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Play Melbourne

Get revved up for the Formula 1 Grand Prix's return to Melbourne in 2015. You'll need to be firing on all cylinders to back up full days by the track with all the fun of Melbourne at its finest.

Long evenings are perfect for convivial drinks in outdoor bars, excitedly predicting just how far local lad Daniel Ricciardo can go and whether the Hamilton-Rosberg team will continue to dominate. Explore the neighbourhoods surrounding the Formula 1 track and find new favourite cafes, bars and pubs.

Melbourne's laneway life can be found close to the Formula 1 paddock, allowing you to sample the dining scene and uncover hidden bars when a day of Grand Prix action comes to an end. Keep your racing earplugs handy and head to the city's lauded live music venues for a rocking racing soundtrack.

Visiting some of Melbourne and Victoria's most iconic sights takes in some seriously impressive driving. Tackle the twists and hairpin turns of the renowned Great Ocean Road, or take a few laps of your own on Phillip Island's Grand Prix circuit.

Make sure you set yourself up for an exhilarating Formula 1 Grand Prix experience, pairing powerful racing with the following lists of Melbourne's best.

Cafés

Plan your pitstop and get set for a day's trackside action at your pick of Melbourne's acclaimed cafés. The city's coffee really is as good as they say, and the best cafés take their food as seriously as the brews. Follow the aroma of espresso down South Melbourne laneways to indulge in lazy brunches or post-race snacks, or sample the bean scene in St Kilda. Head into the city where there's an array of options, all guaranteeing to turbo charge you for the rest of your F1 experience. Get some fuel in your tank at these five favourites.

St Ali

Anoint St Ali of South Melbourne your patron saint and savour in his name the carefully crafted espressos and the excellent breakfast and lunch. - View More

The Kettle Black

Take your coffee at a café that takes it up a notch, from the gleaming façade and stylish fit out to the excellent coffee and satisfying, consistently excellent breakfasts and lunch. - View More

Operator 25

Have your morning call answered with aplomb at Operator 25, open daily for breakfast, lunch and excellent coffee. The heritage-listed building and leafy surrounds are a bonus. - View More

Chez Dré

You're spoilt for choice at this South Melbourne patisserie-bakery-café. Grab a table and order up brunch, but save room for dessert. - View More

Miss Jackson

Soak up the St Kilda sun with a caffeine hit in Miss Jackson's courtyard and indulge in the bayside suburb's tradition of a languorous all-day brunch. - View More

Restaurants

Scrutinise an intensive day's racing action with friends and fellow F1 fans over drinks and the kind of food that encourages lively chats. Weigh up the merits of this year's most likely contenders and who'll take out the championship as you choose between succulent seafood, going Greek or a late-night Vietnamese feast. Alternatively, let the pizzas roll or tuck into an almighty burger, the very definition of high performance food. These five recommendations will set you in the right direction.

Claypots Evening Star

Bop along to the live piano while the seafood you've carefully chosen is grilled to perfection on the teppanyaki grill in the bustling open kitchen. - View More

Jimmy Grants

Extra travel time is worth it for the souvlaki perfection achieved by George Calombaris' maestros, with souvas, salads, snacks and drinks not standing on ceremony. - View More

Acland St Cantina

Swing by after the daily grind for gluten-free pizza and house red, followed by a shot of one of 20 varieties of tequila and some global beats. - View More

Saigon Sally

Come as late as you like to savour scrumptious Vietnamese faves sourced from the best local market produce, plus a pick from the inspired range of cocktails. - View More

Merrywell

Wrap your laughing gear around the contender for Melbourne's best burger at Crown's expansive gastro-pub, which also boasts an epic cocktail list. - View More

Outdoor drinking

Continue the Grand Prix party at the end of the day at some of Melbourne's hottest outdoor bars, all just a short distance from the track. Soak up the city's Indian summer atmosphere while enjoying a refreshing beverage on the banks of the Yarra River, or even out on the river itself. Savour an ale by the beach, or sip a fancy cocktail on a rooftop as you survey the cityscape by night. Here are five suggestions to keep the motor running until the big race ends.

Rooftop Bar

Take in jaw-dropping views of the CBD skyline at Rooftop Bar, set seven storeys atop the popular Curtain House, where the drinks are cold and the vibe is hot. - View More

Coppersmith Hotel

An easy walk from the F1 track, Coppersmith is a place to eat, stay, and most importantly, to play thanks to a range of tap beers, top pub grub and a fabulous rooftop area. - View More

Ponyfish Island

Clinging to a pylon beneath the pedestrian bridge over the Yarra River to Southbank, you'll find a pop-up oasis of beer, coffee and tasty toasties. - View More

Captain Baxter

Relax on the elevated deck overlooking St Kilda Beach with a cheeky cocktail at this beachfront bar named after one of St Kilda's founding fathers. - View More

Transit

Located above Transport bar at Fed Square, Transit is all plush reds, wood panelling and leather lounges, with views of the city lights from the terrace. - View More

What's On

With all the revved-up action crammed into the stunning surrounds of Albert Park, it's hard to believe there can be much more happening in Melbourne. Beyond the F1 paddock, though, you'll find a city that is well and truly in party mode. As temperatures cool and nights remain long, Melbourne in March boasts enough festivals, theatre, exhibitions, concerts and festivals to ensure your post-race evenings and race-free days are jam-packed and crammed with culture. See our five picks to get you started.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

Raise a toast to regional producers and savour a meal and a glass of wine at delicious food festival events, including the World's Longest Lunch. - View More

Strictly Ballroom The Musical

Based on Baz Lurhmann’s much loved Australian film, Strictly Ballroom the Musical arrives at Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne in January. Join in the fun and experience all the glitz, glamour and laughs! - View More

Public Art

Take in art from the City Circle tram, or walk through city streets, laneways and squares and along the Yarra River to see the city's public artworks. - View More

Thriller Live

Direct from London’s West End, THRILLER LIVE celebrates the undisputed King of Pop in a spectacular show packed with over two hours of your favourite Michael Jackson & Jackson 5 hits. In a career spanning more than 40 years, Michael Jackson has sold an unparalleled 750 million records worldwide, with the Thriller album still the world’s best-selling recording of all time. Bringing to life the sensational dancing and distinctive sound of Jackson’s greatest hits, THRILLER LIVE includes dazzling choreography by the show’s award-winning director, Gary Lloyd. - View More

Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Now in its third decade, Melbourne International Comedy Festival continues to break records and attract more converts every year as the city turns into a swirling, whirling comedy twister. - View More

Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival

Step out with the seriously stylish at Australia's biggest fashion event featuring fabulous entertainment, runway shows and workshops.
- View More

Live music

Swap the roar of the turbo engines for the thrum of guitars and pounding bass as you switch from the Grand Prix track to Melbourne's famed live music venues. Melbourne is Australia's city of rock and the scene comes alive every night of the week in pubs, clubs, warehouses and basements. See a big-name band playing a low-key gig, catch an international stadium show, or just head to a club and try your luck with the late-night sounds. Put yourself in pole position at these five venues.

The Esplanade Hotel

AC to the DC with a dose of grit and guitars at the 100-year-old Espy, with its welcome rock, bands, tattoos, steak, beer, and stunning bayside views. - View More

Prince

Get royally raucous in the iconic public bar of this St Kilda institution or catch major local and international acts in the bandroom upstairs. - View More

Boney

Catch local heroes in the upstairs bandroom, making the most of the filling meals and tasty snacks to power you through the infamous 2am live slot. - View More

Ding Dong

You'll find local and international rock, indie and electro acts at this late night Melbourne rock institution, plus a saloon bar and a Studio 54-style bandroom and disco. - View More

Cherry

This old soul of the Melbourne scene has impeccable local rock credentials, from its founder to the household names it's launched and the fact it can be found on AC/DC Lane. - View More

Shopping

Even the most reluctant shoppers can get caught up in a spree in Melbourne's retail hotspots, with accessible options for lovers of sport, fashion, literature, music, art and design. Make sure you look the part at Albert Park by perusing the wares of the independent local designers and fashion's best-known names – these happily coexist for your convenience in Melbourne's retail hubs and department stores. Venture into the city centre's laneways and arcades and unearth rare books and records, and a good dose of racing memorabilia to boot. These five recommendations will make shopping a breeze.

Markets

Grab a snack and some local designs at South Melbourne's daytime market, then sample street food and good tunes at the Queen Vic Market's weekly night market. - View More

Melbourne made

Stock up on souvenirs with a difference from local street wear and catwalk fashion to handmade jewellery, homewares and kids' stuff, and discover why 'made in Melbourne' means made with love. - View More

Record stores

Visit an independent record store in Melbourne – find second hand bargains, obscure new releases and live in-store performances. - View More

Emporium Melbourne

Be assured of the best of the best at Emporium Melbourne, the city's cutting edge shopping mecca that boasts a host of first-to-Australia brands and flagship stores. - View More

Global fashion

Make the most of the distinct Melbourne lifestyle while snapping up some of the most coveted items in international fashion from some seriously impressive storefronts - View More

Outdoor spaces

Albert Park is not only one of the most picturesque Formula 1 circuits, but there are even more beautiful open spaces just a stone's throw from the track. Get some pre-race peace in the tranquil Royal Botanic Gardens, or watch life go by from the banks of the Yarra River. Experience wild encounters in the fascinating Melbourne Zoo, feel sand between your toes at St Kilda beach, or spend a while soaking up the atmosphere from Federation Square, also site of the Grand Prix ticket booth. Here's where to go for some wide open spaces.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Enter a place of continual discovery and delight, with city vistas, tranquil lakes and diverse plant collections, plus outdoor films and performances. - View More

Federation Square

In the tradition of the world's busiest public spaces, 'Fed Square' buzzes with a daily program of events, restaurants and cafes and bold galleries. - View More

Birrarung Marr/Yarra River

Listen to the ringing of the eye-catching Federation Bells and browse the open-air collection of artworks to discover Melbourne's indigenous culture. - View More

St Kilda beach

Enjoy a day by the seaside at St Kilda Beach, a buzzing hive of fitness activity and home to a weekly market, the iconic pier and heated Sea Baths. - View More

Melbourne Zoo

Experience a zoo visit like no other with up-close Wild Encounters tours, groove in summer to the 'Zoo Twilights' music performances, or just gush over new arrivals. - View More

Nearby neighbourhoods

Albert Park is exceptional for many reasons. In addition to the stunning parkland and lakeside track, there's the proximity to Melbourne's buzzing city centre and intriguing inner-city neighbourhoods. Devote a while to wander and discover the best breakfasts, beaches and bars, plus boutiques and some of the city's top restaurants. Each with a distinctive character, you'll find the neighbourhood to suit without travelling too far from all the Formula 1 Grand Prix action. You'll be flying the chequered flag when you discover these five neighbourhoods.

St Kilda

Prepare to play in St Kilda, where you can kick up your heels by the seashore, by the stage at live music venues or on the whirligigs at Luna Park. - View More

South Melbourne

Stand still and watch as the heritage buildings in Melbourne's oldest suburbs are adapted to house chic boutiques and hip cafes and restaurants. - View More

Prahran & Windsor

Capture the independent spirit of Prahran and Windsor. Journey down Chapel Street, a treasure-trove of vintage finds, eclectic eateries and boutiques. - View More

Carlton

Eat 'til you're fit to burst in Carlton, Melbourne's Little Italy where Ferrari red is worn with fervour during the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. - View More

Southbank & South Wharf

You'll find all roads lead south in Melbourne - to Southbank and South Wharf, that is, Melbourne's waterside dining, drinking, arts and shopping hubs. - View More

Beyond Melbourne

Watching the world's best drivers do their thing on the dazzling Albert Park circuit is almost certain to give you an itchy driving foot. Luckily, Victoria has some seriously impressive drives for when the action ends. Jump at the chance of a few laps on the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit or along the hair-raising turns of the unforgettable Great Ocean Road. If you're really raring to go, take a five-day round trip to some great Victorian spots, or set off on the stunning coastline to Sydney. Get your driving boots on for these five trips.

Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges

Head out to the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges and wind around mountain roads to national parks, sumptuous wineries, eclectic villages and Healsville Sanctuary. - View More

Great Ocean Road

Travel the Great Ocean Road and beyond for one of the world's most scenic coastal drives, and see the 12 Apostles, iconic surf breaks and waterfalls. - View More

Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit

Travel just 90 minutes from Melbourne to mimic your heroes with a few laps of the island's Grand Prix Circuit, and be sure to see the famous Phillip Island Penguin Parade at dusk. - View More

Great Southern Touring Route

See star attractions like the 12 Apostles on a five-day round-trip taking in the Great Ocean Road, the Grampians, the Goldfields and spa country. - View More

Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive

Get behind the wheel and absorb the striking coastline between Melbourne and Sydney. Detour to national parks, white sandy beaches and vast lakes. - View More

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