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11 things to do between semesters

26 June 2017
Sydney has plenty to offer in July

Sydney in winter is a playground for students enjoying newfound freedom in the break between semesters. Adventure and respite awaits you after making it through exams, here are our top picks.

1. Warm your belly

If you’re seeking a delicious way to warm up on a chilly night, then the Bastille Festival is a must. Running over the Bastille Day weekend (13 to 20 July) in Circular Quay, the festival offers up a huge selection of specialty foods from France and other parts of Europe.

If you’re looking for a new winter local to escape the frost, browse through this list of Sydney’s best pubs with fireplaces.


2. Catch a match of footy (of any code)

July is a great chance to catch some of the sporting fervour Australia is famous for. AFL is renowned for its stadium atmosphere and 15 July marks the biggest game in the state, with the NSW derby match between the Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants at Spotless Stadium

Meanwhile in rugby league it’s State of Origin time and the final game of the series on 12 July is sure to get temperatures rising. The QLD Maroons and the NSW Blues have a long history of intense rivalry and the final game in the series will determine which state will claim ultimate bragging rights. Join supporters at a local pub (especially if it has a fireplace) to watch the game.

And there’s something for soccer fans too, with English Premiere League giants Arsenal in town to take on Sydney FC on 13 July, and Western Sydney Wanders on 15 July at ANZ stadium. 

3. Skate up a storm

Snow may be a rare sight in Sydney but that doesn’t mean you can’t go ice-skating! During winter a number of pop-up rinks appear across Sydney to help us to pretend we’re in a magical wonderland. Strap on some skates or watch ice hockey demonstrations at Bondi Winter Magic or in Hyde Park. There’s also Winterlight Parramatta for ice-skating, vintage rides and European winter fare. 

4. Go whale-watching 

It may be winter but there’s still a very good reason to go to the beach – its whale watching season. There are plenty of places in Sydney to watch the annual migration of hundreds of majestic humpback whales, so rug up, find a good vantage point and don’t forget your camera! 

5. Get amongst the greenery

Put some colour back into your Instagram at the Royal Botanic Garden’s spectacular (and free) floral display, which includes a huge 50 metre floral watercolour painting. You can even have high tea while you’re there.

The gardens are spectacular all year round, boasting stunning views of Sydney Harbour, so why not pack a picnic rug, tea thermos and snacks and settle in for the afternoon. 

6. To market, to market

Now that your weekends aren’t filled with study, you can make the most of Sydney’s copious number of local markets. There’s one in nearly every suburb, so you’re bound to find one a stone’s throw away from your favourite brunch spot. Popular picks include Glebe, Rozelle, Bondi, Pyrmont and the Rocks. 

7.  Explore the arts scene

Sydney has a huge arts scene with galleries and theatres scattered throughout the city. Check out what your local is showing.

Also check out refugee arts and culture at the New Beginnings Festival from 21 June to 2 July. You can learn about refugee experiences through art, film and installations, and even try your hand at making Persian tea. 

8. Escape the city

There’s no better time to visit the Blue Mountains than in July. The cooler temperatures make bushwalking easier (with fewer bugs!) and the villages are lined with cosy little teashops and cafes with famed winter menus  It only takes about two hours to get from campus to Katoomba, either by car or train, so make a day of it.  

9. Movies, with a twist

The dinner and movie combo is time-honoured but let’s face it, it’s pretty unimaginative. Luckily Sydney is full of places taking this traditional pairing to new heights for those cold rainy winter days. Try out the Drive-Ins at Blacktown, or get super comfy at Govinda’s with their day-bed style lounges. The Golden Age Cinema is also perfect if you want to travel back in time and catch some theatre classics. 

10. Relive your youth

Why should kids have all the fun? Get airborne with some bounce-ercise at a trampoline park  or use up all your gold coins playing Pac-Man and Street Fighter at one of Sydney’s arcade pubs.

Challenge your friends to a game of ten pin bowling at The Standard Bowl. While you’re there enjoy the in house dumpling restaurant and live music. 

11. Feed the brain

Evoke your curiosity with a Sydney Ideas talk presented by leading academics across a range of disciplines. Topics covered throughout July include the war in Syria, climate change in the city, addiction and Jane Austin.  Check out the full list of events here.