After a whole lot of grey wet weeks, we’re finally getting some much-needed sunny weather. And what’s the best thing to do in the sun? No, not water-skiing, that’s for lunatics, it’s having a cold pint in a beer garden with your mates. And that’s what this guide is all about: revealing the city’s very best outdoor spaces to enjoy beer, cocktails or whatever boozey (or non-boozey, we don’t judge) drink floats your boat.
Here are some of our favourite classic outside drinking spaces in the city and its near neighbour Salford. Of course, thanks to the c-word, some venues have repurposed their outdoor spaces for casual outdoor drinks. The Northern Quarter, in particular, has seen plenty of forward-thinking relaxation of the rules, meaning roads closed off so we can drink outside, often underneath covering to protect us from the inevitable Manchester rain.
So if you’re looking for an outside drink this summer (and autumn too) then the pubs listed below come both with a top-quality beer garden and are highly recommended. Here are some of the very best beer gardens in Manchester, along with a few noteworthy entries from Salford.
Here are our picks
Escape to Freight Island, Mayfield Depot, 11 Baring St, Manchester, M1 2PY - Visit now
It doesn’t get bigger than Freight Island, which is basically one huge outdoor drinking space, with a few indoor spots for good measure. There’s about a dozen areas to kick back and enjoy some food and drink, so you’re very likely to get a space (although booking ahead is always advised).
The New Oxford, 11 Bexley Square, Salford, Manchester, M3 6DB - Visit now
Bexley Square is at the heart of Salford’s most fast-growing and desirable area and it’s also home to The New Oxford. It’s a classic old-school pub with a vast range of drinks to enjoy on benches outside. Expect cheerful staff, friendly punters and enough open space to enjoy the sun when its out – plus protective umbrellas when it isn’t.
The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5LE - Visit now
Ask anyone who knows anything about Manchester pubs and they’ll soon start waxing lyrical about The Briton’s Protection. It’s one of the oldest pubs in Manchester – if not the oldest pub – and it has a magnificent, sun-trapping outdoor space to sit and enjoy beers and whisky with friends. Highly, highly recommended for all you beer garden connoisseurs.
Common Bar, 39-47 Edge Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1HW - Visit now
Alan Partridge might not approve but we’re enormous fans of the pedestrianisation of the Northern Quarter, and Common’s area on Edge Street is one of the district’s very best. It’s quiet enough to avoid the Ibiza strip feel of nearby areas but full of trendsetting 20-30somethings, just like the early days of the NQ.
20 Stories, No. 1 Spinningfields, 1 Hardman Square, Manchester, M3 3EB - Visit now
A beer garden, or roof terrace rather, so good they named the venue after it. Here’s where to go for those awe-inspiring views of the city skyline being vastly changed by faceless corporations (the jury’s out on the latter).
Port Street Beer House, 39-41 Port Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2EQ - Visit now
Port Street Beer House is a great NQ drinking spot. But it’s the outside that shines: a great sun-splashed beer garden, cosy enough to be friendly but spacious enough to feel safe and relaxed. And let’s not forget the beer. You’ll struggle to find a better choice of ales in Manchester.
Terrace NQ, 43 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1NA
High above Thomas Street, Terrace NQ offers a beautiful rooftop beer garden. When the sun is shining, this is easily one of the most pleasing places to sink a pint in the Northern Quarter.
The Beech, 72 Beech Rd, Manchester, M21 9EG
If you fancy moving out of town, jump on the Metrolink and head to Chorlton. While the residents are often lampooned as the “liberal urban elite”, you can’t argue with the choice of watering holes on offer. The Beech is a grand choice if you fancy switching seats to chase the late evening sun.
The Kings Arms, 11 Bloom street, Salford, Greater Manchester, M3 6AN - Visit now
One of Salford’s finest establishments, with a history that involves a reliably excellent series of live shows and ownership by Paul Heaton, one of the North’s greatest songwriters. They also have a small but perfectly-formed outside drinking area – get there early for a guaranteed seat.
The Whiskey Jar, 14 Tariff St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2FF - Visit now
Tariff Street has been closed off to cars and now you can sit outside and enjoy a drink safely, with minimal exhaust fumes. The Whiskey Jar is a great intimate, darkly-lit bar but it’s not ideal during hot sunny days, so sit outside when the weather is balmy.
18 Castle Street
Castlefield, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4LZ - Visit now
The Duke’s 92 beer garden is legendary across the city. This canalside bar is well worth a visit, assuming you can get in – its reputation can mean lengthy queues for a table. But it’s well worth it, the outdoor space is one of Manchester’s best.