The age-old question that seems to pop up in every backpackers conversation (if they’ve been to both cities) is, “where do you prefer, Sydney or Melbourne?” … it’s actually a pretty difficult question, for me anyway. Sydney was my first taste of Australia, but I’ve stayed in Melbourne longer. They’ve both got great points when it comes to choosing them, so I’m going to go through my pro’s to both.
In terms of beautiful beaches, Sydney has this one down. I think I visited more beaches in Sydney than I have in my entire life. You have the famous Bondi Beach to the less famous (but more amazing, in my opinion) Wattamolla Beach. Melbourne has beaches, but they’re few and far between, and because they’re limited they’re usually pretty crowded.
This is completely subjective, as are all of my points, but this is definitely down to the type of person you are. Sydney is very fast paced, business-like, touristy, and just very busy … that’s what put me off when I first got there. People were telling me before I left “Australians are so laid back, not like England at all” and then I got to Sydney and it was crazy. Melbourne is a lot more chilled, laid back, pretty slow … and it’s all about dining out at quirky laneway burger joints as opposed to fancy 5* dining. Not that I don’t enjoy that. But Melbourne life is definitely my preferred. Plus, it’s got to be rated best place to live in the world for something, right?
Sydney Opera house. Taronga Zoo. The Harbour Bridge. Sydney Eye Tower. Darling Harbour. Royal Botanic Gardens. Manly. Luna Park. Sydney has a lot more places for tourists to go and explore and take instagram-worthy photos of (see my shot, below).
As I’ve seen on a t-shirt recently, “my blood type is caffeine” … I love coffee. I’m sure there’s some lovely cafes that serve lovely coffee in Sydney, but Melbourne is where it’s at on the cafe scene. People go out to brunch all of the time, and everywhere you go and order coffee, it’s bound to be a cup of heaven. Melbourne has turned me into a coffee snob, and I’m not sure England is going to be ready for that.
Apt meme. Melbourne is known as the city that can have four seasons in one day, and it’s no exaggeration. On a 30 degree day I’ll carry a jacket and an umbrella in my bag … because, Melbourne. So Sydney wins this one.
I’m not sure if this is definitely the case, but for me I’ve noticed that the cost of living is cheaper in Melbourne. Hostels are cheaper, apartments are cheaper, (transport isn’t cheaper) … but if you want to go and eat out, or have a night out you can definitely have a better experience on $50 in Melbourne than you can in Sydney.
MORE PLACES TO VISIT
When I was living in Sydney it was nice to know that you could hop on a bus/ferry and be somewhere nice but out of the city. Manly and Watsons Bay were definitely top choices for me. I feel like Melbourne’s a bit more isolated in that aspect.
MORE ARTY-FARTY STUFF
You can guarantee when you decide to go for a wander around Melbourne, no matter how long you’ve lived here for, you’ll find somewhere cool and new. Usually down a laneway you’ve never walked down before. Or events. There seem to be a lot more street events, gigs, exhibitions and great libraries in Melbourne than there were in Sydney. And wherever you walk, there are absolutely amazing buskers.
LESS SHORT TERMERS
Whether you want this all depends on the stage you’re at in your travelling. Sydney has short and long termers, but because it’s such a crazy, popular city, Sydney gets a lot of the first timers … and after a couple of months they move on. Whereas Melbourne tends to be somewhere people settle for a while, usually to work for there future travels … and when you’re a long termer and you meet other long termers it’s great. I have a proper little family of friends here in Melbourne, and we were all long termers together.
I’m not huge on sport. I like it but it’s not something that would bring me to a city. That being said, Melbourne would 100% win this category. You’ve got the MCG, it’s the home to the Australian Open, it’s the birthplace of the Ashes and home to the Formula 1 Grand Prix. So if I was going to watch a sport somewhere in Australia, it would have to be in Melbourne.
To sum up, my choice is Melbourne. I’m more of a Melburnian than a Sydneysider. I like good cheap food, quirky laneways, pretty libraries and amazing coffee. I loved Sydney, but only for a short while … Melbourne’s the place I settled and I wouldn’t change it for the world.