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Guide

Rays for days: the best beer gardens and roof terraces in Manchester

2 months ago

For a city known worldwide for its rain, Manchester has a hell of a lot of beer gardens. But we’re also home to a lot of vitamin D-deficient folks desperate for a drink in the sun – so the best spots fill up fast. (Getting a table on Stevenson Square on a sunny Saturday afternoon is one of our bucket list dreams.)

Here’s our guide to Manchester’s best beer gardens and roof terraces – our favourite places to dine and day-drink the hours away, or squeeze in a few pints after work. Be warned, they’re popular: get down there at the first glimpse of sun if you don’t want a seat in the shade.

Know a spot that deserves to be on this list? Let us know on Twitter @CnfGuides

Any old beer garden will do? If you just need somewhere, anywhere, to park your rear this A-Z of outdoor drinking and dining in Manchester should help.

#grown_up_summer

  • The terrace at The Alchemist Spinningfields
    Spinningfields

    The Alchemist Manchester Spinningfields

    Bars

    The Alchemist in Spinningfields was the original of three Manchester venues and has a good-sized outdoor terrace and plenty of copper colours and bronze hues. And while base metals don’t magically become gold here, theatre is promised at The Alchemist.

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  • The outdoor bar and terrace at Alchemist Media City
    Media City

    The Alchemist Salford

    Bars

    The Alchemist at Salford Quays is the most recent of three Manchester venues and has an outdoor terrace overlooking the water and plenty of gold. And while base metals don’t magically become that precious commodity here, theatre is promised at The Alchemist.

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  • Awesome HQ Chicken Halloumi Burger Almost Famous Manchester Northern Quarter
    Book Now Northern Quarter

    Almost Famous NQ

    Restaurant - American

    Now a few minutes walk from its original site on High Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Almost Famous Manchester NQ is the original and best. The new wave of burgers started here – OTT, in your face and, most importantly, absolutely top notch. Believe the hype. These burgers are memorable and meaty. You’ll be left with sauce all over your chin and one big, happy smile.

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  • The Anthologist Restaurant on St Peter's Square Manchester
    Manchester City Centre

    The Anthologist

    Bars

    The Anthologist fits well into the cosmopolitan city vibe of the regenerated St Peter’s Square. When you step off the tram here, you’re a world away from one stop on at Piccadilly Gardens, and this slick, stylish venue from restaurant and bar group Drake & Morgan perfectly reflects the change in tone.

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  • Book Now Manchester City Centre

    Atlas Bar

    Bars

    Atlas Bar is known as one of the originals of Manchester’s modern cafe-bar scene. And for its extensive collection of gins – over 570 varieties and counting.

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  • Book Now Northern Quarter

    BAB NQ

    Restaurant - Middle Eastern

    If you feel it’s time to spice up your life, look no further than this Northern Quarter indie, where the main offer is ‘kebabs worth sitting down for’. Yep, BAB by name, ‘babs by nature, but that’s not doing the menu full justice – there are also meze small plates to mix and match, skewers and shawarmas, and non-babs such as an epic surf & turf spread.

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  • Inside Big Hands, a bar on Oxford Road, Manchester.
    Oxford Road

    Big Hands

    Bars

    The original Manchester dive bar, Big Hands is a rock n roll institution and the site of many messy nights out. 

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  • Book Now Manchester City Centre

    The Black Friar

    Pubs

    The Black Friar stood empty and unloved for almost 20 years before reopening in summer 2021 after a substantial renovation project. Now a modern British restaurant and a traditional pub, it has two distinct settings with menus to match.

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  • Bottomless brunch at Brewdog Doghouse in Manchester
    Book Now Manchester City Centre

    Brewdog DogHouse Bar & Rooftop

    Bars

    There are two ways to eat at the Doghouse, at the ground floor BrewDog Bar or upstairs on the rooftop. Take your pick from everything from “monster burgers” to buffalo hot-wings, but whichever you choose, BrewDog’s Doghouse is a beer lover’s dream.

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  • The sunny roof terrace at Brickhouse Social, just off Oxford Road
    Oxford Road

    Brickhouse Social

    Bars

    Brickhouse Social is a casual place that’s all about pizza, beer and good times. Situated just off Oxford Road, in general it attracts a younger demographic perhaps enticed by the prices. It’s relatively good value for such a prime spot.

