The best rooftop bars in Manchester

Squint, and you could be on your holidays...

By Lucy Holt | Last updated 13 July 2024

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From swanky retractable roof gardens in Spinningfields to casual hidden pub terraces in the Northern Quarter, Manchester has a great selection of rooftop bars and sun traps to choose from.

You can really seize those sunny days, and really ‘elevate’ (sorry) your eating and drinking experience on these, the very best rooftops in Manchester. But if you prefer staying closer to the ground, then check out some of Manchester’s best beer gardens.

20 Stories

There’s rooftops, and then there’s rooftops that are twenty floors up. 20 Stories, which sits at the top of the impressive No.1 Spinningfields, is a bar and restaurant with a modern British menu. So whether it’s a fancy roast dinner you’re after, afternoon tea or just drinks, this is a seriously impressive choice. Bask in the sun on the stylish terrace surrounded by plants and outdoor fireplaces. Plus they really aren’t joking when they say this is one of the best views of town in, er, town.

Atlas Bar

Oh the stories this place could tell. A go-to city centre spot for over 25 years, it sits at the foot of Deansgate like a proud elder statesman of the Manchester bar scene. For the sake of accuracy, Atlas’ terrace isn’t actually on the roof of the bar – more like round the back. It is definitely above the ground though, so it’s here on this list. With a choice of over 300 gins to try out, Atlas is easily one of the most desirable locations in Manchester when the sun comes out.

The Beeswing

A relative newcomer to the roof terrace scene, The Beeswing sits above Kampus, making it an ideal place to watch the comings and goings of the square from a cool distance. This Mediterranean bar and restaurant has a carefully considered wine list, loads of spritzes and seasonal cocktails. Their food offering includes a not-strictly-Spanish tapas menu devised in part by Baratxuri, meaning pintxos, hummus, padron peppers, lamb koftas and plates of Iberican meat. So, exactly what you want to be eating on a sun-soaked terrace then.

Big Hands

At the confluence of gig-goers and thirsty students, Big Hands is the actual dive bar that inspired a hundred dive-themed bars. It’s moody and low lit, with neon, photos, eclectic furniture and a ‘more is more’ attitude to interior design. The ground floor plays host to loads of live gigs and vinyl DJ sets, but when you emerge from its dark underbelly there’s a surprisingly expansive roof terrace to enjoy. Split over a couple of levels and with an absolutely fantastic view of the Oxford Road corridor, it’s a truly unmatched location to enjoy a fizzy lager.

Brickhouse Social

Tucked away around the side of Oxford Road train station on New Wakefield Street is the unassuming Brickhouse Social (unassuming from street level at least). Both a tap room and a pool hall, there’s loads to keep you occupied from day to night. But the jewel in their crown is the roof terrace, where you can enjoy anything from a coffee to a cocktail to a stonebaked pizza. A proper hidden-away treat, this one.

The Con Club

Despite the The Con Club occupying some premium Altrincham real estate across from the ever-popular Altrincham Market House, it seems still not everyone knows about their little oasis of a roof garden. It’s small but mighty, and the perfect spot to enjoy anything from a spritz to seafood to a Sunday roast.

Climat

Climat is the epitome of cool modern dining. Located on the eighth floor of Blackfriars House just off Parsonage Gardens, it’s not really like anything else in Manchester. The menu is all about the intriguing plates of food both small and large, and they describe themselves as ‘wine-led’. This is quite the understatement as their ‘cellar’ is an integral part of the restaurant space. But it’s all happening out on that terrace sip on vintages sourced from small growers while overlooking an unforgettable view of the city skyline.

Doghouse Bar & Rooftop

The self-styled pioneers of craft beer, Brewdog’s hotel has an enviable rooftop beer garden that flies rather under the radar. But it is a corker, a serious suntrap with its own dedicated outdoor bar and a taco menu for when you get peckish. You’d have no idea you were a stone’s throw from Market Street. Arguably not a bad thing.

El Gato Negro

El Gato Negro, the ultra stylish tapas place on King Street, is split across three floors. There’s casual charcuterie dining on the ground floor and the restaurant proper on the first floor, but it’s up on the (hopefully) sun-soaked roof where things get seriously Spanish. These culinary cats are known for their tapas: usual suspects at the top of their game alongside more contemporary creations. Grab a coveted spot in the sun and peruse the cocktail menu while looking over the hustle and bustle of King Street.

The Ivy Spinningfields Roof Garden

It’s undeniable that the name The Ivy has a lot of clout, and the Manchester iteration of the iconic collection of restaurants – the first of which opened in London’s West End in 1917, don’t you know – has a roof garden which will certainly impress. The retractable roof means it’s good for all seasons. Surrounded by lush decor you can enjoy food from the brasserie menu and an extensive drinks menu packed with local spirits and beers, as well as specially crafted cocktails.

King Street Townhouse

This one is a little more exclusive. In Manchester, King Street is synonymous with the finer things in life, and the people at King Street Townhouse have really understood the brief. This terrace is south-facing, meaning it is drenched in as much sunlight as the Manchester skies offer us. The view is impeccable too we dare you not to Instagram it. While the terrace is usually reserved for guests only, it is occasionally opened up to the public. Grab a spot, if you can.

The Lower Turks Head

No roundup of roof-based boozing in Manchester would be complete without a nod to the Lower Turks Head. A Shudehill institution with old school character for days and a whopping 30 keg taps and 12 cask pumps. If you know about their roof terrace, then you know it’s a perfectly pint-sized sun trap for unpretentious local ales. 

Terrace NQ

Terrace NQ know exactly what their USP is. With entrances on both Edge Street and Thomas Street, they straddle two of the buzziest streets in the Northern Quarter, making it a mighty contender in the rooftop bar game. Downstairs it’s all craft beers, cocktails and low lighting. Head upstairs though and it opens up into a super cool, leafy outdoor space with heaps of seating. No views up here, it’s a hidden spot, but the atmosphere makes up for that in spades.

Tre Ciccio

Tre Ciccio (which playfully translates as “three chubby pals”) is a slick Italian joint with locations in Altrincham, Ramsbottom and Glossop. Their Neapolitan pizza is some of the best around, and their roast chicken dishes are outrageously satisfying. When the sun is shining you can enjoy it all accompanied with a limoncello spritz while basking on one of their terraces with nifty retractable roofs (Alty and Ramsbottom only – sorry Glossop!)

YES

YES is known for being a one stop shop for everything eating, drinking and live music. Set over four floors in an iconic red brick Victorian building on Charles Street, it’s their roof terrace that’s the showstopper. A favourite with students and an alternative music crowd, the vibe is cool-but-approachable. The views are good, and despite being able to kid yourself you’re in NYC with all that exposed brickwork, the pints and cocktails are officially reasonably priced. When it comes to summer hang outs, it’s a bit of a no-brainer.

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