Which one is better?
The good old question.
If you haven’t been to Australia, I’m not sure you can quite grasp how big the rivalry between these two is.
When Australia was picking a capital, they couldn’t decide between the two so much that they’ve actually built a city halfway between Sydney and Melbourne and call that the capital as a compromise.
Every time you ask ANYONE in Melbourne about Sydney, they’ll tell you that Melbourne is better, they’ll tell you that people in Sydney are shit.
And every time I told someone in Sydney that I live in Melbourne, they asked me, surprised: “Why?!”
And even people who are originally from Sydney and now live in Melb, have told me that Melbourne is better.
But you know, you can never be sure whether that’s just the rivalry thing or there’s actually some truth in the things that people say.
That’s why I wanted to make my own opinion on the matter. And I tried to stay impartial and objective.
Obviously, my assumptions about Sydney are a bit limited since I’ve only been there for a week and because I’ve been to Melbourne first, I really appreciate what it has to offer, which maybe you wouldn’t if you were only visiting.
So let’s get into this.
1. Nature and Beaches
Okay, let’s get this one out of the way because it’s pretty obvious. Sydney beaches and nature are incredible!!! I mean, you cannot even compare. St Kilda? Don’t even mention that one. I mean, Elwood and Brighton are beautiful but compared to Sydney it’s nothing.
I mean, there are beautiful beaches around Melbourne too, but they are not in the city, you have to drive and travel to get to them.
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Only after I’ve been to Sydney, I really appreciate the Melbourne transport. In Melbs, all the suburbs are build surrounding the city and I can get to CBD from St Kilda in 20 minutes! It took me 1:15 to get from Rose Bay to CBD in Sydney! And they are around the same distance. Not cool, Sydney, not cool.
Also, trams in Melb run very often, are always on time and are free in the CBD.
In Sydney, I’ve asked three different people who live there, how does it work with prices and everyone said “Nobody has a clue” 😀 LOL, apparently the price depends on the time of the day, on distance, on mode of transport, on the day, on the amount of transfers you do. Well, yeah, it’s pretty confusing. And they were always late. Pretty annoying.
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So, in Melbourne, everybody will tell you that people in Sydney are terrible. I thought that was nonsense, how could it differ so much just depending on the city? Didn’t believe it.
But when I came to Sydney, I found out that it’s definitely true. Obviously, you’ll find good people here too, I just mean the people you meet in everyday life, in the shops, in the street, in the cafes and so on.
Everybody is so rude, stressed and grumpy.
Maybe that’s just in comparison to Melbs. Because ever since I first got here, everyone was super friendly and I had an overwhelming feeling that everybody wanted to help me.
In Melbs, when I looked lost at the tram stop, people came over and explained to me where to go, without me even asking. When I was telling people that I’ve moved here two weeks ago, everyone’s reaction was: “Welcome to Melbourne? Don’t you just love it? It’s the best place in the world.” Everyone is super nice.
In Sydney? It feels like nobody cares, nobody really wants to speak to you and if you ask something, they act like it’s bothering them.
I’m sorry but it’s true.
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It’s still the same country so I guess the prices in most shops are similar. Obviously, you can find cheaper or more expensive places to eat or have coffee at BUT the rent prices in Sydney are significantly more expensive.
Almost all the people I’ve met in Sydney are paying 300 or more dollars a week for the room. While the standard rate in Melbourne is around 200 in the north and 250 in the south side of the city. And that makes a big difference.
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Obviously, I haven’t experienced the weather in Sydney for long enough to have a good idea for a comparison but from what I’ve heard it’s definitely more stable in Sydney and probably warmer as well when you consider the whole year.
The weather in Melbourne is, as Australians would say, hectic. It can be 39 degrees one day and then drop to 21 by the evening. It can be unbearably hot for a few days and then suddenly get really cold. Raining in the morning and be gloriously sunny in the afternoon. It’s in Melbourne’s reputation that you can experience all four seasons in one day, after all. On the other hand, it can be quite nice that after a few days of hot weather you get that cold breeze when you can actually sleep at night too. Also, it’s not always this crazy, sometimes it’s pretty normal too.
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Okay, in Sydney, there’s the Opera and Harbour bridge which make it very iconic and beautiful and is the reason why a lot of people want to visit. Melbourne skyline and architecture is stunning too but there isn’t really a single impressive sight that would top Sydney opera.
Winner: Sydney (I guess?)
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That being said, apart from the Harbour and the Opera, I found the city itself pretty boring. Compared to Melbourne, anyway. Because CBD in Melb is so interesting, full of hidden laneways and cool spots, always buzzing with life and people, Sydney seemed a bit too serious, stressed, rushed and business-y and there wasn’t that much interesting stuff going on in the city. In Melbourne, everyone seems to be just having fun all the time.
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8. Food and drink culture
This one is a bit hard to explain and I think it’s hard to imagine for people who haven’t experienced Melbourne but the coffee, drink and food culture is MASSIVE. It’s actually the brunch central and everything evolves around food here, all the food spots are BUZZING with people all the time, there are random street food markets constantly happening around the city, people love and talk about food, there are actual food tours happening in the city and quite a few from the 50 best bars in the world are in Melbourne.
I mean, the food in Sydney was excellent too but the foodie culture wasn’t quite as massive as it is here.
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There’s a reason Melbourne is called the culture capital. The amount of events that happen here and the amount of stuff that’s going on all the time, you truly feel like you cannot keep up. It’s a city where there’s always fun things to do. Rooftop bars, street food, festivals, open air cinemas, sport events, exhibitions, gigs, shows, talks, markets, the city is always buzzing, always alive, it’s actually insane.
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10. How cool tho?
Melbourne is just really trendy, okay. In Melbourne, all the suburbs are different, all have their special vibe. It’s super super hipster, everyone dresses weird, there are strange shops everywhere, weird things on the menu, cool street art, it feels like in some parts of the city, everyone is either feminist, vegan, covered in tattoos or dressed in vintage clothes and riding extravagantly personalised bikes. And because everyone is like that, nobody cares. You can truly wear a disco ball attached to your belt as an accessory and everyone would just be like: “Cool.” In Melbourne, everything just feels over the top, fire spitting dragons happening at Asian food festivals, Bloody Marys garnished with a bacon rasher, items on the menu named after old school hip hop artists. And that’s the aspect of the city that will just make you love it so much.
Fair enough, in Bondi, there’s this whole beach lifestyle with surfers and people shopping bare foot but apart from that, even the most hipster part of Sydney seemed utterly boring compared to Melbourne.
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In summary, yeah, the beaches in Sydney are incredible, there’s absolutely no denying that. And you’d probably get better weather too. Everything else, though? Melbourne is better. But I get that the beaches might be an ultimate argument for someone and more important than everything else.
I am very attached to Melbourne by now however and it’s such an incredibly unique place. I’ve got it under my skin and if you ever say anything bad about Melbs, I actually get personally offended and I am ready to defend it.
Most liveable city for sure.
(And nah, we don’t believe that nonsense about Vienna, lol)
Which one is the winner for you?
Sydney or Melbourne?
Shameless Instagram plug: @sunshine__susan