It's a fact well known that in the UK as soon as the sun shows its shy, unfamiliar lil face we all rush outdoors for picnics, drinks, and all round merriment. Let it not be said that we Blighty-dwellers aren’t keen to take advantage of any rays when we can, however faint their glow may be.
Here in Bristol we're #blessed with some properly gorgeous places to make the most of those daylight hours. We can't ignore the obvious, almost cliched elephant in the room: when it comes to outdoor drinking the White Lion by that big ol' bridge is top of the list for most people. With such a spectacular view it’s no wonder this spot is a firm favourite, however getting a seat in the sun on that terrace can be about as difficult as blagging a spot at Brace & Browns' legendary bottomless brunches. With that in mind let’s examine some of Bristol’s other fantastic sun soaking, ray catching beer gardens where you can enjoy your pint and some vitamin D.
You just can't beat Bambalan when the sun is shining – or at any time of year, quite frankly. This dreamy rooftop bar boasts a MASSIVE rooftop terrace complete with mini bars, great tunes, table tennis and table football, whilst the food and drink offerings mean you can quite happily while away an entire day here, taking in gorgeous brunches, tasty lunches and glorious cocktails. Yussss.
Where: Bambalan Podium Level, Colston Tower, Colston Avenue, Bristol BS1 4XE. Find out more about Bambalan here.
The Kings Arms / Port of Call
Right next door to each other and now owned by the same people, the Port of Call boasts a spruced up beer garden to match the cosy refitted interior. The glorious sun terrace of the Kings Arms is rare in that it actually faces the sun most of the day, so you can bask all day like a lazy cat. The huge flamingo painted on the back wall adds to the tropical vibe and once the sun sets and the fairy lights turn on it almost feels like you’re on holiday.
Where: 168 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2XZ // Kings Arms Website
Photo Credit- Paul Green Photography
Prefer a more urban setting whilst you imbibe? Micro-brewery Zero Degrees boasts a sun terrace pitched high enough for you to people watch all afternoon or simply stare cross the old and new city scape. The mango beer is hard to beat and the prices for the in-house beers are particularly enticing. What better way to spend a day than sampling them all, all in the interests of research of course.
Where: 53 Colston St, BS1 5BA // Read more about Zerodegrees here.
Channings boasts one of the largest beer gardens around. A stone’s throw away from the Triangle but without the noise it’s a great space for groups to while away long summer days. With plenty of large tables to share with your mates, this garden gets full sunshine for most of the day. That tan doesn’t top up itself you know.
Where: 20 Pembroke Rd, BS8 3BB // Channings Website
The Spotted Cow
This North Street institution has a walled oasis in which to relax after a day at the coal face of your office. They also have a sheltered outdoor area, perfect for if the sun gets too much for you (hands up pasty crew). With a brilliant selection of ciders and craft beers including Arbor and Tiny Rebel, you can take your micro-rage at Jeff from accounting down a peg or two whilst surrounded by a sculpted selection of plants.
Where: 139 North Street, BS3 1EZ // Find out more about the Spotted Cow here.
Whilst not strictly a beer garden, The Cottage is one of the best places to watch the sun go down of an evening. A set of steps by the river make perfect seats to while away many hours whilst the yachts and rowers mess about on the water. Enjoy a pint cider whilst Bristol is bathed in glorious rays, it’s the perfect spot to get that Instagram shot.
Where: Baltic Wharf, Cumberland Rd, Bristol BS1 6XG // The Cottage Website
Photo Credit - Bristol Ferry
The Pump House
Across the river from The Cottage you can spy The Pump House. Flouting the norm, their beer garden, or beer decking if you want to be more precise, is situated at the front of the pub. Lots of benches, separated with fragrant herb borders, right on the waterfront and the widest selection of gins this side of England. Enjoy a Rock Rose gin served with a tonne of ice, a twist of orange and a sprig of lavender, heavenly.
Where: Merchants Rd, Hotwells, BS8 4PZ // Read more about the Pump House here.
Old Market Assembly
One of the very best additions to Old Market is the Assembly. No, not the boring, primary school kind from your childhood nightmares... Old Market Assembly is a thriving hub of booze, great music, and delicious, locally sourced fresh food. When the sun is shining, head on up and out to their beautiful upstairs outdoor terrace and soak up the sun.
Where: 25 West Street, Old Market, Bristol BS2 0DF. Find out more about Old Market Assembly here.
