Melbourne Or Sydney: Where Should You Go First?

Sydney skyline | © Beau Giles/WikiCommons
Sydney skyline | © Beau Giles/WikiCommons
So you have just touched down in Melbourne or Sydney, now what? This is your guide to the places you should be making a beeline for after arriving in these cities. From the best coffee shops, attractions, shopping precincts, art galleries and beaches, this list will help you decide which city to visit first.


Melbourne: Any caffeine drinking Australian will tell you that Melbourne baristas are the best in the business, and although there are hundreds of cafés serving quality coffee, one of the most popular is Market Lane in South Yarra, which has been brewing seasonal, single origin coffee since 2009.

Market Lane Coffee, Shop 13, Prahran Market, 163 Commercial Road, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia, +61 3 9804 7434

Courtesy of Market Lane

Courtesy of Market Lane

Sydney: From the guys who brought you Coffee Alchemy comes an inner-city café located in the Strand Arcade. Gumption serves single origin coffee and lattes, and you can even take a bag of beans home.

Gumption, Shop 11, The Strand Arcade, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, +61 2 9516 1997

Soyflatwhite please.

A photo posted by Ivi Nathalia (@ivinathalia) on


Recreational Precincts

Melbourne: With views of the Yarra River, Southgate is Melbourne’s restaurant, shopping, and entertainment precinct. Home to some of the best restaurants and hotels in the city, as well as Crown Casino and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Southgate is a bustling area both during the day and at night.

Southgate, Southbank, Victoria, Australia

Sydney: On the western outskirts of Sydney lies the city’s most popular entertainment precinct, Darling Harbour, which features Sydney’s Entertainment Centre, the Australian National Maritime Museum, Star Casino, Sydney Aquarium as well as a number of other attractions, restaurants and hotels.

Darling Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Architectural Attractions

Melbourne: Located adjacent to one another, Flinders Street Station and Swanston Street Federation Square offer contrasting views of Melbourne. Flinders Street Station is of French Renaissance style, while across Swanston Street Federation Square is a 21st-century example of deconstructivist design.

Corner of Flinders and Swanston Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Sydney: Two of the most iconic structures in the world are situated in Sydney and are must-sees for anyone visiting the city. The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House are both set on the picturesque harbour and together provide one of the most architecturally beautiful views in Australia.

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, +61 2 9250 7111



Melbourne: Take a step back in time inside the oldest surviving arcade in Australia, Royal Arcade, and discover unique shops and cafés. Located nearby is the heritage Block Arcade featuring Hopetoun Tea Rooms and Melbourne’s Golden Mile heritage walk.

Royal Arcade, 335 Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 

Block Arcade, 282 Collins St, Block Arcade Studios, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 

Sydney: Housing designer labels including Alex Perry and Manning Cartel, the restored Victorian-style Strand Arcade is located at Pitt Street Mall and George Street. Also located on George Street is the Queen Victoria Building, featuring underground arcades, a mechanical Royal Clock, and four shopping floors.

Strand Arcade, 412-414 George St, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 

Queen Victoria Building, 455 George St, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Bird’s-Eye View

Melbourne: When it opened in 2006, Eureka Tower was the tallest residential building in the world; however, you don’t have to live there to enjoy the views. Skydeck on the 88th floor offers 360-degree views, and brave visitors can step out into a glass cube known as The Edge, which suspends you 300 metres above the ground.

Eureka Tower, 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, +61 3 9685 0188

Sydney: The tallest structure in Sydney is the 309-metre Sydney Tower, which opened in 1981. Accessible through Pitt Street Mall, visitors can take the elevator up to the observation deck known as the Sydney Tower Eye and enjoy the 360-degree view of the city.

Sydney Tower Eye, 100 Market St, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, +61 1800 258 693



Melbourne: Take the tram six kilometres south-east of Melbourne to St Kilda and take a stroll down the 700-metre shoreline and watch as cruise ships, including the Spirit of Tasmania, sail in and out. Watersports including windsurfing, jetskiing and sailing are popular here.

St Kilda Beach, St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

Good evening Melbourne.

A photo posted by Mossy (@brotheramos) on

Sydney: Just seven kilometres east of Sydney, Bondi Beach attracts tens of thousands of people each year. The scenic one kilometre stretch of sand has featured on television shows including Bondi Rescue, Bondi Vet and Modern Family.

Bondi Beach, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Art Galleries

Melbourne: Established in 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria is home to 73,000 works of art including Tom RobertsShearing the Rams, as well as work from Cézanne, Picasso and Rembrandt and Indigenous artists. NGV also features a spectacular stained-glass roof.

NGV, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, +61 3 8620 2222

Sydney: The Art Gallery of New South Wales was established in 1874 and features Australian, European and Asian artwork, including pieces from artists such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Monet and Van Gogh.

Art Gallery NSW, Art Gallery Rd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, +61 2 9225 1700