What’s the Best City in Australia? Comparing Melbourne vs. Sydney

What’s the Best City in Australia? Comparing Melbourne vs. Sydney

So, you’ve decided to pack up and ship out to the land of kangaroos and koalas. A land where flip-flops are called thongs, a liquor store is called a Bottle-O and going for a surf despite recent sightings of great white sharks is called perfectly normal behavior.

You’ve got a backpack and an Australian work visa in tow but you haven’t worked out where you want to live yet. What now?

While there are a number of cool cities in Australia, the majority of backpackers and expats tend to settle in either Sydney or Melbourne. Travelers and Australians alike usually agree that these cities are the best. But, which one reigns supreme is a point of contention.

Here are some of the most notable differences between the two to try and help you make up your mind as to which is the best city in Australia.

Is Sydney the Best City in Australia?

You’ve no doubt seen photos of the spectacular Sydney Opera House and the famous Harbour Bridge. While these sites are impressive, alone they are not enough to secure Sydney the title of the best Australian city. So, what else does Sydney have to offer?

Sydney Has Better Weather

Compared to Melbourne, Sydney has considerably better weather year-round. It tends to be less windy, less rainy and more consistently sunny. You probably won’t be going to Australia for the culture so you’ll be relying on its nature. Which is fine. The nature in Australia is unbelievable. But, to enjoy nature to its fullest you’re going to need good weather. So Sydney wins this round.

An Expert’s Guide to Getting Off the Beaten Path in Sydney, Australia

Sydney Has Beautiful Beaches

The number one thing the causes travelers from around the world to fly to Sydney is its beaches. Bondi, Coogee, Shelly, Palm and Manly beaches are all accessible from Sydney and are all ranked in the top 25 beaches in Australia. When the sun is out (which is always) there’s nothing better than an afternoon surf or stroll along the sand.

Things to Do in Sydney

It is generally agreed that Sydney has more on offer by way of activities than Melbourne. Does this make it the best Australian city? Well, that depends on what you like. Sydney has the Taronga Zoo and a big aquarium on offer as well as Sydney Tower and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

If you’re looking for days out then a trip to the nearby Blue Mountains or Jenolan Caves are great mini-adventures. Alternatively, you could indulge in some fine Australian wine in Hunter Valley. Whatever you’re into, you’ll struggle to get bored in Sydney.

But Then There’s Melbourne…

Now let’s move on to Melbourne. Situated right on the Southeast tip of Australia, it is known as being much more hipster-friendly than Sydney. This might appeal to you or it might not. But, before you book your flights to Melbourne let’s see how it compares to Sydney is this battle for the title of the best Australian city.

Rent is Way Lower than Sydney

Perhaps the best thing about Melbourne, compared with Sydney, is the significantly lower rent rates. It is estimated that a 1 bedroom apartment in the city center of Sydney will set you back around AUD $2,689 (US $2127) per month. The same thing in Melbourne will cost you about AUD $1,725 (US $1364).

Generally, the cost of living in Melbourne is about 11% cheaper than Sydney. But, when it comes to accommodation, rent is roughly 37% cheaper in Melbourne. That doesn’t necessarily make it the best city in Australia but it’s worth taking into account.

Australia is expensive where ever you go but if you’re on a budget, Melbourne might be a better choice.

Melbourne at Night

Melbourne’s Food Scene is Amazing

If your favorite part of traveling is getting to eat amazing food then Melbourne has you covered. Melbourne’s culinary offerings are sensational. Here, you will find restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world. Best of all, not only is it cooked to perfection, but the prices aren’t too bad either. You can get a decent meal out for between AUD 10-15 (USD $8-12) in this groovy city.

Melbourne is also known for having a much better coffee scene than Sydney. If you know your different roasts and consider yourself a coffee connoisseur then you’re likely to pick Melbourne as the best city in Australia.

Local Transport in Melbourne

Sydney is a mess. Even the people that live there will tell you that. Melbourne is laid out in a logical grid format (like Manhattan), making it far easier to navigate. In addition to its simple layout, Melbourne has a cracking public transport network. There are plenty of trams, trains, and buses that serve the city’s population well. Be aware, however, that these vehicles can become packed out during rush hour.

So we have taken a look at some of the highlights each city has to offer. But, are we any closer to deciding whether Melbourne or Sydney should be crowned as the best city in Australia?

Obviously, it is all down to tastes. If you want sunshine, go to Sydney. If you don’t mind a bit of rain and really love coffee then Melbourne is the obvious choice. Got enough time and money? Heck, why not hit up both!

The important thing to remember is that Australia is amazing where ever you go so you’ll never be making a bad decision.

About the Author

Jeremy Scott Foster

Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.
  1. Like visiting Sidney, but not to live there
    Melbourne is the place to live definitely for
    Lots of reasons 😊😊

  2. Sydney has vastly higher rainfall than Melbourne. Check the stats.
    Melbourne gets cold and blowy. Sydney warmer but also wet, sticky tropical. Summer in both places incredibly hot.

  3. Sydney “tends to be…less rainy and more consistently sunny”.
    Why do people insist on perpetuating the myth over and over (and over) again that Melbourne has more rainfall than the other capital cities when it actually ranks FIFTH out of eight, meaning it is also Australia’s fourth DRIEST city? This is getting very old…we live in the information age, there is really no excuse for ignorance anymore. Sydney has almost DOUBLE the rainfall of Melbourne with an annual average of 1213.4 mm – in fact, it ranks second only after Darwin (which records an annual of 1723.1 mm). After Sydney is Brisbane (1148.8 mm) then Perth (730.9 mm). So, when it comes to rainy weather, keep in mind that Melbourne, at 648.3 mm, sees almost half the rainfall Sydney has and only 120 mm more than Australia’s driest city, Adelaide…I know where I’d rather be if I was attending an outdoor event!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *