The best bars and pubs to watch the AFL finals

Grab a pint and the best seats with a view of all the finals (and Grand Final) action
Footy posters at The Palace Hotel in South Melbourne
Photograph: Graham Denholm
By Time Out editors |
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If you can’t get a ticket to the MCG during the finals, the next best place to watch sporting history unfold is in a Melbourne pub packed with supporters. But what makes a great footy pub? A big screen (preferably more than one), good sight lines to the action on screen, a knowledgeable crowd, a variety of beers on tap and reasonably priced food. And if they drop the music and crank up the commentary, all the better.

All that sports-ing making you hungry? Head to one of Melbourne's 50 best pubs for a meal. And if you've got a passion for brews, check out these inner-city breweries

Recommended: Things to do over the AFL Grand Final long weekend.

CBD

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Bars, Pubs

The Crafty Squire

icon-location-pin Melbourne

It's a bit of a beer barn, but who cares when it's dedicated to showing pretty much every sport there is on its many TVs? The full range of James Squires beers on tap helps win us over, too. 

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Bartender at Garden State Hotel
Bars

Garden State Hotel

icon-location-pin Melbourne

The much-anticipated Grand Final Day match is getting played live and loud in the CBD hotel's beer garden and public bar. Get amongst an $80 per head brunch package, where you'll get a three-course sharing-style menu with a complimentary drink on arrival. Or for those sticking around for lunch, you can enjoy lunch and drinks in the Observatory for $170 per head. 

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Imperial Hotel
Bars

Imperial Hotel

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Melbourne’s third-oldest pub gets packed out on when AFL games are on. There are two massive projector screens, plasmas dotted about, classic pub dishes, and a killer rooftop bar with prime city views. The $60 VIP package will get you a jug of beer, footy food and all-day barbecue on the rooftop, while the early risers can get amongst at $75 Grand Final breakfast, which includes bottomless beer, wine and bubbly along with a hearty breakfast. 

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The Duke of Wellington Hotel
Bars

The Duke

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Melbourne's oldest pub is serious about the Grand Final. So serious, in fact, that these guys have decided to bring all the action to you live and loud across every single one of their screens, across all levels. You can also enjoy the game with some shepherd's pie nibblers or pies of the day, too. 

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The Boatbuilders Yard
Bars

The Boatbuilders Yard

icon-location-pin South Wharf

Catch the AFL grand final day action with a view of the water at South Wharf. The Boatbuilders Yard can fit up to a whopping 1400 footy fans, and it's putting up a huge 4x2-metre screen in the beer garden that will show the footy complete with radio commentary live and loud. 

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Time Out Pub Awards 2015
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Craft beer

Beer Deluxe Melbourne

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Beer Deluxe at Fed Square is all about the notion that beer and footy go hand in hand. This Grand Final, all taps will be taken over for a Hop Nation and Modus Operandi beer off (more info on the tap list closer to the date). Plus, you won't be able to miss a moment of the big game with all the action being played live and loud across the big screens. 

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The Woolshed Docklands
Photograph: The Tofu Studio
Bars

The Woolshed

icon-location-pin Docklands

Take your pick of views and brews at the Woolshed on Grand Final Day. There are two VIP package options, as well as booking for general admission. The Super Box VIP luncheon ($150pp) is located in the Harbour View Room and will include a three-course lunch, half-time pies, sausage rolls and scones, plenty of beer and wine and a special appearance by a VIP AFL player. The Mezzanine VIP ($125pp) includes canapes and chunky bowls, half-time eats, bottled beer and wine. 

North

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Beer pouring at Rose Hotel, Fitzroy
Photograph: Amanda Summons
Bars, Pubs

The Rose

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

A true Melbourne institution and a go-to pub for northside footy fans, the Rose is still one of the best places to watch footy in town. It boasts a great old-fashioned horseshoe-shaped bar, top-quality pub fare, and – this is the real winner – a crowd that knows and loves its footy. 

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Great Northern Hotel
Bars

Great Northern Hotel

icon-location-pin Carlton North

A long-time favourite of footy fans in the inner north, dating from the time when Carlton played at Visy Park up the street. It boasts a huge beer garden with a projection screen, an indoor projection screen, and 10 HD TVs that show multiple games during the home-and-away season. Doors open at 10am on Grand Final Day, and they'll crank the commentary way up so you don't miss a thing.

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Bar area outdoors at Provincial Hotel Rooftop
Restaurants

The Provincial

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

Head towards Fitzroy's coolest new rooftop on the Thursday before the public holiday, where they'll be putting on a real party with DJs until late. On the big day, the Provincial will be airing the action live and loud from the first bounce on both the rooftop and the ground floor. Book a table for your crew on the ground floor or get in early for a spot on the rooftop. 

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Bars, Craft beer

Forester's Pub and Dining

icon-location-pin Collingwood

The viewing angles aren't the greatest, but when the drinking's this good (50 craft beers on tap, anyone?) you'll be hard-pressed to care. Plus, all the wood-fired pizza you can handle and a 4am licence on weekends means a long night of celebrating. 

