Sydney vs Melbourne: which is the better city?
Sydney vs Melbourne. There can only be one clear winner… right? Read on to find out the pros and cons of each place and discover which of Australia’s two biggest cities comes out on top.
Melbourne vs Sydney. It seems everyone has an opinion on which is the better city.
These two cities are so different, it can be difficult to know which one to prioritise when your time in Australia is limited.
Plus, which is the better city to live in?
Look, not to brag or anything, but I am in a good position to settle this debate. I grew up in Sydney, but I’ve lived in Melbourne for over five years.
Melbourne’s got plenty of fans, both across Australia and worldwide. On the other hand, everyone loves to dump on Sydney. Rude.
Is Sydney better than Melbourne?
Maybe it is.
Maybe it isn’t.
Read on to find out.
Which is better: Sydney or Melbourne?
This is how this article will play out.
We’ll go through a few different topics and decide which is the winner: Melbourne or Sydney.
Sometimes, there may not be an obvious winner. This reasons why will be made clear.
Whether you’re travelling to either city, looking to relocate or simply curious, read on to find out the differences between Sydney and Melbourne.
This guide to whether Sydney is better than Melbourne will cover:
Is it easier to get around Melbourne or Sydney?
There is a bit of a myth outside of Victoria that Melbourne has really great public transport.
Yeah, it’s okay… for Australia, which as a car-centric country, has a pretty low bar to begin with.
And look, I think the trams that run around Melbourne’s city centre are pretty fab.
They’re free, for one thing. Some of them are air conditioned now, which is great.
It’s really handy to just head to Collins or Bourke Street, jump on a tram and get to the other side of the city in around ten minutes.
Outside of the city, things kinda turn into a mess.
Melbourne’s trains are a nightmare. They’re expensive, they’re crowded (pre-pandemic) and they switch direction around Melbourne’s city loop at lunchtime, which is super confusing if you’re new to the city.
The transport links in the inner-neighbourhoods are also very silly.
Here’s an example. It takes 12 mins to travel from Flemington to Fitzroy by car. As there’s no direct train or tram between the two suburbs, it’s over an hour by public transport.
Plus, Sydney has a train line out to its airport. Melbourne doesn’t. HOW A MAJOR CITY HAS NO AIRPORT LINK TO ITS CENTRE is beyond me.
Sure, you can catch Melbourne’s Skybus, but if you’re running late and get stuck in bad traffic… uh oh.
Plus, you have to go into the city to jump on the bus. Great if you’re a traveller or live south of the city. Annoying for locals.
On the flip side, in Sydney you catch a train to Central Station and then another, which gets you to the airport in two stops.
People complain regularly about the price of the ticket, because you only go a short distance.
They are missing the point. You go two stops and you are at the airport.
Melbourne will one day have a train line out to its airport. Yet it’s 2022 at the time of writing and we are still waiting.
New to Sydney? Here are some tips for successfully navigating Sydney’s Airport line.
The winner is… Sydney
What’s the difference between Sydney and Melbourne’s roads?
I’ve heard people talk negatively about Sydney’s “spaghetti street mess”, but I find the city quite easy to get around.
Everything is clearly labelled and you don’t have to deal with trams, hook turns or anything else of the sort.
Melbourne’s grid is delightfully easy to navigate through, but once you get out into the ‘burbs, it’s a mess.
Trams intersect roundabouts, hook turns terrify anyone who’s never had to take one before and weirdly, lines on the road often don’t marry up when you go across intersections, causing everyone to drive into the wrong lanes.
Overall, Sydney is a city where everyone is resigned to driving around.
Melbourne has sort of half-heartedly tried to do the public transport thing and is now seemingly stuck between the two.
The winner is… Sydney
Does Melbourne or Sydney have better weather?
Melbourne’s weather gets a bad rap… four seasons in one day and all that jazz.
For me, this is the thing I really like about Melbourne. That it has seasons, because it has a winter.
It does get a bit grey and blustery at times, but equally, you can be rewarded with some really lovely, blue-skied days.
Melbourne’s warmer months tend to not be as extreme as other parts of the country, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t get hot days.
The only difference is the heat can dissipate quite suddenly – I’ve experienced it dropping from 42 degrees Celsius, to 19 degrees in half an hour!
Being further north, Sydney has warmer temperatures that are more sustained. The winters are mild and rather lovely.
It does however rain a whole lot more in Sydney and is more humid than Melbourne, which has more of a dry heat.
Essentially, if you like sustained heat, but can roll with rainy days, you’ll like Sydney’s weather.
If you don’t mind the cold so much, Melbourne may be more your jam.
The winner is… tied (based on your personal preference)
Sydney vs Melbourne: What city has better beaches?
Here’s a clear winner in the Melbourne vs Sydney debate – Sydney’s coastline trumps Melbourne’s, big time.
The city is home to some of the finest beaches in the world and there are stacks of places where you can have a little paddle or laze around in the sunshine. Over a 100 in fact.
Only a few are really popular with tourists as well (Bondi, Coogee and Manly notably), so you won’t necessarily find yourself battling the crowds.
There are also some fantastic coastal walks to be found in Sydney.
Melburnians aren’t quite so lucky. There are some nice enough beaches along the Mornington Peninsula and holy crud, is the Great Ocean Road’s coastline gorgeous, or what?
But if you’re coming from the city, you have to travel a whole lot further to get to a decent beach. Not to mention that the water is a heck ton colder down south.
I’m sorry but St Kilda Beach doesn’t quite cut it.
The winner is… Sydney
Melbourne vs Sydney: Which of the two cities has a better vibe?
When people make the argument of Melbourne just being “cooler” than Sydney, I will reply by yelling something along the lines of “SYDNEY IS COOL TOO, IT JUST DOESN’T FEEL THE NEED TO REMIND YOU OF THAT FACT EVERY FIVE SECONDS.”
What I’ve always liked about Sydney, is that it is a city for the locals.
You really do have to be in the know to in turn, know where to go.
When one neighbourhood starts to get super trendy among visitors, there’s always another waiting in line to slide into its spot.
However and this is an observation as someone who has essentially grown up in Sydney – development has changed the city irrevocably over the last few decades and I’m not sure it’s been entirely for the best.
Look to the city and see the loss of icons such as the IMAX theatre, the building of the Bennelong Apartments along on Sydney Harbour, which locals refer to as “the Toasters” with great derision and the somewhat barmy decision to allow Racing Australia to beam advertising on the Opera House, a space that belongs to the public.
It makes Sydney seem a little bit soulless at times.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s rampant development going on in Melbourne too.
However, from a somewhat outsider’s perspective, it does feel as though Melbourne has managed to maintain its vibe, its quirks and it sense of self.
Whether that continues to be the case, only time will tell.
The winner is… tied
What about each city’s inner neighbourhoods?
Ooooh this one is tough.
Sydney definitely feels like a city divided. North, south, east, west, inner-city, far-west… everywhere has a different vibe to it for sure.
It can feel like a different world, travelling over the bridge from its leafy northern suburbs to the vibrant inner-west.
However, there is something about Melbourne’s neighbourhoods, where you move a postcode and there’s a whole different feel to a place.
And usually an array of interesting boutique shops, vibrant street art and the most delicious cafes and restaurants to explore.
The winner is… Melbourne
Which city has the icons?
I’ve never, ever heard anyone say: “I’ve always wanted to travel to Australia to see Flinders Street Station, the St Kilda Pavilion or Federation Square!”
Nope. If it’s not Uluru, it’s Bondi Beach, the Harbour Bridge or the Sydney Opera House.
It seems that every part of Sydney is Instagrammable. It’s a photographer’s dream.
Melbourne’s cityscape is lovely in its own right and it has done a better job of preserving some of its nicest architecture.
Plus people do travel to Melbourne just to see colourful beach boxes on the Mornington Peninsula or fairy penguins waddle in for the night on Phillip Island.
Yet, Sydney has the internationally recognisable attractions. No argument there.
The winner is… Sydney
Sydney vs Melbourne: Which city has a better culture?
Traditionally, Melbourne is the culture capital of Australia and if we’re going to get a world-class exhibition, theatre show or musical of some description, Melbourne is where you’d have to travel to to see it.
The tide does seem to be turning a little bit, with the occasional cool thing coming to Sydney (although sometimes, it’ll be years after Melbourne has hosted it!).
However, if you’re a culture vulture, Melbourne is the place to be.
The winner is… Melbourne
Which city is best for sports fans?
Oof this is a tough one, as Australians love their sport.
Even as an art and nature loving musical theatre book nerd, I enjoy going to see a game of the sports, especially if I get a hot dog or pie as part of the deal.
Sydney plays host to many sporting events – who can forget the 2000 Olympics?
There’s rugby union, soccer and rugby league fans across the state of NSW, who are more than passionate about their chosen code of sport and teams.
That being said, NSW and Queensland are largely rugby league territory.
The rest of the country is absolutely mad for a homegrown sport called ‘Australian Rules football’, a type of footy that is played on a modified cricket ground.
Also known as Aussie Rules, the headquarters for the code (the AFL) is located in Melbourne. The AFL Grand Final has traditionally taken place here, with only the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting this long-held tradition and giving Perth and Brisbane reasons to gloat.
Plus Melbourne hosts the F1 Australian Grand Prix, the Australian Open, the Melbourne Cup (horse racing, yuck) and cricket’s Boxing Day Test Match.
So, is Melbourne better than Sydney for the sports?
I’d say Melbourne is a clear winner, although sport is pretty much worshiped Australia-wide.
The winner is… Melbourne
Which city is best for foodies?
Honestly, both Melbourne and Sydney have exemplary food scenes, within and outside their city centres.
I will say, having spent time living in both cities, I have probably had more bad meals in Sydney than I have Melbourne.
Melbourne takes its food scene seriously. You can have some damn good (and damn expensive) meals within the CBD, but also eat well at the city’s surrounding neighbourhoods.
Yet, you can easily feast on a budget, for around $15, if you know where to go.
Although there’s nothing like having brunch by the beach. Please see my aforementioned point about Sydney’s beach scene and you’ll understand.
The winner is… Melbourne
Which city has the best nightlife?
Years ago, you could actually have a good night out in Sydney. Ah. Them were the days.
However, the NSW government in a knee-jerk reaction to two sad deaths resulting from “king hits” (punches to the head) in the popular nightlife suburb of Kings Cross, simply shut the area down.
Much easier than looking to solutions for the root cause of the violence, I guess!
This forced many small businesses in the area to close and had a ripple effect across the city, with patrons of Kings Cross choosing to take their nights out elsewhere, such as the suburbs of Newtown and Coogee.
Sydney’s CBD consequently feels sad and empty in the hours after dark.
Not Melbourne however, which is known for its pulsating nightlife, hip, trendy and secret bars and general frivolity. If you like to party, Melbourne is the place to be.
These laws have now been lifted, but shutting down an international city was a weird move to begin with.
Melbourne is far better known for its 24 hour revelry.
That being said, you want to party on New Years Eve?
Sydney is a top place in the world to see in the New Year.
The winner is… Melbourne
Melbourne vs Sydney: Which is better for day trips?
In Sydney, you can hop on a train north for day trips to the Central Coast, Lake Macquarie and Maitland and Newcastle.
Head out west and you’re in the phenomenally pretty Blue Mountains.
South will take you to places like Royal National Park and Wollongong. These are all very nice options.
Melbourne however, is train or driving distance from a lot of different experiences.
You can go to the Yarra Valley for wine.
The Dandenong Ranges for mountain fun.
Phillip Island for wildlife and nature.
The Mornington or Bellarine Peninsula for beaches and food.
The cities of Geelong, Bendigo or Ballarat for a day trip to a really nice coastal city. And there’s plenty of other great weekend getaways from Melbourne to explore.
You can even do a manageable day trip to the snow, in the cooler seasons.
The winner is… Melbourne
Which city is more expensive to live in?
Pre-COVID, I would have said without hesitation, that living in Sydney is more painful for your hip pocket.
Now, I’m not so sure.
Despite being locked down for almost a year, housing prices in Melbourne shot up, making Australia’s second largest city almost as pricey to live in.
If I were forced to pick, I’d still say Sydney is more expensive, particularly looking at my own personal circumstances in Melbourne.
Yet, I don’t think it will take that long for Melbs to catch up.
Honestly, Australia in general is just a ridiculous place to travel and live in, as far as expenses go.
The winner is… tied. They are both rudely the worst for your wallet.
Which is the more attractive city?
Whenever I was in a stink with the city or life in general, I would simply have to train it to Circular Quay and take one look at Sydney Harbour.
Then I’d realise Oh yeah, I live here. This is my home, and all my worries would fade away.
I consider myself sort of well-travelled and I’m yet to step foot in a city as beautiful as Sydney.
Melbourne is not ugly by any means. There’s some lovely buildings and its street art scene gives it a really funky, grungy sort of vibe.
But building a city around one of the loveliest natural harbours in the world? That’s a hard one to beat.
The winner is… Sydney
Do Australians tend to prefer Sydney or Melbourne?
I find it interesting to hear other Australians talk about the country’s two big cities.
Sydneysiders tend to really like Melbourne. I know when I lived there, I loved taking trips down south to visit the city and many of my friends felt the same way.
Yet this doesn’t seem to be reciprocated. Many Melburnians seem to really hate on Sydney.
I don’t know whether Melbourne has just developed a complex while Sydney got a lot of international attention, but sometimes I get the vibe it has something to prove, perhaps as a younger city.
Sydney doesn’t seem to feel that need.
Outside of Victoria and NSW?
Well, people in other big cities seem to have a preference, but it runs both ways.
For example, I have a lot of friends in Perth and I’d say sentiment is divided.
Regionally, people seem to hate both cities so… that’s that, I guess!
Is Sydney better than Melbourne?
Sydney wins for its transport, roads, beaches, icons and overall attractiveness.
Personally, I think you can have a very good lifestyle in Sydney. The beaches are great, there’s loads of fantastic nature close by and it’s very easy to be fit and healthy in this city.
However, in tallying up the results here, it seems Melbourne just has the edge over Sydney.
So… is Melbourne better than Sydney?
Melbourne is good for culture, sport, food, nightlife and day trips.
Yet, Sydney’s weather is more consistent, the beaches are nowhere near as good (thankfully there’s plenty of other ways to spend a summer weekend in Melbourne) and the transport links to the airport kinda suck.
Sydney vs Melbourne: Who wins?
So, which is better? Melbourne or Sydney?
All in all, I really think it comes down to personal preference.
They’re both fantastic cities in their own right. And there are aspects to them that make them really difficult to visit or live in.
Having spent years living in both, I prefer life in Melbourne, but I can’t deny I had some good times in Sydney as well.
So, it’s up to you. Hopefully this article has helped you decide which city you’d prefer visiting – or even living in.
If you’re planning a trip to Melbourne soon, check out my week long itinerary, which can be adapted to suit any amount of time you spend in the city.
Melbourne vs Sydney – which side are you on? Do you have a favourite between Australia’s two biggest cities?
Great article:! I went to both cities and enjoyed both of them, Sydney has some great beaches and I particularly enjoyed the rock swimming pools, I am not sure about the nightlife however, I think Melbourne might just have the edge on that front:)
It definitely does. I used to have an amazing time going out in Sydney when I was 18, but the lockout laws have destroyed the nightlife (along with the suburbs of Kings Cross, Newtown and Coogee in general).
I love both cities… I am from Marvellous Melbourne but lucky to call the Northern Beaches in Sydney home for now… I pretty much agree with all the points… Although an airport link which cost 20$ to ride for four stops one way not exactly a stand out…lol
Not a stand out but better than either having to pay for a $16 bus, a $30 (off-peak) rideshare or airport parking! Haha.
Ah, my blood’s boiling! 😉 Great post, so controversial and yet, you’ve got so many terrific points! I’ve always thought that everybody loves Sydney and not Melbourne – at least that’s where all the tourists go??
It took me years to adjust to the sports madness in Melbourne and now I miss it like crazy! I used to hate AFL and now I have withdrawal symptoms (admittedly, I only started liking it after going to a game at the MCG with a roaring crowd of almost 90,000 – that was an unreal event!).
I do agree that Sydney is stunning, it’s such a brilliant city to explore as a visitor, it’s exciting, it’s beautiful, it’s got so much to offer. I’ve always thought of Melbourne being much more laid back and a great “livable” city but not nearly half as exciting as Sydney. I loved living in Melbourne but always found Sydney a thrilling place to visit. The only other Australian city that rivals Sydney in terms of natural beauty is Hobart, I think. It’s such a gorgeous city (town? 🙂 ).
But Sydney being easier to drive around, hm, yeah, no. Definitely not. 😀 Melbourne drivers are aggressive, agreed, you have to get used to that but those one-way streets and these insanely narrow roads in Sydney (thinking towards Bondi or Coogee)… Gee, makes my heart stop with dread just thinking about driving there.
Totally agree about the airport link though – hard to believe that Melbourne still hasn’t managed that! But then again, I find PT in Australia pretty shocking in general!
Oh, and here’s one thing that I think Melbourne is awesome for: Bike riding! There are so many bike trails around the city and suburbs, including the absolutely fabulous Capital City Trail! I’ve spent so many weekends on my bike exploring suburbs and areas I’d never visit otherwise.
Haha, glad you liked it! I was wondering what your take on it would be as a passionate Melburnian. Yeah, the bike scene in Melbourne is a lot better, but I think Sydney is getting there! Where I lived had some great bike paths that led you straight to Centennial Park. More of that would be good.
We’ll have to disagree on the driving part! I guess it all comes down to what you’re used to. The one-way streets didn’t bother me much and I found the narrow lanes good practice for driving in the UK and Ireland. Whereas the aggression and trams are quite stressful – and the constant roadblocks along the motorways, although I never see anyone actually doing any work there! Argh! And yeah, the PT countrywide is pathetic. Just yesterday I had a train stop at the station, NOT OPEN ITS DOORS, then take off, without letting anyone on or off. And then it’s not like there’s another one just around the corner either, which was the consolation when the trains did insane stuff in London.
