The Best Cities to Visit in Australia

17 Nov 2017

Australia is a country of contrasting landscapes; desert, beaches, mountains, bush – there is plenty to explore. It also has some incredible cities, and since I’ve been living in this beautiful country, I’ve tried to explore as many of them as possible. Here are my pick of the best cities in the Land Down Under:

Sydney

I can’t not start with Sydney, seeing as it’s the city I live in, and in my opinion one of the best cities, not just in Australia, but in the world. It really does have everything you could wish for. Set on a gorgeous harbour, there are beautiful beaches, spectacular national parks, an amazing foodie scene, great bars, hundreds of festivals and events and a pretty awesome Opera House – maybe you've heard of it? It’s a multicultural city, which I love, particularly as I’ve met people from all over the world here and they all bring something unique to this wonderful place.

Top picks for Sydney:

Melbourne

Most Sydneysiders have a fierce rivalry with Melbourne, as the state capitals continually compete for the title of Australia’s top city. That said, Melbourne is an awesome city and, even as a Sydney resident, I have no hesitations in recommending Melbourne as a must-visit Australian city. Melbourne is cool. For me, it feels more European, with a tram system, some beautiful architecture and slightly more erratic weather than Sydney! It also has the most amazing restaurants; every time I’ve been to Melbourne the food has been delicious, along with the coffee, which Melburnians take very seriously.

Top picks for Melbourne:

  • Wander the laneways
  • Shop at the Queen Victoria Night Market and Rose Street Artists' Market
  • Check out the street art in Fitzroy  
  • Eat everything!

Perth (and Fremantle)

Perth was the first city I ever visited in Australia, back in 2002, so for me it always feels more Australian than the east coast cities. It’s changed a lot since then, and even in the last few years, new neighbourhoods have emerged, including Cathedral Square and the multi-million-dollar waterfront development, Elizabeth Quay. Perth has the most amazing beaches, which tend to be much quieter than the east coast beaches and, because it’s on the west coast, you can catch some beautiful sunsets. The city is also upping its food game, with new eateries opening every week – the city has more restaurants per capita than any other capital city in Australia. 30 minutes south is Fremantle, a relaxed artsy seaside city, with lovely cafés and restaurants, and some cool independent breweries.

Qantas are launching a direct flight from London to Perth in March 2018, which will reduce travel time significantly to 17 hours.

Top picks for Perth:

  • Swim at Cottesloe Beach
  • Enjoy the city views at Kings Park
  • Sample some beer in Fremantle
  • Take a ferry to Rottnest Island to see the quokkas

Adelaide

Adelaide is often overlooked in comparison to other Australian cities, but it is home to some of Australia’s best festivals, including the Adelaide Fringe Festival – the largest arts festival in the southern hemisphere and second largest worldwide. The city’s laneways are full of great bars and restaurants and there is excellent local produce to be sampled both here and at the Central Market.

Adelaide is also the gateway to some incredible places, including the Barossa Valley – Australia’s most famous wine region, and Kangaroo Island. A beautiful landmass with an impressive selection of wildlife, including kangaroos (as you’d expect!), seals, sea lions, and koalas. In fact, there are more koalas than cars on the island!

Top picks for Adelaide:

  • Sample local produce at Adelaide’s Central Market
  • Check out the bars and restaurants in the city’s laneways
  • Marvel at the beautiful Botanic Gardens
  • Go wine tasting in the Barossa Valley

Hobart

My most recent trip was to Hobart, Tasmania, and it’s a city I’ve been wanting to visit since I arrived in Australia. I loved it. It has a totally different feel to other Australian cities and, to me, feels much older (it’s actually the second oldest city in Australia after Sydney). The city is overlooked by Mount Wellington and you can drive to the summit for panoramic views of the skyline below.

Every Saturday is the huge Salamanca Market, with stalls selling all sorts of local produce, including food, clothes, spirits and furniture. The city is also home to MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art), which is well worth a visit. It's full of unusual, quirky and interesting exhibitions and you can take a ferry up the Derwent River to get there. Hobart’s restaurant scene rivals Melbourne's, with some amazing eateries, including Peacock and Jones – which uses local Tasmanian produce in its menu. Yum! South of the city, on the Tasman Peninsula is the former convict settlement of Port Arthur. The open-air museum is a World Heritage site and offers an in-depth look at the history of the early British settlers and prisoners in Tasmania.

Hobart is also the last stop for passengers travelling to Antarctica.

Top picks for Hobart:

  • Get cultural at MONA
  • Visit the Port Arthur Historic Site
  • Shop the Salamanca Market
  • Check out the views from Mount Wellington

Of course, there are plenty more great Aussie cities, and more that I’m yet to visit, but I’ve loved exploring these five cities. And coincidentally, they all have vineyards a short drive away!


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Hayley Lewis

Hayley Lewis is a British blogger, travel writer and producer living in Sydney. She runs alovelyplanet.com, as well as writing for a number of other publications. She has travelled extensively and has written articles covering destinations, hotels, airlines, restaurants, ski resorts and tours. You can follow Hayley’s travels at alovelyplanet.com or on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.