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Where Should You Visit First: Melbourne Or Sydney?

So, what makes Sydney and Melbourne so different, and how can you decide which one to visit if you are only given a short amount of time?

Beware of spoilers! There is no universally correct answer to the question of which of Sydney and Melbourne is the "better" place to vacation.

Indeed, the rivalry between the two cities dates back nearly a century, and it shows no signs of abating.

Melbourne regularly brags about its position as one of "The Most Liveable Cities" in the world, while Sydney always comes prepared with a few quips about the local weather.

Visiting Australia: Is Sydney Or Melbourne Better?

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Although Canberra, near the East Coast, is the capital of Australia, the 's biggest and most well-known city, Sydney, is likely to be your first place that think of visiting.


The Sights

There is a wide variety of things to see and do in Sydney, including the city's two most iconic structures, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Locations couldn't be more central to the city and closer together than these two. The Opera House includes a wonderful bar on the bridge spot called the Opera Bar, which allows you to sit on the water and enjoy soaking up the beauty of one of the nation's most spectacular harbours. Climbing the harbour bridge is another must-do while in Sydney.

The Beaches

Sydney has a lot more to offer than only its harbour, such as its excellent beaches (and not just Bondi!). We prefer Manly, one of the hundreds scattered around the harbour, accessible via a free ferry ride from Darling Harbour or Bronte and lasting about 30 minutes. Tamarama is fantastic, however Coogee is even better if you want to swim or surf.


Summers in Sydney can be somewhat muggy, while the winters are milder than in neighbouring Melbourne. In the coldest months, temperatures rarely drop below 55 degrees. In contrast, summertime highs can reach 107 degrees!


And if you're into working out while on vacation, you'll discover that people are taking advantage of the weather and beaches to get in as much physical activity as they can. You can use the cliffs in between the beaches as a running track, and any open space can serve as a makeshift gym.



The cost of living in Sydney, especially in terms of lodging, may come as a surprise to you. In Sydney's central business area (CBD), a five-star hotel room can cost $380 or more per night, while a pint of microbreweries will set you back about $9.50. Most retailers in both locations also have shockingly high prices for groceries.

Lack Of Nightlife

Even if you're a party animal who thinks a global metropolis like Sydney would be bursting at the seams with exciting nightlife options, you might be sorely disappointed. As a response to alcohol-fueled violence in the Central Business District (CBD), the city passed harsh lockout restrictions in 2014, effectively ending much of the city's nightlife. As a result, you should plan on going to bed early, as the doors will be locked at 3 am, and no one will be admitted after 1:30 am.


The southern part of Australia is home to Australia's second-largest metropolis by a hair's breadth. This translates to a little chillier climate, a slightly darker and more solemn city, but one with perhaps more culture.


The Cosmopolitan Vibe

It is often agreed that Melbourne has a more European vibe than any other Australian metropolis. Australia is such a young country that it lacks the old buildings typical of Europe. Even so, it retains some of Europe's allure, thanks to its picturesque architecture and cosmopolitan way of life. Sydney residents only vaguely remember the city's hidden laneways, cocktail bars, street art, and 24-hour nightlife. At 4 o'clock in the morning, would you like to have a drink? Melbourne is an option for this. Oh, and Melburnians take their coffee very seriously, making it some of the greatest in the world.

The Sporting Culture

Sport is a huge part of life in Melbourne. Australia's second-largest city, Melbourne, likes to think of itself as the sporting capital of Australia, despite Sydney having no shortage of sporting opportunities. It hosts the sole Formula One race in Australia and the Australian Football League. And, racing course, the Melbourne Cup, which is worth millions. The Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament, held in Melbourne Park in late January, makes the city a hive of activity. A huge crowd of around 500,000 people shows up to watch the tennis matches.



Unlike its northern sibling, Melbourne does not enjoy warm winters or stunning beachfront. Winters last from May until the Spring Racing Carnival in October and, while not as harsh as those in Northern Europe, are nonetheless lengthy and cold. The weather in Melbourne is so unpredictable that the locals have coined the phrase "four season in one day."

Lack Of Nearby Beaches

Port Melbourne and St. Kilda both have beaches 20 to 30 minutes outside of the city centre, but they are not the type of beaches where you would want to spend the day. The sea is murkier and the beach isn't as soft and white. Black Rock and Mount Martha, for example, are at least an hour's journey outside of town.

