Discover the best unique cinemas in Sydney to make the experience that little bit extra special! If you get a little buzz when the lights go out in the cinema and the trailers start, then this is the article for you.
We can watch movies anywhere on our phones, but nothing beats the special experience of the big screen and incredible surround sound. Cinemas in Sydney are unique, from speakeasy bars to buffet dinners, there is a movie night for everyone.
Here’s some of the standout best cinemas in Sydney you should take the time to visit.
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1. Experience Art Deco glam at Golden Age Cinema
As one of the oldest and most popular small cinemas in Sydney, Golden Age Cinema in Surrey Hills dates back to the 1940’s as the original underground theatrette for Paramount Pictures.
It features it’s authentic art deco style and shows both indie and mainstream new releases. Grab a classy cocktail in the Golden Age Bar before heading into the 60 seat intimate cinema for a truly elegant cinema experience.
See it all at this popular cinema house; international film festivals, retro flicks, new award nominated releases and Q&A screenings at the Dendy Newtown. Boasting ten screens, surround sound and a bar; you will have a relaxing night every time. For extra comfort, book the lounge screening for a snug leather armchair, footstool and personal snack table.
A local institution, the Ritz Cinema in Randwick brings 1930’s art deco charm to the East. With a huge screening schedule from cult classics to advanced preview screenings, it’s no wonder this cinema is so popular with film buffs.
With it’s own balcony bar and located in Randwick spot, you will not be short on restaurants and bars to turn your night at the flicks into a special date. Top tip; (at the time of writing) visit on a Tuesday for a reduced $12 ticket.
4. Watch your favourite movies in the Moonlight
Every summer, Centennial Parklands welcomes the open-air ampitheatre, Moonlight Cinema to their park. Featuring food trucks, a bar, bean bags and BYO options, you are sure to have a fun night under the stars. The schedule includes both feature film releases and nostalgic classics, but the best element is that all dogs are welcome!
5. Feast your way to your favourite flicks at Govindas
Let’s be honest, one of the most exciting parts of a cinema night are the snacks, am I right? Well, Govindas in Sydney takes this to a whole new level with a vegetarian Indian Style buffet to feast on before your session time. Incredible!
If you’re worried about sitting through a long movie after dinner then fear not, Govinda’s movie room is filled with cozy lie down cushions for you to kick off your shoes and stretch out. The restaurant is only open Thursday – Sunday evenings so time your movie right to get the full experience.
6. Step back in time at Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace
For a truly unique movie night, book into the main 744-seat auditorium on a weekend night to see your movie start with a genuine Wurlitzer cinema organ show. You literally can’t get that at any of the other cinemas in Sydney!
All 6 screens are stunning with their own art deco theme and colour scheme so you can’t be disappointed with any ticket from the box office.
For the immersive cinema types, you just have to go and see the cult classic “the best worst ever movie made”, ‘The Room’. Throw spoons at the screen and enjoy this hilarious, one of a kind evening. Read our review of The Room at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Theatre.
7. Live out a Grease movie scene at Skyline Drive In
Now the last remaining drive-in cinemas in Sydney, it is well worth the drive to Blacktown for! Head to the vintage diner for classic burgers and milkshakes before connecting your car radio to the FM station and settling in for a nostalgic cinema experience. Currently ran by Event Cinemas, you can see all the new release blockbusters from the comfort of your own car.
8. Add a little grandeur to your movie night at Palace Chauvel
Palace Chauvel Cinema in Sydney has been operating out of Paddington Town Hall since 1977 and is popular on the Cinemas in Sydney list. There’s good reason for it too; they really support the industry by showing foreign language films, cult classics and independent flicks that wouldn’t normally show on the big screen.
9. Overlook Sydney Harbour with United Cinema
United Cinemas in Circular Quay are dedicated to bringing movies to patrons in luxury style with reclining chairs and a bar. United took over this location from Dendy’s in 2020 and has committed to re-introducing Friday night late night dress up, cosplay and party sessions which were famous in Sydney in the 70’s and 80’s! So put on your costume and feel like you are stepping into the movie limelight.
10. Literally watch the sun set and a film at Sunset Cinema
There is something magical about being out in nature to watch a fan favourite flick, you get that childhood giddy feeling staying up past sunset. Pack a picnic or buy from one of the food trucks at the Sunset Cinema in North Sydney during the Summer months.
You can even book into the premium section for a luxury beanbag and bottomless popcorn. I’ll say that again..BOTTOMLESS POPCORN!
11. Support the family-run Roseville Cinema in the Northshore
After WW1, this Town Hall was turned into the Roseville cinema in 1919 and has been ran by the same family since the early 1970’s. If that’s not enough of a pull to support them, then let me tell you that they support local and international art-house films and proudly welcome parent and infants to all screenings. Both screens have seperate ‘crying rooms’ for noisy toddlers to escape, which is rare for cinemas in Sydney.
