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Manchester’s best city centre beer gardens

Written by Sam Walker.
Posted May 1, 2024.
The Wharf and Castlefield play host to some of the city's best beer gardens

The sun is shining once again in Manchester so it’s only right that we celebrate some of the places that are perfect for a pint outside in the sun. From historic pubs to modern venues, Manchester city centre boasts an impressive array of beer gardens that cater to all tastes. Join us as we explore some of the best areas and pub beer gardens in the city, where you can enjoy a nice cold pint on a hot day in Manchester.

Castlefield plays host to some of the city’s best boozers and being just outside the hustle and bustle it means there is ample space for beer gardens. Our pick of the bunch is The Wharf. With waterfront views and loads of outdoor seating, this beer garden is the ideal spot to spend an afternoon with mates.

Don’t sleep on the other bars knocking around there, Castlefield has loads of great places to drink on a sunny day so you can make a bar crawl with the likes of Barca, Alberts, Dukes 92 and Atlas all boasting sun traps, music and lots of vibes. Alberts is the best of the bunch if you’re looking for a nice meal, the others all offer classic bar menus.

Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter
Credit: Flok

Over on the other side of town, we have two squares (Stevenson and Cutting Room Square) that no one will be surprised make this list.

Stevenson Square has a massive bunch of different bars to choose from and they’ve made the area largely pedestrianised except for Lever Street running through the middle. This gives the likes of Quarter House, Flok, Eastern Bloc, Public and Lost in Tokyo a load of space to get chairs out. It’s the perfect spot to people watch and when day turns to night, you can get yourself into Guilty or Hula to party until the early hours.

Cutting Room Square has a slightly different vibe. On the outer side of the ring road known as Ancoats and plays the role of upmarket brother to Stephenson Square thanks to a large amount of redevelopment. You’ll find a bit of a different offering with craft beer and fancy cocktails from the likes of Seven Bro7hers, The Counter House and Jayne Eyre. The area is heavily pedestrianised, so bars are take advantage of the large square in the glorious in the sun. So, grab yourself a pint of Juicy IPA from Seven Bro7thers and enjoy the sun, you won’t be disappointed (and thank me later for the drink recommendation).

The Oast House, could get a section on its own, it’s known by most and it can get busy which is the only downside but with a good selection of beers tucked away in the middle of Spinningfields it’s always a good sunny day choice. More often than not there is a band or DJ on the stage setting the tone and its usually a fun one. Grab your mates and don’t walk, run.

If you fancy a swankier cocktail there’s the roof terrace at The Ivy, but you’ll need to book a space here as it’s usually overrun by people celebrating birthdays and taking selfies. Alchemist offers a good middle ground – especially if you want to indulge in a summer cocktail instead of a cold pint or Aperol Spritz.

Make sure you miss this next choice if it’s a match day and Manchester City or Manchester United are at home, especially if it’s the Champions League, mainly because it gets very busy. No matter if it’s the Dutch, Spanish or Italians visiting Manchester its always jam packed and there is a reason. Cheap drinks and loads of outdoor space with Sinclair’s Oyster Bar offering pints from around three quid the price, it’s a price which is tough to beat in Manchester.

There are a number of bars and restaurants around here which all enjoy great outdoor seating, but most are attached to chains – Try Banyan or The Mitre if Sinclairs is overflowing. They’re the perfect spot to grab a drink if you’ve had to nip into town to do some shopping and fancy a quick drink to get you in the mood for a night out, but it’s not the kind of destination we’d make a day of it.

The Village has loads of great places to soak up the sun and enjoy a drink. With the canal running through it, it makes quite an idyllic British setting and as day turns to night, the party comes to life. G-A-Y, The Velvet Lounge and VIA arguable offer the best outdoor seating on Canal Street.

Finally, we had to include a Northern Quarter classic. Everyone remembers a messy night at terrace on its tiny dancefloor, but the terrace it’s named after is not to be missed in the sun. With space outside the front on Thomas Street, make sure you venture inside and upstairs to Terrace’s terrace. A nice space with plenty of seating and more importantly away from the bustling Thomas Street and Edge Street. If you want to make a day of it in the sun, neighbouring places to enjoy are the Abel Heywood, Wolf at the Door and The Smithfield Social.