Top 9 reasons to walk Sydney in winter

Winter is my favourite time of the year to go walking in Sydney, mainly because the weather is milder, it’s generally quieter and there’s plenty of pretty flowers blooming. There’s nothing quite like layering up and exploring the Sydney Harbour National Park, hiking along a bush trail or simply enjoying a coastal walk, with the hope of spotting majestic humpback whales.

So, rather than cosying up at home under the duvet with the next episode of Netflix, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Not convinced? Here’s my top nine reasons why walking Sydney in winter is the best time to go walking.

1. The weather’s cooler

I love walking in winter mainly because I’m not sweating like a beast and glowing like a flashing red traffic light (that’ll be me in summer). Sydney’s mild winters therefore make walking during the months of June, July and August perfect. I’m thankfully sweating less, plus I don’t have to use as much sunscreen due to my legs and arms being covered in long sleeves and leggings. Sydney’s mild winters also mean comfortable walking conditions, allowing you more time to enjoy the great outdoors.

2. Whale watching season

From May to November, thousands of whales will make their way up and down the Sydney coastline as they embark on their annual migration. The good news is, there are plenty of picturesque places to go walking along the coastline with the opportunity to see some whales. Some of the best whale watching spots include Fairfax Lookout at North Head, Manly, along the Bondi to Coogee walk, Cape Solander in Kurnell, Gap Bluff at Watson’s Bay South Head as well as near Bundeena in the Royal National Park. The most common whales to look out for include humpback whales and southern right whales, but you might also see orcas, minke whales, blue whales, sperm whales and pods of dolphins. If you’re walking along a popular whale watching spot, then I recommend bringing binoculars to catch all the action.

3. A pretty time of the year

Surprisingly, during winter lots of native flowers can be seen as well as fungi. This makes walking along those coastal tracks and bushwalks even more pleasing to the eye. Admire the dazzling displays of Sunshine Wattle, or the bright pinks of fuscias popping against the earthy green moss laden trees. I recommend slowing down to really appreciate the flora and take your time to look around, you never know what you will spot amongst the heathland. Popular walks for flora include Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay Walk through Sydney Harbour National Walk or through the historic Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Boardwalk after Dobroyd Head

Sydney Harbour View

4. Fewer tourists

Winter is also off-peak tourist season in Sydney which means less crowds and overseas visitors to get in the way of your picture-perfect photos or just generally getting in your way. Popular spots such as the Bondi to Coogee clifftop walk will be busy anytime of the year, but less so in winter. With fewer people around, this gives you more time to enjoy those spectacular Sydney harbour views or carefully listen to the trilling of Rainbow Lorikeets or New Holland Honeyeaters around you.

5. Less rainfall

Did you know that in Sydney, the least amount of rainfall occurs during the winter months? July to December typically has the lowest amount of rainfall which makes for perfect walking conditions. There’s always the chance that it will rain though, so make sure you check the weather beforehand, bring a waterproof jacket and trousers or just a good old fashioned brolly. There’s nothing worse than being caught off-guard and ending up soaked to the skin, particularly if you’re out walking in the bush, so it’s best to be prepared.

6. No annoying bugs and insects

A walk during the winter months in Sydney means there are less bugs about to annoy you. This includes mosquitoes and flies buzzing around your head as well as ticks, leeches and spiders. Winter also means less chance to see snakes and lizards basking in the sunshine on the path ahead, particularly good if you’re afraid of those slithering cold-blooded reptiles.

7. Warms you up

There’s nothing quite like a fast walk to help warm you up and get the blood pumping. Walking in winter also means you get to wrap up in your favourite coat, gloves, scarf and woolly hat, particularly if you’re headed to the Blue Mountains where it’s typically colder than compared to nearer the coast with a greater chance of snow. If camping’s not for you, then why not head to the Southern Highlands to Bowral or Berrima and enjoy a variety of day walks, before coming home to your rental cottage, complete with roaring log fire.

8. Lower bushfire risk

Speaking of fires, walking in winter also poses a lower bushfire risk, compared to the hot, dry summer months when temperatures in Sydney can soar past 40˚C. I recommend checking fire warnings especially when hiking in the bush and always know your way out. If you’re camping in winter, then there’s also less chance for there to be a total fire ban, so you might be able to light that cosy campfire and toast marshmallows above the crackling flames. Just double check with the campsite first whether open fires are allowed.

