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Guide

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

8 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.

  • The terrace at The Alchemist Spinningfields
    Spinningfields

    The Alchemist Manchester Spinningfields

    Restaurant - Global

    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

    Restaurant - Global

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

    The Anthologist

    Restaurant - Global

    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

    Restaurant - Bar

    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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  • Sunset at Australasia in Manchester city centre
    Spinningfields

    Australasia

    Restaurant - Pan Asian

    Pacific Rim fusion fare for the fashion set. The undeniable theatre of the place, the approach of the staff and the craft of the food make any occasion feel like a million dollars at Australasia.

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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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  • The kids menu at The Black Friar - a family-friendly restaurant in Manchester.
    Book Now Manchester City Centre

    The Black Friar

    Restaurant - Modern British

    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

    Restaurant - American

    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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  • Book Now Levenshulme

    Cibus

    Restaurant - Italian

    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.
    Book Now 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

    Restaurant - Global

    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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  • Dakota Grill Manchester Lamb Rump
    Book Now Northern Quarter

    Dakota Grill Manchester

    Restaurant - Modern British

    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

    Restaurant - Modern British

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

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  • Dukes 92 Beer Garden
    Castlefield

    Dukes 92

    Restaurant - Global

    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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  • El Gato Negro, the much-praised Spanish restaurant on King Street, Manchester
    Manchester City Centre

    El Gato Negro Manchester

    Restaurant - Spanish

    El Gato Negro is an upmarket Manc-Spanish fusion restaurant that really, really works. Originally from Yorkshire, chef Simon Shaw has created an indulgent, three-storey church to his passion for the best in Spanish food and wine.

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  • Christmas at Freight Island, Manchester
    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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  • The terrace at Flawd in Manchester
    Ancoats

    Flawd

    Restaurant - European

    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

    Restaurant - Spanish

    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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  • Book Now Manchester City Centre

    The Fountain House

    Restaurant - British

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

    GRUB

    Restaurant

    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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  • Oxford Road

    HATCH

    Clothing

    Nestled snugly under the Mancunian Way on Oxford Road, Hatch opened in 2017 as a space for creative and independent businesses to work and trade for as long (or as short) as they need.

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  • Outside HOME in Manchester city centre
    Manchester City Centre

    HOME

    Arts Venues

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

    Nell’s New York Pizza & Bar

    Restaurant - American

    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
    Book Now Spinningfields

    The Oast House

    Restaurant - Global

    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

    Bars

    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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  • 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

    Restaurant - Italian

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

    Fumo

    Restaurant - Italian

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

    Seven Bro7hers Middlewood Locks

    Restaurant - American

    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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  • 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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