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  • The interior of the Britons Protection pub in Manchester.
    Manchester City Centre

    The Britons Protection

    Pubs

    The Britons Protection pub has a place in the heart of many a Mancunian. It’s been here since the early 19th century and has Grade II Listed status thanks to its 1930s’ features and traditional layout.

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  • Book Now Levenshulme

    Cibus

    Bars

    Once a stall at Levy Market, then a pop-up pizzeria above Fred’s Ale House, Cibus took baby steps to get to where it is today – a fully-fledged and much-praised Italian restaurant and bar on Levenshulme high street.

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  • Oysters from Climat, Manchester.
    Manchester City Centre

    Climat

    Restaurant - Modern British

    On the rooftop of Blackfriars House, Climat is a simply exceptional dining experience owned and operated by the team behind Covino in Chester, who have established a reputation as a wine-led restaurant with a focus on changing menus and a passion for wine.

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  • Cosy Club | Corn Exchange

    Bars

    If it’s all-day eating you’re after, all-day eating you’ll get at Cosy Club Manchester, and as you study the menu under the watchful eye of a selection of taxidermy and portrait paintings, you’ll quickly notice that there really is something for everyone here.

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  • The grand, gothic exterior of The Crown & Kettle on the border of the Northern Quarter and Ancoats
    Ancoats

    The Crown & Kettle

    Pubs

    The Crown & Kettle is Manchester’s most beautiful pub. The landmark Gothic building on the corner of Oldham Road and Great Ancoats Street is just as impressive inside with high ceilings that are wonderfully ornate and descending stonework which used to house chandeliers. But even though it dates from 1734, it feels fresh and modern.

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  • Sunday lunch at Diecast. Manchester City Centre.
    Piccadilly

    Diecast

    Music Venues

    Diecast is a party venue and ‘creative neighbourhood’ five-minutes’ walk from Manchester Piccadilly station.

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  • Dakota Grill Manchester Lamb Rump
    Book Now Northern Quarter

    Dakota Grill Manchester

    Bars

    Dakota Grill Manchester is the work of former Malmaison owner, Ken McCollough and it is as dark-hued and handsome as the successful boutique hotel chain. It’s an inviting place with flickering candlelight, very retro-sexy – sure to be the setting for many a first date.

    The focus at Dakota is on steaks which are very good – all grass-fed, 28 day-aged, hand-cut Aberdeenshire beef cooked over hot coals.

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  • One of the roof gardens at The Deansgate pub in Manchester city centre
    Manchester City Centre

    The Deansgate

    Pubs

    The Deansgate is a bit of a landmark pub in Manchester, having been in this spot for 200 years.

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  • Ducie Street Warehouse
    Northern Quarter

    Ducie Street Warehouse

    Bars

    Ducie Street Warehouse is all sorts of things, but one of those things is a restaurant. It’s an all-day affair with everything from classic brunches to late-night cocktails. On the menu you’ll find a good selection of small sharing dishes and large plates – it’s a sociable kind of place. And of course, you’ll also find Ducie Street Warehouse’s signature focaccia flatbreads.

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  • Dukes 92 Beer Garden
    Castlefield

    Dukes 92

    Bars

    You’ll find Dukes 92 in the dynamic district of Castlefield, just a short stumble from Deansgate and its bustling bar scene. The bar and restaurant looks over the canal making it a desirable spot for visitors and locals alike. 

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  • The terrace at Flawd in Manchester
    Ancoats

    Flawd

    Bars

    Flawd was the first permanent space for the team behind Higher Ground. Sat waterside at Islington Marina in New Islington, it’s a specialist wine bar and bottle shop, with an outdoor terrace as well as indoor seating space to sit and sip before making off with one of the many takeaway natural and low-intervention wines.

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  • Flok Manchester, Northern Quarter, Bar, Tapas
    Northern Quarter

    Flok

    Bars

    If it’s a place in the sun you’re after, look no further than the Northern Quarter’s Flok, chilling out on the Lever Street corner of Stevenson Square. The large outside area here is a bit of a trap for the rays, and there are lots of options for the perfect alfresco pour.

