The best beer gardens in north London
Halfway between Upper Street and the Caledonian Road, this Georgian boozer has an olde-worlde English charm entirely in keeping with its name. It’s far enough from the main thoroughfares to ensure there’s barely a whisper of traffic noise to be heard in its walled beer garden, with its trees and colourful flowers. Beer-drinkers usually have a traditional selection on draught to select from, there’s a short list of cocktails, and the quality wine list complements a menu speckled with British ingredients. Look out for barbecues in the garden in summer.
There’s plenty of space for alfresco quaffing in an enormous front garden that spills down the sides of this friendly pub. You can sop up the booze with summer barbecues (weather permitting), as well as upmarket gastro-grub from the indoor kitchen. Looking out onto a main Islington artery, the garden remains inescapably ‘urban’ – this is offset somewhat by foliage, bunting and a jaunty colour scheme. The garden can hold 300, so bring your north London crew.
Why settle for one when you can have three? The Avalon’s alfresco options comprise lively front and side terraces and a massive garden at the rear – it’s beautifully landscaped, full of Balham families on sunny days, and also boasts a dedicated bar and kitchen that serve up summer cocktails and Josper-grilled meats (there’s even a regular hog roast). Heated areas, secluded booths, and plentiful greenery (including a beautiful living wall) clinch the deal.
This boozer on the former site of the beloved Jan’s Belgian beer bar has been well received by locals and beer-nerds alike. But it also helps that the pub has had a snug, bedecked beer and smoking yard installed too. Hole up here with a pint from one of 22 taps or a stand-out G&T, or come out for a breather after one of the many lavish dishes on an impressive gastropub menu.
A regular haunt of local resident George Orwell, this was one of three pubs to provide him with inspiration for ‘Moon Under Water’, an essay on the criteria for the perfect London watering hole. In the walled garden, you can lounge on designer rattan sofas while sipping a chilled draft beer from the outdoor bar (which also serves cold bottled beers plus a handful of wines and spirits). Need to silence a hunger? The full length of the smart menu (which ranges from burgers with cheese, pickles and fries to meat and two veg) is available to eat in the glorious outdoors.
The Castle has been home to a public house since 1832, although its current decor is light years from the nineteenth century. Its attractive garden (formerly a car park) has various draws, including eight cabana-style huts (some with built-in drinks fridges and fires), and on-demand heating on the terrace – it’s definitely the best feature of this Young’s pub. The menu offers serviceable pub grub such as burgers, pies, and fish and chips, alongside more ambitious dishes such as pork rib-eye with crisp-edged black pudding and purple sprouting broccoli.
This big, stately lump of a pub dominates the north end of Wandsworth’s Trinity Road. The beer garden is a peaceful spot with deckchairs, faux turf, big leafy planters offering privacy and shade, and outdoor heaters and parasols for Britain’s will-it-won’t-it weather. There’s also a dedicated summer barbecue station outside to complement the menu of bar snacks and gastropub nosh. Not hungry? Try one of half a dozen on-tap Young’s ales and guest handpulls, or a glass of bubbly.
This big Victorian boozer, sat on a quiet stretch of riverbank between Hammersmith and Putney bridges, was gastrofied a couple of years back. On a sunny day locals can be found in their droves enjoying some of the nicest waterside drinking London has to offer – a gigantic beer garden with stylish decking and shrubbery (the seats under the weeping willow are particularly lovely). There’s a gourmet barbecue on the terrace from spring to early autumn (noon–9pm, weather dependent) serving up posh burgers, and the pub puts on hog roasts to celebrate summer scorchers.
Despite all of Clapton’s edgier changes, the Crooked Billet remains a place for all E5-ers to enjoy. When the mercury rises, its massive garden becomes a big, boozy playground complete with beach-hut booths for groups, a ping-pong table and loads of plants and deckchairs for that Clapton-on-Sea feel. Grab a locally brewed beer, slap on a ‘kiss me quick’ hat and reveal your knobbly Hacknees.
