5 ways in which Melbourne is better than Sydney

5 ways in which Melbourne is better than Sydney

Don’t worry, Sydney still holds the treasured position of my favourite Australian city.

I may be a tad biased as I’ve spent two years living in Sydney, but I must admit that Melbourne sure has a lot going for it too. It’s the kind of place that I want to hate but can’t, because who am I kidding? Melbourne is great.

Australia has always had a raging rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney (there’s even a Wiki article on it). Both were competitors for becoming the capital city back in 1901, before some idiots decided that neither of them should take the title.

Both have similar populations between 4-5 million, and are at a similar level of awesomeness… but for very different reasons.

So during my last visit to Melbourne, I decided it’s time to seek out these differences and show the world the ways in which I believe Melbourne is better than Sydney.

Fitzroy, Melbourne

Brunswick Street, in the hipster suburb of Fitzroy

1. It’s a hipster paradise

There are areas of Sydney that are hipster havens, but as a visitor, you’re going to have to actively seek them out.

Melbourne is basically an entire hipster city, and everywhere you look you’ll see bearded skateboarders, tattooed baristas, and hobo-looking musicians busking on the street. There’s insanely good coffee throughout the city, and boutique stores for everything imaginable (including waffles).

And the fact that there are trams, trains, buses and bike lanes in many parts of the CBD make us hipsters ever-so-happy that we don’t need a car to get around.

Hosier Lane 4

Hosier Lane 7

Hosier Lane

2. It’s artsy as f*ck

Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true. On the drive from the airport you’ll see some funky coloured steel beams lining the side of the freeway, and this effort to be artsy continues throughout the city.

Federation Square (which is not really a square, by the way) is lined with buildings featuring all sorts of weird angles and colours. Statues of something-that-looks-vaguely-like-an-object appear on street corners and along the riverfront.

And street art is everywhere. Hosier Lane in the CBD is a classic example of how Melbourne has embraced the fact that they want to be the most artsy city in the world by allowing street art to be plastered over every possible blank wall space.

Ash Grunwald

Ash Grunwald

3. It has a crackin’ music scene

Yes, some great music comes out of Sydney and Perth and other parts of Australia, but Melbourne has really got it going.

Some of my faves are Gotye, The Temper Trap, Architecture in Helsinki, and Midnight Juggernauts. I’ve also taken to Courtney Barnett recently, who I think does the perfect job of explaining the local vibe in a nutshell. Check out this list of musicians from Melbourne for a comprehensive list.

And the live music scene in Melbourne tops many other cities – Wikipedia even claims that Melbourne has more live music than Austin, Texas, the home of South by South West. Big claim!

Southern Cross Station, Melbourne

Southern Cross Station

4. The locals look great, all of the time

One of the things I like most about Melbourne is that everyone is dressed in either trendy hipster garb or designer wear. This isn’t to say that Sydneysiders don’t dress nicely, they just have a few more dorky looking tourists thrown in the mix.

You won’t see any track pants, fanny packs, or visors in Melbourne; only good-looking people dressed in their best and most beautiful clothing.

No matter what sub-culture they classify themselves in, Melbournites make sure they do it well.

Melbourne Burgers

5. It’s the origin of Lord of the Fries. Nuff said.

What’s Lord of the Fries, you ask? Well, most vegetarians would know that there comes a time when you’re hungover as hell and just want to eat something terrible, but have to settle for hot chips because greasy shit isn’t usually vegetarian friendly.

Well, Lord of the Fries is the answer to this problem. I swear to god, their cheeseburger tastes exactly like one from McDonalds, and therefore makes me feel as though I’m cheating on my vegetarianism every time I consume one.

And it’s not just Lord of the Fries that Melbourne has going for it. Veggie food is in abundance, especially in the more hipster areas. It’s like visiting the vegetarian equivalent of heaven.

Melbourne Central Shopping Centre

Melbourne does have some downsides too.

  • It’s bloody cold and windy (I took to naming it ‘Coldbourne‘ on my last visit. Hilarious, I know).
  • The airport is pretty far out and there’s no easy way of getting there unless you’re willing to fork out $18pp for a Skybus ticket.
  • Having to paying $10 for a public transit Myki card, even if you’re visiting for just one day, is totally ridiculous.

But even with all of these, Melbourne is pretty damn cool. And you know what? Even though I’ve visited over a dozen times, I’ll keep going back again and again.

