The best outdoor bars in London

From an urban jungle to buzzy East London hotspot, these are the best bars in London with inviting outdoor drinking areas

The warmer months are finally upon us, which means long sunny afternoons are best spent al-fresco – in some of the best outdoor bars in London, to be precise. The capital city is home to some of the country's best beer gardens and rooftop bars, and London's best outdoor bars are no different. We know it can be hard to choose which bar to visit, especially in a city as sprawling as London, so we've gathered a list of our favourite spots the city offers, all tried and tested by our team.

One of the best places to start is by the River Thames. Bars that claim an enviable spot along this winding waterway often spread out onto terraces and pavements as the weather improves. Nurse a cocktail under the shadow of the Shard in East London, or head towards the leafy suburbs where the absence of skyscrapers makes grabbing a sunny spot for the entirety of an afternoon even easier. Canal-side pints are best served with pizzas in Hackney, while some of the most stylish London hotels also hide sheltered terraces for those drizzly yet balmy drinking sessions. These are the hideouts you'll find us at this summer.

The best outdoor bars in London

1. Peckham Arches

Peckham Arches is a lovely little outdoor bar tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main road. Between two railway arches, their talented bartenders are slinging out delicious cocktails (I recommend the Picante). The picnic-style seating gives way to chit-chat with strangers and people-watching as some head into their fourth or fifth cocktail of the day. Hungry? No problem. Peckham Arches offers perfectly nice stone-fire pizzas, crunchy salads and sharing plates should you need a bite to eat. There's an indoor area for events, and a charming art gallery next door, so take a peek inside on your next visit.

Address: Peckham Arches, Unit 4-5 Dovedale Trading Estate, SE15 4QN
Website: peckhamarches.com

2. Crate Brewery

There are many brilliant breweries with outdoor tables around London these days, but Crate in Hackney Wick remains a firm favourite. Set in an old factory on the River Lea, the crowd from the industrial bar spills outside most evenings, and the waterside tables fill quickly. Stone-baked pizzas fly out of the oven, and DJs are on until late on Fridays and Saturdays, when it starts to feel like a party. To guarantee an outdoor spot, head down early and work your way through their selection of craft beers. Look out for their boat, Alfred Le Roy, often moored outside and with plenty of tables on board.

 

Address: Crate Brewery, Unit 7 Queen's Yard, London E9 5EN
Website: cratebrewery.com

3. Rotunda

Soak up spicy margaritas and share platters of Mexican-inspired delicacies on Rotunda's terrace. Their grass-clad, outdoor space fringes the banks of Regent's Canal that meanders lazily through this part of North London, barges and boats bobbing by. As well as a farm-to-fork ethos when it comes to food, the drinks list is also seasonal; cocktails, beers from Camden Town Brewery, Pressure Drop, Beavertown, Five Points and Brewdog, and a thoughtful wine list with a romantic lilt.

Address: 90 York Way, London N1 9AG
Website: rotundabarandrestaurant.co.uk

4. Flat Iron Square

Scurry a little way along Southwark Street away from the hubbub of Borough Market, and you’ll find a welcoming setting for an al-fresco drink and a casual supper. Cruise the street food stalls serving snacks such as pizza slices or fragrant Lebanese pitas and sample the beer from the onsite brewery. There are DJs every weekend, plus they show sports on the big screen too (tennis fans take note, this is popular for watching Wimbledon). Tables in the garden can be booked, and there’s plenty under cover so some rain shouldn’t stop play.

Address: Flat Iron Square, 45 Southwark Street, London SE1 9HP
Website: flatironsquare.co.uk

5. East London Liquor Company

Tucked in beside their sprawling London distillery in Bethnal Green, the bar at the East London Liquor Company enjoys a prime waterfront location, with visitors milling between the converted warehouse and the outdoor bar beyond. Here, whisky or gin cocktails are the tipple of choice, and the crowd have an elevated appreciation for the high-quality, hand-crafted spirits.

