Sydney, Brisbane or Perth: Which is the Aussie city for you?
One thing people often underestimate about Australia is the sheer size of the country. The entirety of Europe could fit inside Australia twice, and it takes three days to drive across the entire country. So when you’re embarking on an Aussie adventure, you want to make sure you love the place where you’ll be spending most of your time!
Sydney, Brisbane and Perth are all incredibly vibrant, modern cities with pristine white sandy beaches, and stunning natural landscapes and nightlife to explore. So choosing which city to base yourself in is not an easy choice.
Keep reading to find out what makes each of these three Aussie destinations so special and which one sounds just right for you.
Let’s start with the big one, Sydney. It takes your breath away with its glistening harbor, architectural masterpieces, soft sandy beaches, and lush parklands. Sydney is not Australia’s capital (that title belongs to Canberra), but it is the country’s biggest and most iconic city. Sydney is diverse, international and inclusive, and loves to celebrate at events such as the Sydney Festival, Vivid and Mardi Gras.
There are no shortage of viewpoints around the city to snap your new profile picture. Your first glimpse of Sydney’s sparkling harbour, the impressive Sydney Harbour Bridge and famous sails of the Sydney Opera House will take your breath away. If you’ve seen Sydney’s impressive New Year’s Eve fireworks display on TV, seeing it in real life on New Years Eve will be even more special.
If you’re on a budget, you can take in the views by strolling around Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, or board a public ferry and cruise around the harbor for a couple of dollars. The Sydney Harbour Bridge climb is a truly unique experience that will reward the bravest adventurers with the most incredible views across all of Sydney.
Sports lovers can catch a game at one of the many stadiums regularly hosting AFL, rugby, cricket or soccer matches or take part in iconic events such as the Sydney Marathon or City2Surf fun runs. Sydneysiders are known for their active lifestyles, and you’ll always see people out jogging, cycling, surfing, skateboarding and swimming year-round. You might also want to learn a new skill such as kayaking, stand up paddleboarding or diving from one of the many harbor-side rental outlets.
To really feel like a local, pledge your allegiance to one of the local AFL teams, the Sydney Swans or the Greater Western Sydney Giants as you cheer them on at the SCG.
Sydney’s mild weather invites you to spend your time enjoying the great outdoors, with summers averaging 26°C and winters hovering around 17°C. And with every suburb claiming its own stunning arc of sand, Sydney is a dream destination for beach-lovers. The famous backpacker havens Bondi Beach and Manly Beach offer expansive shorelines and surf schools for would-be surfers, but they also draw huge crowds. So escape the crowds and explore the many rocky coves and bays such as Tamarama Beach and Rose Bay.
The popular walking path between Bondi Beach and Bronte Beach overlooks dramatic cliffs and offers incredible views of the charming coastal suburbs. If you’re lucky enough to be there in late October, don’t miss Sculptures by the Sea, the largest free-to-the-public sculpture exhibition in the world.
North from Sydney on the east coast, Brisbane is a laid-back city that averages 283 sunny days per year. With a population of just over 2.2 million, it’s less than half the size of Sydney. However, the city is going through somewhat of a revival, as more and more people are heading north to soak up the perfect weather and slower pace of life.
From open-air shopping malls, to river walking trails and city beach, Brisbane is a city that lives outside. The Brisbane River flows through the city, making for epic views and plenty of cool spots for socializing. A stroll along the river is a great way to sample the many bars, restaurants and parks that line the river’s edge, or rest your legs and cruise up and down the river on the public City Cat ferry. For arts and comedy shows, head to the Brisbane Powerhouse, or check out the West End Fire Festival, held monthly under a full moon.
When it’s time to cool off, head to Streets Beach at South Bank, an inviting man-made swimming lagoon overlooking the river. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind after a big day of class.
Thrill seekers can get their blood pumping at the many theme parks around Brisbane – Dreamworld, Movie World, SeaWorld and Wet & Wild. Dreamworld is famous for its thrilling rollercoasters, The Giant Drop and the Tower of Terror. You can also see the resident tigers on Tiger Island, and cool off on the water slides at WhiteWater World. Next door, Movie World is home to stunt shows, parades, rollercoasters, and all your favourite Looney Tunes characters, superheroes and supervillains of the DC Universe.
Brisbane is home to many wild koalas, kangaroos and marine life, so if you’ve dreamt of cuddling a koala, you’re in the right city.
Spot kangaroos and wallabies hopping freely on Stradbroke Island, while a walk along the trails in Brisbane Koala Bushlands almost guarantees you’ll spot one of these cuddly cuties high up in the trees. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the place to go if you want to get a photo cuddling a koala, while Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo is home to not just crocodiles, but hundreds of species of Australian wildlife.
The biggest city on the west coast of Australia, Perth oozes cool and calm. Perth is the capital of Western Australia, a state so big, if it were a country, it’d be the 10th largest nation on the planet. If you choose to study in Perth, you’ll be surrounded by a young, international crowd who know to work hard and play hard.
There’s nothing like a Perth sunset. With 19 pristine beaches lining the city’s coastline, there are no shortage of vantage points to watch the sun dip into the Indian Ocean. Nothing compares to the extraordinary sight of the sun disappearing below the horizon, bending the light spectrum as it goes down, leaving the sky a sparkling shade of pink, red and orange.
The central Cottesloe beach and Scarborough beach are popular spots, with long, wide, clean stretches of sand and glass-like water clarity that will tempt you in for an evening dip.
While Perth itself is a bustling city with plenty to see, it’s also worth getting out of town.
Fremantle, just 20km south, is like Perth’s trendy younger brother. The port city has a lively charm, centered around the popular brewery Little Creatures and the historic Fremantle Market. The former prison is also worth a visit to learn about Fremantle’s tragic history.
From Fremantle, you can easily jump on a ferry to Rottnest Island, or “Rotto” as it is locally known. This car-free, off-the-grid paradise is best explored by bike, with plenty of spots to hire one when you arrive. If you’re lucky, you might be able to grab a selfie with the cute resident quokkas.
One of the biggest city parks in the world, the lush surrounds of Kings Park are a great place to immerse yourself in nature. Walk along Federation Walkway, a glass sky bridge through a canopy of sweet-smelling eucalyptus trees, or summit the spiraling DNA tower to reach one of the city’s best viewpoints.