Last Updated: November 1, 2022

Adelaide vs Melbourne (Very Different Cities)

If you’re planning on moving to or vacationing in Australia, or perhaps you already live there and are looking for something new, whatever the case is living or visiting Adelaide or Melbourne has probably come up somewhere along the line but how do you choose between them? 

These two southern Australian cities are just 700 kilometers apart, which might seem a great distance but in Australia, that’s actually quite local. Each one is quite special and has something to offer but they are both a little different too. 

Join me as we take a look at Adelaide vs Melbourne and compare the two so you can find out which one is better for your next move. 

Things To Do

Adelaid

Adelaide

Adelaide is brimming with culture, history, and a load of natural beauty too. This wonderful South Australian city is home to a tonne of art galleries, great museums, and lots more. You can walk out of your house, see a few exhibitions, eat some great food, sunbathe on the beach and be back in town in time to have a cocktail on a rooftop bar while watching the sun go down. 

Somewhere Adelaide is famous is its ring of Parkland on the River Torrens which is stunning for an afternoon stroll and it’s also the cultural center of the city. A hop skip and a jump from the leafy paths will have you in the Art Gallery of South Australia looking at pieces from all over the world and some of the best Indigenous Art Australia has to offer too. 

Walking around Adelaide is a real treat as well and this is thanks to the stunning architecture that is around every corner. The city is full of hidden gems in the form of old churches and this is only added to by the lovely Himeji Japanese garden, botanical garden, and beautiful seascapes too. 

If you thought Adelaide couldn’t get any better, well it does. It’s home to some of the best shopping you can find in the country thanks to its wonderful boutique shops and malls with every brand you could ever want to find inside. 

To top it off, Adelaide is the capital of wine country and hip cafe culture so if you love sipping on a dry white wine and espressos alfresco in the street, this is a city you’re going to love.

Melbourne Sunset over Yarra River

Melbourne

Melbourne has one of the best atmospheres of all the major Australian cities. When you walk around the streets, you can’t help but feel a part of it as everything seems to burst out into them from the bars and live music at night to the food stalls and cafe culture the residents hold dear. 

If you love walking around pretty art exhibitions, going to live concerts, and walking around trying amazing food from different places, plus doing a spot of great shopping, Melbourne has it all to offer. 

Outside of the general street vibes, Melbourne is culturally very alive too with the Modern art museum, the Immigration Museum, the Jewish Museum, and even the Islamic Museum of Australia, plus a science museum and more. There is no shortage of cultural experiences to be had in this city.

You also have some great places to go with the kids or sightseeing including The Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne Aquarium, and a trip to the top of Eureka Tower will give you unparalleled panoramic views of the city. 

Something Melbourne is kind of known for is its food markets and the ones to check out are Queen Victoria Market and South Melbourne Market. Think fresh produce, cheese, artisan bread, and the option to have a seafood lunch with great white wine and craft beer – they are heavenly places for a Saturday lunchtime. 

If it’s nature you’re after, there is no shortage in Melbourne thanks to its green parks, Botanical Gardens, white sand beaches, and calm seas. 

Verdict

When it comes to things to do and Adelaide vs Melbourne, you’re spoilt for choice in both cities as they are both great which makes it kind of impossible to decide. You really will have it all when in either of them from great cultural experiences to being in nature, and enjoying the general food and drinks scene. 

What’s the food scene like?

Adelaide

Adelaide is known as of the best cities in Australia when it comes to food and you can pretty much find anything your might be hankering for whether it’s fresh seafood, home-cooked Aussie tucker, pizza like it tastes in Rome, or fantastic Asian cuisine. 

The best place to go if you want to experience Adelaide’s foodie wonders is the Adelaide Central Market. The Adelaide Central Market is full of fresh produce, cheese, cured meats, and delicious food stalls serving up some of the best brunch or lunch you can find in the city, and you’ll get some crispy fresh white wine to go with it. 

If it’s fine dining you’re looking for, Adelaide has got that too with some amazing 5-star restaurants to choose from. A favorite with the residents is Peel St where you’ll find a fusion of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian flavors brought together in delicious meals. Another local winner is Osteria Oggi which serves some of the best Italian food you might taste in Australia. 

As you can see, finding delicious dishes in Adelaide isn’t hard. To be honest, if you just follow your nose as you walk down the streets of this lovely city, you’re kind of guaranteed to sit down somewhere serving great food. 

Melbourne

Melbourne’s food scene is another one of the best in Australia and it only seems to be getting better and better. The cafe culture in Melbourne is big, so much so that they claim to serve the best-tasting coffee in the world, so you kind of have to put it to the test. 

Coffee is such a part of Melbourne in fact that I always find myself comparing it to any other place I visit.

You’ll find an abundance of affordable restaurants in Melbourne too serving food from all over the world. A favorite with the locals is heading down to Chinatown where you’ll find a string of restaurants from every part of Asia including Vietnam, China, Thailand, Korea Japan, and more. 