Interesting, the perspective of people abroad loving Sydney more than Melbourne, too. I’ve had so many people ask me where I’m from and then proceed to tell me how they like Melbourne so much better… I have to then patiently explain that they’re very different places indeed. And that despite the title of this post, it’s not a competition. I love them both. 🙂
I love this. And I totally agree. I am from Europe and the first time I came to Australia was to Sydney. I fell in love with it instantly. Now I am married to a Melbournian and have lived in Melbourne for 11 years and I hate hearing all the “Melbourne is so much better” arguments. I was told you’ll see you will love Melbourne and prefer it to Sydney. Melbourne is nice I don’t disagree either. But Sydney is still my favourite by far. Just came back from a weekend there and even in winter I loved it. The train to the city was definitely a winner especially since it took us 2 hours of being stuck in traffic to get to the airport in Melbourne! The beaches I agree are much better and so are the coastal walks. The harbour is what stole my heart. Just incredibly beautiful. More expensive to live, well of course it would be. Prettier things are always more expensive aren’t they?? Yes, when it comes to coffee Melbourne wins… I am a coffee drinker…
Wonderful to hear from another fan of Sydney, Cindy! That’s really the thing though, that both cities offer up entirely different Australian experiences. And neither is any better or worse than the other… they’re just different!
To be honest, I don’t think it will be too long until Melbs is as expensive to live in as Sydney… it doesn’t seem all that far behind!
And yeah, they really need to sort out this train business, two hours is ridiculous! The state govt has quite odd priorities.
Similar debates break out in New Zealand about the individual merits of Auckland vs Wellington! I love Sydney for it’s access via public transport, brunch culture, beaches, climate and lifestyle but it is a BIG, sprawling city. Melbourne seems to have a bit more heart and culture.
Haha, yeah Sydney is the very definition of urban sprawl. I haven’t actually been to NZ (bad Australian) but I’ve heard that Auckland is much like Syd and Wellington Melbs. Am quite keen to pop over there one day (soon!) to see if this is the case.
I didn’t realise that about 7. nature is more accessible in Sydney! Driving in Sydney CBD is so stressful, but driving in Melbourne CBD wasn’t that much better (I got really confused about the right turn lane being not where I thought it would be).
I am honestly a little tired of the whole Sydney vs Melbourne debate, more so about the people who are so passionate about it. At the end of the day, each city has it’s pros and cons, everyone has their own tastes and it isn’t that one is worse than the other, it is simply different.
You and me both. I was so sick of hearing about how much better Melbs is whilst abroad and it’s annoying to constantly hear it now I live here. I wrote this because I had a snap moment, but I like both of the cities because they each offer something different. That being said, Sydney is home and I’ll defend it to my death (and probably slag it off in equal measures, origin rights).
As always great post, LC! Although, I think I have to disagree with you on the “better manners” of Sydney drivers part. What part of Sydney did you used to live in? It must be on the other side of the bridge to where I live 😉 Road rage is rife and until I bought a larger car I was ALWAYS cut off by people abusing the gap I’d leave to the car in front of me and giving me the finger was a common occurrence unless I let them in, especially when they were in the wrong (-_-) Pretty soon we’ll be dealing with trams in our CBD too, George Street is a mess!
Thanks Alyse! I grew up in Eastwood and then lived in the Inner West and often drove out to Parramatta with no issues. How about you? I always thought people were better behaved in the city than where I lived in the countryside, haha. Lots of aggressive driving and tailgating there. Dickheads are everywhere though – especially on the roads. George St is a shambles and the question no one is asking – where are people now going to drive their hotted up cars on a Saturday night?! ?
Ah yes, that’s why! I grew up in the south (St George area) and it’s pretty different down that way, especially when you have to venture into the south-west ? I think everyone is grumpy in those parts because they’re enclosed by the airport, Port Botany, Georges River and the M5 – lots of obstacles make getting anywhere pretty tricky. But you’re certainly right, dickheads can be found everywhere! Haha yes, I wonder where all those cars have gone now?? ?
Oh yeah, different worlds for us both, I expect! The furthest south I’ve been in years is Coogee ? They’ll have found some new territory to cause a ruckus in – of that I have no doubt!
Hahaha love this! I mean I still disagree but I appreciate the attempt to persuade people otherwise 😉 and I think Brighton beach in Melbs is pretty nice!
Haha! Like I said, I am stalker level obsessed with Melbourne and live there now too. Someone’s gotta root for good old Sydders though… Brighton is nice, a lot easier on the eye than St Kilda, for sure!
I’m an ‘each way bet’ kinda gal … I’ve spent a lot of time in Sydney, and not so much in Melbourne – but that’s not a deliberate thing, just how life has panned out. But I like each of the cities for different things – so I don’t actually need to choose a favourite 😀 But now I think I’ll go back to Sydney and check out some of the things I missed!!
I don’t have a favourite either – I love them both, think they’re such different cities too and they’re so hard to compare. Although both have really crappy public transport, but I guess that is an Aussie thing!
Haha – great post! David, my other half, will love you for this. He is firmly convinced that Melbourne does not hold a candle to Sydney. Personally I quite like Melbourne, but I LOVE Sydney.
Thanks Lyn! I’m glad you both agree. I love both cities an awful lot, but still stand by everything I’ve written. Sydney is so, so beautiful. There’s no place on earth like it.
