Melbourne has just been named the world’s tenth best city for culture right now

They don’t call Melbourne the cultural capital of Australia for nothing – and now our beloved state has been recognised on a global scale

Leah Glynn
Written by
Leah Glynn
Melbourne Editor
Federation Square Melbourne
Photograph: Neale Cousland/

Talk about kicking some serious goals. Just one month ago we were basking in the glow of Brunswick East being named the sixth coolest neighbourhood in the world. And in June, Melbourne clawed its way back from tenth to be named the third most liveable city in the world

Now, after quizzing more than 21,000 city-dwellers from across the globe to find out the best cities for art and culture right now, we can reveal that Melbourne has landed at number ten on the list. And while the news should come as no surprise to any Melburnian (we live and breathe all things arts and culture here, after all), we’re pretty bloody stoked to be the only Aussie location to get that global recognition.

To curate the list, locals were quizzed on their city’s best cultural venues and experiences, and were also asked to score their city’s cultural offerings based on both quality and affordability. It’s important to note that affordability is relative here: what’s considered cheap to locals in one city might not be to those in another. But whether it’s because of discounted museum entry or free open-air festivals, these are destinations where art and culture won’t break the bank. 

The selection was then narrowed down to 20 key cities by excluding cities with lower overall scores and only including the highest-scoring city for each country (has anyone checked to see if Sydney is ok?). Four ‘spotlight’ cities were added to the final ranking – cities that weren’t surveyed but were nominated by Time Out’s clued-up editors and local experts as cultural capitals that deserve a spotlight on this year’s list.

A shot of the Melbourne skyline during the day.
Photograph: Shutterstock

So what exactly gave Melbourne the cultural edge over cities like Paris, New York City and Tokyo, we hear you ask? From the graffiti-covered laneways to the artistic hub of Fed Square, the city is home to a thriving community of creatives and artists, which – as you’d imagine – makes Melbourne a pretty fun place to be. In particular, Melburnians praised their city for its vibrancy, variety and sense of community, shouting out annual events like Moomba as well as cultural institutions like the NGV, Australia’s most-visited and longest-running art museum. 

“Melbourne’s arts and culture scene is a fertile ground for artists of all kinds – our city is known for attracting a wide diversity of creatives, with countless festivals and events providing platforms for them to flourish and thrive,” says Time Out Melbourne’s lifestyle writer, Liv Condous. “From the fledgling productions at Melbourne Fringe to awe-inspiring spectacles at cultural institutions like Arts Centre Melbourne, there’s truly a home for every art form here. And the range of cultural experiences on offer here provides inspiration for everyone – whether they're first-time theatregoers or eager art lovers."

Take this as your sign to go check out that musical/gallery/concert you’ve been meaning to buy tickets for – we’re lucky to live in a city so diverse in its cultural offerings. Whether it’s blockbuster exhibition or a burgeoning new festival, there’s never been a better time to soak up the very best of Melbourne’s arts and culture scene. See you out there.

Here’s the full Time Out list of the world’s 20 best cities for culture:

  1. Mexico City, Mexico
  2. Prague, Czech Republic
  3. Cape Town, South Africa
  4. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  5. Athens, Greece
  6. Edinburgh, Scotland
  7. Vienna, Austria
  8. Madrid, Spain
  9. Florence, Italy
  10. Melbourne, Australia
  11. Paris, France
  12. Montreal, Canada
  13. Marrakech, Morocco
  14. São Paulo, Brazil
  15. New York City, USA
  16. Tokyo, Japan
  17. Abu Dhabi, UAE (spotlight city)
  18. Mumbai, India (spotlight city)
  19. Amsterdam, Netherlands (spotlight city)
  20. Seoul, South Korea (spotlight city)


The best of Melbourne theatre and musicals right now.

The best exhibitions to see in Melbourne this month.

100 things to do in Melbourne before you die.

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