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The Rochester Hotel staff
Photograph: Supplied
Bars

The Rochester Hotel

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

This Fitzroy pub with a rock-n-roll bent is as into footy as it is into killer live music and pub snacks. It is screening games on a big screen and across TVs across the venue, plus spilling out $9 pints and $5 tinnies during the finals. 

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Northcote Social Club
Bars, Pubs

Northcote Social Club

icon-location-pin Northcote

This popular northside pub is better known for its killer live music action, but it's also big for all things footy. Wear your team colours and head to Northcote Social Club's Grand Final Day party, where you can watch the game throughout the venue.

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Outside at Builders Arms Hotel
Bars

Builders Arms Hotel

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

Let the good times roll at the Builders Arms Hotel, which will be screening the game across the public bar, the bistro and upstairs. Doors open at 9am for those on their way to the 'G who are keen on early beers and egg and bacon rolls. Book a table for lunch and watch the game with a $65 per person menu (hello, half-time house-made sausage rolls!) as well as $2 pots of Grand Final Day beer from midday until the first goal. A Meatsmith meat tray is also up for grabs, with all proceeds going to charity. DJ Goldie from PBS will then finish off the day with tunes until late. 

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Inside at Dr Morse Bar and Eatery
Restaurants

Dr Morse Bar and Eatery

icon-location-pin Abbotsford
Head to Dr Morse on Grand Final Day and watch the action on the big screen. Throughout the day they'll have Bodriggy Brewing Co 'Speccy Juice' tinnie specials as well as a barbecue spit roast. A charity raffle is on too, with a $500 AFL voucher, Sherrin footy, venue vouchers and meat tray up for grabs. Stick around on the long weekend as Dr Morse's regular DJ roster continues. 
Time Out says

South

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The Palace Hotel: South Melbourne
Bars, Pubs

The Palace Hotel: South Melbourne

icon-location-pin South Melbourne

Footy is integral to the character and culture of the Palace, so it's no surprise it was crowned Best Sports Pub and Pub of the Year at the 2016 Time Out Pub Awards. With its unpretentious nature and excellent pub grub, it's a fine choice on game day – especially since there are a whopping 15 television screens.

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Bartender at The Grosvenor
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Craft beer

The Grosvenor Hotel

icon-location-pin Balaclava

This St Kilda pub is a little bit classy without betraying that warm pub welcome you want when drinking by the bay. There’s live footy on the screens overhead, and on Grand Final Day the crew will be pulling out all the stops with an early happy hour from noon until kick off with $8 Aperol Spritzes and $8 Mimosas. Everyone will also score a free pot of beer from the first siren to the first score, and there's $15 burgers until 5pm. 

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College Lawn Hotel
Bars, Pubs

College Lawn Hotel

icon-location-pin Prahran

How many screens do you need to watch an AFL final? Prahran's much-loved sports pub has twenty of them. What's more, you're surrounded by a passionate crowd of fans and friendly footy-loving staff. Go early to grab a table, and be sure to stick around after the siren for drinks and a live DJ who will be playing until late. 

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Bartender at The Emerson
Bars

The Emerson

icon-location-pin South Yarra

Hit up the Emerson at South Yarra during the AFL finals to watch the games live on the big screen. There are plenty of drink and food specials, including $20 Heineken buckets and barbecue eats. On the big day, you can get amongst a $65 beverage package and a $20 food and snack package. Or there's always the $100 VIP booth, which gets you a guaranteed seat for the game. 

East

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Tacos at Terminus Hotel Abbotsford
Bars, Pubs

Terminus Hotel: Abbotsford

icon-location-pin Abbotsford

For the big day, Terminus Hotel has you covered for the entire game. For $100 per head, you'll get all the beer, wine and food you're after, served up to you from noon until 5pm. Doors open at 11am with all seats up for grabs. 

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Bars, Pubs

Beer DeLuxe: Hawthorn

icon-location-pin Hawthorn

They make it easy to enjoy the Grand Final at this refreshingly old-school pub: pay $75 and you'll get a burger with chips and all-inclusive beer, wine and cider from siren to siren. Afterwards, celebrate your team's win (or party away your pain) with live music after the Norm Smith medal's been given out. 

 

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The Corner Hotel rooftop
Bars, Pubs

The Corner Hotel

icon-location-pin Richmond

Book a table for brekky on the rooftop from 9am and then hold onto it all day, or head down to the front bar and band room, which will also be showing the game on massive screens.

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The London Tavern Hotel
Bars

The London Tavern Hotel

icon-location-pin Richmond

A regular haunt for fans going to or coming from the MCG, the London always has a good footy buzz, and its massive beer garden is a real asset if the weather is good.

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Richmond Club Hotel
Bars

Richmond Club Hotel

icon-location-pin Cremorne

Only a stone's throw away from the 'G, the Richmond Club Hotel is the footy lover's pub that also doubles as a great hang-out spot for drinks after the game. Get in early or book a table to get the best seat with a view of the screen, but there's plenty of room to spread out in the dining room, beer garden and rooftop bar. The after-party kicks off from 4.30pm. 

How about a pub with an outdoor area?

More things to do over the long weekend

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