I came across this article by mistake and think its great. I grew up in Sydney and had no idea about the Syd vs Melb thing until my boyfriend and his flatmate (both from down south) started bagging Sydney a few years ago. I was stunned! I was like “but this is SYDNEY – are you complaining about the wrong city? How could anyone compare it to another Australian city, when they are all backwards and unknown?” (OK, this thinking didn’t go down well with them, but I very honestly and naively thought that, as do a lot of fellow Sydneysiders I know!). Since then, I have spent some time down south with my partner for family reunions and the like, and while Melbourne does have its appeal, I can’t see how it could every serious compete with or compare to Sydney. I do constantly get told how great Melbourne is when someone discovers I’m from Sydney, and I just smile and nod…(the whole scenario repeated over and over is akin to an overlooked middle child, insecure in her status, believing if she just says something enough that people will believe it and pay attention).
People down there say “all you have is a harbor but no culture!” – “You’r city is so badly designed” – “You’re all so shallow/racist (insert whatever)”. They’ve never experienced bohemian Newtown, toured the amazing Victorian streets of Stanmore & Leichhardt & Balmain, had brunch on the beach in Clovely, ect. and the vacuousness of such statements really reflects badly on those who say it. I’ll never understand the defensiveness of Melbournians; Brisbane is another second tier city (not my designation – it’s on the BCC website) and Brisbanites don’t have the same need to criticise other places..
Melbourne is lovely but I think saying it is ‘better’ than Sydney is a tad exaggerated.
Thanks Eliza – I’m glad to hear it’s a happy mistake! Like you, I was gobsmacked to hear people constantly compare the two cities and particularly talk down on Syd. I’ve loved Melbourne since I first stepped foot in it, but I would never, ever dream of comparing it to Sydney (well, before I wrote this post!). They’re two entirely different places. You can’t compare them. They each have their positives and negatives (except I will say the public transport situation in both is woeful – Syd just wins that one for me due to the airport train link).
Sydney is one of the most beautiful places, if not THE most beautiful city I have ever seen and I cherish every single year I spent living there. I agree, most people just see Sydney is a pretty harbour and not much else is to their own detriment. At least every one of us who has called it home at some point knows just how special it is.
I think most Sydneysiders put Melbourne down and not vice versa and what bugs me is they spend most of their time blaming Melbourne when it is Sydney that has the inferiority complex. The Sydney media spends huge lengths to belittle Melbourne calling it bleak city, the rust belt, rainy city etc. The Melbourne media hardly ever mention Sydney apart from the occasional sin city. Sydneysiders inparticuler the media put Melbourne down because they consider themselves to be Australia’s only world city (self proclaimed by the way which is a bit of a wank) To be a world city, the city should be the cultural capital, the culinary capital and be home to the Australian Open, Aust Grand Prix (motor and motor bike) Aust Masters golf, the Melbourne Spring Carnival, the largest sporting event the AFL, and clearly Sydney is none of these so how they can prattle on about being a global city without any of the above is absolutely beyond me. Sydney’s winter is milder but Melbourne’s Autumn is sublime whereas it rains constantly in Sydney. How you can say it is easier to get around Sydney by car blows me away, Melbourne’s freeway system is one of the best in the world and when finished will be sensational. The city centre of Melbourne with its beautiful heritage buildings is much nicer than Sydney. Anyway as you can see I disagree with everything you say as you have written the article as a Sydney loving person which shows you bias I DO ACCEPT AROUND THE HARBOUR SYDNEY IS MORE VISABLY IMPRESSIVE BUT THAT IS WHERE IT ALL STOPS
You mustn’t have read the entire intro of the article where I say I live in and love Melbourne and write it creepy love letters, along with the fact that the entire article is all in good fun. And I maintain that Melbourne’s roads are insane and blame the trams. Chill, John.
If Melb was more international than sydney, why does sydney get way more international visitors – nearly twice as many as melb? Truth is that the Vic govt artificially props up the city with events. Sydney is the premier historical, business and tourism centre of Australia. I think melbournians are ultra sensitive. We never think about melbourne outside of the cup and a few other events. We generally like melbourne. Melbournians, in the other hand, have a deep seated resentment towards Sydney.
Sydney is a beautiful vivacious blonde extrovert who is fun in a Elle McPherson bikini you enjoy one night stand with while Melbourne is a beautiful elegant brunette introvert with more depth in a Christian Dior dress you end up marrying.
Good analogy! As a woman, I’d say Sydney is the flashy musician you love to be seen with in all the right places and once you move past your dating asshole phase, you eventually bring the cute fellow you chat to in the work lunchroom home from Melbourne to meet your Mum.
