The Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne is one of the largest international sporting events held in the city annually.
People from all over the world flock to Melbourne each and every year for what used to be the opening round of the Formula 1 Championship. It has been relegated a little further down the schedule in the last couple of years.
The Victorian capital knows how to put on world-class events, with the Formula 1 race one of a handful of events that the city uses to showcase itself and Australia to the rest of the world. An effort that is immediately obvious when you arrive in the city for the race.
Having been to the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne for both work and fun over the last several years, I’ve picked up many handy tips that you can take advantage of in planning your trip to Melbourne to attend the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Where Is The Australia Grand Prix held?
The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix is held in the parklands of Albert Park, located halfway between Melbourne’s CBD and St Kilda Beach.
The track itself is a temporary street circuit that utilises the streets and service roads that run around Albert Park Lake and within the golf course, both of which are open to the public during the rest of the year.
Where To Stay for the Australian Grand Prix
There are plenty of accommodation options in and around Melbourne. But you will need to keep in mind that the large-scale nature of the Formula 1 event means that a lot of the best options book out very quickly, and you will see a significant surge in prices compared to the rest of the year.
If you are looking to stay where the Formula 1 teams stay, especially if you’re a super fan looking to have breakfast with your favourite driver, then staying in the hotels around Albert Park is your best option.
The big-name options can be found along Queens Road, adjacent to the circuit, particularly View Melbourne (formerly Melbourne Parkview) and Pullman Melbourne Albert Park. These are typically where the F1 teams choose to stay and are within a really short walk to the gates to the track.
Just keep in mind that if you choose to stay this close to the track, you have to also pay a premium for everything else as well. Dining options are limited in this part of Melbourne, but you could lean on delivery services like Uber Eats.
That said, if you must be at the heart of all the A-list events surrounding the Grand Prix, of which there are many, you will have to stay at the Crown Metropol.
With that in mind and my personal experience, I’ve got a couple of other options for you.
The best part of staying in South Melbourne is that it has a great selection of restaurants and bars, all within a short stroll of either of these accommodation options. And they are also a short tram ride away from the city if you want to explore what else the city has to offer.
On the complete opposite side of the circuit, St Kilda is a very good alternative if you don’t want to go into the city during your time at the Grand Prix.
The best places to stay are along Fitzroy Street so that you can walk into the circuit but also have easy access to restaurants, bars and even St Kilda Beach and Luna Park.
My best suggestion is the Saint Kilda Beach Hotel. Formerly a Rydges property, this is the nicest hotel on this side of the track, with a number of restaurants just out front.
That all said, staying within Melbourne CBD gives you the best accommodation and dining options for the duration of the Grand Prix.
Connected to the track by special direct tram departing from both Southern Cross Station and Flinders Street Station (more on these shortly), staying within the city is very convenient. It can also be a little easier to get to and from the airport, especially staying near Southern Cross Station.
The Savoy Hotel on Little Collins Melbourne is the most luxurious option, but if you are looking for something a little more budget conscious, try Best Western Melbourne City or Winston Apartments on the Spencer Street side of the city.
Getting To and From the Australian Grand Prix
As I just mentioned, tram services to and from the Albert Park circuit are free for Australian Grand Prix ticket holders.
There are two main tram lines that service Albert Park running along either side of the circuit.
The first one originates from the main transport hub of Southern Cross Station (Spencer Street) and connects with Gate 1 and Gate 2 on the eastern side of the circuit near. This is where you will find the main straight and a majority of the grandstands.
The second major tram line originates for Flinders Street Station and connects with Gate 8 and Gate 9 on the western side of the circuit (the golf course side).
In addition to these two main lines, an extra service also runs from Southern Cross Station, connecting with Gate 3 at the northern end of the circuit.
As the event has continued to grow with record attendance in both 2022 and 2023, they’ve made sure that these tram services are well marked for the full duration of the event (not just Saturday and Sunday as it used to be). Extra public transport staff are available at each stop to help attendees find the right trams for the event.
