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stag
Photograph: The Stag

London’s best beer gardens

Our pick of the city's best pubs with outdoor spaces – perfect for safe summery, sun-soaked supping now pubs are open again

By Laura Richards
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Now that pubs are springing back to life, we’ve rounded up London’s best beer gardens that are taking bookings. Some have been included for their bucolic looks and fine foliage, some for their summery drinks or irresistible barbecues, some for their riverside location (although we also have those covered in our guide to London’s best riverside pubs and bars).

Bear in mind, things might look a little different when you return to your favourite local pub garden. Firstly, in most instances, you’ll likely be asked to make a booking (although that takes away the hapless scramble for a seat on sunny days, it does add a layer of admin to London boozing). Forget queuing at the bar too, with table service in favour. And some of the pubs belonging to larger chains will even be asking you to do all your ordering via an app. 

But the safest way to socialise these days is outdoors in the fresh London air, which makes the beer garden our saviour for the summer months ahead.

RECOMMENDED: Outdoor London

The best beer gardens London

The Albion

Bars and pubs Barnsbury

Reopening on Monday July 6

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.

Alwyne Castle

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Canonbury

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

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Avalon

Restaurants Contemporary European Balham

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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. 

The Axe

Bars and pubs Craft beer pubs Stoke Newington

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

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Exterior shot of The Canonbury pub in Islington
Exterior shot of The Canonbury pub in Islington
Kim Lightbody

Canonbury

Bars and pubs Pubs Canonbury

Reopening on Monday July 20

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

Bars and pubs Tooting

Reopening from Monday July 20

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.

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County Arms

Bars and pubs Wandsworth

Reopening on Monday July 20

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.

The Crabtree

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Fulham

Reopening on Monday July 6

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. 

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Crooked Billet

Bars and pubs Clapton

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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 and Greyhound

Bars and pubs Pubs Dulwich

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

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Dolphin
Dolphin
© Jonathan Perugia

Dolphin

Bars and pubs Pubs Sydenham

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

The Eagle Shepherd's Bush
The Eagle Shepherd's Bush
© Chris Orange

Eagle

Bars and pubs Shepherd’s Bush

Reopening on Monday July 20

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.

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The Faber Fox

Bars and pubs Pubs Crystal Palace

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

Secret pub garden in finsbury parkThe Faltering Fullback 19 Perth Rd N4 3HB
Secret pub garden in finsbury parkThe Faltering Fullback 19 Perth Rd N4 3HB
Photograph: Time Out

Faltering Fullback

Bars and pubs Pubs Finsbury Park

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

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Four Thieves

Bars and pubs Breweries Clapham Junction

Reopening Saturday July 11

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. 

Junction Tavern

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Kentish Town

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

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Leather Bottle

Bars and pubs Earlsfield

Reopening on Monday July 20

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. 

best beer gardens in london, leyton star
best beer gardens in london, leyton star
Photograph: Leyton Star

The Leyton Star

Bars and pubs Pubs Leyton

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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. 

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People's Park Tavern

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Victoria Park

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

The Prince

Bars and pubs Pubs West Brompton

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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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Prospect of Whitby
Prospect of Whitby
Nick Ballon

Prospect of Whitby

Bars and pubs Pubs Wapping

Reopening on Monday July 6

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.

Pub on the Park

Bars and pubs Hackney

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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. 

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Rosendale

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Dulwich

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

Scolt Head

Bars and pubs Gastropubs De Beauvoir

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

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The Ship

Restaurants British Wandsworth

Reopening on Monday July 20

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.

stag
stag
Photograph: The Stag

Stag

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Belsize Park

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

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London's best beer gardens, White Hart
London's best beer gardens, White Hart
© Quite Peculiar/Flickr

White Hart

Bars and pubs Pubs Stoke Newington

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

White Swan

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Twickenham

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

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Chesham Arms

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Hackney

Reopening on Saturday August 1

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.’

Green Goose

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Bow

Reopening on Saturday July 4

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.

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