A single-layer urban canopy model Community Land Model Urban (CLMU) is evaluated over two contrasting urban environments of Toulouse (France) and Melbourne (Australia). For the latter, three measurement sites are available characterized by a varying amount of vegetation, which supports a detailed assessment of the representation of urban vegetation in CLMU. For Toulouse, observed roof, wall and road surface temperatures allow for a detailed evaluation of the anthropogenic heat parameterization. Overall, CLMU performs well in simulating the canyon and urban surface temperatures, anthropogenic heat flux and urban energy balance, with an overall better performance for the dense old city centre of Toulouse in comparison to the more vegetated sites in Melbourne. Results for the latter sites reveal that the pervious road fraction provides a reasonable approximation of vegetation in the urban canyon while the tile approach often results in an underestimation of latent heat fluxes. A detailed analysis of the radiative, turbulent and anthropogenic heat fluxes as well as surface temperatures for Toulouse point to a complex interaction between urban surfaces and canyon properties. Decoupling the roof from the urban canyon to the atmosphere aloft is shown to be important. Our findings suggest that more evaluation is necessary for contrasting urban geometries in order to obtain a better understanding of the interaction between the roof surface on the one hand and canyon air and air aloft on the other hand. The results simultaneously reveal a trade-off in errors between surface temperatures, radiative and turbulent fluxes and anthropogenic heat which again stresses the importance of the intended model application. Also, our results suggest that model complexity should, perhaps, relate to the site complexity. These results provide a robust basis for the construction of additional sensitivity experiments, tailored towards the intended application for urban climate mitigation studies.