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  • Sunday lunch at Founder's Hall on Albert Square, Manchester city centre.
    Book Now Manchester City Centre

    Founder’s Hall

    Pubs

    Founder’s Hall is a smartly-refurbished pub with an enviable position on Albert Square. It serves up comforting pub food and a vast range of beers.

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  • Manchester City Centre

    The Fountain House

    Pubs

    The Fountain House is the newest lodger of the Gothic-arched Memorial Hall sitting one corner of Albert Square, and its modern old-fashioned surrounds and plentiful portions of proper pub grub – mostly British but with a little European inspiration – do the imposing building proud.

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  • Freight Island in spring / summer
    Book Now Manchester City Centre

    Freight Island

    Music Venues

    Food hall meets music festival is how we’d describe Freight Island to anyone confused about what they’ll find at this regenerated rail depot beyond Piccadilly Station. 

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  • Cocktails served at San Carlo Fumo in Manchester city centre
    Book Now Oxford Road

    Fumo

    Bars

    With its terrace overlooking Oxford Road and its much-photographed spiral staircase, Fumo is a favourite spot in Manchester for dinner and drinks with friends.

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  • Cocktails at GRUB in the Green Quarter, Manchester
    Cheetham Hill

    GRUB

    Bars

    Housed in a disused building at The Red Bank Project, GRUB is two floors of street food, bars and event spaces, plus a beer garden surrounded by potted plants.

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  • Hakkapo is a Japanese restaurant in Manchester's First Street district.
    Book Now Manchester City Centre

    Hakkapo

    Restaurant

    Hakkapo is Manchester’s Izakaya – that is, a Japanese bar where people go to eat, drink and just generally hang out after a long day at work.

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  • The cheese and meat sharing board at Haunt - a recommended wine bar and coffee shop in Manchester city centre.
    Manchester City Centre

    Haunt

    Bars

    When Peter Street lost its Caffe Nero it gained Haunt, an independent coffee shop and wine bar. Stepping inside, you feel like this corner spot in the beautiful St George’s House, with its views of the Midland Hotel and Central Library, has finally got the classy occupier it deserves.

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  • Outside HOME in Manchester city centre
    Manchester City Centre

    HOME

    Cinemas

    With five cinemas, two theatres, a bookshop, and over 500 sqm of gallery space, HOME is one of Manchester’s biggest and most dynamic arts venues. 

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  • The roof terrace at Honest Burgers Manchester
    Book Now Spinningfields

    Honest Burgers Manchester

    Restaurant - American

    The new wave of burgers came crashing over the food scene and then receded, leaving closures and acid reflux. So surely it stands that those who remain are the best at what they do?

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  • The Kings Arms is a cosy pub with an upstairs theatre.
    Blackfriars

    The Kings Arms

    Pubs

    The Kings Arms is a glorious reincarnation of what was once a backstreet boozer. The main bar is a lovely oval room edged with ox-blood leather button-back benches, while the snug looks like an update on your nan’s front room. Outside there’s a suntrap terrace. It’s all done out beautifully but not in a way that detracts from its history or announces itself too boldly.

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  • Love From - an alcohol-free bar in Manchester city centre.
    Gay Village

    Love From

    Bars

    Karl Considine, host and founder of ‘What Next’ podcast, opened alcohol-free bar Love From as a two-week pop-up in October 2023. It’s returning in 2024 for Dry January and beyond with a three-month run in the elevated Bungalow building at Kampus, where it’ll offer a zero-booze mix of sober curious events, drinks and socialising.

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  • Ancoats

    Lucky Ramen & Sushi

    Bars

    Lucky Ramen & Sushi restaurant is known for its late-night dining offering of fresh bowls of stewed ramen that are carefully prepared by a head chef with over 15 years of experience.

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  • The terrace at Nell's York Pizza at Kampus in Manchester city centre
    Manchester City Centre

    Nell’s New York Pizza & Bar

    Bars

    This Brooklyn-style pizza joint was born out of a love of using the best ingredients with care and attention. Nell’s is known for its 22-inch pizzas with fresh, crisp bases and toppings that range from bright and fresh to classic and meaty.

