Australia has a diverse climate, which differs considerably between the tropical north, the arid interior and the southern states.

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

Sydney is a year-round destination, but summer is the best time to enjoy the city’s enviable lifestyle by the water — on the water — or in the water. Try all three during your stay!

There’s plenty to do in Sydney during winter too. It’s a great time to check out the hottest new restaurants and galleries or rug up and spend time in the great outdoors. The Blue Mountains are stunning in the colder months. Perhaps challenge yourself to take part in the annual City2Surf fun run alongside 80,000+ other participants — from serious runners to walkers in colourful costumes.

Spring and autumn offer the best of both worlds. They bring clear blue skies, mild temperatures, and the chance for visitors to enjoy everything the Harbour City has to offer.

Sydney travel guide

Best times to visit Australian cities

Best times to visit Australian cities: Summer is the perfect time to indulge in Sydney’s plethora of water activities.

Canberra

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.

Canberra travel guide

Best times to visit Australian cities

Best times to visit Australian cities: Canberra

Melbourne

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.

Melbourne travel guide

Best times to visit Australian cities

Best times to visit Australian cities: Melbourne

Brisbane

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.

Brisbane travel guide

Best times to visit Australian cities

Best times to visit Australian cities: Brisbane

Hobart

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.

Hobart travel guide

Best times to visit Australian cities

Spring and summer are perfect for visiting the picturesque wine regions around Hobart.

Adelaide

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.

Adelaide travel guide

Best times to visit Australian cities

Best times to visit Australian cities: Adelaide

Perth

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.

Perth travel guide

Best times to visit Australian cities

Best times to visit Australian cities: Perth

Darwin

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.

Darwin travel guide

Best times to visit Australian cities

Enjoy spectacular sunsets from Darwin’s Mindil Beach during the Dry. Image: Bigstock

Cairns and 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.

Cairns travel guide
Port Douglas travel guide

Best times to visit Australian cities

Best times to visit Australian cities: Cairns

Broome

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 if you’re travelling during school holidays in either season.

Broome travel guide

Best times to visit Australian cities

Broome. Image courtesy of Cable Beach Club Resort

Alice Springs

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!

Alice Springs travel guide

Additional images: Bigstock