12. Watch your movie with a city skyline backdrop with Westpac Openair Cinema
Operating in the summer months, Westpac Openair Cinema is arguably one of the most beautiful places to watch your movie in Sydney, or even the world. On the bank of the tranquil Royal Botanical Garden you will find a bar, restaurant and 350sqm screen against the backdrop of the Opera House, Bridge and city skyline. Dropping into conversation that you saw that new movie in front of the Sydney Opera House is a sure way to impress.
13. Feel Arty at Palace Verona
A fan favourite for local and world art-house cinema, the Palace Verona in Paddington is passionate about their film loving clientele. The Verona is an awesome place to go if you want to grab a drink and watch an independent art-house film in peace and quiet.
14. Select between live theatre or cinema at Riverside Rafferty Parramatta
In their own words, Riverside Rafferty boast:
Let’s just say we don’t really program what other cinemas program.
From documentaries to Shakespeare or Opera, this cinema/live theatre venue is an exciting night out if you are looking for something different. Go check out Riverside Rafferty in Parramatta.
15. Soak up the sea mist at Openair Cinema in Bondi
One of the top benefits of moving to Australia is the beach lifestyle, so why not end your surf day with a movie under the stars.
In the summer months only, you will find this openair cinema next to Bondi Pavillion showing both new and old flicks. So move your beach blanket and settle in with a BYO wine for a magical Aussie film night.
16. Step back to the 1980s at United Cinemas in Warriewood
There’s something undeniably cool about United Cinemas in Warriewood. Step back in time to the 1980s and feel immersed in this unexpected cinema in Northern Beaches in Sydney.
Expect neon lights, and a ceiling decor to represent a night lit sky and you’ll be wondering if it’s intentionally kitsch or whether it’s just not been updated since the 1980s. I thinking the latter, but that kinda makes it even more special!
Cinemas to visit near Sydney!
The best reason to leave Sydney is to discover the little heritage towns in Regional NSW that make you feel like you have stepped back in time. Nearly all of them will have a bakery and some will have a hidden gem of a cinema that looks like it was taken from a cute movie set. Add these cinemas to your next road trip list, you won’t regret it.
17. Snuggle down in the mountains at Mount Vic Flicks
Let me start by saying Mount Vic Flicks serves home-baked goods for your movie snacks, what could be better than that? This iconic Blue Mountains cinema dates back to the 1930’s and has been family run since the eighties.
Just like the Hayden Orpheum in Sydney, you can watch an organist play in the start of the movie for a real old-fashioned spectacular show.
18. One of the cutest cinemas; Huskisson Pictures in Jervis Bay
Originally a Jervis Bay community hall in 1913, Huskisson Pictures exterior has not changed a bit apart from the charming coloured fairy lights at night. Ran by husband and wife team, Jan and Peter Cotter, this picture house opens on weekends and selective weekdays showing new and old releases. Don’t miss our popular guide for the best things to do in Jervis Bay!
19. Visit a home cinema turned picture house at Avoca Beach
In 1948, brothers Mervyn and Norman Hunter would project movies from a hole in the garage onto a homemade screen in their garden for the community. Soon after they built Avoca Beach Theatre; a 500 seat cinema which is still ran by the same family today! Check out our guide for the best things to do in Avoca Beach when you’re in the area!
20. Going to the chapel and we’re…gonna watch a movie
Glen Innes Chapel Theatre was transformed by the community in the 1940’s and still to this day is ran by volunteers. It hosts live shows, concerts and new feature films with a Dolby surround sound. Be sure to add this to your list for a wholesome night out.
21. Drive in to Heddon Greta Cinema overlooking Hunter Valley Vineyards
The Heddon Greta Cinema drive in cinema is reasonably priced at $30 per car (at the time of writing) and aims to provide families with a fun family night without breaking the bank. Only operating on weekends but what a stunning place to stop and enjoy a movie from your own car.
22. Enjoy a three cheese toastie and movie at Narooma Kinema
Yes that’s right, Narooma Kinema are known for their gourmet toasties filled with cheddar, parmesan and Persian feta! I would watch any movie if I was handed that toastie. The historic cinema are committed to providing an authentic cinematic experience for their community. Check out our guide to Mystery Bay when you’re in the area!
23. It’s more than a movie at The Regal Cinema in Newcastle
The Regal Cinema in Newcastle is more than going to the movies. This community led cinema gives you more than you can imagine for an $8 movie ticket. This quirky cinema shows the latest releases and also includes mulled wine, tea served up in British Royals mugs, help yourself to wine and a meal too.
There’s also entertainment at the beginning of each show, led by the owner who will more than likely pick out a member of the audience to come and join him on stage. It’s an excellent way to spend the day in Newcastle on a rainy day! Read more about this fun cinema in our Best Things To Do In Newcastle guide!
Best Cinemas In Sydney
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This article is written by Londoner In Sydney team member, Amii Freeman.
Hi I’m Amii! I’m from Darlington in the North East of England. I moved from London to Sydney in 2019 for a slower pace and to be by the coast, without having to give up my love of cities. My passion is in film and TV, I screen-write and act as much as I can. In my spare time I love trying new food, exploring new places, kayaking, hiking and cycling.