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The Wharf
Photograph: The Wharf

16 great outdoor drinking spaces in Manchester

From canalside terraces to a railway platform, these are Manchester’s top alfresco drinking spots

By Rob Martin
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Pubs: remember them? Those places where we’d exchange money for drinks surrounded by chatter and music. If you’re missing the feeling of clasping your hand round a freshly-poured, ice-cold pint surrounded by your mates in your favourite Manchester boozer, the wait is over. Manchester's drinking establishments have thrown open their doors and, just in time for summer, alfresco drinking is part of the new normal.

Bear in mind that things might look a little different when you return to your local pub garden. In most instances, you’ll have to book in advance and table service or ordering via an app may be in place. But the safest way to socialise these days is outdoors in the fresh air, which makes the beer garden our saviour for the summer months ahead.

So, from sunny canalside terraces to the platform of a heritage railway station, we’ve rounded up Manchester’s best beer gardens. Bottoms up!

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The best outdoor drinking spaces in Manchester

Oust House
Oust House
Photograph: Oust House

The Oast House

It’s a far cry from the glass-fronted skyscrapers dominating Spinningfields and the Oast House’s outdoor area has ample seating where you can sample one of their hanging kebabs or wide range of craft beer.

The Marble Arch, Manchester
The Marble Arch, Manchester
Photograph: Marble Arch

The Marble Arch Inn

It’s one of Manchester’s most beautiful pubs with its unique tiling, sloping floors and cosy atmosphere. But if you find the Victorian décor a bit overpowering for a warm day it also has an enclosed yard out the back with tables and chairs.

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Blackjack Brew Tap
Blackjack Brew Tap
Photograph: Christian Dyson

Blackjack Brew Tap

Blackjack will be back this spring with its excellent selection of beer and lip-smacking food provided by street food traders. From late April their beer garden will be open for alfresco bevvies, and because British spring and summertime is always delightfully unpredictable, their outdoor area is covered. 

People drinking next to the canalside
People drinking next to the canalside
Photograph: J W Lees

Rain Bar

Located on the banks of the Rochdale Canal, this waterside pub makes the most of its outdoor space. With a two-level patio and a grassy bank next to the canal, it’s a popular place for a post-work beer in the summer months.

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The Wharf
The Wharf
Photograph: The Wharf

The Wharf

Slightly further down the canal, it’s the outside area that really makes this Brunning and Price pub. It offers fantastic views of the city.

Atlas Bar, Manchester
Atlas Bar, Manchester
Photograph: Atlas Bar

Atlas Bar

If you prefer to relax in the sun with a G&T rather than a beer, Atlas Bar is the ideal spot for you. Located within the old railway arches on Deansgate, its enclosed beer garden is the perfect place to sample one of their extensive range of gins.

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Fringe, Manchester
Fringe, Manchester
Photograph: Rob Martin

Bar Fringe

It may not be the largest garden you can find but it's a secluded spot making it a haven in the heart of the city.

Tables and benches outside the Horse and Jockey pub
Tables and benches outside the Horse and Jockey pub
Photograph: Horse and Jockey

Horse and Jockey

Located opposite Chorlton Green, this is a popular spot for a sunny day. The whole family, including dogs, are welcome but its prime location can mean it gets busy.

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Dulcimer, Bars and pubs, Manchester
Dulcimer, Bars and pubs, Manchester
Photograph: Dulcimer

Dulcimer

If you fancy somewhere a bit quieter in Chorlton, check out the beer garden at Dulcimer. It’s a small paved yard and is a bit of a sun trap so definitely worth a visit.

People drinking outside a pub called Dickyard
People drinking outside a pub called Dickyard
Photograph: Dockyard

The Dockyard

In the summer months, MediaCity’s pub throws open the doors of its sister space DockBar – a converted shipping container located on the grass outside the bar. Grab a deckchair or just a spot on the grass and make the most of the Salford sun.

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The King's Arms, Manchester
The King's Arms, Manchester
Photograph: King's Arms

The King’s Arms

Well known for hosting gigs and groups, this Salford gem owned by ex-Beautiful South and Housemartins singer Paul Heaton also has a cobbled beer garden for those sunny days.

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The Church Inn seen from outside is a white walled pub on the right of the photo whilst a church is opposite on the left
The Church Inn seen from outside is a white walled pub on the right of the photo whilst a church is opposite on the left
Photograph: Church Inn

Church Inn

Dating back to the 17th century, Church Inn is located on a quiet lane next to (unsurprisingly) a church. It has a good-sized outdoor space with plenty of seating.

People drinking on a train station platform
People drinking on a train station platform
Photograph: East Lancashire Railway

The Trackside

Not a beer garden in the traditional sense; Trackside offers outdoor seating on the platform of the heritage railway at Bury Bolton Street station. It has a unique atmosphere, especially on the days it is visited by steam trains, and they’re currently in the process of adding a canopy so the outdoor area can be enjoyed when the weather is less than glorious.

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Tables and benches outside the Baum at night with string lights and a tree in the foreground
Tables and benches outside the Baum at night with string lights and a tree in the foreground
Photograph: The Baum

The Baum

Set within the heart of Rochdale’s conservation area, this quaint, value-for-money pub also has the benefit of an enclosed beer garden which is ideal for dining or drinking in the sunshine.

Sinclair's Oyster Bar, Manchester, Exterior
Sinclair's Oyster Bar, Manchester, Exterior
Photograph: Sinclair's Oyster Bar

Sinclair’s Oyster Bar & Old Wellington

You can’t mention outdoor drinking spaces in Manchester without bringing up the two pubs at The Shambles. Moved from their original locations in the 1970s, The Old Wellington and Sinclair’s Oyster Bar share one of the largest beer gardens in the city. But, thanks to their central location and proximity to areas such as the Printworks, they get extremely busy at the first hint of warm weather. So look lively if you want an alfresco drink in this iconic setting. 

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