With over 35 spots, here's your ultimate guide to city centre suppin' in the sun

(This list was updated in May 2018)

We love summer in Manchester. It’s our favourite day of the year. Actually, to be fair, our reputation for being one of the soggiest cities in the UK has been proved not entirely accurate - we're not even in the top ten.

Ok so in a few days we might be dodging hailstones again, but these few sacred days of sunshine have reminded us to update our ultimate guide to the city's finest outdoor bars, terraces & beer gardens.

20 Stories

Manchester's highest restaurant also boasts Manchester's highest outdoor terrace. Perched nineteen storeys up on the top floor of the No.1 Spinningfields tower, the D&D London-owned venue features a restaurant and two bars - one in and one out on the expansive terrace boasting spectacular Manchester vistas, fire pits, cushioned seating and big brollies (for the inevitable downpour). Expect to pay for the view. 20 Stories, No.1 Spinningfields, Hardman Square, Manchester M3 3EB t:0161 204 3333

20 Stories Sunshine Terrace


Three years on from its refurb, which included an extension of the outside terrace, the original Spinningfields bar (as well as its sister venue on New York Street) is still a magnet for summertime cocktail-lovers. The heated and canopied terrace with stylish white bench seating has space for 100 drinkers, diners, poseurs and people-watchers. Alchemist, 3 Hardman Street, Spinningfields, M3 3HF & 1 New York Street, M1 4HD. 0161 817 2950

Alchemist Spinningfields Sunshine

Atlas Bar

A real Manchester stalwart drinking den, their all-weather outdoor terrace is a peaceful city centre enclave. South facing to capture the sun in good weather, it has a retractable roof and heating for when it get a bit chillier. Alternatively, a few shots of gin from their vast collection (200 and counting) will bring a warm flush to the cheeks come rain or shine. Atlas, 376 Deansgate, M3 4LY t: 0161 834 2124


Take Australasia restaurant and bar in the basement, squish it down and roll it out upstairs with more cushions and you're just about there. This was the first bar to break out onto Spinningfields Avenue when it was the least shopped shopping street in the city, pioneering the way towards turning the whole boulevard into food and drink venues. The terrace here, a forest of bamboo with colonial/nautical-style seating beneath a white canopy, boasts delicate cocktails, high tea and the world's most powerful patio heaters. Australasia, The Avenue, Spinningfields, M3 3AP t: 0161 831 0288

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Banyan Tree

If a hearty weekend brunch out on the terrace with perhaps a small beer or crisp Pinot Grigio is what you’re after then Banyan Tree (practically in Hulme but masquerading as Castlefield) is your best bet. Unfortunately you're currently sat opposite a building site, but isn’t the looming neo-gothic St George’s Church lovely? Banyan Tree, Ellesmere Street, M15 4JY t: 0161 835 9906

180418 Banyan Tree


Castlefield’s perennial under-performer Barca (formerly Sugar Buddha, formerly Bohemia, formerly Barca again) only ever seems to attract punters when the sun comes out. You'd hope so too, having forked out heaps over the years on artificial grass, decking and more decking. Great canalside location though and, when the sun is a shining, there are few better spots to be. Barca, 8-9 Catalan Square, M3 4RU t: 0161 820 7975.

Barca Castlefield 2

Black Dog NWS

Few know that student hang-out Black Dog NWS has a terrace, even fewer know it's called Bruce. Named after the owner's pooch, the terrace comes with a glass ceiling (just in case), a bar, a grill, erratic seating arrangements and TVs for the footy. Down in the bowels of Black Dog, there are plenty of pool tables and the Underdog club for when your day out becomes a night out. Black Dog NWS, 11-13 New Wakefield Street, M1 5NP t: 0161 236 4899

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The unstoppable Albert's Schloss next door doesn’t have a pavement terrace, though its huge front windows retract - allowing those lucky enough to be sitting by a window to tan one arm and one side of their face at a time. A better bet is to head further down to Brewdog, where craft beer lovers can get a full dose of vitamin D. Brewdog, 35 Peter Street, M2 5BG t: 0161 832 1922

180418 Brewdog Peter Street

Britons Protection

This boozer isn’t just a jewel in the crown of the Manchester pub scene; it’s the whopping great 170 carat Black Prince’s ruby of the Manchester pub scene. Steeped in over 200 years of history, this choice watering hole for generations' worth of thinkers, grafters, thespians, philanderers, martyrs and all-round rapscallions also sports a quirky and mostly unnoticed sun trap round the back. Britons Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater Street, M1 5LE t: 0161 236 5895

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Canal Street

If you dare to run this gauntlet, trying your darndest not to be gobbled up by a hen party from Wigan, then Canal Street can be the most vibrant, boisterous and exhausting strip in the city. The street is lined with popular gay and straight-friendly bars (Bar Pop, Velvet, No1 Canal Street) grouped here because their drinking terraces are practically one and the same. Canal Street, M1 3HE.