Where Should You Focus Your Australia Vacation?

Unfortunately, the only absolute answer we can give is that it is dependent on the type of user you are. Let this serve as a very general outline of what various types of tourists might anticipate from a trip to each of these fantastic metropolises.

The Bucket Lister

If you enjoy visiting cities that stun with impressive buildings and other one-of-a-kind attractions, Sydney will fulfil many of your travel needs. Even before you land, you'll be greeted by the magnificent Sydney Harbour, where the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House stand as the city's two most recognisable landmarks. Bondi is a popular beach area that can compete with South Beach, Copacabana, and Venice Beach, and the Sydney Tower provides breathtaking views of the entire area. Sydney's ferries are landmarks in their own right, and they'll transport you to some of harbor's hidden gems. Visiting the city's many famous landmarks might easily occupy many days of a trip to Australia.

Melbourne's landmarks, on the other hand, are less garish. If you've ever dreamed of having supper on an old-fashioned tram, now is your opportunity, since this city has the only operating and widely utilised tram system in Australia. Beautiful ancient theatres, colleges, memorials, and some other heritage buildings in Melbourne have received increased attention and care. Take a stroll down Parliament Street past the Princess Theatre and the Windsor Hotel to witness this for yourself. However, Melbourne lacks any truly "bucket list" activities. The Twelve Apostles are a long day journey along the Great Ocean Way distant, while Phillip Island, where penguins waddle ashore nightly, is close by.

The Sun Seeker

Sydney- When they feel threatened by Melbourne, locals on the side like to bring up the weather. "Four season in one day" has become nearly a slogan for the city of Melbourne. But let's be reasonable, it's still Australia! It's a rare day that goes below 40, so while the locals prefer to complain, winter here is something most North Americans are not really ready for before beginning on an Australia holiday. The arid summer heat, which can approach 45 degrees Celsius, can be a shocking experience. However, this often only occurs on a few days out of the year. Layer up lightly and comfortably because the weather in Melbourne may go from sunny to cool to rainy to windy in a matter of hours, especially during the spring and fall.

The climate of Sydney, Australia, is among the best in the world, with moderate, comfortable winters and warm, muggy summers. It's impossible to find fault with a city that, despite some rain in February and March, boasts beach weather for 8 years of the year. The city, like Melbourne, occasionally experiences days with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius , but these heat waves are brief.

The Culture Vulture

If Sydney likes to poke fun at Melbourne's climate, the latter can always remind its northern rival that it is, without question, Australia's cultural capital. The Sydney Opera House, numerous theatres of varying sizes, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and a number of large and fascinating museums, including the Australian Museum, the Australian Maritime Museum, and the Powerhouse Museum, dedicated to technology, ensure that cultural pursuits in Sydney are never lacking.

The truth is, most of those items are also available in Melbourne, or at least highly regarded alternatives. What you'll find even more so throughout your time in Melbourne is how much of a vital role theatre, art, and entertainment play in the city's daily life. The city invites its citizens to visit the downtown area to enjoy the many new theatre productions, musicals, concerts, and galleries that are always being created there. On top of that, Melbourne gives its artistic community a level of respect rarely seen in Sydney, even supporting street art and graffiti. The city also makes the most of the colder months by hosting various cultural events and attracting significant exhibitions, such as the annual "Winter Masterpieces" show at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. The NGV's collection is so enormous that it has branched off into the Gtl Australia in Federation Square, making the Melbourne Museum the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

The History Buff

Since each Australian state was a colony until 1901, the histories of its respective capital cities are unique. On your Australia holiday, a visit to Old Melbourne Gaol is a definite must.

At the same times, the Shrine of Remembrance is undoubtedly the state's most moving memorial just outside of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Melbourne was also capital of Ireland from 1901 to 1913.

However, in the Rocks area of Sydney, history seems to have been preserved almost perfectly. The Circular Quay waterfront is framed by historic structures that make it easy to picture the area's earliest white residents and convicts. The Hyde Park Barracks are another excellent location from which to gain insight into the colony.

