The Ultimate Battle: Adelaide versus Melbourne

adelaide versus melbourne

It’s an age-old battle with no real answer. Melbournians love to slam Adelaide by putting it into the ‘small town’ box, and Adelaidians are torn between defending our beautiful little city, and moving to Melbourne ourselves… (guilty).

The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) has ranked Adelaide the fifth most liveable city in the world five years running, while Melbourne holds the title for the most liveable city in the entire world –  six years in a row. So to be clear, there’s no argument here about whether one is good, and one bad –  on a global scale, they are both standouts.

But with Adelaide relentlessly working to become more ‘relevant’, will Melbourne always be the slightly cooler older sister, or are there a few things Melbourne can learn from Adelaide too?



  • The breakfast scene is nek level. Say what you like about the food scene in Adelaide – Melbourne’s brunch scene is the gift that keeps on giving. Just when you think you’ve found your new haunt, another, more delicious and quirkily style cafe will appear right before your eyes. Con: “No alterations”. While Adelaide cafes let you chop and change your avo on toast until it resembles nothing like the menu item (but exactly what you want), Melbournians love to tell you how you can’t have your breakfast. “Can I swap the bacon for haloumi?” No, apparently you can’t. Sorry.
  • Unlike Adelaide, in Melbourne, you can actually get a meal after 9pm.
  • The man shortage in Adelaide? Not a thing in Melbourne. At all. Take a walk through South Yarra and eat your heart out. In my block of 10 units by the beach, there were a good 3 babes. My friend down the street similarly had delicious neighbours and very reasonable housemates.
  • There is a gig worth seeing every weekend. Yes, Adelaide is doing a lot better when it comes to fun things to do, but with such a huge number of bands living in or hailing from Melbourne, it really does feel like the musical centre of Australia.
  • Cultural festivals. Melbourne has them all, from the yearly Spanish festival in Fitzroy, to Fiesta, Melbourne has a festival to celebrate every culture – and there seems to be one on every weekend, somewhere.
  • International Melbourne Comedy Festival.


  • Adelaide Oval – The atmosphere is electric and it doesn’t smell like the MCG – world class
  • We still respect the dress code. – Hey Melbourne, daytime called- it wants it’s camo, denim and sneakers back. Head out for a night down Melbourne’s inner city or Chapel st and you could be forgiven for feeling overdressed for wearing a dress – and quite frankly a little disappointed. The teens and early twenty-somethings of Melbourne roam in sneaker-clad packs. Meanwhile, in Adelaide, we still make a little effort to respect dress codes.
  • World-class wine. McLaren Vale, Barossa valley, Coonawarra… need we say more?
  • The beaches are plentiful, wild and free. There may be little bays wrapping around the coast from St Kilda, but they are mostly stinky, brown, and cold. Adelaide’s beaches at their seasonal worst still kill Melbourne. That being said, both have great suburban coastal walking trails.
  • Food events. From the very recent, very successful Tasting Australia, to upcoming Ferment, Adelaide Hills Food & Wine Festival, Norwood Food & Wine, Beer & Bubbles – we sure know how to celebrate food, whether it be by closing off a street, or hosting a week or weekend of events over a mix of venues.
  • Mad March. – Fringe, Adelaide Festival, Royal Croquet Club and Clipsal combine for a month of magical nights and wild shows that leave our eyes wide, our livers totalled, and our pockets empty – it takes a lot of us the full year to recover.

What are your favourite pieces of Adelaide or Melbourne that you think we can learn a little bit from?