It might be silly to suggest taking a dip in the pool in a city like Sydney, which has no shortage of world-class beaches, a renowned harbor, and plenty of secluded coves that can easily be all yours if you know where to go. But going to the pool is a time-honored tradition among locals. They flock to beautifully maintained, Olympic-sized public pools located in the city’s parks; swim laps in “baths” built into the rocks along the side of the ocean so as to let the waves crash over them; or, if they’re lucky, worship the sun at their own apartment complex’s social gathering spots. Sydney is, unsurprisingly, an outdoor city, and when you can’t get to the beach—or just don’t feel like fighting off grains of sand for a week after your visit—its many lovely pools are a superb option for a day in the sun.
Prince Alfred Park Pool
Nearly a decade in the making, the recently restored swimming complex just south of Central Station offers visitors and locals alike a great place to relax. Grab a chaise longue and splay out in the sun (or under one of the distinctive yellow umbrellas that dot the landscape), sit on the patio outside the café for lunch, or just jump right into the heated pool, which is open year-round and features two lanes for free play. There’s also an area for kids’ play.
Andrew (Boy) Charlton
This is the place to see and be seen—bronzed boys and gorgeous girls line the glass deck, which juts out over the harbour for perfect views to the north and east to the docks of Woolloomooloo. The saltwater pool is always packed, and so is the café nearby, where you can dive into a healthy lunch while watching everybody swanning around below.
Victoria Park Pool
Another of the city’s well-maintained public pools, there’s also a gym, a small café, and a patch of grass where you can loll around on a lazy afternoon. It’s located in the center of Victoria Park, itself at the western edge of the Sydney University campus and across the street from Broadway Shopping Centre.
This criminally photogenic wonder is perched at the eastern edge of Bondi Beach, and is part of the Bondi Icebergs Club complex, which also houses one of the city’s most popular restaurants upstairs. (Keep your eyes peeled for visiting celebrities.) The crashing ocean waves pour into the pool on a regular basis, making for outrageous visuals. Swimming here is not for the faint of heart. But it’s recommended, nonetheless.
Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre
There are three pools available for visitors at this sprawling locale west of the city, where all of the 2000 Summer Games swimming and diving events were held. You’ll find a competition pool, training pool, and diving pool. There are also a sauna and steam room on premises, as well as a water park nearby that the kids will love.