Whenever there’s even a bit of sunshine in Manchester, seemingly thousands of people want to sit out to dine, and more importantly drink, alfresco. Most of the sun traps that you can see from the street can get very busy. So, we present some of the best Manchester beer gardens and terraces that are a little more hidden away…

The Pilcrow

Located in the up-and-coming NOMA District, The Pilcrow has been dubbed ‘The Pub that Manchester Built’, as it was erected with the help of unskilled volunteers. Thankfully, it’s still standing. But, anyway, it’s the outdoors bit that’s of interest to us. It has a large terrace that opens directly onto Sadler’s Yard – a newly created public square – giving it a sunny aspect. The pub has a rotating roster of cask and keg beers, plus loose-leaf teas and Ancoats Coffee. Food-wise, there are sharing boards, sandwiches, and snacks – all freshly made and sourced from local suppliers.

Sadler's Yard, Hanover Street, Manchester, M60 0AB, Tel: 0161 834 4989

This ever-so-hip food and drink destination can be found in the student corridor, under the Mancunian Way. The traders are based in shipping containers, but there’s also an open-air courtyard which is not in the shadow of the flyover. The permanent fixtures are Öl, a nano brewery/keg bar; and Takk, a Scandinavian-inspired coffee shop. The other sellers change quite frequently, giving visitors new experiences throughout the year. Currently, it has an artisan hamburger joint and Cypriot street food seller. The Hatch venture has been a big hit and is set to treble in size this month.

Circle Square, Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7ED, Tel: 0333 323 2238
Great John Street Hotel

Possibly a little more highbrow than the others here, this retro kitsch hotel is based in a former schoolhouse. The main attraction is its rooftop terrace with south-facing view. Its Lounge area is open to the public from late afternoon for both drinks and food. It’s a very popular venue for events such as wedding receptions, so be sure check the availability on the website before you go. If you’re a little more organised, you can book in advance for afternoon tea or a champagne lunch in the more exclusive Rooftop Playground.

Great John Street, Manchester, M3 4FD, Tel: 0161 831 3211
Rain Bar

Tucked away on Great Bridgewater Street, this venue looks pretty basic from the outside, especially compared to Peveril of the Peak, which is just over the road. The interior is fine and dandy, but Rain Bar seems geared up for outside drinking. Ironic, given the name. It has a large, multi-level terrace at the rear with a view of the canal. The beers and ciders come from the venerable Middleton brewery J.W. Lees, but there are some other choices, albeit fairly standard ones, on sale, too.

80 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, M1 5JG, Tel: 0161 235 6500
The Briton’s Protection

Just along the road from Rain Bar is this bona fide Manchester icon which dates back to 1806. Surrounded by new and revamped buildings, it feels like the last bastion against modernity. However, it’s much cooler and more inclusive than its name and exterior might suggest. The small but perfectly formed beer garden at the rear can be a real suntrap… at least for a few hours a day. The pub is renowned for its whiskies and indeed whiskeys. You’re unlikely find a bigger selection anywhere in the city. Other, more summer-friendly drinks, are also available.

50 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, M1 5LE, Tel: 0161 236 5895
First Street

Hidden away just behind Oxford Road, First Street is fast becoming a not-so-secret hangout spot for art lovers and the after work crowd. This little corner of town has plenty to offer; including Chef Simon Wood’s restaurant Wood, The Gasworks beerhouse and the increasingly popular Bunny Jacksons with their even more popular 10p chicken wings. It’s also home to city-centre arts, cinema and theatre space HOME, where folks can grab a much needed hit of culture amid the hustle and bustle of town. However its the street’s sun-trap centre that’s the real appeal here – and on a sunny evening it really comes alive with beach-style deck chairs, over-sized board games and ping-pong tables for visitors to enjoy. There’s even a giant TV screen showing Wimbledon and other sporting events during select months throughout the year.

First Street Manchester, M15 4FN
The best: Manchester beer gardens and terraces Whenever there’s even a bit of sunshine in Manchester, seemingly thousands of people want to sit out to dine, and more importantly drink, alfresco.
A. James Simpkin
Published on:
Thu 1 Aug 2019