Pride Man Con Pic 152


Though the clink, clunk and clatter of the Hardman Square construction site might have you chewing on dust rather than Ditalini, the team at Carluccio's have nonetheless annexed a hefty chunk of Hardman Square and made it a great place to kick back, observe and knock back a spritz. Carluccio's, 3 Hardman Square, M3 3EB t: 0161 839 0623

170511 Carluccios Spinningfields

Corn Exchange

Formerly a gathering place for thousands of local traders, the grade II listed former Corn & Produce Exchange is now a destination for thousands of sun-seeking boozers. Many of the bars and restaurants on all sides have outdoor seating overlooking the landscaped Exchange Square or Cathedral Gardens, including Vapiano, Banyan, Salvi's and Wahaca. Head here for a busy, international vibe. The Corn Exchange, Exchange Square, M4 3TR t:0161 834 8961

Corn Exchange Terrace Exchange Square

The Deansgate

The Deansgate occupies a handsome 1920s exterior under the lofty 169m high Beetham Tower. The pub boasts lots of dinky little rooms, a big function area on the first floor and some of the most eclectic outdoor drinking space in the city. The pub was formerly the Crown and has one of the oldest licences in Manchester, dating from the nineteenth century. The Deansgate, 321 Deansgate. M3 4LQ t: 0161 839 5215

170515 The Deansgate

Dimitri's/Don Marco

Hiding down an airy Victorian glass and iron arcade lies the hidden terrace of Dimitri’s and Don Marco restaurants. Not the finest spot in town for bronzing, what with the ceiling an' all (it's a glass ceiling mind), but still a canny courtyard to scoff a medley of mezze and pizza - especially if, like us, you prefer your courtyards emblazoned with faux Grecian mosaics, green plastic patio furniture and the buzzing chitchat of a Mediterranean bar taverna. Campfield Arcade, Deansgate, M3 4FN t: 0161 839 3319.

180418 Terraces Don Marco Dimitris

Dukes 92

Particularly popular in the summer months, generations of drinkers and diners at Dukes and its adjoining sister restaurant, Albert’s Shed, have enjoyed sunning themselves on Manchester's largest terrace since it opened in 1991. Boasting a fantastic location looking out over the ducks and barges of Castlefield basin, Dukes also has a gallery space upstairs overlooking the courtyard below. Amazingly, for a terrace that has so many seats, there's rarely one without a bum on it in summer. Check the weather and get here early. Dukes 92, 18 Castle Street, M3 4LZ t: 0161 839 3522

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El Gato Negro

Not an outdoor spot, as such, though the expensive roof of this Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning three floor Spanish restaurant on King Street does retract on balmier evenings. Smaller than it looks, we felt we couldn’t do the bar area justice, so requested that a PR person take a shot from above using a camera on a very long stick. You’ll be lucky to grab a seat, but it’s a gorgeous spot for those who do. Make sure to try the tapas. El Gato Negro, 52 King Street, M2 4LY t: 0161 694 8585

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Great John Street Hotel

You’ll find an elegant south facing rooftop lounge on top of this Eclectic hotel, available to the public (when not hired privately) it's what they refer to as a ‘rooftop playground’. We’re not talking slides and swings here, but a terrace with a hot tub, sun lounges, informal seating and a heated glass veranda. Leave the frisbee, eh? Great John Street Hotel, M3 4FD t:0161 831 3211

170511 Great John Street Hotel

Great Northern Square/Impossible

The expanse of outdoor space on the corner of Peter Street and Deansgate has never quite reached its potential as a cracking outdoor gathering space, but there is always the 'conversation pit'... where ironically little conversation goes on. Still, many of the ground floor venues leading onto it - All Star Lanes, Home Sweet Home and Opium - have outdoor seating, whilst the new Impossible bar (see below) offers plenty of outdoor seating, a decent and a hidden 'gin nest'. Beware the 'Theatre' in the basement, though, it gets a bit, er, saucy after hours. Impossible, Great Northern Square, Deansgate M3 4EN t:0161 661 0103

