Australia is enormous, and picking the right time for your visit depends on where exactly you're trying to go – a tropical north is at odds with a temperate south, and the central desert is its own consideration. This month-by-month breakdown will help you discover the best time for your vacation, no matter where you're headed. 

Read more: Australia sets out plan to open borders to international travel

High season: December to February

Best time for beach bums and festival lovers

Summer in Australia may be a time of environmental extremes – wet season arrives up north and bush fires spark in the south – but it's the ideal time for lounging on one of the country's famed beaches or enjoying its many arts, food and music festivals.

Visitors should come prepared for higher prices and some crowding in major tourist centers and popular beaches. Don't forget to pack your sunscreen!

Shoulder season: March to May & September to November

Best time for cross-country travel

Transition seasons bring warm sun, clear skies and cool nights, making them your best bet if you're trying to hop all around the country. Australia's hot center will be experiencing a slight reprieve from summer's heat and the coastal areas generally will still be warm enough to enjoy (though bring a jacket just in case!). 

A small wooden bridge stretches over a pond to a small piece of land with a tree in full autumn color in Victoria, Australia. Orange leaves are all over the ground.
Visit Australia during autumn shoulder season for stunning fall colors ©Tsvi Braverman / EyeEm / Getty Images

The coasts can be busy around Easter, and the autumn colors are particularly atmospheric in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

Low season: June to August

Best time for budget travel

Australian winter brings cool days down south and milder weather with sunny skies up north – now's your best chance for pleasant desert and tropical travel and whale watching. 

Tourist numbers are at their lowest and so are prices, but keep in mind that some attractions may keep slightly shorter hours.

Month-by-month breakdown

Here's a guide to what you can expect to do and see in Australia throughout the year. All events are subject to change.


January yawns into action as the country recovers from its collective New Year hangover, and festival season kicks off in earnest.

Key events: Sydney Festival, Australian Open, Midsumma Festival, MOMA FONA, Tamworth Country Music Festival.

A person wears an elaborate rainbow headdress rimmed in red feathers at Sydney's LGBTQ Mardi Gras.
Sydney's LGBTQ+ Mardi Gras is a colorful, sparkly spectacle worth celebrating © attilavalentina / Shutterstock


February is usually Australia's hottest month – it'll be humid and sticky up north as the wet season continues, and it's often baking hot in South Australia and Victoria. Locals return to school and work while the sun shines on.

Key events: Adelaide Fringe, Sydney's LGBTQ+ Mardi Gras, Perth Festival, Trop Fest, Brisbane Street Art Festival.


Oenophiles delight: March is harvest time in Australia's vineyards. In recent years March has been hot, despite its autumnal status.

Key events: WOMADelaide, Australian F1 Grand Prix, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Adelaide Festival, 10 Days on the Island.


Melbourne and the Adelaide Hills are atmospheric as European trees turn golden, then maroon. Up north the rain is abating and the desert temperatures are becoming manageable.

Key events: Byron Bay Bluesfest, Barossa Vintage Festival, Tjungu Festival.

A person walks along a dirt path towards the red rocks of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia.
May is a great month to visit the unforgettable Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park ©Tetra Images / Shutterstock


The dry season begins in the Northern Territory, northern Western Australia and Far North Queensland, bringing much relief from the humidity. It's also a great time of the year to visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Key events: Ord Valley Muster, Noosa Eat & Drink, Uluru Camel Cup.


Winter begins: snow falls across the southern Alps ski resorts and football season fills grandstands across the country. It is peak season in the tropical north, and waterfalls and outback tracks are accessible (though accommodation prices less so).

Key events: Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival, Barunga Festival, Sea & Vines Festival, Vivid Sydney, Bellingen Readers & Writers Festival.

A blanket of snow sits on the rolling mountain range of Australia's Alpine National Park at sunset.
Australian winter brings snow to its alpine regions © FiledIMAGE / Shutterstock


You'll find pubs with open fires, cozy coffee shops and empty beaches down south, and, oppositely, packed markets, tours and accommodation up north. Make sure to bring warm clothes for anywhere south of Alice Springs.

Key events: Melbourne International Film Festival, Derby Boab Festival, Walking with Spirits, Noosa Alive, Alice Springs Camel Cup, Splendour in the Grass, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, Mackay Festival of Arts.


August is when southerners, sick of winter's grey-sky drear, head to Queensland for some sun. It's almost the last chance to head to the tropical Top End and outback before things get too hot and wet.

Key events: Cairns Festival, Garma Festival, Henly-on-Todd Regatta, Melbourne Winter Festival, Arlie Beach Race Week.

Orange, purple and white wildflowers stretch across a clifftop in Tasmania, Australia.
In September wildflowers explode across southern Australia © Catherine Sutherland / Lonely Planet


Spring heralds a rampant bloom of wildflowers across outback Western Australia and South Australia, with flower festivals happening in places like Canberra and Toowoomba. Football finishes and the Spring Racing Carnival begins.

Key events: AFL Grand Final, Brisbane Festival, Shinju Masuri Festival of the Pearl, Perth Wildflower Festival, Pilbara Red Earth Arts Festival, Floriade, Alice Desert Festival, Bigsound Festival.


The weather avoids extremes everywhere, so it's a good time to go camping or to hang out at some vineyards. The build-up to the rains begins in the Top End – very humid.

Key events: Melbourne Festival, Riverland Wine & Food Festival, Caloundra Music Festival.


Northern beaches may close due to "stingers" – jellyfish in the shallow waters off north Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Outdoor events ramp up and the surf life-saving season flexes its muscles on beaches everywhere.

Key events: Gourmet Escape, Melbourne Cup, Sculpture by the Sea, Wangaratta Jazz & Blues, Fremantle Festival.


Ring the bell, school's out! Holidays usually begin a week or two before Christmas. Cities are packed with shoppers and the weather is desirably toasty. Up north, monsoon season is under way and afternoon thunderstorms bring pelting rain.

Key events: Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Woodford Folk Festival, Sydney Harbour Fireworks.

You might also like:
Top 15 beaches in Australia
The best things to do in Australia in summer

Australia's 10 best natural wonders

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This article was first published March 2021 and updated July 2021

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