Newtown is the place to go to get a glimpse of Sydney’s artsy, more quirky side, away from the beaches and the harbour. Filled with vintage shops, fantastic pubs and artwork dotted across the streets, Newtown is rightly considered one of the city’s coolest suburbs. It’s also at the epicenter of other inner west suburbs including Redfern and Marrickville which are known for bringing the same influx of cultural activity to town. While its hip, indie spirit is its most defining quality, it’s a lot more than just that. In this guide to Newtown, you’ll find the best things to do in this trendy and kitschy suburb right from things to eat, places to shop from and local watering holes to grab a drink at.
How to get to Newtown
There are plenty of public transport options to get to Newtown and that’s advisable over driving given the traffic on King Street. Newtown station is located just a few minute’s walk from the main center of the locality with most highlights on this list within walking distance. Additionally, there are several bus options from the city center which will drop you at the heart of King Street or Enmore Road. Bus services include 422, 423, 426, 428, 370, 355 and 352 routes.
1. Explore all the street art
The first and foremost thing you’re bound to notice about Newtown is the art splashed on the walls, ceilings and buildings in the neighbourhood. It’s the OG home to Sydney’s street art culture and continues to thrive to this day. Some to definitely check out include the famed ‘I Have A Dream’ mural by artists Juilee Pryor and Andrew Aiken, a tribute to Martin Luther King and his inspirational words and the portrait of AFL icon Adam Goodes, of Adnyamathanha and Narungga heritage. Go on a street walk across Lennox Street, Mary Street and Bedford Street for heaps of graffiti-filled walls and local art.
2. Let your hair down at the Enmore Theatre
Enmore Theatre is an entertainment venue in the city but its legacy goes well beyond just that. Over the years it has been home to some of Australia’s best live music, theatre and comedy. The 1600-seater has seen wild parties, local bands, tribute acts and heaps more take centrestage at the iconic art deco hotspot. Click here to see everything that’s on currently and take your pick from the incredibly vast array of events lined up. It’s also open late which is rare and very welcome in the city.
3. Explore the food scene
A lot of Newtown’s rich and diverse character is reflected in its dynamic food offerings. From pasta to ramen, tandoori chicken to contemporary Australian, you’ll be hard-pressed to not find cuisine of your liking here.
Pizza lovers will find some of the city’s finest pizza offerings right here in Newtown. Grab wood-fired pizzas and calzoni in an authentic Napoletana Style from Gigi Pizzeria or choose from seven delicious pizzas at Westwood Pizza. If you’re lucky to get a seat, Bella Bruta is the place to go aside from Alberto’s Pizzeria and the popular Rosso Antico Pizza Bar which will serve you a pizza in just 90 seconds.
While in Newtown it would be criminal to not visit Mary’s. The hugely popular Sydney favourite is where you’ll get the holy trifecta: burgers, booze and music. Another staple that’s hard to miss is the Rising Sun Workshop — Sydney’s first communal motorcycle workshop and restaurant that serves seriously good ramen all day long.
Aside from these standouts, a walk around Newtown will reveal a number of quaint cafes, busy bakeries and vibrant pubs, each with more spunk than the last.
4. Grab a cocktail at Earl’s Juke Joint
Want to experience a classic New Orleans vibe right here at home? Earl’s Juke Joint is the place to go to. The Newtown institution has been bringing good drinks and good times to the city since 2013 and is showing no signs of slowing down. At the saloon-style bar, you can expect great cocktails, cosy atmosphere, live music and an impressive drinks list. Try the A.P. Spritz which is infused with vodka, Lillet Blanc, passionfruit husks, Lemon Myrtle and Fizz or the RTD Campari Soda or pick from classic Samuel Smith and Young Henrys’ beers. The broody and low-lit bar is worth visiting for the atmosphere alone but the drinks pack a serious punch as well.
5. Get your caffeine fix at Soulmate Coffee
Much like restaurants and pubs, the cafes in Newtown are excellent and varied. Get your flatty’s and chai lattes at Soulmate Coffee or a shot of espresso at 212 Blu. Shenkin Espresso Bar is the place to go for gooey brownies and hearty coffee while Black Star Pastry is where you can nab the Insta-famous watermelon cake and coffee. Plus there’s the dog-friendly A Loft Story and Campos, a brand every Sydneysider is already familiar with but fun fact — it all started here in Newtown.
6. Soak up the sun at Camperdown Memorial Rest Park
The Camperdown Memorial Rest Park is a large public space ideal for picnics and walks. It’s a favourite hangout spot for Newtown locals and a great place for some people-watching. While there, explore the historic Camperdown Cemetery, where you’ll find ancient gravestones from years gone by and a moment of quiet in the heart of Newtown. It’s very close to the bustling and busy King Street but surprisingly quiet and peaceful.
7. Grab a vintage vinyl or CD at Repressed Records
At its core, Newtown is the place for hipsters, indie musicians and music lovers, artists and hippies. So naturally as you saunter down its streets you’ll find shops and boutiques that reflect that quintessential bohemian spirit. Repressed Records is one such spot where you can get your hands on limited edition vinyl, CDs, cassettes and more.
8. Bookworms, check out Better Read Than Dead
When it comes to Sydney bookshops, Better Read Than Dead is a beloved literary landmark. So much so that people across the city banded together to save the independent bookshop from shutting down post covid.
If you love reading, chances are you’ll leave this store with an empty wallet. There’s everything here from the classics to the contemporary, from biographies to fiction, from YA to dystopian and so much more.
9. Get some glamourous vintage clothing
SWOP is the place to go if you’re a pre-loved clothing collector. Plus they make it super easy to buy, sell and trade pre-loved garb. Just walk in with your clothes, they’ll keep what they like and give you cash or credit to buy new clothes. Even better, you’ll find most clothes under $35.
Other shops in the vicinity to get your hands on some new or old, quirky or trendy threads are Cream on King, which is a vintage clothing store big on upcycling and the retro, Red Cross. Another shop to fill your bags in is U-Turn which is hard to miss given its OTT glittery windows.
10. Go on a pub crawl
The nightlife in Newtown is some of the best in a city otherwise starved of good entertainment post-nightfall. What the city center lacks, Newtown makes up for in a big way. At the Union Hotel, you’ll find excellent craft beer, gins and whiskies on the ground level. Walk upstairs and you can enjoy live music and cocktails.
The famed Newtown Hotel is a 15-minute walk from Union Hotel and is much loved for its vibrant energy, happy hour deals and beer garden. It also has its own dedicated space for live music and things get very rowdy here on weekends if you’re into that kinda thing.
11. Watch a movie at Dendy Cinema
Dendy Cinema was founded back in 1940 and operates 40 screens across the country today. Its rich and diverse film offerings have made it a popular stop for cinephiles. From arthouse and mainstream films to theatre and opera screenings, there’s always heaps to choose from. Its intimate and cosy ambience adds to the overall entertainment quotient.
12. Shop your way through the markets
Newtown also comes with select community-centered markets which are worth checking out. At the Newtown Garden Market you’ll find a wide variety of plants to take home while the Fiji Spice Market is where you can get your fill of herbs and spices.