The Crown & Greyhound – a venerable pile of a pub in Dulwich Village, and ‘The Dog’ to locals – was closed for renovations for so long it feels like a miracle it’s reopened at all. It’s still recognisably the same local institution, which means the beer garden is totally in tact. It’s massive and leafy and a great place to sit in the shade with one of the pub’s alternatives to mainstream beers and ales – like Meantime, Camden and Sharp’s – or a posh G&T.
As soon as there’s the slightest speck of sun glimmering from surrounding City skyscrapers, you can expect a heaving crowd at The Crown and Shuttle. Its location does attract its fair share of bankers, but there’s also a young Shoreditch crowd who pitch up for a post-Spitalfields pint. In a genius move, the pub operates a burger van from its cheery, decked suntrap of a beer garden, with food very much geared towards summer sharing - try a bowl of cumin-coated chips or crisp-skinned hot wings.
Not far from Sydenham rail station, The Dolphin is a strikingly refurbished 1930s mock-Tudor building with a surprising alfresco trump card. The spacious, grassy, manicured garden's gravel paths lead to hedged circles that orbit a pretty, central water feature. Unusually for south London beer gardens, there’s no play area out here, and an adult-friendly policy that means only well-behaved, bums-on-seats kinds of kids are tolerated – an advantage for those who like their summer drinks untoppled by passing toddlers.
This pub on the fringes of Ravenscourt Park is one of London’s great escapes – it’s a Geronimo Inns gaff, so the wine list is well chosen, the interiors are luxurious, and the grub is reliably good. The star, however, is the back garden – a vast, open-plan lawn dotted with bean bags, beach huts, bunting and bright colours, plus deckchairs for summer lounging, swing chairs for sunset-watching couples, and tables for dinners with friends. Not to mention the Ibiza-style lounge terrace. At weekends on warm days, the alfresco bar keeps everyone’s thirst quenched, while a barbecue feeds the crowds.
On a summer’s day, head to the walled garden of this craft beer pub, with its hops-filled plant pots, colourful bunting, hodge-podge of picnic tables, and friendly vibe. The regularly changing line-up of craft offerings is beer-nerd heaven, with nearly a dozen on keg, five or six on cask, plus a couple of quality ciders. The menu does a good line in pimped pub-grub classics, each with a beer-pairing suggestion. You’ll sometimes find a barbecue here, too – but not on Sundays, when the hugely popular roast takes centre stage.
The rather small interior of this lively Camden institution gives way to an outdoor area that can cram in 300 sun-worshippers, with high walls and an array of foliage giving it a real garden feel, despite its position between a busy road and a railway line. If the weather’s dreary, grab one of the cosy side tables with their heaters, or shelter under the convenient mini-marquee and admire the fairy lights. The garden can get rammed with Regent’s Park-goers and cool Camden types when the sun shines thanks to its outdoor bar and regular barbecues or hog roasts.
Sack off the laidback interior at Crystal Palace’s Faber Fox in favour of expansive views from the pub’s rear, tiered beer garden (try saying that three times fast after a few pints). It comes colourfully kitted-out and offers sweltering views towards the capital’s skyscrapers given Palace’s elevated vantage point over the rest of London. Back inside, the bar is lengthy enough to deal with demand for refreshment from all and sundry come London’s next heatwave.
While there are definitely bigger beer gardens to be found in the capital, the outdoor space at this well-loved, ivy-covered local is certainly one of the cleverest. Faced with the difficulty of only having a small yard, the owners built upwards – creating a tiered village from decking, with room on the various split levels for several tables. It’s an early-afternoon suntrap in which to sip a cold lager from a mainstream bar that includes the likes of Amstel, Heineken and Leffe. In keeping with the exotic-themed surrounds, the cooking (from the indoor kitchen, served in the evening only) is of the Thai variety: think stir-fries, curries and noodles.
Located just opposite leafy Brockwell Park and its gorgeous lido, this stylishly refurbished local has to offer a better-than-average outdoor space, otherwise no one would bother coming in summer. In fact, it’s the opposite: this locals’ local is permanently rammed all year round, so booking is a must, especially on Sundays. The rear patio has a dedicated bar, free-standing heaters, and hosts weekend barbecues in the summer. Families (and child-free punters) may lament the loss of the outdoor kids’ games room – it’s now a private function room – but pint-sized punters are still welcome.