Gloucester Road has its fair share of beer gardens but you could do a lot worse than the one at the Flyer. There is a large space with heaters to utilise once the sun goes down and plenty of room to enjoy some food al fresco. The plants are just starting to get going, and the place is adorned with fairy lights for when the evening draws in. The Flyer is also very dog friendly so your four legged friends can come for a bit of a snooze in the sun and help themselves to a dog biscuit from the jar.
Where: 96 Gloucester Road, BS7 8BN // Bristol Flyer Website
Take a short trip on the Bristol Ferry and find yourself at Beeses, a beautiful riverside café and bar which feels a million miles away from Bristol. Surrounded by nature, it’s still one of Bristol’s more secluded spots. Watch the boats go by and you’ll soon realise that a few hours have passed in the blink of an eye. Beeses is probably one of the few places in the country where you can have a pint and a cream tea, and that is something everyone has secretly dreamed of.
Where: Wyndham Cres, BS4 4SX // Beeses Website
Another big Wriggle favourite for a sunny tipple is Mud Dock. Sittin' on the Mud-Dock of the bay (well, floating harbour), this is the perfect place to be wastin' time, watching the ships roll in. Start in the morning sun with a coffee, then stick around until later in the day when it becomes socially acceptable to have a sunny beer or four. The gorgeous views from the terrace of this converted boat warehouse make any visit here thoroughly memorable, and when the sun comes out you can't beat this spot.
Where: Mud Dock Café 40 The Grove Bristol BS1 4Rd. Read more about Mud Dock here.
Situated just outside Clifton village, the Lansdown is not only boasts the perfect terrace for bright, sunny days, but it's also a top spot for those cooler summer evenings. Often draped in canvas depending on the weather (to keep the chills out, obv), this covered garden comes with plenty of heaters for the evening and some statues of classical nymphs to keep you company whilst you drink. A regularly changing food menu will see you in good stead if you feel the munchies setting in after a couple of light ales.
Where: 8 Clifton Road, BS8 1AF // The Lansdown Website
Clifton Wine Bar
A few skips away from the Lansdown you’ll find the beer garden at the Clifton Wine Bar, judging by the sign, so good they named it twice. Often thought of as the home of sport in this area, they have a pretty courtyard garden out the back with a good amount of floral displays and pot plants. With some cover you can please the sun worshipers and the shade bathers in your party plus with Prosecco at £3.95 a glass it’s a classy way to start your Summer.
Where: 3-5 Richmond Terrace, BS8 1AB // Clifton Wine Bar Website
Looking for that Summer party that lasts for ever? Spend an evening in the garden of the Woods and you can almost realise that dream. Open til 4am on weekends the decked garden is covered in fairy lights and is the perfect place to have those deep philosophical conversations about who would win in a fight: Batman or Superman, and whether pineapple on pizza has a place in this world. (It doesn’t, by the way.)
Where: 1 Park St Ave, BS1 5LQ
The whole of King Street is essentially one large urban beer garden, ripe and ready for your boozy delectation. Starting down at the Apple and working your way up through the Old Duke, Kongs, and Small Bar you can easily spend a whole afternoon sampling as many beers in as many venues as you like. The Royal Naval Volunteer even has it’s own roof terrace if you're feeling like a change from street level seating. Plus, when you get peckish you can snaffle up a late pizza at Renato’s bar, available until midnight, and if you visit on a Friday evening, you'll also get the added bonus of meeting the whole Wriggle Team, probably slightly worse for wear after one too many Southville Hops.
Picture credit - http://www.keytothecity.co.uk
The Volunteer Tavern
A stone’s throw away from the bustle of Cabot Circus you can enjoy a great beer in the calm setting of the garden in the Volunteer Tavern. A large leafy walled garden with plenty of seating, the Volly hosts local beer festivals and garden parties with DJs. The food here is often highly praised you can find hand-stretched pizzas as well as the hugely regarded roasts.
Where: 9 New Street, BS2 9DX // Find out more about the Volunteer Tavern here.
Built in 1936 by the Charles Hill shipyard, Grain Barge began life as a transport barge, shipping barley and wheat from Bristol to Cardiff. The barge is now permanently moored in Hotwells, just across from its original berth, and with breathtaking views across Bristol harbour and the fabulous SS Great Britain, beloved of Bristolians across the city. It's one of our absolute favourite spots to enjoy a few drinks in the sun – with views like that, you can't get much better.
Where: Mardyke Wharf, Hotwell Rd, Bristol BS8 4RU. Read more about the Grain Barge here.