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  • The terrace at The Oast House in Manchester
    Spinningfields

    The Oast House

    Pubs

    From the same stable as The Botanists around town, The Oast House boasts those “famous” Hanging Kebabs and, with its copious outside space in the middle of Spinningfields, is a favourite as a bit of a city centre sunny spot.

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  • Drinking in the sun at The Peveril of the Peak
    Oxford Road

    Peveril of the Peak

    Pubs

    The Grade II Listed Peveril of the Peak dates back to the 1820s. It’s had quite the history, and is now one of Manchester’s most iconic pubs thanks to its unique green-tiled exterior.

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  • Beer pong at Pong & Puck
    Book Now Manchester City Centre

    Pong & Puck | Great Northern

    Activities

    Get your game face on with an afternoon of pool, shuffleboard and table tennis at Pong & Puck in The Great Northern.

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  • Hot oil gun gun noodles at PUBLIC in Stevenson Square
    Northern Quarter

    PUBLIC

    Bars

    PUBLIC is from the team behind Evelyn’s and The Daisy so you can expect quality cocktails – and you’d be right to do so. There’s also a brief menu of umami-filled Asian and American street food that really hits the spot.

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  • The terrace at Piccolino Hale
    Book Now Hale

    Piccolino Hale

    Restaurant - Italian

    There’s no shortage of reliably good restaurants in the Hale-Altrincham-Bowden triangle, and Piccolino Hale is up there with the best of them.

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  • Manchester City Centre

    Rain Bar

    Bars

    Rain Bar is a pub from JW Lees in an old umbrella factory. It’s a beautiful building and looks even better now after its recent refurb. The jewel in the crown though, or the spoke in its brolly, is a large outdoor area to the rear overlooking the Bridgewater Canal.

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  • The terrace at Ramona Manchester
    Ancoats

    Ramona

    Bars

    Predominantly a pizzeria, Ramona incorporates a bakery, margarita bar, coffee counter, stage and Firehouse restaurant, and is found in the rollershuttered ex-E & A Auto Services garage depot on Swan Street, complete with a tree-lined forecourt, now the campfire beer garden.

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  • Beef tataki at Sora Manchester, a rooftop bar and restaurant in Malmaison Deansgate
    Book Now Manchester City Centre

    Sora Manchester

    Restaurant - Pan Asian

    Sora Manchester is a rooftop bar and restaurant serving up sushi, Pan Asian small plates and views across the city’s impressive Victorian neo-Gothic architecture.

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  • The terrace at Seven Brothers Middlewood Locks
    Book Now Media City

    Seven Bro7hers Middlewood Locks

    Bars

    Seven Bro7hers in Salford at the Middlewood Locks development is the ideal place for some al fresco eating and drinking by the canal, it’s scenic in a gentrified industrial waterside way. The inside is done out well too – handsome and high-ceilinged but with board games and a cosiness that bely the concrete and brick finish. It’s the perfect distance from town too as it’s short enough to be a pleasant stroll (about 7 minutes from Chapel Street) but far enough that you feel like you deserve a pint and a burger when you get there.

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  • Enjoy drinks in the sun at The Smithfield Social in Manchester's Northern Quarter
    Northern Quarter

    The Smithfield Social

    Bars

    The Smithfield Social fits in well to the Northern Quarter bar scene. It doesn’t offer anything radically different but what it does, it does well. Like many places in the area, it’s a casual all-day affair from morning brunches to late night drinking.

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  • The outdoor terrace at The Wharf in Castlefield
    Castlefield

    The Wharf

    Pubs

    The Wharf has one of the largest outdoor areas in Manchester and is it’s in Castlefield, the canalside views aren’t bad either.

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  • The rooftop beer garden at YES in Manchester city centre.
    Oxford Road

    YES

    Music Venues

    YES is a gargantuan place with four floors of fun. Despite that, it still has a low-key cool and something approaching a homely vibe for somewhere so big.

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  • Book Now Media City

    Seven Bro7hers Media City

    Bars

    A stone’s throw from their brewery and taproom, Salford alemeisters Seven Bro7hers have a beerhouse and kitchen with outside space right in the heart of MediaCity, where they’re serving up “the best pints in town” alongside a choice of hand food with which to mop up the hop.

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