Just keep in mind that these special tram services now run express between either Southern Cross Station or Flinders Street Station and the track. If you are staying closer to the track, you’ll still need to make your way to either of these stations first or head directly to the track.
It used to be that the trams would stop at stations along the way, but with the increased crowds, they’ve stopped this.
From my personal experience, Gate 8 is your best option for getting into and out of the track quickly and easily. The queues of people in this section tend to be smaller and the trams more frequent.
If going all the way across the track seems all too hard after a big day of racing. You can skip some of the queues by leaving the circuit from Gate 2 instead of Gate 1. If you get to Gate 1 and see that the queue for the tram is still inside the circuit, walk up to Gate 2. It will be much faster, especially after the Grand Prix on Sunday.
Food Options At The Australian Grand Prix
Being a temporary venue that it is, for the majority of the year the area is a public road and park area. There aren’t any permanent food vendors within the venue.
For the Australia Grand Prix, the venue relies on a huge number of food trucks that show up every year for the event.
What makes the Australia Grand Prix stand out food-wise is the variety of options available. You will, of course, find your typical burger and chips style race track/sports venue food options. But you will also find some amazing gourmet food truck options as well.
It’s worth wandering around the venue just to explore the food options available, especially if you are attending all four days of the event.
What To Do In The Evenings During The Australian Grand Prix
Melbourne, as a city, has plenty to offer. So you won’t be hard-pressed to find something to do in the evening after a big day at the track.
In recent years the on-track schedule has been moved to later into the day (usually starting at 10am and finishing at 6pm) so you can go out at night, get a bit of sleep in and still make it to the track on time, not to miss anything.
There are plenty of Grand Prix-related activities in and around the Crown Casino area that could be worth checking out if you are in town exclusively to watch the race.
The Crown Casino and the greater Southbank area also offer plenty of dining and bar options if you like fine dining experiences.
Something else unique while Formula 1 is in town, especially if you love Ferrari, is to head on over to Lygon Street. Known locally in Melbourne as Little Italy, during the Australian Grand Prix, the high concentration of Italian restaurants along the street become inundated with Ferrari’s and Ferrari fans, which is something special to see.
Beyond the specific suggestions for the Australian Grand Prix, I’ve got some more general advice about good places to eat and drink in Melbourne in this blog post.
Spending Time In Melbourne Before and/or After the Grand Prix
Having tried before, the mass exodus on the Monday morning after the Grand Prix is sure to test anyone’s patience.
Melbourne Airport is always flooded with people trying to get back home for work, and as a general rule, it’s not a pleasant experience with that many people all trying to leave at once. Also, the flights are always super expensive.
My best suggestion is to give yourself an extra day or two in Melbourne after the event to see some of the rest of what the city has to offer and avoid the chaos. You’ll save enough money on flights to justify the extra night or two of accommodation.
There is plenty that Melbourne has to offer, and if you aren’t sure what else you might like to do, I’ve put together this blog post with my suggestions for the best of what Melbourne has to offer.
General Australian Grand Prix Tips
Even though I’ve been attending the Grand Prix as an accredited photographer in recent years, previously I have also attended the race as a paying spectator.
From that experience, I’d strongly recommend buying a Grandstand ticket over a General Admission ticket. The Grandstands are set up in all the best spots around the circuit, offering great views of all the action (some of which I’d love to access as a photographer).
Grandstand tickets still allow you the freedom to walk around and see the track from all the other vantage points, but you will have a guaranteed seat when the crowd builds up ahead of the big event on Sunday.
The grandstands are also set up within sight of the large TV screens so that you can see the rest of the action around the track at the same time.
That wraps up my picks for the best advice for attending the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix for the first time.
If you’d like to get more information to help plan your trip to and around Australia… Check out the rest of my blog posts.
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