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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

A generic image of a man sitting at a bench with an umbrella whi
Photograph: Andreas Andersson
By Time Out editors

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 escape rooms and indoor climbing centres to backstage tours, our favourite pubs with fireplaces and time-honoured karaoke dens

RECOMMENDED: 101 fun things to do indoors in Sydney

Rainy day activities in Sydney

Daniel Boud
Bars, Cocktail bars

Head underground

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.

A close up shot of metal handcuffs hanging at Paniq Room
Photograph: Paniq Room
Things to do

Bust out of an escape room

Each room has a different theme and stimulates all senses, demanding a variety of problem-solving skills. Read our reviews of the best rooms in Sydney. 

9 Degrees Indoor Bouldering Climbing Gym
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Games and hobbies

Go indoor climbing

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.

A row of three pinball machines at Daniel San
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Bars, Pubs

Play arcade games in the pub

When it's looking like an indoor sort of weekend, hole up in these fun-time pubs and spend all your pocket money on pinball and beers.

Mahon Pool at the northern end of Maroubra Beach
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Sport and fitness, Pools

The best ocean pools in Sydney

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. 

Sydney Jewish Museum
Museums, History

Visit the museum

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! 

Exterior at Randwick Ritz
Photograph: Daniel Boud

Watch movies all day, every day

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. 

Dodgem Cars at Archie Bros Flying Circus
Photograph: Robert Polmear
Things to do, Games and hobbies

Unleash your inner child


Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq is brimming with retro arcade games, bowling and laser tag. The funhouse is designed by the same people behind indoor mini golf bar Holey Moley, and the concept is much the same – drink and play games that make you nostalgic.

Land of Lola in Kinky Boots
Photograph: Matthew Murphy

See a show

Netflix and chill is our go-to for wet weather, but Cabin Fever is real and you can't stay indoors all week. Book in for a night of culture with one of the upcoming theatre shows and musicals over the next seven days. 

People on trampolines at Sky Zone
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Things to do, Games and hobbies

Jump around

These seven indoor trampolining parks cater for hours of rainy day fun. 

Sydney Opera House backstage tour
Photograph: Prudence Upton
Things to do

Take a backstage tour of Sydney's theatres

What happens on stage is only half the story. Step behind the curtain to experience theatre from a different angle in these intimate behind-the-scenes tours of Sydney’s most impressive theatre spaces. Once you're equipped with the backstage knowledge, check out what's currently on stage.

A generic close up fireplace shot
Bars, Pubs

Find a pub with a fireplace

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. 

Men awaiting answers during a game of trivia
Bars, Pubs

Play pub trivia

Do you possess freaky accurate knowledge of the Simpsons oeuvre? Do you know your Australian cricket captains better than you know your own uncles? Are you totally up to date on current affairs and '90s pop? Use all the weird, wonderful and utterly useless facts in your arsenal to wine cash, booze, biscuits and glory at one of Sydney's best pub trivia nights, where knowledge really is power.

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

Go on an art crawl

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.

Children on trampolines at Flip Out
Photograph: Flip Out
Kids, Play spaces

Play tag with the kids

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.

A shot of a group of people singing in a karaoke room at Mizuya
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Things to do

Bust a lung at karaoke

We've hit up Sydney's karaoke dens to discern for you the best. The criteria? The room, the sound system, the song list and that special something – we'll call it k-factor. Who topped the charts? Read on.

Bump City at Camelot Lounge
Photograph: Yaron Hallis
Music, Rock and indie

Go to a gig

Liven up your Tuesday with some old school funk or or get yourself through hump day at a mid-week gig. Whatever night you choose, there's plenty of free live concerts every night of the week to get you groovin', right across the city and its surrounds.

Books at Better Read Than Dead
Photograph: Mitch Lui
Shopping, Book stores

Pick up a cozy read

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. 

A set of hands massaging a woman's back
Health and beauty, Spas

Bliss out!

Whether you want hardcore results, or just a bit of chill time, Sydney's best spas have you covered. So book it, bring a magazine and prepare to bliss out.

Hibernate indoors

People on trampolines at Sky Zone
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Find 101 things to do indoors

Get out and undercover with our guide to indoor activities, from entertainment parks to sport and fitness, classes and talks and cultural venues that are warm and dry all year round. Because fresh air is overrated...