Good points. To me, one city is better than the other is subjective. You can have a long list of attractions in Melbourne as well, though the weather is slightly less than desirable (point taken). I like to visit Sydney on vacations but prefer to live in Melbourne (for now). After all, it has taken the top spots for the world’s most liveable city. 🙂
Totally agree and was definitely the point I was trying to make – all cities have their good points and bad points. One can’t just dismiss one city as being crap, it’s more that it’s just not for you. I love Sydney but not so quietly prefer living in Melbs too!
I’m a born and bred Melbournian. I’m in Sydney right now on a little getaway, and now I want to move here. It is way better. There is no contest, the contest is over, Sydney won, always has, always will. I never considered moving here because I stupidly believed all the negative comments everyone made, “it’s too expensive” “there is no culture” “the roads are terrible”, etc etc. I am starting to realise that everyone is just plain jealous of Sydney, and rightly so, it is amazing here. As I have just turned 30 and am becoming a little bit more wiser, I’ve learnt to make my own judgements and not listen to peoples silly jealous opinions. I kind of regret spending my 20s in Melbourne, they would of been better spent in Sydney. I don’t know why I spent that long of my life in Melbourne, I don’t drink coffee, don’t fancy AFL, and I love a good beach with WARM water. I guess I am living and learning. Looking for a place in Sydney to live now. Wish me luck! A new, BETTER life awaits me. Cheerio! ?
I actually read your comment when I was in Sydney too, walking around and wondering why I moved away, haha. But… I love Melbourne a lot, it’s still new and exciting for me. HOWEVER I do wish you all the best and hope your life there is the stuff of dreams, Ben!
What do you mean ‘Melbourne always comes out on top’ Whatever article I read it’s just sydneysiders hating on melbournians bc of our river apparently(?) it just makes me sad to see so many people calling my home bleak and boring, come visit and maybe you’ll realise we have so much culture to offer.
Who cares what anyone else thinks, Alex? Clearly you believe it’s a great city and that’s all that matters. And I live in Melbourne too and wholeheartedly agree. Both cities offer different things and that’s all this article is suggesting.
Have to disagree on a few points… it’s much easier to drive around the Melbourne CBD. It’s a grid. Sydney is street soup. And the cab drivers in Sydney are crazy. Speed freaks, and just scary. Never experienced anything like it when I caught a cab. What an horrendous experience.
Sydney is a little on the tacky side. An overall feel. You have dreadful shock jocks, a very seedy area right near your CBD, and rugby is not exactly a refined game. Plus all the tacky RSL clubs associated with rugby clubs are pretty ordinary.
The best thing is Sydney Harbour, but once you leave that spectacular view, the inner belly is not so attractive.
Eh, I’m drawing on my experience of living for more than five years in each city. Both of the cities are wonderful in many, different ways. There are negative aspects to both as well.
To be honest, the comments you’ve made about Sydney are ones I hear regularly from those who either haven’t spent much time there or just don’t know it very well. Admittedly gets on my goat a little bit, as it’s not enough to write a city off entirely.
I drive regularly in Melbourne and I stand by my original comments. Melbourne’s CBD is easily navigable (besides the hook turns) but the same can’t be said once you get out into the suburbs where people are VERY aggressive and the trams do baffling things to the roads!
Going to NZ and Australia this next year..Very good information ..Thank you!!..
Glad it’s helpful, have a wonderful time!
I live in Melbourne…and you guys in Sydney are so lucky the place has not been ruined by stupid Daniel Andrew’s labor party. Melbourne is a terrible place to live in today if you care about safety, I would rather move to Sydney if possible…
This could be said about either state government, they’re not going to be popular with everyone!
Great write up!
I’m an American visiting whose lived abroad in 5 countries over the past 9 years.
I’d definitely say that Sydney is by far one of the best beach cities to live in.
Generally great weather.
Amazing yachts and coastlines.
But i think the city seems a bit culture-less.
The arts are almost non existent in Sydney.
And for shopping it’s 2 out of 10.
There’s the big flagship stores (Prada, Acne, Uniqlo, h&m (yuck!) in the CDB but everything else is not even mentionable.
Country Road, Rip Curl… I digress.
Chinatown is the only thing that’s open after 6pm in Sydney. Or it feels that way.
I think Melbourne is small but the vibes are there. 100%
I don’t think Newtown cool. It’s a bit tasteless and “hip” for Sydney but not cool. Just hip compared to the rest of Sydney.
I honestly don’t know anywhere in Sydney that’s cool to hang. Maybe Bondi but then that’s another story.
Yachts, wearing all white on the weekend, tanning, nice bars and backpackers.
Sydney seems a bit Anglo centered. And it comes off pretentious. For no reason.
Honestly both cities have their pros and cons.
Sydney is clean (for Aussie standards.) Singapore is clean. Tokyo is clean.
