For sports fans all over there are few greater thrills than experiencing the buzzing atmosphere of Melbourne in the grips of footy fever.
Footy is part of life in Melbourne and the revered MCG is so close to the CBD that you can easily combine a big game with Melbourne's famed laneway life, savour a coffee or two and see some of the city's most sensational sights.
Friday night games, Saturday afternoon spectaculars or twilight tousles all offer an unforgettable experience and leave plenty of time to make the most of Melbourne.
Afternoon games at the MCG generally kick off at 1:10, 2:10 or 3:20, allowing time for breakfast and lunch before the game, or even better, a lazy brunch and wander around the top end of town. Try Cumulus Inc for brunch or brekky that's all class, bunker down at Bowery to Williamsburg, or take advantage of Federation Square's expansive eateries.
City shop & stroll
Get your bearings with a brief wander around town, giving into the temptation to duck into the boutiques you pass as you stroll, building a distinctive football outfit as you shop.
If you've opted for an earlier breakfast over brunch you can take advantage of the extra hours to duck into ACMI or NGV to take in the Winter Masterpieces exhibitions. This winter NGV International reveals more than 200 works by French impressionist Degas, while ACMI at Federation Square is exploring the inspiration and works of master screen stylist Scorsese.
Alternatively, make it all about the MCG by heading over to the National Sports Museum to relieve some great moments of sporting history before the footy.
Absorb a bit of pre-game atmosphere by heading over Punt Road to one of the local Richmond pubs. Try the London Tavern, the Richmond Club Hotel or the Mountain View Hotel and get involved in an animated chat about your team's fortunes, or warm up for the game in The Corner Hotel's rooftop beer garden.
Head over to the MCG with plenty of time to orbit the exterior and pay your respects to the statues of players past before taking your seat and barracking yourself hoarse from the moment your team breaks through the banner.
Match review places
The final siren sounds just in time for your dinner reservation, or in time to beat the queues at the hip eateries with no reservations policies. Make a beeline for Flinders Lane for a bite to eat at Chin Chin, Meatball and Wine Bar, Pei Modern, Hihou or Supernormal, or stroll down Exhibition Street to Gazi (also a pre-match favourite).
Finally, nestle into a cosy corner in a buzzing bar to dissect the game's best plays.
Footy under lights
The spectacle of the MCG under lights is awe-inspiring and a night game at the MCG gives you the chance to take your time to explore Melbourne. Make that brunch a little more leisurely, lose track of time shopping up a storm at Emporium Melbourne or at H&M at the GPO, take in the winter masterpieces exhibition at NGV or get a sense of sporting history at the National Sports Museum. All this as well as absorbing the atmosphere of Richmond's pubs pre-game.
Dinner might be a meal in the pub or a Four'N Twenty Meat Pie during half time and a big win will have you walking on air back up to Flinders Lane and its host of bars for some post-game analysis. Burrow beneath Chin Chin to Go-Go Bar, savour a glass of wine in cosy Cumulus Up, or ring the bell for Japanese decadence at Hihou.
With no game to get to, you can afford to venture further afield to Fitzroy. Jump on a tram and make brunch a priority, leafing through the reports of yesterday's game at Smith & Daughters on Brunswick Street. Take a postprandial stroll up Brunswick Street, down Gertrude Street and along Smith Street to see the street art, characters and boutiques that give this neighbourhood its bohemian credentials.