The culmination of the Australian rules football season, the AFL Grand Final pits the two best teams against each other to decide the premier of 2018.
Melburnians are Australian rules football mad, so visitors to the city from across Australia and the world are best placed to join the masses in embracing one of the nation’s most iconic sporting events.
Friday 28 September
9:00am: Kick-start the day with coffee
Not many cities take their coffee as seriously as Melbourne does.
Here, the bean and beverage are almost as sacred as the AFL Grand Final itself, which is good news for fans of caffeine.
Professional baristas will happily talk beans and machines, or perhaps the player most likely to kick the first goal, while carefully tending to a takeaway or dine-in brew.
And those looking for a genuine coffee indulgence should consider a Melbourne Coffee Tour, journeying through Melbourne’s café history and culture as they indulge in the finest single origins.
11:00am: AFL Grand Final Parade
The city comes to life just before lunch, as hundreds of thousands of people descend on the Melbourne’s streets for the annual AFL Grand Final Parade.
Festivities commence outside the Old Treasury Building on Spring St, before travelling on Spring Street and Wellington St and in to Yarra Park.
The competing teams are presented to the masses at the AFL Grand Final Live Site, with visitors able to indulge in meet-and-greets with players, live music and Melbourne's best food trucks and bars in the shadows of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
2:00pm: Melbourne Cricket Ground Tour and the National Sports Museum
The Melbourne Cricket Ground is the undisputed home of Australian sport, so before the first bounce visitors should take time to step through its history via a tour of the stadium and a stop at the National Sport Museum.
Highlights of this must-see tour include the famous Melbourne Cricket Club Long Room, the Melbourne Cricket Club Library, player change rooms, cricketers' viewing room, portraits of Sir Donald Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar and a walk on the same hallowed turf as Australian football greats.
Australia’s largest sporting collection is housed in the National Sports Museum. This contemporary space boasts interactive zones, 3D holograms, displays and memorabilia from some of Australia’s biggest sporting heroes. Ranging across the Olympics, Australian football, cricket, horse racing, and much more, the National Sports Museum is a must for fans of any sporting code or endeavour.
5:00pm: Unwind with a drink by the Yarra River
Visitors can meander back to the city from the Melbourne Cricket Ground via Birrarung Marr and Federation Square, stopping in for a locally brewed ale or glass of prosecco as you prepare for that one day in September - the AFL Grand Final.
From Arbory Bar and Ponyfish Island to Riverland, Fatto Cantina and the numerous bars and restaurants of Southbank, there’s plenty of great options to unwind from a big day along the banks of the Yarra River.
Saturday 29 September
10:00am: Brunch away across town
From a big breakfast to an early lunch, variety is the slice of life when it comes to brunch in Melbourne.
This is Melbourne, so coffee needs mentioning.
12:00pm: The carnival comes to life at the AFL Grand Final Live Site
Before the bounce in the late afternoon, thousands of football fans descend on Yarra Park to embrace the carnival like atmosphere of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Fans of competing teams come together for football clinics for kids, and kids at heart, at the AFL Grand Final Live Site, with live music, plenty of great dining options and a genuine excitement filling the air.
2:30pm: The pub is the place to be
A coveted ticket to the AFL Grand Final is rare, with most Melburnians joining friends and family at the city’s pubs for the big game. There are hundreds of options in the central business district and on Melbourne’s fringes.
6:00pm: Celebrate into the night
The AFL Grand Final doesn’t end when the final siren sounds, as Melburnians celebrate one of the biggest days on the sporting calendar well into the evening at one of the city's vibrant bars.
From colourful cocktails with a million dollar few to a few quiet beers at a hidden laneway bar, there’s something to suit every mood and budget. Trinket, a cocktail bar on Flinders Lane, and Heroes for those that also likely dabbling in karaoke, are among the latest offerings.
Taking to the dance floor should also be on the agenda for any celebrating visitor. From deep-house and electro to disco and R’n’B, there are regular events with guest DJs a plenty to keep the most avid of clubber enthralled.
Sunday 30 September
10:00am: Relax, recover, rejuvenate
The days that follow the AFL Grand Final are quiet, and for good reason. After days of toasting the best of Australian rules football, the body deserves a day of rest and rejuvenation.
12:00pm: Refuel with lunch
From cheap eats to long lunches, Melbourne's awash with quality cafes and restaurants to satisfy every midday appetite and budget.
Visitors can go for Italian in Lygon Street, Carlton, Vietnamese in Victoria Street, Richmond, and Lebanese in Sydney Road, Brunswick. Find the best-dumplings in the city's Chinatown, and be spoilt for choice in Footscray's Vietnamese and African restaurants.
3:00pm: Get cultured
A short break to Melbourne isn't complete without a visit to the Melbourne Art Centre.
The internationally renowned Melbourne International Arts Festival will kick-off its 2018 event with the world premiere of the 1000 Doors experience during the AFL Grand Final weekend.
No backstage passes are required for the new Australian Music Vault with free entry to enjoy the celebration of the Australian contemporary music story – past, present and future.
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