Melbourne is a bit more grungy. (Gives it character similar to the most popular cities … NYC, London , Paris, HongKong…)
Basically if you want a white collar job, make money, go home at 5pm and sleep by 8pm weekly — and on the weekend go to the beach and roast- Sydney is the way to go.
If you want to be inspired , meet inspiring people, love music, love culture, have enlightening conversations (with substance) and night life… Melbourne is the way to go.
Also Melbs transport is waaaayyyy better than Sydney. Melbourne is more livable. But less nature.
By the way. I lived in Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney and I’m from the States!
Also Sydney is great for anything outdoor and healthy lifestyles.
Food … Melbourne all day.
The last note, I find it that Sydney people are a bit pseudo, not as bad as LA (Hollywood).
Everyone that works in Sydney seems like they are filling a job or position. They don’t seem like they are passionate about their work. It’s just a job that pays bills and buys whatever they need! (okay I’m on a rant! Only partially true in some industries)
Also making friends in “cliqkie” Sydney is hard.
A question to the writer.
If Melbourne has Sydney weather, which would be better?
I’m just giving my own opinion.
As a few people mentioned each city is for different types of people.
Thanks for your comment! Honestly, I stand by the fact that it’s based entirely up to individual. I actually don’t mind Melbourne’s weather because I hate the heat! And I believe Sydney experiences more annual rainfall overall – it’s just very windy here in Melbs.
Both cities offer up different experiences and have their own appeal. So yeah, as to which one is better – I truly don’t have an answer! I just know I prefer living in Melbourne, for where I’m at at this point in my life. 🙂
C’mon… Melbourne is not in the same conversation as Sydney, let alone NYC, HK etc. I totally agree with LC, Sydney has pockets of cool with no need to shove it in your face. Newtown, Glebe, Erskinville, Balmain, Surry Hills, Marrickville… these are definitely cool joints, but are off to the tourist trail. It is a city for locals and Sydney doesn’t need to stand from the rooftops shouting that we are cool. Sydney just is. And I’m not sure where this Anglo-centric comment comes from. Melbourne is trying to be Euro, but with less history and culture. Sydney is a Pacific, New World city. You definitely get more Asian food and culture in Sydney than in Melbourne. Sydney is far more orientated to the region and the world. Melbourne looks to Sydney as a yardstick of where its at.
Lol as if Melbourne’s transport is better than Sydney… melbourne people think that just because they have trams, it automatically makes their transport better. Sydney’s train network is far more extensive. We have ferries. Our bus service is also far more extensive. If you don’t have an airport train, then you lose automatically on transport.
The other point I’d make about transport is air transport. Sydney airport takes you to more places more regularly than any other city in Australia. It is the gateway in and out of the country. Melbourne still does not direct flights to major cities such as Seoul, which is mind boggling for a city that aspires to be number one in Australia.
Melbourne is a good city, but why go to Melbourne for that “cool vibe” when you can go to Paris, New York or Rome or even Buenos Aires. Nah, Melbourne is Euro wannabe. Whilst Sydney fits right into the region it is situated in. Sydney will always be the premier Australian city. As former PM Paul Keating said: “if you’re not in Sydney, you’re just camping out”. He was right.
Hear hear! I knew people who commuted to work on ferries… you can’t beat that!
Hi, this is my second visit to Australia. I came to Sydney 4 years ago and loved it. Wanted to explore the other cities like Melbourne . I was in Melbourne about two weeks ago. Visited museums, walked in the parks, enjoyed the great Ocean Road ,dinned by the river, went to Fitzroy for a pint of beer, did some shopping. However, from a visitor’s point of view, I found it very disappointing. Of course I can’t comment on liveability of Melbourne. In terms of locals, I found people very helpful. Although Melbourne is promoted as European, imho Sydney has better and more oldie buildings which i love. Melbourne is more like grid system and this is certainly not European. There are some cities, they are nice but not necessarily touristy. I think Melbourne is one of them. Regards . Mutlu
I think in some regards, the city you visit first is the one you end up loving! Melbourne is definitely more liveable from my point of view.
I came from London in 1974 and landed in Canberra where I was offered a job and also because I had friends there. It was a shock after many years in London. . However, on retiring and having returned to the U.K., I decided to leave Canberra for good to live in Melbourne. I like Melbourne but also like visiting Sydney.
I cannot see why there is always a comparison between these two cities. They are both very beautiful, and interesting. It depends entirely on what one is looking for.
One person told me that Sydneysiders hate Melbourne because they had never gotten used to the fact that Melbourne had at some point been the capital of Australia whereas Sydney had not ever had this title!. They also said that this was how Canberra came about! Well, , for whatever reason , it really doesn’t matter now, I think one should enjoy whatever both cities have to offer
Agree, I don’t know why there is a comparison either, although I had a lot of fun writing this post. Both cities offer very different experiences, whether you’re visiting or you’re lucky enough to call one home.