The 5 Best Cities in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific

The best cities in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, according to Travel + Leisure readers, are those with bustling neighborhoods and iconic landmarks.

View of palm trees and the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia
Photo: Sean Fennessy

When Travel + Leisure readers visit cities in Oceania, they want the best of both worlds: the natural beauty and heart-pounding adrenaline this region has to offer coupled with the ever-growing and phenomenal cultural and culinary scenes. The good news is that, even on a short visit, opportunities abound to enjoy a little of all those things no matter which metropolis serves as home base.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

Making the list at No. 5 this year is Auckland, New Zealand, which has a reputation for punching well above its relatively diminutive 419 square miles. T+L readers love how easy it is to explore the neighborhoods, nearby islands, and local wineries. "We found so much to do," wrote one reader who stayed for a week. "We walked all the city neighborhoods, took in a play, rode the ferry to other islands, enjoyed wine tastings, and went thrift shopping." Another voter echoed the sentiment: "This was a very interesting city. There are lots of great restaurants and great little districts."

Hobart, Tasmania, moved from No. 4 to No. 2 in this year's list. A few possible reasons for its growing popularity: a booming art scene, recently opened hotels, and an influx of Australia's gifted young chefs. "Hobart is exceptional," one voter shared. "I did not have enough time to do all I wanted to. The art museum is outstanding. The natural environment around the city is varied and well worth exploring."

No surprises that culture capital Melbourne made the list at No. 4. It's been a longtime reader favorite for its thriving culinary scene and hidden action-packed alleys. One reader, who spent a full month there, remarked on how walkable the city is. Others commented on how friendly and laid-back the locals are.

But it was Sydney that once again nabbed the No. 1 spot. Find out why T+L readers can't get enough of the Harbor City, and which other hubs in the region join it on this year's list of top five cities in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific.

1. Sydney, Australia

The Sydney Opera house under golden light
Sean Fennessy

Between the 100 or so beaches, breathtaking coastal walks, iconic landmarks, and year-round blue skies, it's not hard to be seduced by the capital of New South Wales. "It's a beautiful city, especially if you love the coast," one T+L reader said. One of Sydney's greatest assets is its "safe environment and how easy it is to walk and experience sights," said another. But look beyond the obvious blockbuster attractions and you'll find a city whose appeal is only growing. Handfuls of cool hotels are opening at breakneck speed; impressive galleries and museums are showing world-class art; and a creative restaurant and bar scene is only getting bolder and more ambitious.

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 86.40

2. Hobart, Australia

The city of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, with Mount Wellington visible behind
Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Score: 85.00

3. Queenstown, New Zealand

The Queentown, New Zealand cityscape at dusk
Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

Score: 83.59

4. Melbourne, Australia

People lounge on the banks of the Yarra river in Melbourne, Australia, on a sunny day
The Image Bank RF/Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 82.70

5. Auckland, New Zealand

Aerial view of the Auckland, New Zealand skyline
Getty Images

Score: 82.52

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