Sydney or Melbourne - Comparison | EMSA Australia

Sydney or Melbourne

Cats or Dogs? Sweet or Savoury? Apple or Samsung? Sydney or Melbourne? All are questions that can divide a room. We all have a preference, and everyone you meet will be able to argue one side or the other as to whether Sydney or Melbourne is the superior city. Here, we break down a few differences between the two so that you can make your own mind up.


With so many iconic landmarks that represent Australia globally, Sydney definitely comes up top when comparing sightseeing in the two cities.  Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and Circular Key are amongst the worlds most visited and most photographed sights and they’re all located within 500 meters of each other! Although the sights in Melbourne may be lesser known, they are not to be sniffed at.  The MCG, the Shrine of Remembrance and the world-class National Gallery of Victoria all add an incredible amount of culture to Melbourne’s sightseeing.

Sydney sightseeing

Sydney’s Opera House

Melbourne's sightseeing

Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance


Transport and accessibility is something that really sets these two cities apart. If it were not for the impressive ferry system in Sydney, transport would be an absolute nightmare in this already overcrowded city. Even with your own car, the roads are poorly planned and traffic is rife. Melbourne’s transport system is marginally better. Despite a slightly out-dated tram system running along the roads, causing several traffic issues, the underground train stations are well placed in a spider web type design making it easy to get into the CBD from suburbs.

Sydney Transport

Sydney’s ferry

Melbourne's Transport

Melbourne’s tram


As you can imagine, both cities have an array of nightlife on offer, but both city centres conjure up quite a different scene. Sydney has a large number of luxury, high end and flashy super clubs, perfect for those who love to get dolled up for a night out to flash some cash. Melbourne on the other hand, hosts a more intimate nightlife scene offering some of the worlds best cocktail bars, rooftop bars and cosy pubs, better for those looking for a more laidback vibe.

Sydney's night life

Sydney’s nightlife

Melbourne's night life

Melbourne’s cocktails and nightlife

The Outdoors

When you’re living in a big city it can become incredibly claustrophobic with the amount of pure concrete surrounding you. That is why a good bit of open green space can really help you get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Luckily, Australia’s cities all have beautiful green spaces incorporated right into the heart of them. Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens are the oldest in Australia having been opened in 1816 and are home to a vast array of different flora and fauna! Melbourne also has some impressive Botanical Gardens in the CBD enabling you to lose yourself in a beautiful world of green.

Sydney botanical gardens

Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

Melbourne's botanical garden

Melbourne’s Botanic Garden, city view

Of course, your preference between the two cities will all depend on what kind of traveller you are and whether it’s a short-term trip or a place to call home. Maybe this has tilted your decision one way or the other, but the only way to find out for definite is to get out there and visit both of the cities yourself!

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