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Nowadays, the internet comfortably allow sports fans to watch their favorite games virtually anywhere in the world, without the need to move around. With live streaming, and VPN’s you don’t even need to be in the same country to be able to catch the game.

But sports and travel do go together, and there’s something truly magic about soaking in the atmosphere of an actual event. Physically being there, in the middle of the action, screaming your favorite athlete’s name.

If you’re a sports fan visiting Melbourne you certainly won’t be bored. Sports has a strong representation in the city, and Victoria is Australia’s most sports-loving state. Melbourne’s sporting calendar is packed with electrifying events, so if you find yourself in town, pick up your tickets and get ready for a religious experience!

Sports Spectators Won’t Be Bored in Melbourne: These are the Games You Can Catch


Sport is a crucial part of the social fabric in Melbourne, and the Australian Football League (AFL) takes on something of a religious aspect here.

Aussie rules football is the largest spectator sport in the country. It attracts the highest attendance and television viewership, especially during the Grand Final, which is by all accounts, the biggest sporting event of the year. If you find yourself in Melbourne on the last Saturday in September, and the city takes on a completely different atmosphere.

Hundreds of thousands of football fanatics crowd the streets on a pilgrimage through the city to the game. The streets are flooded with colors, scarfs and flags, and the age old buildings literally shake, the energy surrounding the stadium flooding out to the city at large. Betting traffic on Australian versions of popular sites such as Unibet is the highest it is all year.

AFL season runs roughly from March – September each year, and you can catch a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Ten of 18 current Australian Football League teams come from Victoria state, and play their home games here.

AFL Melbourne

AFL Melbourne

Photo credits from top: Yu-Jheng Fang / Jimmy Harris


Cricket is Australia’s favourite sport. Millions of everyday Australians enjoy the opportunity to play, and backyard cricket is woven into the fabric of what it means to be Australian; the buzz of hitting the ball, taking a wicket or grabbing a catch, as well as enjoying the camaraderie of being part of a team.

Cricket has been played in Australia for over 210 years, and the the Australian national team is one of the most successful teams in international cricket. The whole country stops for the Boxing Day Test match, held at the MCG between Australia and an opposing national team.

So if you’re in Melbourne over Christmas, get out the zinc and the novelty hat and join up to 100,000 cricket fans at the MCG for a sporting event that’s become an Australian institution.

Australian Cricket

Photo credit: Ben Sutherland

The Melbourne Cup

Melbourne Cup Day is Australia’s most famous Tuesday. At 3.00 pm AEST, on the first Tuesday in November, Australians everywhere stop for one of the world’s most famous horse races—the Melbourne Cup.

The whole nation stops whatever it’s doing to listen to the race call, or watch the race on TV. Even those who don’t usually bet try their luck with a small wager or entry into a ‘sweep’—a lottery in which each ticket-holder is matched with a randomly drawn horse.

Since 1877, Cup Day has been a public holiday for Melbourne, and crowds of up to 150,000 have flocked to the track and hill beyond. The party atmosphere often means that champagne and canapes, huge hats and racetrack fashions overshadow the business of horse racing.

The Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup

Content: Photo credits: Charles Van den Broek.

Formula 1 Australian Gran Prix

The Australian Grand Prix is a motor race held annually in Melbourne, which will be hosted by Formula One until 2023. This is the oldest surviving motor racing competition held in Australia having been held 79 times since it was first run at Phillip Island in 1928.

Since 1985, the race has been a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship and is currently held at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit at Albert Park. The Australian Grand Prix is the first round of the Championship. The race in 2017 was won by Sebastian Vettel driving for Ferrari.

Australian Tennis Open

Melbourne comes alive during the Australian Open. This is a major tennis tournament which is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events every year.

The Australian Open has been played in Melbourne for the past 110 years, and spectators have seen thousands of historic matches between some of the world’s tennis greats. Attendance here often rivals and occasionally exceeds the US Open.

It features men’s and women’s singles; men’s, women’s and mixed doubles and junior’s championships; as well as wheelchair, legends and exhibition events.  It is held on the last weekend in January.

Australian Open Tennis

Photo credit: Richard Fisher


With a capacity of over 100,000 seats, the MCG is an important landmark for the whole region, providing a home for many sports. Regardless of the time of year you travel, you should be able to catch some type of game here.

Games hosted at MCG include football, rugby (National Rugby League), international soccer, and cricket matches. And the schedule for 2018 is busy as usual. But this is more than just a sports venue.

The Stadium has hosted Papal and Royal visits and housed US Marines, the US Army airforces and our own RAAF during World War II. It has also been a concert venue for international and local performers, held open days, charity events, dinners and many more.