The Foodie

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Enjoy great meals from all over the world's cuisines while on vacation in Australia thanks to the country's mild temperature, which makes it possible to do so in virtually every major city. But then there's Australia's almost unhealthy obsession with coffee.  All the Australian capitals are packed with superb cafes and restaurants, ready to satisfy any appetite.

Melbourne, on the other hand, has turned eating and drinking into a near-violently combative sport. Good food is an integral part of the Melbourne lifestyle, so residents have their go-to spots and are always game to try somewhere new. Brunch in a hidden laneway, affordable eats in the west's oldest Shanghai, classic Italian on Lygon Street, wonderful regional cuisine at one of the capital's ethnic enclaves, or a genuinely innovative twist on a classic pub meal—all are part of what characterises Melbourne, just like great theatre and art. Good food is all over here. Additionally, locals often fight passionately over who serves the best coffee.

The Shopaholic

Australia isn't always the cheapest shopping location, so you should expect to pay more for something unique. The cities of Sydney and Melbourne are up to the task. While the usual high-end stores can be found in and around Martin Place, Newtown's King Street is where you'll want to go for really Sydney-specific bohemian wares. You may perhaps spend some time in the magnificent Queen Victoria Building or stroll the boutiques of Paddington's Oxford Street.

Historically, Melbourne has been home to Australia's grandest department shops, not to mentioning the boutiques of many up-and-coming designers, alongside local brands. Get lost in the city's laneways and you're bound to stumble onto some charming local stores selling clothing, trinkets, and whatever else you would want to remember your time in Australia by. Thanks to its voracious desire for innovation, the city boasts a wide variety of niche brands alongside the more well-known ones.

The Selfie Snapper

Sydney is undeniably one of the world largest most stunning metropolises, boasting some of the world's finest parks, beaches, and other photo ops. The shores of Sydney Harbour are dotted with picturesque vantage points, and the city's famous cliff walks at Watson's Bay and between Bondi and Coogee beaches offer even more. However, a ferry ride or harbour tour offers undoubtedly the greatest perspective of the city.

It's not through lack of effort that Melbourne hasn't been able to find a comparable environment. The city's planners over the years have filled it with lovely parks, and the municipality has made active measures to protect its old architecture. St. Kilda also has its own beach that visitors can enjoy. Be patient and allow its charms grow on you; after all, nothing can compare to the "wow" factor of Bondi Beach or Sydney Harbour.

The Party Animal

Fans of the film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert may have the impression that Sydney nightlife consists solely of glamorous drag queens trash talking a devoted crowd as flashing lights reflect off their shimmering costumes. Some people may be looking for a classy evening, while others may be hoping for a wild and raucous night "up the Cross." The 1990s were, sadly, a different era. The Sydney nightlife scene is currently a hotly debated topic. The city passed severe "lockout" measures a few years ago to reduce alcohol-related violence. However, many Sydneysiders think that the price has been too high, as it has dampened the city's nightlife by forcing the closure of numerous storied watering holes in trendy neighbourhoods like King's Cross and Darlinghurst. North Americans accustomed to "last call" might not understand the big deal, but visitors expecting Sydney, Australia, in the 1990s could be disappointed.

The Day Tripper

If your time in Australia is short, you won't really like to spend it in the big cities. Even yet, this is a massive nation, and travelling all across it to experience "the great outdoors" might be exhausting. Melbourne and Sydney are fortunate to have a wealth of possibilities for day trips, which can come in very handy. The Blue Mountains are the most apparent option for those in Sydney, as they offer stunning scenery and access to some of Australia's most beloved native species. A journey to the Hunter Valley in northern Australia, one of the country's best wine areas, is another option.

Melbourne is protected from the harsh Southern Ocean conditions by its location on Port Phillip Bay. But they're easily approachable, and maybe the finest spot to view them in evidence was more along the Pacific Highway. Over generations, the violent water has moulded and reshaped this harsh coastline, leaving behind stunning layers of rock such as the Twelve Apostles. There may be kangaroos, koalas, and other native species to view along the journey. You may also take a trip to Phillip Island in the south to see the small penguins waddle onto the beach every day at sunset. There is a vast selection of animal reserves here, meanwhile, making Phillip Isle a terrific place for nature lovers of any kind.