180418 Impossible Bar Great Northern

Hanging Ditch

A small but perfectly formed oenophile's treasure trove sitting in the shadow of Manchester Cathedral and the hulking great Harvey Nichols opposite. A great spot to hang, nurse a bottle or two of well-sourced wine and peruse the floor to ceiling shelves for one to nurse once home. Hanging Ditch, 42 Victoria Street, M3 1ST t:0161 832 8222

Hanging Ditch Wine


Oxford Road's new(ish) food, drink and retail market has quickly become one of the city centre's most sought after sun spots. With multiple street food traders, a handful of bars and even a roof terrace or two, it has unsurprisingly become a favourite for the student crowd who roam up and down this stretch of Oxford Road. Good news: they're making it even bigger too, with means more spots to park ya bum.

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This new £25m arts space, the result of a merger between two of our best-loved arts organisations - Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company - boasts three food and drink spaces, two of which in you can catch some rays. There is a sunny little terrace upstairs, while the ground floor bar includes an outdoor seating area with branded deck chairs overlooking Tony Wilson Place and a recently erected statue of German radical thinker, Friedrich Engels - ideal for those who like to spend sunny Manchester days not just drinking but also discussing the liberation of the proletariat. HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, M15 4FN t:0161 200 1500

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Leftbank, Spinningfields

Here, in this once windy corner of Spinningfields, you'll find a number of boozy establishments running alongside the River Irwell. The Dockyard pub boasts a wraparound terrace with plenty of seating, while Scene Indian street food restaurant (pictured below) offers a hefty riverside terrace with lanterns, loungers and shisha. Nearby bistro, Beastro, are also known to stick a few chairs outside when the sun shows up. Or, if you're really desperate, there's always Slug and LettuceLeftbank, Spinningfields, M3 3AG

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The Patron

This new, savvy Northern Quarter venue has all the elements you’d want: good food, a good drinks range, a buzz of expectant customers, a louche early seventies décor, and so many windows there’s always something to watch, inside or out. The Patron has its own tree, sitting in a diddy courtyard with fun umbrellas above and a mural on one of the walls. You can also sit at one of the few tables outside on the pavement. Stevenson Square is a particularly good people watching spot. The Patron, 42-44 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE t:0161 241 7079 

Patron Northern Quarter

Mr Tom's Chop House

This charming outdoor terrace with plaid green tablecloths is nestled behind the elegant 300-year-old lady of St Ann’s Church. This little corner of the square provides a sheltered recess for those shoppers who’ve mustered up a thirst, or just had enough. If you’re lucky (or wait an hour) you can hear the toll of the church bells and the croons of a busker as the midday sun begins to creep along the terrace. FYI, its sister restaurant Albert’s Chophouse - across the other side of Albert Square - has a much smaller nubbin of a sunspot outside with half a dozen tables. Mr Thomas's Chop House, 52 Cross Street, M2 7AR t:0161 832 2245

Mr Thomass Chop House Terrace

Piccolino Caffé Grande

Following a £1.3m refurbishment in 2016, this flagship Italian restaurant now has a very smart canopied terrace out front. With room for 40, this seated area on Albert Square makes the perfect summer people-watching spot to relax with a cool drink or a homemade ice cream and take in Alfred Waterhouse's magnificent Town Hall. Piccolino, 8 Clarence Street, M2 4DW. t:0161 835 9860

Piccolino Caffe Grande Manchester

Rain Bar

Rain bar is a truly fantastic spot in the sun and winner of our 'Best Outdoor Drinking Spot' in 2016. Slightly less hectic than Dukes 92 up the canal, but by no means quiet, this beer garden makes the most of its space; boasting a four-tiered, picnic-benched, neatly groomed canalside spot - ideal for dipping toes and kicking Canada Geese up the jacksie. They deserve it. Rain Bar, 80 Great Bridgewater Street, M1 5JG. 0161 235 6500

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Restaurant Bar and Grill (RBG)

Despite the restaurant's diminishing reputation, this outdoor drinking terrace remains an old favourite. Leading off from the first floor restaurant, it has a new retractable roof and its own designated bar looking out over John Dalton Street and Deansgate. RBG, 14 John Dalton Street, M2 6JR t: 0161 839 1999