9. You burn more calories

Walking for fitness or weight loss? Then you’ll be pleased to know that walking in winter can actually burn more calories. As your body generally burns more calories when it’s cold due to your body fighting to keep you warm, a walk in winter can help you lose some weight. Plus, walking daily outside in the cooler air will help your body build up resistance to winter germs, strengthening your immune system.

Top Sydney Winter Walks

Ready to go walking? Here’s my top 5 Sydney winter walks to enjoy alone or with friends and family.

1. Bondi to Coogee

6km - Easy

The popular Bondi to Coogee walk is enjoyable all year round, but particularly during winter when it’s less touristy.

Begin this clifftop coastal walk at the world-famous Bondi Beach before continuing on to Coogee Beach via Tamarama Beach, Bronte Beach, Waverley Cemetery, Clovelly Beach and Gordons Bay. On the way explore rock pools, watch the surfers catching a wave or stop in at a casual café. With prime coastal views from numerous vantage points along its towering sandstone cliffs, there’s also a great opportunity to spot whales along this 6km clifftop walk.

Bondi Beach to Coogee Walk

2. Spit Bridge to Manly (extend to North Head)

10km/20km – Easy-Moderate

Set out along the iconic Spit Bridge to Manly walk in winter and you’ll be treated to dazzling displays of Sunshine Wattle, bright pink fuscias and burnt orange banksia.

This 10km bushwalk has it all; sensational harbour views, an abundance of flora and fauna and secluded beaches. As one of Sydney’s best walking tracks, winter is the perfect time to enjoy this walk, without getting all hot and sweaty. Plus, if you’re feeling extra energetic, continue on to North Head for breathtaking views over Sydney Harbour and South Head from the lookout points as well as the possibility to spot migrating whales.

Stairs down from Spit Bridge to Ellerys Punt Reserve

3. Rose Bay to Watsons Bay via the Hermitage Foreshore Track

Approx. 7.5km – Easy

Begin your walk from the Rose Bay ferry wharf before joining the easy Hermitage Foreshore Track, often regarded as one of Sydney’s great coastal walks. Admire the views of Sydney Harbour Bridge, the city skyline and Shark Island as well as taking in the grounds of the historic Strickland House. From Nielsen Park, with its pleasant picnic areas, continue on towards Watsons Bay, via the pretty Parsley Bay Bridge and admire the million-dollar waterfront mansions along the way. At Watsons Bay, explore Camp Cove before walking to South Head to spot whales and view the iconic red and white striped Hornby Lighthouse. Don’t forget to visit The Gap Lookout, Gap Bluff and Dunbar Head, to learn more about the historic shipwreck of the Dunbar from 1857.

Watsons Bay The Gap Bluff

4. Grand Canyon Track, Blue Mountains

6.3km – Challenging – lots of steps

Located in the Blackheath area in the Blue Mountains National Park, this adventurous 6.3km loop walk is perfect to do in winter when the weather is cooler.

An historic bushwalk which walkers have enjoyed since 1907, take in the lush native vegetation of ferns and golden wattles, alongside a series of waterfalls, creeks and spectacular views as you descend and later ascend the carefully carved stone steps. Set out on this 3-4 hour walk from Evans lookout near Blackheath.

Grand Canyon Track Blackheath

5. Coast Track, Royal National Park

26km – Challenging – multi-day hike

For a multi-day hike, try the picturesque Coast Track running between Bundeena and Otford in Sydney’s Royal National Park. This challenging 26km bushwalk track has plenty of opportunities for whale watching and spotting seasonal wildflowers as well as admiring the breathtaking ocean views from coastal lookouts. If you’re brave, you can even take a dip in the sea with a number of swimming spots along the way. Note: if you plan to camp overnight, be sure to book your campsite well in advance at the North Era campground and bring enough food and water with you for the entire hike. 

Looking for more Sydney walking inspiration?

For more great Sydney walk ideas, view my latest Sydney walking blogs.