The rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney runs deep. The two largest cities in Australia are frequently pitted against each other in a cheeky battle of which city is better than the other.

There’s so much to love about both cities, and each provides an unforgettable Aussie study abroad experience, so the challenge is teasing out which destination is best for you personally. To help you decide, we’ve pulled the TEAN team’s expert knowledge of both cities and created a comparison guide.


With four universities available for your TEAN semester abroad in Melbourne and six semester study abroad programs available in Sydney you will easily find the right fit in both cities for your academic requirements, campus and location preferences.

Melbourne: For those looking to attend the top ranked universities in Melbourne, consider either the University of Melbourne, ranked at an impressive 41 in the world, or Monash University, ranked 60 in the world by the QS World University Rankings (2018). Either university would add great value to your academic career and resume.

Additionally, Deakin UniversityLa Trobe University, and RMIT University offer a comprehensive range of courses.

Students looking to study abroad in the suburbs, but still with easy access to the city, via a 45-minute commute by tram, will appreciate Deakin’s spacious, modern campus. La Trobe University features a more traditional campus, with 500+ acres of stunning parkland and a wildlife sanctuary, a similar distance from Melbourne.

For those pursuing more creative majors, RMIT University, located in downtown Melbourne, is the top ranked school in the country for art and design.

Sydney: Along with the highly ranked University of New South Wales and University of Sydney, ranked 45 and 50 respectively  in the world by the QS World University Rankings (2018), TEAN also offers programs with Macquarie University, University of Technology Sydney, University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney campus and the International College of Management Sydney.

Read our post on choosing a study abroad program in Sydney for help on selecting the right program for you.

University of New South Wales campus
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) campus in Sydney


Melbourne: The TEAN off-campus housing in Melbourne is perfect for students who plan to fully embrace the city lifestyle. Located in the heart of downtown Melbourne, this housing option allows students to take complete advantage of all Melbourne has to offer.

Students studying at La Trobe University live on campus within a vibrant residential community of local and international students. Housing is available with either a partial meal plan, providing daily breakfast and dinner, or a self-catered (no meal plan) option.

Sydney: TEAN’s Sydney housing is great for both city goers and beach lovers alike. Our Sydney off-campus housing is located in various different neighborhoods across the city, including both semi-urban locations surrounded by shopping centers and restaurants, as well as beach housing that is literally just steps from the ocean.

Read our article on the various housing options for TEAN students in Sydney.


Melbourne: Melbourne prides itself on having a vibrant art and cultural community. Cafe culture is rich and people are more interested with trying out new restaurants or seeing a show than running off to the beach.

TEAN’s Melbourne Resident Director, Rob, loves his hometown and says that, “No matter what you’re into, be it sport, theatre, art, nature, music, food or fashion, Melbourne has something for everyone!”.

It’s apparent in Melbourne’s architecture and street culture that it’s the most European of any Australian city. Both Sydney and Melbourne are frequently voted some of the most livable cities in the world, so you really can’t go wrong…although Melbourne has claimed the title the last seven years in a row!

Comparable U.S. city: New York City

Melbourne cafe culture in Centre Place
The European feel of Melbourne’s Centre Place has been likened to Diagon Alley by TEAN students

Sydney: TEAN Senior Program Manager Kristen raves about her daily life in Sydney, “There is a great blend of a laid back beachy vibe as well as a downtown business hustle bustle so I found there was a nice work/life balance.”

A true Sydney lifestyle revolves around the outdoors, the harbor and the water. Sydney dwellers won’t go more than a few days in the warmer months without taking a swim.

Comparable U.S. city: Los Angeles


Melbourne: Melbourne’s art scene pulses throughout the city, but the inner urban villages of Fitzroy and Brunswick are where so much of it begins. Bustling with hip art galleries, cheap restaurants and cafes, these two northside neighborhoods are home to Melbourne’s hipster scene.

South of the river you’ll find St Kilda, Melbourne’s beachside neighborhood. Filled with great cafes, restaurants and bars this is where locals and tourists come to soak up the sun.

South Yarra is a posh, high fashion area with upscale restaurants and this neighborhood highlights Melbourne’s position as a trend-setting and culturally influential city. Another neighborhood to highlight is the downtown Central Business District.

The best advice we can give is to get lost in this area, simply roaming the streets and bylanes for an afternoon, to discover new shops and eateries. Perhaps you’ll even stumble into Hosier Lane, Melbourne’s famous “graffiti street”.

Sydney: Some notable Sydney neighborhoods include Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Manly, Bondi and Coogee. Surry Hills and Darlinghurst are packed with trendy restaurants, cafes and bars. They are located in the middle of the city close to the iconic Hyde Park and Central Park.

Manly sits in the northern beaches, nestled between the mouth of the Sydney Harbour and the Pacific Ocean. Great hiking and gorgeous beaches await just a ferry ride away (or a short walk if you study at ICMS). Bondi and Coogee are both part of Sydney’s popular eastern beaches.

Bondi Beach is one of Sydney’s most iconic beaches and is a neighborhood where both tourists and locals spend time. Many TEAN students find themselves in these neighborhoods thanks to being only a short bus ride from the city and our popular TEAN beach housing in Coogee.

Bondi beach in Sydney
The beaches of Sydney are a drawcard for many study abroad students


Melbourne: When packing for Melbourne, you’re going to want everything from your bathing suit to your warmest raincoat. Being on the southern coast, Melbourne is known for having four seasons in a single day, so layers are key!

The average temperature at any point in the year ranges from an average of 50-70F. In the winter months, it gets down to the mid 40’s, but you’re balanced by an equally comfortable summer in the high 70’s-low 80’s.

Ultimately, Melbourne’s changeable weather is part of its charm. The ups and downs allow for everything from hitting the beach to holing up in a cozy laneway bar.  

Comparable U.S. city: San Francisco

Sydney: Sydney’s weather provides the luxury of never owning a true warm coat. Typically about 10 degrees warmer than Melbourne throughout the year, Sydney summers can get up to the low-mid 90’s while the winters sit at a perfect low 60’s.

Since it’s never much colder than mid 50’s in the winter, the sea temperature remains tolerable all year. Sydney’s weather is ideal for beachgoers and urban dwellers alike.

Comparable U.S. city: Los Angeles

Weekend Getaways

Melbourne: One of Australia’s iconic natural wonders are the Twelve Apostles, a series of gorgeous rock formations and cliffs at the shore of the ocean on Australia’s southern coast. The cliffs are not located in Melbourne, but are a short drive away on the coast of Victoria, the state Melbourne is located in. To see the Twelve Apostles, as well as other alluring natural landscapes, you have to take a ride on the Great Ocean Road which runs along the coast just west of Melbourne.

There are plenty of other options outside of the city – from the wineries of the Yarra Valley, to the stunning Dandenong Ranges, to the home of the fairy penguins at Phillip Island – all within easy access from Melbourne.

12 Apostles near Melbourne
Taking a weekend trip along the Great Ocean Road including the 12 Apostles is a must do experience in Australia

Sydney: You will never get bored in Sydney, but if you’re looking to head outside the city for a weekend away your options are abundant! Head up the coast to the Central Coast or Newcastle and explore some new, relaxing beaches on the ocean. They’re both a short train ride away – the perfect thing to fill a full Saturday.

Alternatively, you could head inland, straight west, to the Blue Mountains for a full weekend of hiking in one of the country’s most beautiful natural parks. The Blue Mountains are also only a short train on public transit away.

So what will it be – Melbourne or Sydney? If you’re still on the fence of what city is best for you and have questions, contact us by completing this form.