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Rudy's Pizza 

Having spearheaded the restaurant rush on Ancoats, Manchester's Neapolitan pizza maestros have just opened a second, much larger branch on Peter Street - between BrewDog and Rudy's newly adopted sister venue, Albert's Schloss. Not only can you score some of the best and most reasonable pizza in town (whole pizzas start from £4.90), but you can also enjoy it al fresco with a Campari & soda on the 25(ish) cover terrace, set back from the busy road behind some greenery. Rudy's, 9 Cotton St, Manchester M4 5BF t:07931 162059

180418 Rudys Pizza Terrace Peter Street


Salut is a lovely place to sit if you prefer drinking a carefully chosen glass of alcoholic grape juice, handpicked from a highly recommended vineyard, served at optimum temperature. There are about a dozen seats outside and, although they’re directly by the road, this makes a pleasing place for a pleasant tipple if you’re over that side of town. Salut Wine Bar, 11 Cooper Street, M2 2FW t:0161 236 2340

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Should you yearn for pizza by the slice, Italian beer, or the smell of stale urine emanating from a nearby phone box, then Slice on Stevenson Square is the one for you. A great little trap when the sun feels like it, but these prime Northern Quarter people-watching seats don't stay empty for long. Slice, 1 Stevenson Square, M1 1DN t:0161 236 9032

170511 Slice Nothern Quarter

Sinclair's Oyster Bar/The Old Wellington Pub

Full of character and local characters, these two old pubs on historic Shambles Square really aren’t the place for high end cocktails or premium spirits, but the atmosphere is usually as warm as the (very cheap) cider is cold. Expect to pocket more change here from a fiver than anywhere else in town. Can get a bit lively on match days. 2 Cathedral Approach, M3 1SW t:0161 834 0430

170511 Sinclairs Oyster Bar

The River Restaurant 

Viewed from the front, this one is almost invisible. But The River Restaurant, nestled inside the 5* Lowry Hotel, has one of the best balconied terraces in Manchester. Settle down on one of the comfy rattan chairs, grab a cocktail and enjoy views over the River Irwell and Calatrava’s iconic bridge. Good weather permitting, you can eat out there too: a great opportunity to try out some of Gordo’s favourite cuisine in the city. The River Restaurant, Lowry Hotel, 50 Dearmans Place, Salford M3 5LH t: 0161 827 4041

2018 05 18 Lowry Terrace


This cobble-side terrace in Northern Quarter sits beneath the magnificent Smithfield Fish Market gates and opposite a very decent restaurant, TNQ, which has been recommended in the Michelin Guide. If you're lucky enough to grab a spot on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday, you can make the most of their three course and unlimited wine £30 offer. Unlimited ay? Watch those cobbles now. TNQ, 108 High Street, M4 1HQ t:0161 832 7115

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Terrace NQ

For years this trendy Northern Quarter bar was, ironically, barred from having a terrace. Something to do with noise or planning regulations or bored council people. No matter, because now Terrace's terrace is open to all (even bored council people) who thirst for craft beer, cocktails or suspended beer barrels. Terrace NQ, 43 Thomas Street, M4 1NA t:0161 819 2345

170511 Terrace Northern Quarter

The Wharf

This three-storey super pub on the south westerly side of the Castlefield basin is the young usurper to the dominance of Dukes 92. Much like Dukes, The Wharf boasts fantastic canalaramas, but with the addition of a picture-postcard wooden footbridge, a colourful splashing of mostly well-maintained river barges and a pretty little fountain trickling away in the centre of the terrace. Good grub too. The Wharf, 6 Slate Wharf, Castlefield, M15 4SW. 0161 220 2960

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The White Lion

Liverpool Road’s old faithful, The White Lion, is worth a mention if only because it sits on an original Roman road and by the ruins from which Manchester takes its name. The Roman fort Mamucium (meaning breast-shaped hill) was established in this area around 79AD... about the same time The Lion’s interior was fitted. It all adds to the pub's charm. This is a proper pub, a pubby pub, with a Chinese food menu and portraits of United legends past. The White Lion, 43 Liverpool Road, Castlefield, M3 4NQ t:0161 832 7373

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Zouk's impressive terrace keeps its options open, with a retractable roof and screens of bamboo and grass to keep any chilly breezes at bay. Cosy yet stylish, it's a fine spot to enjoy cocktails, teas, hookah and a bite to eat. Zouk, Unit 5, The Quadrangle, Chester Street, M1 5QS t:0161 233 1090

170511 Zouk

Like this? How about 10 hidden food and booze gems, or Manchester's best summer food events and festivals.