For a great lunchtime spot, heading to Queen Victoria Market is your best bet where you’ll find seasonal dishes on the menu and all the fresh produce and artisan cheese and bread you might want to take home too. Think fresh seafood and white wine in summer, delicious warming stews, and hot toddies in winter and you’re pretty much on the ball with what to expect.  

You’ll also find some amazing top-end restaurants in Melbourne so when the inkling for a fancy night out comes into your mind, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. 

Verdict

When it comes to Adelaide vs Melbourne and their respective food scenes, they are pretty much equal in my eyes offering delicious food in every way possible from fine dining to outdoor markets and affordable tastes from around the globe. No matter which city you choose, know your taste buds are going to be equally happy in both. 

Nightlife

Adelaide

Adelaide’s nightlife is excellent and this is thanks to the diversity of venues on offer and the great shows that are available too. If you’re looking for a rooftop bar to start the night off with sundowners, it’s got it. Want to go on a bar crawl and hop from live music venue to live music venue as you go, the boutique bar-y streets have got that too. 

And when the bars are done, what’s next? You can find late-night dining options to reduce the hangover the next day or you can keep going and head to one of the many nightclubs and dance until the sun comes up. 

As you can see, Adelaide’s nightlife is very much alive and pumping, so you’ll never be bored on any day of the week. 

Melbourne

Melbourne’s nightlife is bursting at the seams too. No matter where you are in Melbourne, whether it’s in the CBD or in the outskirts of Brunswick, there will be something good going on nearby.

You’ll find beer gardens, craft beer pubs, cocktail bars, rooftop bars,  loads of live music, and some great night clubs too. 

Verdict

The nightlife in Adelaide and Melbourne is pretty much equal as it’s awesome in both of these cities. They have it all from great music and vibes to awesome venues and a diverse set of offerings to keep you entertained every night, week, month, or year you’re there. 

The Weather

Adelaide

The weather in Adelaide is great as it never seems to get too hot or too cold all year round, even though it’s pretty far south. You can expect to get around 3 days a month of rain in summer and 10-12 days of rain a month in winter, so it’s always sunny 50% of the time. 

Summers aren’t too hot with temps ranging from 17 °C to 29 °C and winters are very manageable but cold enough to get cozy in a duvet with temperatures ranging from 9°C to 16 °C. The great thing about summer is the lack of rain in Adelaide and its southerly position means it doesn’t get humid like Brisbane and Cairns. 

Melbourne

Melbourne’s weather is very similar to Adelaides as you might expect being just 700 or so kilometers away. The temperatures stay between 16°C and 27 °C in summer, so a little cooler than Adelaide but only by a degree or so. Keep in mind, both cities can experience very high temperatures in summer – sometimes even in the high 30s or 40.

In winter, Melbourne is colder than Adelaide with temps hitting lows of 7°C and highs of 14°C, which is still manageable but it’s a little chilly after 3 months of it. Melbourne is known for being very unpredictable though with the saying “four seasons in one day” being popular when I was a kid living there. It can be hot one day and cold and rainy the next!

When it comes to rainy days Melbourne is quite consistent with about 6 days of rain per month all year round making it quite dry overall and great for exploring the outdoors without a rain jacket. 

Verdict

The main difference between the weather of Adelaide vs Melbourne is the winter temperatures and the rainfall too. I guess you have to choose between being a few degrees warmer in Adelaide and 5 days wetter a month in winter or being a little chillier by staying mostly dry. 

Public Transport

Adelaide

Adelaide’s public transport network is excellent even on a global scale and it’s renowned as one of the best in the country. 

You can use trains, buses, and trams in Adelaide, and the great thing about them is that they are all run by one company, Adelaide Metro. This makes buying tickets and moving around the city as easy as it could be because you just need a Metrocard to board all forms of transport.  

Another great thing about the public transport system in Adelaide is that it’s efficient and runs on time meaning you’re never more than 20 minutes away from anything you want to do or see in the city. 

Melbourne

If you’re in central Melbourne then getting from A to B on the tram network is as easy as pie and super efficient too, plus tickets are free when traveling within the CBD. 

melbourne train map

Melbourne Train Network

If you need to head further out of the city center, then trains are your best bet. The train network is quite extensive, but the issue is that it spreads out like the arms of a spider’s web. So, the further out you get, the less likely you are to arrive exactly where you want to be. This is ok if you are within say 5-10km of the city center. Then you can connect to a tram. But once it comes to buses, things get a little slower.

So, the main issue with Melbourne’s public transport system is the buses as they’ve become quite slack and tend to show up later than their scheduled to, meaning you have to wait and their routes are quite confusing. This means getting home to the outskirts can be a pain especially as there is no train network to fall back on.  

Verdict

When it comes to public transport and Adelaide vs Melbourne, Adelaide is the clear winner. Moving around Adelaide is a smooth efficient operation whereas if you add a bus to the mix in Melbourne it could go either way. 

Adelaide vs Melbourne – The Verdict

Adelaide vs Melbourne, do you have a preference yet? In an ideal world, you would visit both but if I had to choose one, I’d choose Adelaide. Adelaide just seems to have everything Melbourne has to offer, but done a little better and perhaps in a more refined way and this includes everything from public transport to the nightlife and the food scene. 

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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