15 of the best pub gardens and alfresco dining spots across Bath and Bristol

Don’t be a fool – get your to-visit pub garden list collated stat, so you can be primed and ready for the sun’s next hotly anticipated (ahem) appearance…

1. Abbey Hotel, Bath

Every summer this central Bath hotel gets its terrace on the go. This is the first year that Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White’s joint has been the flagship food offering here and

it’s keeping with seasonal tradition with a new terrace menu, featuring the likes of sharing boards, Buddha bowls and wagyu hot dogs. The terrace bar has drinks covered, too – its flavoured gins (sloe and mulberry, for instance) will make great refreshments while watching the crowds stroll by in the sun.

2. Alma Tavern, Bristol

A secluded little suntrap, the hidden walled courtyard garden at this pub-cum-theatre in Clifton is all wooden decking, pretty greenery and strings of twinkling lights. Peckish? The chicken wings with spiced peanuts, blackcurrant ketchup and chilli is great to share. And, to drink, you could do a lot worse than the in-house favourite of William Chase Pink Grapefruit and Pomelo gin with Fever Tree tonic, garnished with a wedge of fresh grapefruit.

3. Bambalan

Bristol This city centre bar is all about the roof terrace in summer, where you’ll find an outdoor bar, plenty of seating, a ping pong table and DJs every weekend (keep an eye out for the occasional big name behind the decks at special ‘Summer Sessions’, like garage DJ and former radio presenter DJ Spoony, who will be in charge of the tunes on August Bank Holiday Sunday). Colourful Mediterranean-inspired food for summer includes fresh salads, mouthwatering mezze dishes and the signature ’babs.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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4. Corkage, Chapel Row, Bath

This Mediterranean-style wine bar is hiding a rather sweet little garden at the rear. Sit amongst grapevines as you sip on a glass of something crisp and well-chilled – the staff are more than willing to help you pick your tipple from the extensive range of vinos (there are heaps available by the glass). And to eat? Small plates change up regularly but are always full of sunshine flavours – we loved the whole roasted globe artichoke on our last visit. 

5. The Duck and Willow, Bristol 

This Downend pub will be making the most of its good-sized, family friendly alfresco space this summer by firing up the barbecue on the regular. A particularly special outdoor event is happening on 29 June too, to celebrate the new garden’s first birthday. Expect the festivities to include live music, a barbecue and a spritz bar – all of which will be going on throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

6. Hare and Hounds, Bath

No round-up of local alfresco spots is complete without this popular pub; its huge garden is a destination in itself, complete with casual picnic benches on the grass and slightly more formal terrace dining above. There’s a play area to keep the little ’uns occupied and a boules pitch for the bigger ones. Being on the hillside means that this garden has some killer views spanning 10 miles – perfect for enjoying alongside a chargrilled tuna steak with toasted sesame, ginger and lime dressing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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7. Locksbrook Inn, Bath

There’s a really generously sized courtyard here, with seats for 120 and an outdoor bar, complete with draught beer. The garden backs onto the canalside towpath, meaning you can while away whole afternoons watching boats and cyclists glide up and down the scenic backdrop from your bench or sofa. Perhaps while filling up on a homemade salami, rocket and parmesan-topped pizza, or grazing on one of the sharing boards? Just an idea.

8. Mud Dock, Bristol

This industrial red-brick building, sat right on Bristol’s riverside, is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a cool café, bar, restaurant and bike shop. It’s in a prime position for summer, too: the balcony has elevated views across the floating harbour and is handily south-facing, making it a great place to squeeze as much of the sunshine out of the day as possible. The salads will go down a treat this season – the warm new potato, asparagus, halloumi, harissa, tahini and pine nut number is already proving a winner.

9. Old Market Assembly, Bristol 

Did you know that this joint has a roof terrace? Bedecked with obligatory greenery and festoon lights, it’s a great spot to chill out on long summer days with something from the new evening sharing menu. Try the heritage tomatoes with Laverstoke mozzarella and herbs along with a glass of the locally made Dunleavy rosé (ideal on a hot afternoon). And if the weather gods aren’t smiling on you? Just grab a seat under the canopy for some protection from the elements.

10. The Olive Shed, Bristol

This Mediterranean mainstay has sat on the harbourside near the historic cranes for nearly 20 years. There’s plenty of seating at the front of the restaurant, looking over the old train tracks and across the river. On a warm day, grab a table out here, pick a bottle of vino from the organic and biodynamic-dominated list, and make like you’re on holiday. (The wild Atlantic prawns in garlic and olive oil are a great shout if you’re peckish, too.)

11. The Ostrich, Bristol

Having recently reopened after a pretty substantial update, this pub – famous for its sprawling outdoor seating area right on the edge of the river – is looking better than ever. Benches and striped deckchairs are partitioned by wooden planters, while squares of turf lay underfoot, adding to the colourful setting. An outdoor bar is in operation for drinks and an Airstream trailer is manned with chefs cooking American-style eats like burgers, corn dogs and loaded fries.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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12. The Pony and Trap, Bristol 

This Michelin-starred pub has a mean garden, with views across the Chew Valley. It now includes an orchard, poly-tunnel and no-dig veg patches, too, which the kitchen will be getting much of its produce from this season (and guests are more than welcome to wander around). Don’t worry, though – there’s still plenty of room for alfresco dining, and the a la carte, pub classics and chef’s menus can be served out here. (Check out our review for more on the latter!

13. Roseate Villa, Bath

This hotel – formed of two Victorian house – has a small but well-maintained garden that’s in colourful bloom right about now and would make a great setting for a spot of afternoon tea. We’re thinking crustless finger sandwiches, still-warm, freshly baked scones (piled with jam and cream, natch), and homemade cakes and pastries washed down with chilled Prosecco, all enjoyed under dappled sunlight on a warm, lazy afternoon… 

14. Salt and Malt, Chew Valley, Bristol 

Killer fish and chips is the name of the game here, and there’s a great outdoor space to enjoy it in too, right on the edge of the lake. It’s recently seen the addition of a kiosk bar, which serves coffee and cake as well as boozier refreshments (three words: fish, chips, Prosecco), so look out for the little hatch. The full menu is served outside and is enjoyed picnic-style by people lazing on the grass, as well at the tables. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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15. The Spotted Cow, Bristol

The default beer garden for Bedminster residents, this is a really sizable outdoor space for the centre of the city and gets the sun all day. If the picnic tables and seats under the covered area are all full, then just plonk yourself down on the grass, as lots do when the sun’s out and empty chairs are like gold dust. Decent beers and wines are on the go here, as is a daily changing menu of pub grub with a bit of extra finesse.