How to choose the best time to visit Australia
When is the best time to visit Australia? I often get this question from first time travellers who want to make the most of their Australia Trip. Being Australia a huge continent, it is impossible to answer this question with one sentence. In fact there are many factors that have an impact on how to choose the best time for a visit to Australia.
Before answering this question, I need to spend a few words about Australia's geography and Australia's map. With twice the size of Europe, the Australian continent stretches from North to South and from East to West covering a few thousands of kilometers and crossing different climate zones.
As climate and weather conditions change over the year, there are many answers to when is the best time to visit Australia.
On this page you can read about the various Australian climate zones and the Australian seasons, to give you an idea of how the weather in Australia will be like in the period you plan to visit Australia.
Australia Climate zones and Australia Weather Map
Australia can be divided into 3 main climate areas:
- The coastal southern areas stretching from the west coast to the east coast.
- The inner central areas defined as Outback areas.
- The Northern tropical areas in North Queensland, Northern Territory and North Western Australia.
Here below a recap of the Australian climate zones along with the seasons to help you identify the best time to visit Australia and the things to do in the period of time you plan to go.
From September to November the Australian weather is good almost everywhere across the country. In Northern Tropical Australia in spring it's a transitional period from the dry winter months into the rainy months December to February. With pleasant temperatures around 20-30°C from South West to South East this is definitely the best time to go to Australia, especially to South Australia, South East Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.
- South Western Australia, is best to enjoy it between September and November with wildflowers blossoming. Moreover you can enjoy activities like whale watching, hiking, biking and more outdoor activities.
- South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Weather in spring and in autumn is mild and this time of the year is not as busy as in summer months, when locals take their Australian holidays.
- Spring is the best time to go on road trips, bike tours and any type of outdoor activities.
The Australian Summer
December to February are the warmest months throughout Australia. Temperatures can reach 35-45°C all over the southern coastal areas. In the Outback areas (central Australia) temps can reach over 45°C. This is the peak season with regards to school holidays, it is the busiest time in Australia to travel, and the most expensive too. So if you do not like crowds, want to save money, try to avoid visiting Australia from December to February.
However there are also some benefits of travelling in the summer months. Here are some:
- It is the best time for visiting Tasmania as temps are around 25-28°C and therefore very pleasant for hiking.
- Most outdoor events are held in Summer in South West Australia as well as in South Australia and the East Coast of Australia.
- Spending Christmas in Australia is also something very special as it is different to celebrate the festive holidays on the beach and Australia Day.
- If you are a beach lover and love all water sports, then December to February is the best time for visiting Australia.
From March to May weather is still pleasant in most Australia's regions. Temperatures can vary though. In average they are around 20-25°C, they gradually decrease towards the winter months. This is my favourite time of the year to visit Australia. Here are some good reasons why Autumn is a good time to visit:
- Probably the ideal time of the year to visit most Outback Region, including the Uluru, as you have warm days and cooler nights.
- It is a good time to visit South Western Australia, South Australia with warm days. It's a great time of the year for tasting local produce, wine and see many great events too.
- Another great part of Australia worth visiting in March-May the Top End as well as and the Kimberley in North Western Australia.
April usually marks the end of the rain seaon so this time of the year is great if you still want to see some of the lush green vegetation, gorges filled with water and enjoy active birdlife and wildlife in the amazing Australian national parks.
June to August are the coolest months in Australia as far as the Southern regions are concerned. Victoria and Tasmania winter can be pretty cold with temperatures around zero. For this reason it is not ideal to visit these regions in winter. The winter months are ideal for the following regions:
- The Australia Top End, with Darwin, Kakadu National Park. The largest top end events are held between July and August.
- The North Tropical Queensland, with plenty of sunshine and dry weather.
- Outback areas in Central Australia and North Western Australia. Here temperatures are around 20-25°C, ideal for best road trips in Australia and camping.
Winter in Northern Australia is a busy time of the year, in fact everyone wants to escape the cold months of the south and spend a few days in the sunny beaches of the North. That's why I would plan a trip to Northern Australia in advance so as to secure cheap flights and the best accommodation and tours.
So to recap the best time of year to visit Australia are March to May and October to December.
Best time to visit Sydney and Melbourne
When you plan your trip to Australia to the main Australian cities like Melbourne and Sydney make sure you consider all the following tips. Here below a breakdown for the best time of the year to visit Sydney and Melbourne.
- When to visit Melbourne: according to my experience I prefer visiting Melbourne in March-May and Ocotber-December. These are months with great festivals and less tourists. Temps are milder and therefore is more pleasant to get around.
- When to visit Sydney: March to May and October to December are the best months to visit Sydney. In Summer is way too busy and it can be quite hot too. If you plan a beach holiday the summer months of January-February are probably the best. And if you love to celebrate New Years's Eve in style and don't mind the crowds, then Sydney is a top city.
Best time to visit most popular Australian destinations
Apart from cities like Melbourne and Sydney that can be considered city hubs for most travellers coming to Australia, these are some of the most popular destinations that are on the trip itinerary of many visitors. I have experienced the following places with all kind of weather and can give you my best tips for making the most of these iconic places of Australia.
Best time to visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef
I would say September as is when the winter starts to fade away and warmer days are setting in. While the coldest months of July and August in Southern Australia draw many Aussies to the warm Tropical regions, they are also the busiest months for international visitors coming from Europe and US. So if you want to make the most of your time in Cairns I would choose September. July and August are also okay if you don't mind the crowds. No-go months are December-February are these are the wettest and hottest months in North Tropical Queensland.
Best time to visit Uluru and the red Centre of Australia
I once visited Uluru end of April and my second trip was end of March. I prefer the time between April and May, as temps are cooler during the day (25-27°C or 77-80F). Cooler temps allow you to walk and stay enjoy more of outdoor activities. When temps start going over 30°C or 86F then you will be limited to morning explorations. Another benefit for planning a trip to Uluru in April-May is that these are the less busy time of the year. Be sure you don't plan your visit on 25th April which is a popular public holiday in Australia. This time of the year is busy with families and school children. June-August are also great for the weather but extremenly busy in terms of visitors. December-February are no-go are temps can easily hit 45°C or 115F.
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