Address: 221 Grove Road, Bow Wharf, London E3 5SN
Website: eastlondonliquorcompany.com

6. The Leather Bottle

Yes, technically, The Leather Bottle in Earlsfield is a pub, but its outdoor space feels more akin to a bar during the summer, where its terrace – decked in beach huts – feels decidedly more upmarket and discerning than your average boozer. Grab a bite from the burger shack and, should the weather follow its historic British tendency to turn at the slightest notice, simply cuddle up under the heaters and stay put. The venue has had an extensive refurbishment ahead of summer 2024, and now serves a range of delicious brunch and breakfast dishes for early risers.

Address: 538 Garratt Lane, Earlsfield, London SW17 0NY
Website: leatherbottlepub.co.uk

7. Double Standard

To escape the fray of Euston Road, duck around to the back of The Standard Hotel to find their surprisingly calm and discreet bar terrace. While most people head straight to the rooftop, the ground floor 1970s-inspired Double Standard bar is one of the best secret outdoor bars in London – more casual and fun, serving slushy Aperol spritzes and Piña Coladas and souped-up American diner food. Best of all, it's the neighbourhood's best place for a weekend brunch session. Punchy bloody marys are the drink of choice; don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Address: The Standard Hotel, 10 Argyle Street, London WC1H 8EG
Website: standardhotels.com

8. Vermuteria

When aperitivo time comes around, there’s no better place to be than Coal Drops Yard. In a cosy corner, this Turin-inspired bar and eatery stocks over 30 varieties of vermouth and is on a mission to show how special the humble spirit can be. Drinkers and diners spill out onto the tables in the covered courtyard from lunch until close for authentic spritzes, sipping on aged sticky vermouth and snacking on crab toast and salty anchovy bites.

Address: Vermuteria, 38/39 Coal Drops Yard, London N1C 4DQ
Website: vermuteria.cc

9. Gordon’s

It couldn’t be a list of outdoor bars in London without this classic institution. These days, Gordon’s is almost a date night cliché with its romantic candlelit arches and couples making eyes at each other over cheeseboards, but their long, narrow terrace with tables alongside the park is still one of the nicest spots around to share a bottle. If things get drizzly, much of the outdoor space is sheltered – thankfully, as the atmosphere inside isn't designed for crowds. Cheers!

Address: Gordon’s, 47 Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NE
Website: gordonswinebar.com

10. Vicinity

“Just so London,” was how the revellers at the table beside ours encapsulated Vicinity, a laid-back bar and restaurant in the heart of Tower Hill. And, as it turns out, the description is a hard one to fault, given the prime views over Tower Bridge and the distinctive skyline of the capital beyond, separated from the outdoor terrace only by the River Thames itself. At sunset, table-side fire pits illuminate the space and cast a feeling of magic across the water, while during the day, the inviting collection of sofas and cushion-stacked chairs make for a welcome respite from sunny city life.

Address: St Katharine's Way, London E1W 1LD
Website: vicinitylondon.co.uk

11. Sager + Wilde Paradise Row

Known for its expertly curated wine list, Sager + Wilde is where East London’s oenophiles go for a glass or two. Unlike the original bar on Hackney Road, this second larger outpost in a railway arch in Bethnal Green has a buzzy outdoor terrace and serves a tasty menu of Italian snacks, charcuterie platters and comforting bowls of pasta – all the perfect accompaniment to a good bottle of red. There’s an awning for protection from the elements and the bars in the neighbouring arches also have terraces out the front which makes for a lively atmosphere.

Address: Sager + Wilde, 250 Paradise Row, London E2 9LE
Website: sagerandwilde.com

12. The Lighterman

The Lighterman has one of the most enviable vantage points in King’s Cross, overlooking the canal. Perch on one of the two terraces by Granary Square – ideal for watching passers-by play in the fountains and spotting impressively dressed fashion students from nearby Central Saint Martins – or grab a table down by the water on Regent’s Canal towpath to watch the world slowly wander by. There’s also food all day, so you can come for everything from brunch to a late supper.

Address: The Lighterman, 3 Granary Square, London N1C 4BH
Website: thelighterman.co.uk

 

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