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23 Responses to “5 ways in which Melbourne is better than Sydney”

  1. Hayley Simpson

    I moved to Melbourne just under a month ago, and although it is seriously windy I am loving it. I agree with the fact every local dresses well though – I’m trying to dress the part haha!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That Melbourne wind is a killer! So chilly. I’m glad you’re loving it though Hayley, it’s seriously an awesome place!

  2. Lauren

    Great list! I’m living in Melbourne’s hipster-epicentre, Fitzroy and I absolutely love it. The only thing I can’t accept is people skateboarding to work! Maybe that’s just because I could never pull it off…

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Ahh you’ve chosen the best suburb, I love Fitzroy! There are an excessive amount skateboarders in Melbourne, but I think they add a cool vibe to the hipster scene 😛

  3. Tine

    I LOVE Melbourne! I can’t really put a finger on it, but the atmosphere is just great! It is such a cool city for sure even during the cold winter 😉 but I do also like Sydney a lot 😉

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I was saying that to Robert when we were there – it’s not really something you can easily explain because it’s more of an atmosphere that makes it a cool place!

  4. Julia

    My cousin was an Au Pair in Melbourne and she loved it for all of the reasons you listed above (she gained 6 kilos just eating her way through the food scene in general). I’d love to visit one day as well, just to see the amazing street art scene! 🙂



    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I can totally understand the weight gain, it would be so easy to eat your way through all the good food Melbourne has to offer 😛

  5. Bec

    I am so torn! I visited Melbourne for the first time a few weeks ago and I fell in love with the city! (for many of the reasons you have listed in your post!) I love the art culture, I love the food, the people and the sights! I might need to make a few return trips before I can decide 😛 I love living in Sydney, but there is just something about Melbourne!!!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I know exactly what you mean! It’s so hard to put your finger on what exactly it is that makes Melbourne so great, but it definitely has something going for it!

  6. Jackie Sudano

    This article just totally solidified my belief that I need to go to Melbourne, and I need to go there soon. As a former resident of Austin, Texas, I want to see how the music scene compares (and the hipster scene, since Austin, and my home in NYC BOTH are hipster havens). I’m just THAT much more motivated now!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I think you’d fit right in, Jackie! Your background in Austin and NYC are the perfect pretence for visiting Melbourne 😛

  7. Dana

    Hey Ashlea,
    Thanks for the article. I’m originally from and still live in Melbourne, so I’m already sold on my home town but can you guys stop calling us “Melbournites” please?
    If the need arises, we refer to ourselves as “Melburnians” (I believe the alternate spelling, “Melbournian” is also acceptable, though not preferable) but never “Melbournite.” We hate the term as much as we hate bad coffee.

  8. Chalsie

    Melbourne is the bomb-diggity. I’ll admit I’m totally biased being born and bread in Melbourne. I do love a Sydney escape from time-to-time though! I just could never live in a city where work-out gear is acceptable to wear to dinner with friends. Just. No! Put some damn clothes on Sydney-siders.

    Chalsie | The Workshop Co. x

    P.s. I have to say, the public transport and airport transfer is actually really standard prices for Australia. Sucks if you live here because yes, it’s one expensive country.

  9. Dearbhaile

    I’ve spent an equal amount of time in both cities (5 days to be exact!) and Melbourne just pulled me in in a way that Sydney didn’t. Melbourne is such a cool city and I can’t wait to visit it again!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Melbourne really does have something that draws you in! I think I could go back again and again and never get sick of it 😀

  10. Dani

    I’ve been to Sydney twice and loved it, and Melbourne once and LOOOOVED it. Sydney is amazing and there’s so much to do and see but everyone’s always in more of a rush? That’s how it felt to me. Melbourne is no less busy but people seemed more laidback, and as a Kiwi I love me some laidback 😉
    It’s just something about the Melbourne atmosphere. If ever I were to move to Aus I think I’d have to be a Melbourne girl.

  11. Jessica @ Green Global Travel

    I have never been to Melbourne, but I would love to visit someday! It definitely sounds like a unique city, and home to lots of amazing art and music. Great post; thank you for sharing these beautiful photos and great summary of Melbourne!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Good idea Annebelle 😉 Don’t take the freeway though, it’s rather boring. Better to go via the coast or inland a bit!


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