We've rounded up London's best beer gardens, some included for their bucolic atmosphere and fine foliage, some for their summery drinks or irresistible barbecue food, some for their riverside locations (although we also have those covered in our guide to London's best riverside pubs and bars) – and even a couple for their water features. We’ve organised them by north, south, east and west (and no, there aren't any good beer gardens in central London) so you can easily track down your nearest alfresco supping spot.
RECOMMENDED: Outdoor London
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 at the wooden tables in the walled beer garden, with its trees and colourful flowers. Beer-drinkers usually have three options on draught (perhaps Ringwood Best, Deuchars IPA and San Miguel), there’s a short list of summery 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, and also celebrated by way of an artistically graffitied outdoor bar. There’s plenty of capacity (the garden can hold 300), around a dozen lagers plus a few ciders and ales on tap (including a regularly-changing guest ale).
A regular haunt of local resident George Orwell (who moved to 27b Canonbury Square in 1944), 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. But don’t come here expecting a period pub – inside and out, it’s now a study in modern Brit minimalism. In the walled garden, you can lounge on designer rattan sofas, all dark weaves and tight angles, while sipping a chilled draft Peroni 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 pollock with baby leeks, gnocchi, pancetta and prosecco cream) is available to eat in the glorious outdoors.
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 (think Camden Hells-battered fish and chips with minted pea purée, or herb-crumbed halloumi burger with hazelnut butter and avocado), 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, which leads to our only grumble – sometimes the service fails to keep up with the crowds.
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 street-food variety: think stir-fries, curries and noodles.
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.
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, from creamy burrata with exemplary heritage tomatoes, to braised lamb sweetbreads, or succulent bavette steak with own-made horseradish. 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.
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.
The best beer gardens in east London
Hackney Wick may be a hinterland of former industrial warehouses, but perched on the River Lea is this welcoming space filled with people, noise, pizza and beer. Crate serves up its own fine microbrews right by the water – and there are plenty of outdoor tables at which to soak up the sun. The best alfresco seats, however, are directly on the water, aboard the Alfred Leroy, a barge that has been beautifully renovated by Crate’s owners, and docked just outside the pub. During the week, it’s a floating bar with cosy booths and a retractable roof; at weekends, it reprises its canal cruiser role, taking punters out on the river for lesser-seen views of London.
Clapton is transforming quicker than Katy Perry doing a costume change, but the refurbed Crooked Billet remains a place for all E5-ers to enjoy. When the mercury rises, its massive garden becomes a big, boozy playground: there’s a food truck (with a name like ‘The Bird Flipper’, of course there’s rotisserie chicken and barbecued wings involved), 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.
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 the disadvantages of making yourself look like a hobo and having to periodically wander around looking for a loo.
In 2014, this pub became a tap for the local Truman’s brewery called the Cygnet; it closed in November of that year, but with an outdoor space like this in east London, it wasn’t going to stay shut for long. The enormous canalside seating area couldn’t be called a garden – it’s more a post-industrial pub playground, surrounded by large-scale murals, bits of defunct industry and the occasionally bucolic Lea itself. However, it’s a deservedly popular spot for summer sipping. Furniture is reclaimed, salvaged and recycled. The huge Olympic stadium looms just to the east.
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 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.
Truth be told, the space at the back of this funky twist on a traditional boozer is less ‘garden’ and more ‘yard’, but it’s an enchantingly done-up yard, with fairy lights, trellises and trailing plants covering its whitewashed walls, bunting strewn overhead, and – crucially – outdoor heaters. On hot days, this is one of the few places to soak up the sun near the City, so it attracts a mix of open-collared suits and off-duty hipsters. It’s a sheltered spot in which to sip a pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord or Truman’s Runner, or to get in on the summer barbecue action – weather permitting, of course.
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 parmesan-coated chips or crisp-skinned hot wings.
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 against the inevitable showers. The pub brims with good beer: there’s an assortment of English ales (Timothy Taylor Landlord, St Austell Tribute and the Oscar Wilde mild are regulars), and a flurry of Belgian fruit beers in the summer – of which the Mongozo coconut beer is the most adventurous – or, depending on your point of view, ill advised.
The best beer gardens in south London
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. So yes, The Avalon has one of the best beer gardens in London – but don’t ignore the charms of this solid all-rounder in winter, either.
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. On the taps, the Meantime brews are well worth investigation.
Not far from Sydenham rail station, The Dolphin is a strikingly refurbished 1930s mock-Tudor building with a surprising alfresco trump card. There’s solid pub grub and a handful of ales at the pumps (including a weekly guest), but most people head here for the spacious, grassy, manicured garden, whose 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.
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; otherwise, choose high-quality small plates from the inventive menu. 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.
This is, in truth, more restaurant than pub, but the garden is such a beauty that we had to include it here. The secluded space has terraces, lawn, plants, mature trees, verdant borders, plentiful tables and stylish outdoor lighting, while high walls shield the grassy expanse from the surrounding streets. Seasonal beers from the nearby Meantime Brewery are just the thing to quench a summer thirst, though there’s table service should you prefer the longer range of drinks from the main bar, including imaginative cocktails. Soak it up with something from the compact gastropub menu or the classy weekend barbecue (summer only).
Battersea’s Magic Garden surely wins the prize for the quirkiest beer garden in London: its alfresco space has a hippy-dippy 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.
