If you’re planning a trip to Australia, remember it’s a huge continent and its cities are widely scattered around the coastline. If you want to enjoy a twin-city break, why not consider Sydney, the fabulous waterfront capital of New South Wales, followed by a few days in historic Melbourne, Victoria? Well connected by several daily flights from Singapore, these cities are almost 900km apart and offer a marked contrast in things to do. Here are the highlights of these two iconic destinations. Pick one or, even better, visit both!
Beach surfing vs. City kayaking
Sydney is synonymous with Bondi Beach, the famous surfing mecca where the blue Pacific washes up onto soft white sand in foaming 3m-high waves. This thriving cosmopolitan getaway is just half an hour from the city centre by public transport. Chill out with an ice cream and watch daring pro surfers riding in on the awesome swell, or hire a bodyboard and take a thrilling lesson on the same waves!
If you’re more of a keep-your-feet-dry-and-paddle sort of person, you may prefer a one-hour City Sights Kayak Tour down Melbourne’s Yarra River instead. You will see all the landmarks of the city on this guided tour as you paddle beneath Princes Bridge, pass Eureka Tower and the historic triple-masted tall ship Polly Woodside before reaching Southbank and Docklands. Other kayaking tours on offer include a Yoga Sunrise Kayak Tour and a Moonlight Kayak Tour around Victoria Harbour at sunset.
The Rocks Markets vs. Café hopping
For an authentic Sydney experience, wander through the market by the harbour. Open only on the weekends, the stalls vary from week to week offering variety to returning visitors. You can spend an entire morning shopping down the endless lane of stalls and pick out amazing finds from unique jewellery to wares by local designers.
If specialty coffee is up your alley, share the Melbournians’ love for a good roast. With a strong coffee culture, the city is home to a large community of cafes. Whether in a hipster café tucked in a cosy lane or one with a Parisian vibe in Degraves Street, coffee lovers can only expect a high quality cuppa, nothing less.
Opera House vs. Street art
You can’t miss the iconic Sydney Opera House presiding over the waterfront at Sydney Harbour. If you want to do more than just take photographs of this world-famous building, book The Backstage Tour. These small group tours go behind the scenes to see the rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms and orchestra pit in a fascinating two-and-a-half-hour tour. The experience ends with breakfast in the Green Room, where you can chat withthe opera house crew and performers in this unforgettable location.
Known to be the art capital of Australia, Melbourne is legendary for its street art scene. Explore the city on foot and be drawn in by the vibrant and artistic expressions that characterise the laneways. Join a Melbourne Street Art Tour and discover arts in hidden alleys and the secrets of the underground art scene. The tour also gives access to a studio tour where you can see artists at work and even chat with them over a cold beer.
Hunter Valley vs. Yarra Valley
Hunter Valley, a two-hour drive from Sydney, is Australia’s oldest wine region, which is also the hottest and wettest. Its climate is similar to the world famous Napa Valley, which produces outstanding wines. Take a wine tasting tour and choose from over 120 vineyards offering the region’s acclaimed Semillon. The folks at Bimbagen Estate even have a sumptuous lunch menu to choose from. For the more adventurous souls, join a hot air balloon tour that takes you across the rolling hills of Hunter Valley and celebrate the flight with champagne after you land.
In contrast, the cool climate in Yarra Valley produces some of the most amazing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This wine region is only one hour away from Melbourne city. Yering Station is where the first vines were planted in the region of Yarra Valley in 1839. Today, visitors can enjoy tastings and small bites while relaxing in this historical property. A short drive will bring you to Tokar Estate. Family-owned and operated, the vineyard boasts great service and is a fantastic place to have lunch and take lots of pictures. With many boutique vineyards to visit, you may even want to consider staying the night.
Climbing high vs. Drop from the sky
One thing you can’t do anywhere else is climb up Sydney Harbour Bridge. Don a jumpsuit and follow your leader along catwalks and ladders to the top of this iconic arched bridge. You’ll have breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, the city and famous landmarks from the 134m-high summit. The exhilarating BridgeClimb takes a total of three-and-a-half hours, and you get a commemorative photograph and a certificate of achievement to show off back home.
If you prefer a 200km/h descent from 4,000m instead, Skydive Melbourne offers the highest tandem skydive in Australia. The thrill of freefall gives you an adrenaline kick like nothing else, followed by the sensation of floating in a five- to seven-minute descent beneath the canopy while strapped to your instructor. You’ll get the best views of Port Phillip Bay and the city in this unforgettable experience.
If you prefer a 200km/h descent from 4,000m instead, Skydive Melbourne offers the highest tandem skydive in Australia
Australia is a smorgasbord of great food, daring adventure, unique wildlife and local culture. This diversity is beautifully captured in both Sydney and Melbourne, so plan a visit to do it all!
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Best Time to Visit
The Southern hemisphere spring months (September through November) and late summer (March to May) are the best times to visit Sydney and Melbourne. Temperatures are comfortable and attractions are less crowded than in the popular summer season from December through February.
Public buses are plentiful in both cities, and the suburban train lines are also a good way of getting around in Sydney and Melbourne. Self-driving is another popular option, especially between cities. If you decide to choose this method, take the Hume Highway as it is the fastest route between Sydney and Melbourne. A non-stop journey covering the distance of over 800km would take about eight hours. However, there are plenty of attractions and pit stops to make along the way.
Australian dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted in major Australian cities and ATMs are available for withdrawing local currency.
There are 4-5 airlines that fly direct to Sydney and Melbourne from Changi Airport. Book your tickets to these wonderful cities now.