Grand ideas for the Finals long weekend

Melbourne cricket ground - home to the afl grand final

Melbourne cricket ground - home to the afl grand final

Melbourne is in the grip of football fever, with the AFL Grand Final set to take place on Saturday, 1 October. While football fans will be descending on Melbourne for the big match, others will be taking advantage of Victoria’s new favourite public holiday (Friday, 30 September) to get away from the madness. Either way, there is plenty going on in and out of the city.

In the city

Discover Melbourne’s labyrinth of laneways with local tour guides at Hidden Secrets, Walk Melbourne or Localing who will uncover the city’s hidden boutiques, galleries, cafés, bars and more.

Learn the difference between a cold press and slow drip coffee with Melbourne Coffee Tours, or get a taste of the city’s food scene with Melbourne Food Experiences.

Explore the eclectic neighborhoods of Fitzroy and Collingwood. Browse the boutiques along Brunswick and Gertrude Street, drop in at Rose Street Market, sample some of the city’s tastiest fare on Smith Street and top off the night at some of Melbourne’s most-loved cocktails bars, such as The Everleigh, Black Pearl or The Noble Experiment.

Get cultural. Drop in at the National Gallery of Victoria to see Masterpiece of the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine The Great, or delve into the life of the iconic pop-star at David Bowie Is at ACMI. Discover Melbourne’s hidden art galleries and spaces with Walk To Art or Art Aficionado tours, and see the city’s street art scene through the eyes of a local artist with Melbourne Street Art Tours.

Get tickets to any of the 74 shows on for the Melbourne Festival, followed by a drink in the sun at the Festival’s hub on the Yarra River, opposite Federation Square.

Learn a thing or two at Melbourne’s Museums: Immigration Museum, Melbourne Museum and Scienceworks – all still celebrating school holidays with programs, exhibitions and activities. Relive some of Australia’s most memorable sporting moments at the National Sports Museum

Feeling fancy? Book in for a classic High Tea at The Windsor, Langham Hotel or Hopetoun Tea Rooms or indulge in a pamper session at Miss Fox, Aurora Spa Retreat or Isika Day Spa.

Explore, shop and cook at some of Melbourne’s best markets including Queen Victoria Market, Prahran Market and South Melbourne Market.

Soak up the buzz of the pre and post match celebrations around Richmond and dine at some of the city’s newest eateries.

Out of the city

Take the family for a drive along the iconic Great Ocean Road, along the rugged coastline, through seaside villages, rainforests and farmland to the famed Twelve Apostles. Spend a night in the seaside town of Warrnambool, the home of the Roadshow Films’ Oddball. Stop in at Werribee Open Range Zoo on the way back to Melbourne, then enjoy lunch at Shadowfax and a stroll around the gardens at Werribee Mansion.

Watch the sun rise above Victoria’s beautiful wine region, the Yarra Valley in a hot air balloon, then spend the day exploring the James Halliday Wine Trail. Taste local cheeses at Yarra Valley Dairy and sample chocolate at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie before getting up close and personal with some of Australia’s favourite wildlife at Healesville Sanctuary.

Visit the Dandenong Ranges. Take a ride through the rainforest on the Puffing Billy steam train, visit the quaint mountain villages of Olinda and Sassafras, dine at Shannon Bennett’s The Piggery Café and see millions of colourful tulips in full bloom at the Tesselaar Tulip Festival.

Experience the Mornington Peninsula on horseback with Horseback Winery Tours. Stop in at one of the region’s many wineries or hatted restaurants such as Ten Minutes By Tractor and Montalto. Tree surf at The Enchanted Maze or get lost at Ashcombe Maze. Enjoy and a round of golf at any of the 19 courses in the region then take the Searoad Ferry across to Queenscliff and explore Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula.

Take a trip to Phillip Island. Stop in at the Koala Conservation Centre, catch lunch at Rhyll Trout Farm, take a Wildlife Coast Cruise out to see the fur seals and watch the world-famous Penguin Parade at Phillip Island Nature Park as they waddle up the beach at sunset, past spectators and home to their burrows.

Tune out completely in Daylesford. Soak in the natural springs at the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa, visit the Convent Gallery, explore the main street shops and dine at Lakehouse.

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