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Sydney: One of the world’s most liveable cities

Read our guide to Sydney, voted one of the world’s most liveable cities, including the various areas you can settle down to live in.

Sydney Harbour Panorama

Spirited, enviably sun-kissed and sporting some of the most recognisable landmarks in the world, in 2013 Sydney was named the world’s second most liveable, and fifth overall favourite city. Against Australia’s consistent high scores in international rankings and quality of life surveys, Sydney’s high marks are hardly a surprise. Thinking of studying abroad in Australia? Let our brief overview of Sydney, one of the world’s most liveable cities, help you decide.


The survey

Based on a sample across 24 countries, the survey by IPOSOS Australia considered responses to three questions about respondents’ favourite city to visit, to live in, and do business in. Sydney ranked within the top five in both categories of favourite city to visit (5th) and live in (2nd). New York took out the overall top spot for world’s favourite city, followed by London, Paris, Abu Dhabi and then Sydney.


Student life

Scoring similarly in a recent QS Best Student Cities ranking, at fourth place Sydney is just one spot ahead of Melbourne as one of the world’s best places to study. Enjoying panoramic views, easy access to beaches and a vibrant student scene, students in Sydney never need to complain about being bored.

Different universities in Sydney have different types of campus culture, with bigger universities typically offering students more chances to get involved in campus life and hosting more student events than others. For example, the University of Sydney is renowned for its campus-centric feel and culture, with a range of student clubs, societies and sports facilities available to students.


Where will you study?

As with any city, there are a number of areas typically frequented by students. Most university campuses are close to clusters of cheaper, student-oriented cafés, bars and restaurants that you’ll no doubt be directed to by your peers. Otherwise, areas such as Surry Hills, Newtown, Darlinghurst and Glebe are known for their trendy, edgy spots, and whilst may prove a bit more costly are key points of interest for those keen to discover what Sydney has to offer.

Australian cities are world-renowned for their unique take on café and coffee culture, and Sydney is no exception. With an eclectic mix of hole-in-the-wall, rooftop and cosy places across the entire city, you can always find a cosy place to sit and watch the world go by: you’ll find there’s much more to Sydney than the postcards suggest.

Surry Hills

Flanked by numerous modern, stylish bars, restaurants, cafés, art spaces and specialty retail stores, Surry Hills is without a doubt one of the trendiest areas of Sydney.  There’s no way the pages of a guide book will cut it, so it’s best to either let your curiosity guide you down Crown Street or follow local tips of your new friends. Surry Hills is centrally located, and is easily accessible via Central Station, Sydney’s main train station, as well as by numerous buses.


Sometimes compared to New York’s Greenwich Village, Newtown is a popular student spot that’s a bit more removed from Sydney’s tourist traffic. Newtown’s main road, King Street, is packed with vintage stores, cafés and old Victorian-style buildings, and is just a short walk away from a number of gallery spaces, live music venues, pubs and parks. With a grungy, more underground vibe than Sydney’s more famous areas, your new Australian friends will no doubt direct you to a number of hot-spots here.


A favoured watering-hole for students, professionals and visitors alike, Sydney’s former crime capital is now full of trendy bars and eateries. Grab a bite to eat anywhere on Victoria street, or have a drink on Oxford street before dancing the night away in one of the areas many late night clubs. Darlinghurst is also home to Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras Parade.


Known for its quirky, distinctly bohemian vibe, Glebe is best enjoyed via its restaurant and café culture. Visit the famous Glebe market every Saturday from 10am-4pm and sort through a spectrum of vintage and second-hand goods and clothing before grabbing a coffee and taking a breather in Jubilee Park. Located within the heart of inner Sydney, Glebe is an ideal spot to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon.



Whilst the Sydney Opera house is most recognized as a landmark, it’s also a multi-functional theatre space that runs a number of opera, dance and theatre performances. If the theatre isn’t your thing, Sydney also plays home to a number of large galleries and museums that are well worth a visit. Spend the day in the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, or engage with Australia’s history at the Museum of Sydney. Not to mention the hundreds of smaller, independent spaces speckled throughout the entire city you’re likely to stumble across.


Get out there

Amongst other things, Sydney is known for its open-air swimming pools that famously line the Great Coastal Walk. Starting from Bondi Beach and ending in Coogee, the trail traces the shore of some of Sydney’s most famous beaches and passes a number of these pools in its wake. Whilst the walk itself is highly recommended as an activity for a sunny day, taking a swim in one of these pools and later baking on the deck is a uniquely 'Sydney' experience you won’t soon forget. Most of the pools are part of private clubs that often have a bar, café, restaurant or deck attached, so you might have to pay a small fee to get in, but laying out before a crystalline expanse of Australian waters is a sensation well worth it.

Sydney also has a number of large parks and grassy expanses within the city that are perfect for a picnic, stroll or afternoon nap on a sunny day.  


Feeling inspired to discover Sydney? Why not browse courses in Australia now and see for yourself why the city ranks so highly. 


Useful Links

Applying to study in Australia

Student life in Australia

Study in Australia


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About Author

Sydney Harbour Panorama

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.