Here’s a handy guide to the best times to visit Australian cities and key centres, and what you can expect at different times of the year.
Sydney is a year-round destination, but summer is what Australia’s biggest urban centre is famous for. It’s absolutely the best time of year to enjoy the city’s enviable lifestyle by the water, on the water, or in the water (do try all three!).
There’s plenty of things to do in Sydney in winter too – indulging in plentiful restaurants and indoor exhibitions, or rugging up and spending time in the great outdoors. Perhaps challenge yourself in the annual City2Surf fun run alongside 80,000+ participants – from serious runners to walkers in costume.
Spring and autumn offer the best of both worlds. They’re crisp and cool bookends, bringing clear blue skies and the chance for visitors to embrace the best of everything the Harbour City has to offer.
Summer and autumn are the perfect seasons to enjoy everything the capital has to offer, including a stroll around the picturesque parliamentary precinct. December to February is characterised by warm to hot days, low humidity, and temperatures in the mid to high 20s. From March to May, the temperature drops into the high teens and a jacket is handy for evenings.
From June to August it gets mighty chilly in Canberra. The temperature is likely to be stuck in single digits, falling to freezing overnight. From September to November, the rainy mornings tend to be crisp but days warm slightly into the mid teens. Pack enough clothing to layer up as needed.
Melbourne famously features four seasons in one day, but you can catch the city at its best from December through to May. In summer, dry, sunny days warm up into the high 20s with occasional heatwaves raising temperatures into the high 30s.
In autumn, mostly sunny days warm temperatures into the high teens, but bring a light jacket for the cool evenings.
Winter drops temperatures into the single digits. Brave overnight frost and chilly days with thick layers and a scarf. Spring is the wettest period of the year, with variable temperatures in the teens. Keep an umbrella nearby.
Southeast Queensland’s warm sunshine is always inviting but autumn strikes the right balance for outdoor activity without the crowds. Temperatures average in the low to mid 20s from March to May and you’ll enjoy long, mild, sunny days.
During spring, temperatures reach the mid 20s, relieved by refreshing breezes in the evening, while for the mostly sunny days of winter, temperatures remain mild in the mid to high teens. Expect some rain and fresh early mornings. You’ll definitely need a warm layer.
In summer, humidity, rainfall and temperatures spike, pushing into the mid 30s. December and January are considered peak season in Brisbane, and on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.
Of Tasmania’s diverse seasons, summer and autumn are ideal times to explore the island. On the dry, warm days in January and February, enjoy a beach swim as average temperature hover in the mid to high 20s. As the leaves change in March to May, mild days keep the temperatures in the mid to high teens. You’ll need a jumper in the evening.
Winter brings icy Antarctic winds, dragging the temperature down toward zero overnight. Pack multiple warm layers. Spring sends temperatures back up to the mid teens, but the higher rainfall calls for a waterproof jacket.
Adelaide, Australia’s driest capital city, is best enjoyed during summer and autumn. From December to February, t-shirts and shorts are all you’ll need as temperatures average in the high 20s, but can peak in the high 30s and even low 40s. From March to May the days are milder, with temperatures in the high teens to low 20s.
In winter, pack waterproof layers and warm clothing. This is the wettest time of the year and temperatures drop to the low teens. Spring pushes the average back up 5 degrees, but keep a jacket or jumper handy. It cools down quickly at dusk.
The dry days of summer and spring are ideal for the array of outdoor activities on offer in Perth. From December to February, temperatures in the high 20s to mid 30s are eased by the afternoon ocean breeze nicknamed the ‘Fremantle Doctor’. From September to November, rainfall is rare and temperatures hover around the low 20s. A light jacket may be needed in the evening.
In autumn and winter, pack wet weather gear. Expect temperatures in the high teens in autumn, holding above 10 degrees in the evening. From June to August, thunderstorms often strike and daytime temperatures can drop to single figures.
Darwin’s psyche is driven largely by its isolation and of course the weather. There are two main seasons – The Wet and The Dry. The Dry offers low humidity, and the months of May through September are characterised by warm days and balmy nights. This is considered peak season and grey nomads hightail it to the region in droves.
On the flipside, The Wet can be pretty spectacular with its monsoonal thunderstorms. December to March are the wettest months and while it’s hot and humid, you’re likely to pick up a great deal on your hotel.
But whatever time of the year you choose to visit, Darwin will undoubtedly charm the long pants right off you.
Cairns & Port Douglas
To beat the north’s heat, humidity and storms, winter is the perfect time to visit Cairns and Port Douglas. From June to August, the days are dry and temperatures range in the low to mid 20s. During autumn in March to May, the heat holds in the mid to high 20s, keeping evenings warm with balmy ocean breezes.
The wet season slowly builds up from September/October, with temperatures in the mid 20s. From December to February, summer heat pushes temperatures into the 30s as umbrellas bear the brunt of the bulk of the region’s annual rainfall. But storms come and go quickly, usually in the afternoon, with bright sunshine in between. This is the best time of year for diving and snorkeling.
Stinger season runs from November through to May (although Box Jellyfish may be present at other times of the year). The swimming enclosures at popular beaches are your best bet. Obey all signs and beach closures.
Broome is a year-round destination with warm to hot days and balmy nights. Similar to the Top End, there are two distinct seasons – the Wet and the Dry.
The Dry runs roughly from May to October and is characterised by minimal rainfall and low humidity. During the Wet from late October to late April, you can expect higher temperatures and rainfall (including some pretty spectacular monsoonal thunderstorms) and therefore higher humidity.
Accommodation prices are generally lower during the Wet. Book well in advance for school holiday travel in either season.
Anytime is a good time to visit Alice, but spring and autumn are arguably the best times for active travelers. Expect daytime temperatures in the mid 20s from March to May, and September to November. It cools down quickly at night so pack warm wear for evening activities.
With its arid climate, the Alice experiences summer temperatures in the mid 30s (and as high as the 40s), but humidity is low. Daytime temperatures in winter hover around 20 degrees, but plummet overnight. Rug up!
Additional images: Bigstock