The downside to this trendy Battersea boozer? It’s impossible to describe to your mates without it sounding like some kind of wanky hipster hangout. They’ve got their own micro-brewery. They distill their own gin. They keep an escape game in the basement. There’s even a retro gaming room upstairs. But it’s the garden we need to tell you about, a spacious zone primed for sipping gin from a lengthy menu and with its own canopy for when it’s raining but you’ve definitely had enough of indoor play.
Perched on the edge of Hampstead Heath, this lively local is a post-walk destination thanks to its lovely big garden that’s well endowed with greenery. An outdoor bar, weekend barbecues and the occasional hog roast keep the beer garden at capacity during the hotter months; on chillier days, there’s a heated covered area. Thirsty? Ask for cask and you’ll be offered the choice of London Pride and a handful of seasonal ales. However many you try, the good news is that at the end of the day you’re only a few (wobbly) steps from the train station, and home.
There’s a lot going on at The Gunmakers, a multi-purpose pub with its own hair salon. Don’t let it all distract you from a lovely garden hidden at the back, decorated with fairy lights, lanterns and hanging foliage. It’s a great place to steal a seat and savour canned cocktails, including a zingy watermelon and cucumber sangria. Given the location, expect this beer garden to be rocking come clocking off time midweek.
We love The Junction Tavern – not only is it locally and passionately run, it’s also a reliable source of inspired, reasonably priced gastropub dishes. In fine weather, the secluded paved garden, with its scattering of painted picnic tables, heated parasols, and climber-covered walls, is an awesome spot for a leisurely pint (choose from five weekly changing cask ales, many of them local) or a bite to eat. If summer disappoints, or the temperature drops, head for the fairy-lit conservatory instead.
Behind the wide front terrace, the layout of this ages-old Young’s pub may be a little confusing at first, but the Leather Bottle is worthy of exploration. Especially once you stumble upon its substantial beer garden, a boon in summer. Discover one of the cabins– with their own TV screens – or beach-style huts. This is how to do a beer garden in style.
This pub is part of the Electric Star chain (Star of Bethnal Green, Star of Kings, Star by Hackney Downs, Heathcote & Star) so you know it’s party-ready. And the beer garden is the best bit, with its series of wooden booths complete with heating lamps. There’s a serviceable range of beers and ales on tap from the likes of Camden Town and Signature. Grub comes from residents We Serve Humans, who specialise in down-and-dirty bar food – ideal when a daytime session runs through to the night.
Battersea’s Magic Garden surely wins the prize for the quirkiest beer garden in London: its alfresco space has a hippy faux-festival vibe, with an enormous tent-like tarpaulin sheltering a mish-mash of squishy sofas and upright thrones (with blankets and hot water bottles in lieu of heavy-duty heaters); a fairy-lit patio area with an outdoor bar; and even a taxi that’s been given a flower-power makeover. Cocktails and bar snacks are the way to go if you want to fit in with the locals, though there is a tempting Modern European menu. Don’t let it distract you from The Magic Garden’s raison d’etre: almost nightly live music sessions.
Whatever you do, do NOT just pop in here for ‘a quick pint’ – this forward-thinking destination takes its beer seriously, with an on-site micro-brewery producing cask-conditioned ‘People’s Pints’, and a tap room serving around 70 world beers. It’s not a hallowed, beard-stroking sort of vibe, though – old-school games consoles, weekend DJs and a hacienda-style garden see to that. The latter backs onto Victoria Park, and offers an outdoor kitchen and a fantastic selection of drinks. It’s like drinking in the park, but without having to periodically wander around looking for a loo. Best of all, heated booths can be booked for groups of ten to help eek out those summer sessions.
A big ol' comfy corner pub in southwest London, which has become a bit of a food hall/pub hybrid. Grab street food from Patty & Bun, Homeslice and others and wash it all down with frozen margaritas. The owners are calling this secretive space at the back of the pub ‘London’s largest beer garden’. Given its size and its retractable roof, it’s unlikely this will remain a secret for much longer.
