The rivalry between these two cities is fierce. So fierce, in fact, that Canberra was declared to be the country’s capital city in 1913 just to avoid starting an all-out intercity war (as legend has it). On the one hand, there is cosmopolitan Sydney: an eye-catching city that is the perfect blend of leisurely beach town and polished sophisticated metropolis. And on the other hand, there is hard-working Melbourne: a city that takes its industrial surroundings and turns them into an undeniably hip take on grungy arts and culture. To help you decide which Australian city would most suit your fancy, we’ve broken the towns down and ranked them on six different categories.

May the best city win!

Sightseeing

While Melbourne has a fantastic offering of things to see — the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne Cricket Ground, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to name a few — Sydney is by-and-large the winner of this category. With the stunning ode to architectural engineering that is the Sydney Opera House, the metropolis has one of the most beautiful harbors in the entire world. Beyond the iconic marvel on its harbor, Sydney also plays host to other historic beauties like the Queen Victoria Building, St. Mary’s Cathedral, its Royal Botanic Gardens, the Cenotaph, and tons more.

Arts and Culture

Though Sydney has a vibrant music scene, plenty of museums, and enough events venues to satisfy any culture connoisseur, Melbourne takes the prize in this sector. Not just notable for its sprawling network of museums, murals, and  sculptures, the town also proudly has an artistic vibe that permeates throughout all aspects of a Melburnian’s life. Largely considered the melting pot of Australia, Melbourne is also proud of its diverse makeup that carries over to the city’s tastes in art, music, and food. Though a Sydneysider would call it pretentiousness, the colorful cultural scene in Melbourne is organic and down-to-earth, giving it an even more authentic feel.

Nightlife

It’s hard to say who’s the winner here, as the two scenes are so different, it’s really down to personal taste. So, we’ll say this: Sydney is a flashy, classy, and expensive night out on the town — with sweeping views and perfectly prepared drinks. With some of the country’s biggest nightclubs in the town, Sydney is the place to be if you want to strut your stuff. Melbourne, on the other hand, values a more laid-back and intimate climate, usually featuring live music and kitschy themes. Our summary: for glitz and glam, Sydney wins; for casual and intimate gatherings, Melbourne wins.

Wishing that we could relive that amazing show from the legend @hotdubtimemachine! 🎈😄 #pachasydney

A photo posted by Pacha Sydney (@pachasydney) on

Cheers to Friday! Cheers to Spring! Cheers to the best Veuve Cocktails in Melbourne at @themillhousemelb 🍹

A photo posted by MELBOURNE GIRL (@melbournegirl) on

Nature

The concrete grit of Melbourne’s industrial past does it a disservice here. Though the city’s natural offerings are integrated well with its architectural layout, the reality is that Melbourne is rather flat and offers little in the way of sweeping viewpoints and natural havens. Sydney, however, is a large city with huge plots of land dedicated to greenery and a refreshing sort of openness. Within the city, walkers can peruse through Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens, take in the views on the Coogee to Bondi Beach coastal walk, get their fill of bay and bush by walking from the Spit Bridge to Manly’s North Head, or head south to the Royal National Park.

Transportation

Other than ferries, Sydney’s public transit system is a bit of a thumbs down, what with its crowded streets, dated ticketing systems, and expensive fares. Melbourne certainly takes the trophy here. Set up on a grid system, the streets are easily navigable and trams within the city center are free for all!  The relatively cheaper price tag makes squeezing onto its increasingly crowded trams and buses much more bearable, to boot.

Weather

Sydney’s moderate climate largely trumps Melbourne’s erratic version of the weather. Generally warmer and more predictable, Sydneysiders enjoy warm summers and cool winters. And that’s that. Melbourne, on the other hand, can experience all of the seasons in a day — Melburnians have taken to always carrying layers with them no matter the month, as rainfall, heat waves, or pleasant temperatures could strike at any moment.

So… Who’s the Winner?

We can’t really call it! Both cities put up a good fight, but it looks like it’s come out tied. We guess you’ll just have to include both Sydney and Melbourne on your itinerary when you head Down Under.

(Though Melburnians might like to bring up this little bit of information…)

Have an opinion on the Melbourne vs. Sydney debate? Share it via the poll below! 

Which Australian city is better to visit?

Melbourne
Sydney

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About The Author

Mary Zakheim
Content Writer

When she is not figuring out what the middle button on her headphones is for, explaining the difference between Washington State and Washington D.C., arriving to the airport too early or refusing to use the Oxford comma, you can usually find Mary in the mountains, at a show or on her couch. Mary is a content writer at Fareportal and likes annoying her coworkers with weird GIFs throughout the day.