36 Places to Drink Outside in London
Summer is coming, and with it, a chance to – responsibly head out to drink outside in London and enjoy ourselves once more.
We’ve tried to check that all of these venues are opening up in a Covid-secure way from 12 April, though some will be opening late run May – so do check in advance before you make plans, and remember to stay safe and follow the rules. NOW, GET OUTSIDE!
If you’re not drawn to The Aeronaut by the circus shows, bingo, quizzes and bottomless brunches, the gardens (yes, plural) should definitely lure you in.
We’ve been dropping in to Bar Story in Peckham for years. Perfect all year round, whenever you’re in need of some awesome railway-arch based cocktails. Ideal from sunset onwards – pull up a bench outside and booze the night away.
Beautiful canal-side gardens alongside a floating Dutch Barge restaurant – and a view of the London Stadium – make Barge East a must for anyone wondering how they ended up so far from Westfield Shopping Centre.
Bussey Rooftop Bar
Frank’s Cafe (below) may have got there first, but the Peckham roof bar scene really became a scene with the arrival of the Bussey Rooftop Bar – serving up cocktails, tasty pizza and 360-degree views of London’s skyline.
Clissold Park Tavern
Just look at that picture and tell us you’re not already dreaming of being there, in that beer garden, living life as it should be lived.
A perfect canal-side oasis in the heart of Hackney Wick, with views of the Olympic Stadium and the Arcelor Mittal Orbit… That is, if you’re not swooning over the CRATE Brewery beers, munching your way through epic, freshly cooked pizzas, and discussing the latest provocative theatre show at The Yard theatre.
Dalston Roof Park
Perfect for a weekday evening or a weekend afternoon, Dalston’s only rooftop bar and music venue sends all profits back into empowering young people and businesses.
The Duke of Edinburgh
A big ol’ eff off beer garden in Brixton – if you don’t manage to get a seat, who’ve you got to blame but yourself, eh?
The Founders Arms
A Tate Modern-adjacent money-maker, no doubt, but if you’re feeling generous, treat yourself and similarly cash-rich friends to a great location looking out over the river.
A short walk from the Battersea Arts Centre – so perhaps ideal for a pre-show drink and nibble – the Four Thieves is a fun and atmospheric pub perfect for whiling away an afternoon with remote controlled racing from Moonshine Racing, VR booths, and retro arcade games. And, obv, there’s a snazzy outdoor space.
We’ve always thought that what most multi-storey car parks really lack is a good bar. Problem solved in Peckham at Frank’s, part of the Bold Tendencies Project. No 10th floor of a car park has ever been this cool. Ever.
A National Trust pub a short walk away from London Bridge station. Busy on a warm summer evening, so arrive early if you want a seat – but the atmosphere is definitely worth it.
They say: “An oasis of excitement and elegance in London’s trendiest neighbourhood, featuring three floors of space and one of the capital’s most sought-after rooftop terraces”.
If the first part of that sentence didn’t make you vom, head to the Golden Bee to be seen with those who want to be seen – worth it for that roof terrace though.
We’ve never actually been to The Gun – we walked to it once, to find it was closed for a wedding. We’ll give it another try though, as it is excellent by all accounts.
The Hare & Billet
Pretty much the closest you can get to the very centre of the heath and still be in a pub! One of our Blackheath haunts – in the summer, take your pint outside and across the road to sit on the grass and while away another sunny evening. The food is good too.
The Lamb Tavern
Stretching the definition of outside, perhaps, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more architecturally spectacular drinking spot in London.
The Magic Garden
The Magic Garden aims to create a welcoming community of festival-goers, foodies, DJs and musicians – and nowhere is this more obvious than the amazing garden itself! Oh, and if it gets a bit nippy, furry blankets and hot water bottles are on hand.
Elephant & Castle
An Italo-disco maze full of fine foods and industrial glamour, home to more than 40 vendors, a micro-brewery and a number of community projects.
The Midnight Apothecary
The Brunel Museum roof garden is host to The Midnight Apothecary – think fire-pits, marshmallows, hot toddies and more!
New Cross House
A To Do List local – we love the pizzas, and the drink selection, but we had to include this pub because of its great beer garden out the back. You wouldn’t even know it was there! (But it is, plus a cute barn-conversion type thing to hide away in… and did we mention the pizzas?)
Ninety One Living Room
A Jazz Club first and foremost, but with a great little outdoor drinking space which feels like a real escape from the hustle and bustle of Brick Lane.
Number 90 Bar
A fab canal side bar/restaurant at 90 Main Yard in Hackney Wick. Fill up on super tasty food (including yummy Sunday roasts) and an ace selection of drinks, relax listening to some cool music, or maybe even hop on a boat trip from the canal-side terrace. Perfect for a warm evening as the sun goes down.
The Old Thameside Inn
Surprisingly not as tourist-trap-y as you might expect. A perfect spot by the river (if you can nab a table), and after a few drinks, you’ll be formulating a cunning plan to refloat the Golden Hinde on the Thames.
A spot of sunshine amidst the arches near Peckham Rye station (and a short walk from several other bars on this list), Peckham Riviera features “an outdoor heated foliage-canopied cobbled yard, a greenhouse fauna surround, a craft and cocktail container bar, and a rotation of local foodies”. Knock yourselves out.
People’s Park Tavern
Nestled on the Homerton side of Victoria Park, the People’s Park Tavern is ALL about the garden – huge, with covered, heated area in winter, fire pits, comfy seating… Pretty much perfect. And when the sun is out, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more vibrant, buzzing beer garden.
The Prospect of Whitby
Supposedly London’s oldest riverside pub, The Prospect of Whitby is just a short walk from Wapping station. There’s not a huge amount to do in Wapping (!), but on a warm afternoon there’s nothing more chilled than sitting out on an historic pub terrace drinking cold beer and watching the river race by.
Pub on the Park
The best park-side pubs turn the park into one huge beer garden – and this pub definitely achieves that. Soak up some rays while soaking up the units after a Saturday morning stroll through Broadway Market.
Queen of Hoxton
Bright colours and beer tables, ice cold drinks and juicy burgers – what’s not to like?
Where culture and binge drinking meet. Scrabble your way to the bar, beg/steal/borrow a drink, and then reap the rewards – a huge outdoor terrace overlooking the river.
There’s not much in the way of sunshine inside this pub – but on a nice day, take your drinks outside and across the road for one of the best views you’ll find inside the M25.
Another of our New Cross locals, The Rose is the former Hobgoblin pub repackaged and smartened up. There’s a mouthwatering food menu, a chilled interior, and best of all, a beer garden to soak up some rays (and a pint or four).
Skylight at Tobacco Dock
A hidden rooftop in the gorgeous Tobacco Dock, with lots to do including three floors of bars, street food, live entertainment, croquet, pétanque, screens & DJs.
A To Do List haunt in the summer months – the courtyard can be packed when it’s sunny, although if you pick your moments (i.e. go when you really should be working) you can have a quiet drink in the sun, with some great food too. Maybe pop in after brunch at Duck & Waffle (15 minute walk away) – you’ll need a drink after the lift experience!
The Tattershall Castle
A bar. On a boat. What’s not to like?
One of those rare bar and music venues in Peckham… But, kidding aside, this addition to the neighbourhood brings its own unique vibe and a great outdoor drinking area too.
One of our favourite pubs in London, which would be higher on the list if it had more outdoor seating (always in high demand, even in winter). Still, the windows looking out on the river are so massive, so you can bask in the sunshine even sitting inside. Arrive early for the best seats next to the windows, and at high-tide, you’ll feel like you’re at sea (or river).
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.