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Yes, this 500-year-old pub has a darkly wooded interior (complete with original flagstone floors and pewter-topped bar), but it also boasts a paved beer garden with views of the Thames, plus a small first-floor terrace that’s open to the bracing breezes. Whether you’re here for the history (everyone from pirates and East End criminals to luvvies and minor royalty have propped up its bar), the range of cask ales, or the waterside drinking opportunities, this Londoners’ destination is hard to beat on a warm, sunny day.
This buzzing boozer close to London Fields station really draws the crowds in summer. Most of that’s down to a spacious outdoor terrace snaking around two sides of the roomy pub, with the green of London Fields itself within pint-tossing distance. DJs keep it busy when night falls. Projector screens outside and decent-size TVs inside show the big sports events, with numerous games shown when the need arises. There's a solid selection of ales on pull pump, with regularly changing drops from brewers such as Darkstar, Caledonian, Sambrook's, Redemption and Five Points Brewing Co.
From the same company as The Avalon, The Rosendale similarly makes the most of its outdoor offering. As well as a few umbrella-covered tables out the front, there's a secluded, covered side garden complete with a boules pitch, table tennis and table football, and a larger space at the back with a fully equipped children's play area. Table service is another bonus – choose restaurant-quality pub food from the menu, or homemade artisan pizzas. Take a seat, order a cold pint of the house summer pale ale, and soak up the oh-so-fleeting summer sunshine.
‘Urban’ Peckham doesn’t get enough credit for its greenery – take this beer garden, just metres from the huge landscaped park from which it takes its name. While other London pubs will label any old cluster of tawdry paving slabs as a ‘garden’, this is the real deal: an expanse of real grass dotted with old-school picnic tables, and one that catches the sun all day long (if it deigns to shine). There's also a decked split-level terrace, a glass-roofed sun room for under-par days, plus road-facing seats out front. You’re spoilt for choice.
This smartened-up boozer attracts an aspirational clientele yet still manages to feel like a good old-fashioned pub. In summer, the best place from which to enjoy its offerings is the small, fenced beer garden out front. Bad weather? Out comes the ‘jumbrella’, a square parasol that covers half the garden. Rain or shine, sustain yourself with well-priced ales; a brief but thoughtful wine list; and good, fairly priced British food that ranges from carefully sourced gastropub mains (such as fish pie with curly kale, or beef stew with horseradish mash) to bar snacks including own-made sausage rolls and Scotch eggs of epic proportions.
Popular with large groups (especially rugby fans), this historic riverside pub has a huge decked garden with five heated booths (these are first-come, first-served so, y’know, the early bird...), a covered area, a dedicated outdoor bar, and an all-day gourmet barbecue at weekends courtesy of pattie-obsessed pop-up Burger Shack. Team it with a guest ale – they change twice a month, but regular guests include Twickenham Spring Ale and Sharp’s Coaster. If the weather thwarts the alfresco fun, compromise with a table in the large, glass-roofed garden room, which offers views over the Thames without gusty breezes or sudden showers.
This Hampstead Heath stunner is a fixture on the ‘best’ lists of anything relating to pubs – it’s got something for everyone: an idyllic location, a ghost-filled back story, and even a dog wash for post-Heath pooches. In winter, there are roaring fires and creakingly romantic nooks; in summer, it’s all about the gorgeous 400-seater garden, with its raised terraces, greenery-covered walls, and open-sided, fairy-lit huts (heated on cold days). On the taps are real ales from the likes of Purity Brewing Co and Sharp’s; there’s also an outside bar serving jugs of Pimm’s. To eat, head for the barbie – fired up in ‘flip-flop weather’.
The Stag attracts a young, laid-back crowd, drawn to the wide selection of decent ales (two dozen on tap, with four cask options) and spacious, leafy rear garden. Said garden boasts outdoor heaters and covered areas, plus table service throughout (goodbye queues). Eleven Ibiza-esque private cabanas around the periphery of the garden (bookable in advance) further enhance the holiday vibe, as do regular live acoustic sets (call ahead to check times and the line-up). A barbecue menu is available on Friday evenings and weekends from noon in summer – dishes range from grilled chicken, pulled pork burgers and hot dogs to griddled halloumi.
