bars Pubs

Cold and wet? Curl up in front of the flames – preferably wood, but we'll take gas if that's what's on offer – with a pint of beer and lose whole evenings in the comfort of your local, staying warm and dry all winter long. 

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An exterior shot of the entrance to the Museum of Contemporary A
Photograph: Pieter Naessens

10. Go on an art crawl

Art Galleries

Sydney is busting at the seams with great art galleries – from major institutions like the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art, to incredible privately-owned but publically accessible (and free!) galleries like White Rabbit.

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Children on trampolines at Flip Out
Photograph: Flip Out

11. Play tag with the kids

Kids Play spaces

When it rains in Sydney, it pours. So it pays to have a few wet-weather saviours up your sleeves for when the kids are home and bored with cartoons and colouring-in books.

People watching live music in a Sydney bar
Photograph: Jamie Williams/City of Sydney

12. Go to a gig

Music

Health guidelines in NSW finally allow live music again, so there's never been a better time to get out there and catch a gig. Check out this list of the best live music performances taking place across the city right now.

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Books at Better Read Than Dead
Photograph: Mitch Lui

13. Pick up a cozy read

Shopping Book stores

There are few greater pleasures in life than visiting a quality bookshop. No matter the weather, they're a port in a storm where anyone and everyone is welcome. Not all bookshops are created equal though, so we’ve put together our pick of Sydney’s best, from the dusty to the designer. 

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Jacki Weaver showered in silver ribbons in Queer Screen Film Festival highlight Stage Mothers
Photograph: Supplied

15. Stream a top Sydney event

Things to do

If you're really, really against braving the rain, you can still connect with the very best of the city from home. Streaming events have never been more accessible, and there are plenty of awesome digital experiences from some of Sydney's leading culture hubs to discover. So log on and get streaming.

Hit the road

Car driving over bridge aerial view
Car driving over bridge aerial view
Photograph: Dee Kramer

The best road trips around New South Wales

Travel

Pack the boot, roll down your windows and let gorgeous scenery whizz past – be that soaring coastal cliffs, native bushland, or towering alpine forests. Trust us, no one will be asking if you're nearly there yet.

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