Melbourne knows it’s cool while Sydney likes it hot

The laneways in Melbourne are part of its charm.

The laneways in Melbourne are part of its charm. Photo: Getty

It seems as though Melbourne and Sydney are constantly battling it out over which city is better.

Sydney is undeniably beautiful, with the Harbour and famous beaches, but Melbourne is simply cooler.

Melbourne’s hip status was once again reaffirmed when Time Out named High Street the coolest in the world, due to its “unique, something-for-everyone local businesses”.

It’s not the first time a street in Melbourne has received such an honour, in the past Smith Street and Gertrude Street have made the list.

The rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne runs deep, and there are reasons as to why one is perceived as being “cooler” than the other.

What makes Melbourne cool?

The Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp told TND Melbourne’s “cool factor” comes down to people’s confidence.

“We’re comfortable in our own skins, we’re welcoming of all walks of life and I attribute this to our success as a multicultural city,” she said.

Charlotte Evans, at Flight Centre in Brisbane, also recognises part of Melbourne’s appeal is the people and their laidback attitude.

While she lives in the Sunshine State and her sister is in Sydney, she laughs how the two will constantly remark that Melbourne is the place to be.

Melbourne has been dubbed the culture capital of Australia. In fact, last year the city came in 10th on Time Out‘s list of the world’s 20 best cities for culture.

A general view of the as the sun sets over The Melbourne Skyline next to The Yarra River

Melbourne’s nightlife helps make it cool.

Walking the streets there seems to be street art on every corner, plus there’s no denying the best coffee in the country can be found in Melbourne.

If you visit the city around footy finals, it’s hard to not get sucked in by the footy culture. Federation Square is essentially a revolving door of cultural events.

Capp also attributes Melbourne’s coolness to being able to make nothing into something.

“Where Sydney sees a dingy alleyway, we see a blank canvas with endless possibilities – take Hosier Lane for example,” she said.

But Melbourne hasn’t always been the bustling city it is today. Capp said the CBD was struggling in the Nineties so officials switched things up.

“A change to alcohol licensing removed the need for bars to operate with a kitchen and thus, our inimitable bar scene was born,” she said.

“What’s cooler than a rooftop bar accessed through a secret door in a hidden laneway?”

Rivalry runs deep

Melbourne might be cool, but Evans said Sydney is iconic.

“You have Bondi Beach, you have the Opera House,” she said.

“When you think of Melbourne you don’t think of big things you think of the back streets and wandering around, going to museums, going to a show. It’s more events instead of looking at the Opera House.”

A tourists sits on a fence as he has his photograph taken in front of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge on a spring day on November 13, 2023. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

Melbourne is cool, but Sydney is iconic.

Capp thinks the Sydney-Melbourne rivalry is healthy.

“Competition pushes everyone to be better, to be bold and to take chances,” she said.

“For example, Sydney has adopted our tram network, the concept of smashed avo and they’re focusing on building a true nightlife scene. And when they have a good idea we’ll be happy to steal it from them, too.”

It’s easy to forget Australia is a huge country that is much more than its two most populous cities.

Evans says the country has so much to offer, with completely different experiences in each capital.

“Every city is very different, I think every city is worthy in its own way.”

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