While the time between June and August signals the U.S. and Canada’s summer, those months herald the winter season in Australia and the rest of the Southern Hemisphere. Think a winter trip to the Land Down Under isn’t for you? Think again. Here are three of the top reasons to visit Australia during the country’s winter season.
The weather is ideal
The thought of Australia brings to mind miles of sun-drenched beaches, but a winter visit doesn’t mean you have to forgo warm days by the ocean. Winter rings in the dry season in the tropical north, where you can stroll along Queensland’s beaches or go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in 70-degree weather. It’s less rainy and humid, and far more comfortable than the scorching summer months. Yearning for cooler Aussie days? Head south. The massive island’s six states have very varied temperatures, and cities such as Melbourne and Sydney enjoy chillier—yet pleasantly mild—winters that settle around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
_Packing tip: Since Australia’s winter weather is so varied, packing for every type of weather is the best plan of action. Prepare for warmer weather in the north, but bring a sweatshirt, pants, and even a rain jacket for chilly evenings in the Outback and your adventure in the southern part of the continent. _
There are activities to suit every interest
Whether you’re a music lover or a nature enthusiast, you’ll find your ideal winter activity in the Land Down Under. Sip mulled wine at Melbourne’s Winter Night Market between June and August, when the iconic Queen Vic Market comes alive each evening. Head to Sydney between late-May and early June, when an awe-inspiring (and free!) light and music festival called Vivid illuminates the city. And, if you’re looking for a more nature-centric activity, set out on a whale watch; you’re almost guaranteed to see whales breaching and swimming as they migrate north for the winter.
Whale watching tip: Winter is the best time to go whale watching in Australia, but don’t be fooled by the cooler temps—sunscreen is still a must! A thin ozone layer makes the Australian sun extremely harsh, and the water surrounding your boat will reflect those strong rays onto you. _
It’s less crowded—and even cheaper
If you dislike crowds, traveling to Australia during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months is the way to go. While the northern region’s beaches are less packed, it’s the more spacious southern cities that truly shine—just ask traveler Phaedra, who was told time and again that the sites she admired on tour would be cramped during the Aussie summer. Enjoy space to really admire the inside of the UNESCO-listed Sydney Opera House. Or, take your time as you stroll through the streets of Melbourne, which are lined with fascinatingly varied architecture. Even more appealing? Fewer crowds during the off-season often leads to a dip in prices, which always makes an adventure sweeter.
Transportation tip: The trams are free in Melbourne’s city center, making getting around to admire the sites a cinch. Make your way to Victoria Harbour, pay a visit to Queen Vic Market, or swing by Federation Square—some of the city’s most alluring places are in the free tram zone, and you can easily cruise between each during free time in the city._