Melbourne, Sydney make top 10 in Conde Nast Traveler's best cities ranking for 2018

The humble suburbs of Preston and Bulleen could be about to be flooded with visitors, with Melbourne beating Paris, Vienna, and Rome in a prestigious list of the world's best big cities.

The Victorian capital also struck a blow in its eternal fight for global status coming third to Sydney's sixth.

Japanese cities Tokyo and Kyoto were voted first and second in the 2018 Readers' Choice Awards survey of more 429,000 readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

The magazine's spiel on Melbourne could spur a rush to suburbs, listing Preston's Gertrude Contemporary Gallery and Bulleen's Heide Museum of Modern Art as key attractions.

The write-up raves: "at once sophisticated, stylish, and seemingly free-spirited, Melbourne has all of the traits you'd want in a friend".

It notes that each morning here should begin with a flat white coffee.

But it avoids showcasing the cliched sights such as Flinders Street Station, the Yarra River and trams.

Instead, it lauds an "incredible arts scene", singling out Gertrude Contemporary "for eye-popping installations by emerging Australian artists".

(The gallery may have also scored points for grungy street cred – Gertrude is actually located in a converted furniture warehouse in semi-industrial High Street, opposite the sprawling old Junction Hotel).


Gertrude Contemporary artistic director Mark Feary said he was thrilled but not surprised at the gallery's listing as a Melbourne highlight: "We are like the the Guggenheim Bilbao of Melbourne's northern suburbs, but less shiny."

The Conde Nast article urges the public to "drive 20 minutes to the world-renowned Heide Museum of Modern Art", not mentioning it resides in the less-than-hip suburb of Bulleen, north-east of the city.

Heide artistic director Lesley Harding said she was delighted the museum was listed as a key destination and was in no doubt it would have boost visitor numbers.

"Set amongst 16 acres of beautiful gardens and sculpture park, Heide is a unique cultural destination that celebrates and promotes Australian modern and contemporary art, architecture and landscape."

In a nod to Melbourne's street art scene, the magazine states that a third arts must-do is to do an Urban Scrawl tour.

The Urban Scrawl website states that it will take you "behind the main thoroughfares of the CBD and into a rabbit warren of laneways and alleys on the hunt for some of the best street art in the world".

However Urban Scrawl's website also notes it is "not currently running street art tours for the general public", but a spokeswoman said they are looking to re-open them to the public over summer.

Sydney, in sixth place, is noted for its alfresco dining, swimming in rock pools, its beach and arts scenes, eating out in Paddington and "the cool-kid 'hood of Surry Hills".

The city's more obvious attractions are highlighted, such as Bondi Beach and winter's Vivid festival, though there's no mention of the Opera House, which has been mired in controversy over the past week.

Behind Tokyo, Kyoto and Melbourne, the cities voted fourth and fifth in the magazine's Best 20 Big Cities list are the Austrian capital, Vienna, and Hamburg in northern Germany.

From there are Sydney, Singapore, Paris, Barcelona and Vancouver.

Tokyo is praised for its contradictions: "ultramodern, neon-lit skyscrapers and tranquil temples, unmatchable street style and centuries-old etiquette" as well as being one of the world's best food destinations.

Topping the votes for the Best Small Cities list is a lesser known place – colonial era San Miguel de Allende, "considered one of Mexico's prettiest cities", with leafy courtyards, narrow cobblestone streets, and a historic town centre "from which the Gothic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel's pink towers rise high above the main plaza, El Jardin".

Ranked two to 10 in Best Small Cities were Salzburg, Lucerne, Basel, Cologne, Florence, Jerusalem, Porto, Venice and Edinburgh.


1. Tokyo, Japan

2. Kyoto, Japan

3. Melbourne, Australia

4. Vienna, Austria

5. Hamburg, Germany

6. Sydney, Australia

7. Singapore

8. Paris, France

9. Barcelona, Spain

10. Vancouver, Canada

See also: The world's most visited city for 2018 named

See also: Overrun by tourists: Countries with worst 'overtourism' named