Whether you want to admit it or not, Sydney is one of the best cities to escape to in winter. These past few weeks, there have been countless sunny days, temperatures reaching 18 degrees (and then some) and lots of people out and about as a result, all but forgetting they’re not vacationing in Europe.

This winter’s a particularly good time to visit, though, with Sydney about to play host to the world’s biggest women’s sporting event: the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. Kicking off on July 20 and running through to August 20, it’s the first time the women’s tournament has ever been held in the southern hemisphere, making it a once in a generation event worth travelling for.

And if the football isn’t your thing, there’s plenty more to see and do around the city this winter.

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Do

For the first time ever, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be hosted across two countries: Australia and New Zealand. The world’s best players – from 32 nations – will come together to compete on the international stage. It’s set to be the best attended standalone women’s sporting event in history, with over one million tickets already sold.

Eleven of the matches will be played at the Sydney Football Stadium and Stadium Australia, including Australia’s must-watch opening game against the Republic of Ireland and the tournament’s final. If you miss out on tickets to those matches, England vs Denmark on July 28 would be our next pick.

Eat

On non-match days, book yourself a table for dinner at Firedoor. This cosy Surry Hills spot from top Sydney chef Lennox Hastie literally exudes warmth. At the heart of the restaurant is an old-school cast-iron oven, fuelled by mallee root, gidgee, iron bark and wood from all types of citrus trees, where most of the menu is cooked. Dishes, whether light or heavier, have simple ingredients, and everything can be tailored to suit each table. There’s usually one cut of beef for the whole night, carved to order; a whole fish option; and plenty of veggies – including Jerusalem artichoke with chestnuts and onion kimchi, and butternut pumpkin with roasted quince and sheep’s milk.

Drink

After dinner, walk over to Vermuteria for drinks. It’s a modern-day homage to old-school European wine bars, with a focus on all things Spanish. The cocktail list is extensive, with highlights including a citrusy Sherry Cobbler and a classic bianco Vermuttino, all made with house blends.

Vermuteria is also a great pick for happy hour: visit between 4pm and 6pm for $10 vermouth (poured from barrels behind the bar), Spanish sherry, cider and sparkling wine, or visit a little later at 9pm for $8 Spanish digestifs, including Braulio and Montenegro. If you’re peckish, there are cold-cuts from LP’s Quality Meats and cheeses by local cheesemonger Penny’s.

Play

While you’re in town, stop by FIFA Fan Festival, a month-long free pop-up taking over Tumbalong Park. Every match will be screened live, so it’s definitely the spot to head to if you don’t have match tickets. But it’ll cater to more than just the football lovers among us. Catch live entertainment from the likes of Aria Award-winning artist Jessica Mauboy and Melbourne singer Jacoténe, alongside a rotating daily line-up of DJs. On the food front, expect Josh Niland’s signature tuna cheeseburger, an Australian barbeque by First Nations chef Sharon Winsor and more.

Stay

The five-star Ace Hotel is the ideal spot to call home, particularly if you want easy access to everything in this guide. Located in the heart of Surry Hills, it’s one of Sydney’s leading destination hotels – and the first and only Australian venue from the global boutique hotel group so far. The Ace Hotel Sydney has 257 luxe rooms, a buzzy ground-floor lobby (with a photobooth), and a gym.

Inside, there are three topnotch diners: rooftop restaurant Kiln, which boasts an Italian-, Japanese- and Southeast Asian-influenced menu and stunning city views; casual lobby-level eatery Loam; and laneway cafe and bar Good Chemistry. Plus, a booze offering curated by Mike Bennie of P&V.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination NSW.