In operation since 1852, The County Arms is a big, stately lump of a pub that dominates the north end of the 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, which features the likes of courgette, butternut squash and spinach fritters, and a two-foot sausage roll. Not hungry? Try one of half a dozen on-tap Young’s ales and guest handpulls, or a glass of bubbly.
From the same company as The Avalon (whose lovely beer garden also makes this list), 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.
Part of the Grand Union pub chain, this bar-slash-boozer on the border between Clapham and Brixton places as much emphasis on good music and buzzy vibes as it does on its menu of please-all dude food. Its biggest USP is the 300-seater beer garden, with its colour-pop decking and furniture, strings of fairy lights, and beach-style huts in which groups can hide away. It’s a hit with the fun-loving, unpretentious crowd who call it their local.
‘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. The menu is proper swanky, with pulled-pork croquettes, aged rib-eye steaks and posh puds; to drink, try the house bitter, ‘Rye Ale’.
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.
The best beer gardens in west London
This handsome Parsons Green public house is well known for its smart, palm-filled beer garden (not to mention its smart crowd: they don’t call it ‘arrogant house’ for nothing). A line-up of crowd-pleasing beers and ciders, plus guest ales, is one attraction, but the focus here, really, is on wine (especially prosecco during happy hour), so on sunny days, you can bet the rosé flows. You can eat in the beer garden - the summer barbecue usually packs in the locals - but you can’t reserve a table out here, so pitch up at midday sharp to pick your perch.
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. To drink, choose from a daily changing roster of ales, and summery ciders.
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.
This tree-fringed deck, overlooking the languid curves of the Thames, is probably one of London’s best spots for sinking (geddit?) a cold one outside. It serves an appealing selection of pubby food, but the big attraction in high summer are its weekend barbecues – depending, of course, on the weather. The alfresco area consists of a terrace that’s covered and heated (perfect consolation for whenever the effort of the British summer peaks at ‘piss poor’), and a more open balcony. There’s also a less formal section featuring ten picnic tables. Don’t expect a seat on Boat Race day, unless your name is Lucky.
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 the golden Helles from Paulaner, Erdinger weissbier and, in the bottle, the delectable dark Erdinger Dunkelweiss. There’s a German wine list, too, and a small children’s play area. The Kingston branch is also on the river.
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. Alternatively, there’s gastro-pubby food from the kitchen, with popular options including brisket burgers, fish and chips, and chicken and ham hock pie. Outdoor seating is limited to only 18 tables, but at least these are heated and covered, in case of bad weather.
The White Swan's interior has seen better days, but never mind – you’ll be outside on the sun-trap riverside terrace across the road, 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 crispy squid, buffalo wings and steaks. To drink, choose from the likes of Twickenham Tusk pale ale and Hazy Hog cider on draught, resident ale Sharp’s Doom Bar, and daily changing guests. If it gets chilly, head inside for entertainment ranging from live music to wine tastings.
The Drayton Court Hotel is really a pub (albeit one with 27 rooms, plus upscale dishes such as tea- and hop-smoked haddock with asparagus) 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), with London Pride, Oliver’s Island and Honey Dew all usually available on tap.
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. Wine lovers, meanwhile, can get stuck into a strong wine list. Table service courtesy of super-friendly staff keeps things civilised, as does the tempting gastropub menu.
This canalside pub has a charming bijou beer garden featuring picnic tables and cast-iron garden furniture, planters filled with topiary and bright blooms, and generously proportioned parasols. The pub serves up a good selection of London-produced craft beers, while the taps are dominated by Fuller’s, who own the place. A menu of barbecue-style dishes ties in nicely with the drinks offering.
Find more bars for outdoor drinking
As much as we love London's dark and dingy pubs, there are occasions when tatty banquettes and yellowed walls don't quite cut it. For a classier night of inebriation, get yourself to one of London's best rooftop bars. Here, you'll find swish cocktails, plush lounges and gourmet snacks galore, not to mention a front-row seat to the sexiest skyline on the planet.
‘Farley Macallan’ may sound like a character from a Scottish seafaring legend, but it’s actually a Hackney bar-restaurant where a bright neon sign above the counter glows with the motto ‘#Reinventing the local’. A cosy one-room bar with an events space downstairs, it offers brunch during the day Wednesday to Sunday (including the bottomless sort on weekends), classy small plates and a decent wine list in the evenings from Wednesday to Saturday. The words ‘Hackney’s fashion hub’ take some getting used to, but according to Farley Macallan’s website, that’s where you’ll find this new breed of higher-end East End boozer: it sits on a shabby corner on the not-so-appealing main road between Hackney Central and Homerton, where there’s a concentrated line-up of shiny discount outlets run by Nike, Burberry, Pringle and other big brands. This place isn’t fashion-y at all, though. The décor is easy and functional, with simple tables, pine chairs and stools, it’s foodie in a friendly way – the staff are happy to talk through their core offering of wines, cheeses and cured meats – and it attracts a young neighbourhood crowd. But beware of just ‘popping in’ to Farley Macallan. The place shuts occasionally for private parties or themed and ticketed nights (they run music and comedy events downstairs). The first time I visited, they were about to have a Caribbean evening, lining up potent-looking punches behind the bar and preparing a special menu (they let me slip in for a quick drink bef
Venue says: “Bottomless brunch at £28 per head. Unlimited bellinis and bloody marys for an hour and a half.”