Don’t miss the National Sports Museum while you’re at the MCG. Australia’s top disciplines have their exhibits here, there are commemorations for the winter and summer Olympic Games, alongside distinguished personalities who are honored at the Australian Sports Hall of Fame.


Lonely Planet Pocket Melbourne

Lonely Planet Melbourne & Victoria

Fodor’s Australia



Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.


  1. So many sports! My husband would be in heaven for sure. I think I would like the Grand Prix the best. Loads of stuff to keep yourself busy.

    • Yes Melbourne is sports mad! A fabulous place to visit if your husband loves his sports – the Grand Prix is one of the most exciting events for sure!

  2. Keeping up with sports can be difficult when I’m travelling. I’m happy that I can get all the scores over the internet and, sometimes, live feeds or videos. I think going to the actual event or match would be a lot more fun.

    • Going to an actual match is definitely more fun – even if I don’t follow the sport, I find the atmosphere of being in a local stadium in a new country or place is something you can’t miss!

  3. Even though I am not a huge sports fan, I can see how a live event must be a lot more exciting and fun to watch compared watching it on tv! And since it’s part of the culture/sth typical to do in the city, then, as a traveller it should be on your list when visiting! Out of all, I would choose the Australian Open as my dad used to watch them on tv when I was a little girl… :-)

    • Absolutely Julia :) I’m not a massive soccer fan, but took the opportunity when in England to go to a Manchester game – the atmosphere was incredible, and it really is a great way to immerse yourself among the locals – sports culture often plays a big role in a community.

      The Australian Open is such a fun event, especially if you have childhood memories. Hope you have the opportunity to visit one year :)

  4. The Australian Open and F1 are the two sports I follow when it’s winter here in the UK (summer in Australia). Cricket is very alien to me, I think I will never understand its rules.I am just wondering as to why major sporting events are held in Melbourne, of all places in Australia?

    • Lol cricket seems to be alien to a lot of the world, though being from the UK, it’s quite popular there too right?

      Not sure why Mlebourne emerged as the sporting capitol of Australia. It’s one of Australia’s oldest and most populous cities, so my guess would be that the tradition of sports here is quite deeply rooted in Australia’s early history, where other cities weren’t as established at the time. And it continues because the population is large enough to sustain the interest in big events :)

  5. Cool to know that Victoria is Australia’s most sports-loving state! It’s so true when you said there is something about being soaked up in the atmosphere when you are there, live. When I was in Brazil I saw a live soccer game, and from someone who usually is super uninterested in soccer, I was loving it while I was there! The energy and crowd vibes are definitely worthwhile :)

    • Oh wow I can’t even begin to imagine how cool it would have been to take in a soccer game in Brazil! The energy and the crowd atmosphere definitely makes it worthwhile even if you’re not a fan specifically. We had a similar experience with soccer in Manchester, in the UK – I didn’t follow the sport but just being part of such an enthused crowd – it was electrifying!

  6. I have not connected sports and travel, but it sure does sound exciting. The last I was close to sports event at a travel destination was football in Milan. That day the city had more football fans than tourists!!!
    Australia is home to several sports events. May be I should time my visit to witness at least one.
    I like to study your posts rather than just read them :)

    • Absolutely – soaking in the atmosphere of match day is a great way to experience a side of a city that many tourists don’t get to see. Quite often sports has strong cultural roots, which is especially true for Melbourne, and plays a big part in a city’s cultural identity.

      Hope you have the chance to take in a couple of matches in Melbourne soon!

  7. There sure are some great spectator sports in Melbourne! I went to an AFL game there once and even though I didn’t understand much of the game itself, the atmosphere was wild! So much fun. It would also be a dream to see an NZ v Aus cricket match at the MCG. I’m a mad cricket fan and there’s nothing more exciting than watching these two countries compete against each other!

    • Absolutely Juliette! Awesome to hear that you caught an AFL game, lol yes it’s a bit different to any other code of football internationally, but the atmosphere is what I recommend foreign tourists go for. It’s electric!!

      I hope you have the chance to return to Melbourne one summer to take in some cricket too :)

  8. Totally agree that nothing can beat a live sporting event and that the right sport in the right place can be a truly cultural experience. We’ve always wanted to see Aussie Rules Football and now we want to see a cricket match…didn’t realize it was considered the heart and soul of Australian sports…est. 210 years!

    • Absolutely Mike & Anne! So many countries have sports deeply connected to their cultural identity, that we make an effort to sit in on local games when we travel. I hope you do have the chance to take in some cricket and AFL when you make it to Australia – yes, cricket sends us a little mad during season!!

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