This is a leafy, lederhosen-slapping, stein-swaying, pretzel-munching Bavarian beer garden overlooking the Thames – it’s open all year round, but because there’s no indoor seating, the winter opening times are considerably shorter (in spring and summer, if the weather’s good, the garden is open daily, noon–10pm). A selection of unfeasibly large sausages is the ‘wurst’ they can do, while the continental beers, available in towering one-litre steins, include golden Helles from Paulaner, Erdinger weissbier and, by the bottle, the delectable dark Erdinger Dunkelweiss.
In chillier weather, this spacious Stokey boozer – owned by quirky pub group Antic – should appeal to fans of Trivial Pursuit’s orange wedge (that’s ‘sport and leisure’, in case you’d forgotten), given that it offers everything from football on the telly to old-school pinball machines and a large pool table. From May though, and throughout the summer months, the garden becomes the space for leisure, with two tiers (one patio, one lawned) offering loads of space for locals to relax and refresh. The outdoor bar serves bottled beer, wines and cocktails, while the bar menu of sharing plates large and small (plus poshed-up pub staples) is also available alfresco.
A sun-trap riverside terrace is across the road from the pub, where the Thames laps at the slipways either side of you, and views of boaters and weeping willows stretch both ways. There's a gas-fired barbecue on sunny weekends, to complement a menu of whole tail scampi, mushroom wellington and steaks. To drink, choose from beery output from south west London brewers and Hazy Hog cider on draught. If it gets chilly, head inside for entertainment ranging from live music to quiz nights.
Perched on the corner of Parson’s Green, this popular pub takes barbecuing – and beer – seriously. At the bar you’ll find a regularly changing line-up of more than a dozen cask ales and draught beers, plus a tank beer from Pilsner Urquell and more than 100 bottles. Meanwhile, every summer weekend from noon (plus sunny weekdays from 6pm), the barbecue turns out tasty chargrilled burgers and bangers, plus the odd special – as long as the weather plays nice. Outdoor seating is limited to only 18 tables, but at least these are heated and covered, in case of bad weather.
Stroll down a quiet back road in Hackney and you’ll be delighted to come across this handsome pub, its exterior like something on a postcard from the countryside, all light lilac frontage and classic lampposts. While winter months are about hunkering down by one of two log burners, the walled garden at the rear comes into its own whenever a heatwave hits. Hungry punters can order in from nearby Yard Sale pizza. But mostly it’s the local drinks that interest customers, with an ever-changing range of six beers, two ales and one cider – as the bar staff say, ‘You won’t find any Stella here.’
The Drayton Court Hotel is really a pub (albeit one with 27 rooms, plus upscale dishes such as seared venison with black pudding croquettes) so don’t feel like you need to be an overnight guest to enjoy drinks and dinner here. In summer, the huge (and we mean huge) landscaped gardens come into their own, offering plenty of seating at picnic tables set either amid the leafy mature trees on the verdant groomed lawns, or over a stylish decked area complete with pergola-covered walkways. Lagers and ales come courtesy of Fuller’s (who own the building).
One major selling point of this Bow pub has to be its garden – guaranteed pleasant vibes and evergreen thanks to the canny employment of astroturf. Rather than feeling clinical, it’s rather clean and cheery. Top up your tan while sipping on top-notch cocktails. An Aperol Spritz is a keen choice for many Goose goers.
Located in the more salubrious part of Walthamstow, The Nag’s Head could hardly be more accommodating, hosting everything from jazz nights and DJ sessions to life-drawing classes upstairs. There are a few tables in front, and plenty more in the back garden, with heaters and a couple of awnings to protect against the inevitable showers. The pub brims with good beer and the wine list suits a clued-up clientele – vegan wine included.
Sweltering in central London? Then jump on the 94 bus heading west and don’t get off until it stops. Within minutes, you can be sitting in the dappled light of The Swan’s lush and leafy patio sipping well-kept cask ales from one of Chiswick’s best-kept secrets. The pumps offer three real ales, including local brews such as Naked Ladies from nearby Twickenham, and Wandle from Wandsworth-based brewery Sambrook’s; there’s also plenty on draught, including Meantime London Pale Ale.
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