The Best Arthouse Cinemas in Sydney

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Tom Smith

Whether you’re keen to catch an independent film, relive some cinema classics, or just watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster in more salubrious surroundings than your nearest chain cinema, here is a selection of the best arthouse cinemas to discover in Sydney. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Golden Age

Movie set clapper

The Paramount building in Surry Hills was constructed in 1940 as the HQ of Paramount Pictures, containing a small basement theaterette to preview the latest releases to cinema owners… and Golden Age pays home to this heritage with a beautifully restored 60-seat cinema showing a dynamic program of new releases, cult classics and arthouse productions. The adjoining basement bar serves a range of quirky cocktails and finger food that hit the spot before your showing, as well as a range of novel popcorn flavours.

The Chauvel

For more than 40 years, the old sprung-floor ballroom of the Paddington Town Hall has been home to the Chauvel, featuring two movie rooms along with a vintage cafe and bar space. But the charming cinema looked like it was going the way of Molly Ringwald’s acting career five years ago until it was saved by Palace Cinemas, rescuing the Chauvel’s carefully curated program of sophisticated arthouse films for Sydney’s serious film-lovers, including the city’s only dedicated film club, the Chauvel Cinematheque.

Palace Verona

Man with the Movie Camera,1929

Just around the corner from the Chauvel, this Oxford St cinema is another favourite of Sydney’s cinephiles for screening a diverse program of foreign-language films, Australian indie productions, and recordings of overseas stage shows and concerts. The Verona’s modern bar and cafe suits its leafy Paddington surrounds as well as the arthouse offerings in the four boutique auditoriums.


There are two great things about Govinda’s, a much-loved Darlinghurst institution locals have flocked to for more than a quarter of a century. The first is the all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet, brimming with hearty Indian fare. And the second is the boutique movie room showing a selection of independent and Hollywood flicks every evening, decorated with an array of floor cushions, beanbags, pillows and couches that invite you to kick your shoes off and sprawl out after over-indulging at dinner.

112 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, +61 2 9380 5155

Dendy Newtown

Audience in a cinema

What would Sydney’s hipster enclave of Newtown be without one of the city’s premier arthouse cinemas smack-bang in the middle of King St, surrounded by the galaxy of cafes, bars and restaurants that make this cinema such a popular venue at all hours? This Dendy – part of a small independent cinema chain with another location at Circular Quay – is the perfect place for some serious movie-watching, with wide comfortable seats and pin-sharp Dolby digital surround sound.

The Randwick Ritz

We couldn’t finish this listicle without celebrating this ornament of the 1930s, which has added modern facilities to a beautifully maintained 1937 building that’s still family-run and proudly independent. Grab a snack at the retro candy bar or a drink on the balcony at Bar Ritz before heading inside to catch the latest mainstream and arthouse releases. This Eastern Suburbs landmark is one of the few surviving art deco cinemas left in Sydney – another being the equally quaint Hayden Orpheum in Cremorne on the Lower North Shore.

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