Sydney is famed for its stunning natural scenery, majestic landmarks and, while they aren’t included in this list, the matchless Harbour Bridge and Opera House. But it also has so much more to offer than meets the eye, making it a stimulating, rewarding destination for international students…

1. A wealth of top universities

Australia is an exciting place to learn as a student, with most of the country’s top institutions climbing the latest Times Higher Education global rankings, bucking the trend in the West which has seen three top British universities drop out of the top 200 places and 60% of American institutions slip back. The University of Sydney particularly excelled, cementing its place as one of the top performing universities in the country. It shot 12 places up the rankings from 72nd to 60th best in the world and is ranked in the top 25 for humanities and social sciences. Sydney is incredibly welcoming to international students from around the world, and with 30% of its population born overseas it is a city accustomed to embracing new people and cultures.

2. The green city

If you’d feel proud to live in a city that is doing its upmost to combat the devastating consequences of climate change, then Sydney could be the home for you. The city aims to reduce carbon emissions by 70% in 2030 through an ambitious plan to provide all of the city’s electricity and heating needs through only renewable energy. The ex-industrial Green Square in the south of the city will house an $8bn green redevelopment involving innovative schemes to recycle water and develop quality public transport and cycle facilities. There’s a fun and quirky side to this noble quest too, with initiatives such as Reverse Garbage, the environmental cooperative that diverts the equivalent of 100 football fields’ worth of landfill waste into new uses and homes.

3. Sun

Students in Sydney enjoy the double delight of being able to study at some of the world’s top universities and in one of the world’s most pleasant climates, peaking at a lovely 26C average maximum temperature in the summer months, and often dropping only to around 10-16C in the winter. The city is also drenched in sun for 340 days of the year. This is where it really routs the likes of London, which matches Sydney for cultural, historical and academic attractions, but can feel a little grey and dark in winter, and with its temperatures only reaching average highs of 19C in summer it can be quite chilly. So for those who value being able to pull on a pair of shorts and flip-flops most of the year round, Sydney is the answer.

4. Sea and sand

It would be remiss not to mention Sydney’s stunning beaches – over a hundred of them, giving the city a much deserved reputation as one of the world’s best for sun and sand worshippers. The hustle of the urban city blends seamlessly into the beauty and tranquillity of Sydney’s many beach spots, with Bondi its most iconic, offering sprawling golden sands and top surfing conditions. For fans of the coast who are a little too restless to simply sit and soak up the rays, there is the option of taking in the splendour of a Sydney coastal walk, with the most popular being the 6km jaunt from Bondi to Coogee, taking in sea, sand, cliffs, and bays before ending with a well-earned cold beer.

5. It’s not all sun and surf…

Sydney isn’t all about lounging around on the beach or ambling along on a cliff-side walk; it’s also home to a thriving alternative counter-culture, particular in the suburb of Newtown. Think London’s Brick Lane or Brooklyn in New York, with its bohemian cafes, vintage stores and bars stocked with quality beer and wine. You won’t go hungry either – restaurants and takeaways showcasing a variety of global cuisines deck King Street – known locally as ‘Eat Street’ for its wide choice. There’s plenty to do in Newtown too, with regular gigs at The Vanguard, and a host of independent theatre spaces. If you have some time to wander the streets, check out the murals and street art in Newtown, particularly the striking depiction of Martin Luther King on King Street.

So there you have it- want to pick up your surfboard or grab a cold one? Then Sydney is the place for you.