Sydney is the largest and most well-known city in all of Australia. The Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are two of the city's most recognisable landmarks. In the height of summer, temperatures can soar to 107 degrees, although the city's winters are warmer than those of nearby Melbourne. By a narrow margin, Melbourne is Australia's second-largest city. In 2014, the city council enacted tight lockout regulations, virtually putting an end to the city's nightlife.

Its gorgeous buildings and international culture give it an air of European charm. Port Melbourne and St. Kilda both have beaches 20 to 30 minutes outside of the city centre, but they are not the type of beaches where you would want to spend the day. South Beach, Copacabana, and Venice Beach have some serious competition in Bondi. Melbourne's "four seasons in one day" phenomenon has grown so commonplace that it may be used as a slogan. Sydney has one of the nicest climates in the world, with mild and pleasant winters and hot and steamy summers.

In spite of the fact that it rains in Sydney in the months of February and March, the city nevertheless enjoys beach weather for eight months out of the year. The National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image are both based in Melbourne. Due to the sheer size of its holdings, the NGV has opened the Gtl Australia at Federation Square. Hyde Park Barracks, the Shrine of Remembrance, and Old Melbourne Gaol should not be missed. Good cuisine is a vital aspect of the Melbourne lifestyle, so inhabitants have their go-to spots.

If you wander the city's alleys long enough, you're sure to find some quaint shops. Taking a ferry ride or harbour tour is the best way to take in the cityscape. The present argument centres on the Sydney nightlife. Those in Sydney can easily visit the Blue Mountains. If you're a fan of nature, you'll appreciate Phillip Isle. Thanks to its position on Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne is shielded from the icy waters of the Southern Ocean.

Content Summary

  • Pros Tourist Attractions The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House are two of the city's most recognisable landmarks, among many more.
  • Even though Sydney is home to a plethora of athletic events and venues, Australia's second-largest city, Melbourne, likes to think of itself as the sporting capital of Australia.
  • Although the beaches in Port Melbourne and St. Kilda are just around twenty to thirty minutes from the city centre, they are not the kind of beaches where you would want to spend the day.
  • Sydney has many of the things you could want out of a vacation if you like visiting cities that impress with their magnificent architecture and other unique attractions.
  • Melbourne weather, especially in the spring and fall, may rapidly change, so it's best to pack light and comfortable layers in case the weather takes a turn for the unexpected.
  • Sydney, Australia has one of the world's nicest climates, with mild, pleasant winters and hot, sticky summers.
  • Occasionally, the city, like Melbourne, will see days with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, although these heat waves usually don't last long.
  • As your stay in Melbourne progresses, you'll learn even more about the central role that the performing arts play in the lives of Melburnians.
  • Each capital city in Australia has a distinct history due to the fact that each state was a colony until 1901.
  • On your Australia holiday, a visit to Old Melbourne Gaol is a definite must.
  • Australia's two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, can handle it.
  • Unfortunately, the '90s were a different time.
  • There is a lot of discussion happening right now about the Sydney club scene.
  • Melbourne and Sydney residents have easy access to a wide variety of day travel options.

FAQs About Melbourne And Sydney

According to Expatistan, an online cost of living calculator, the cost of living in Melbourne is almost 5% less than the cost of living in Sydney. Travelling in Melbourne is also approximately 4% cheaper than in Sydney.

Whilst Melbourne has great beaches in the surrounding area, including those along the famous Great Ocean Road, Sydney is just over two hours from the beach with the whitest sand in the world (truly, it's in the Book of Guinness World Records).

Sydney has overtaken Melbourne as the safer Australian city in new rankings, though both can lay claim to being among the safest cities in the world. Sydney outranked Melbourne on two measures, including personal security (86.8 to 89.1) and health security (79.3 to 79.8).

Sydney's coastline is better than Melbourne by far. Its beaches are renowned for their beauty. Sydney has at least 100 beaches, unlike Melbourne, which has fewer. Melbourne has some nice beaches, too, but it takes a lot of travelling to get to the decent ones.

Melbourne tends to get more hot and cold summer extremes, while Sydney's daily top temp is more constant (at least in coastal areas where its "official" Observatory Hill weather station is located), but it all more or less evens out. Sydney's average daily max is around three degrees warmer than Melbourne's all winter.

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