Bristol drinkers aren’t short of fantastic venues with outdoor space, whether it’s a harbourside terrace or neighbourhood pub garden.
But what about those tucked away bars in the sky? Bristol has a number of excellent rooftop drinking haunts – places to enjoy unique views of the city and sometimes the countryside beyond.
Here is a round-up of some of the best rooftop bars in the city – but don’t forget these places are even more popular than before and booking is pretty much essential:
READ MORE: We tried the Bristol café serving huge breakfasts at bargain prices
Old Market Assembly, West Street
Very much a venue for all seasons, the Old Market Assembly is that rarest of things – a restaurant, bar, café, bakery and theatre all rolled into one unique space in a former bank.
Inside Old Market Assembly
But one of its biggest draws is the sunny roof terrace at the back – a perfect spot to soak up the rays with a glass of local cider, Bristol-distilled gin or an expertly made cocktail.
Bambalan, Colston Street
No round-up of top Bristol rooftop bars would be complete without Bambalan, located on the podium at the foot of Beacon Tower.
Run by the Hyde & Co group, this vibrant rooftop venue has views across the centre towards the waterfront and offers a genuine slice of Ibiza.
Bambalan is hugely popular in summer
Mediterranean and North African-inspired small plates and wood-fired sourdough pizzas can be enjoyed in the sun, washed down with superb cocktails (try the cool and refreshing Good Vibrations – tequila, orange, grapefruit, lime juice and grapefruit soda) and DJs.
There are even table tennis tables if you need to work up a thirst.
Barrel House, Gordon Road, Clifton
Next to the University of Bristol students’ union, the former White Rabbit pub reopened recently as Barrel House, a self-styled ‘dive bar’ serving Detroit-style pizzas made using a homemade focaccia base and a range of cocktails.
The rooftop bar at Barrel House
(Image: Barrel House)
It’s a spacious venue with lots of nooks and crannies but the biggest surprise is the compact rooftop bar at the rear, offering unique rooftop views of Clifton.
Time a visit for the daily happy hours (4pm-10pm) when cocktails are just £5.
Dark Horse, Church Road, Redfield
The Dark Horse describes itself as a ‘country pub in town’ but even some of the regulars are surprised when they discover the roof terrace.
(Image: Dark Horse)
Close to St George Park, this dog-friendly boozer has gained a reputation for its well-kept real ales served directly from the barrel, as well as traditional West Country ciders.
Enjoy your pint in the early evening sun just as the DJs warm up for an evening of top tunes.
Stag and Hounds, Old Market Street
Once the haunt of over-refreshed newspaper journalists, the Grade II-listed Stag and Hounds is now better known as a live music venue that also does a fine line in real ales and stone-baked pizzas.
The Stag and Hounds
(Image: David Betts Photography)
Built in the 15th century, this is one of Bristol’s most historic pubs – it was once a court dealing with thefts and disputes between merchants – and the small rooftop terrace remains one of the city’s best-kept alfresco drinking secrets.
Mud Dock, The Grove
An iconic waterfront venue for more than 25 years, this upmarket bicycle shop and café occupies a former dockside warehouse.
A range of bikes hang from the rafters in the first-floor café, where food is served all day, from breakfast through to dinner.
The outside terrace at Mud Dock in Bristol
(Image: Mud Dock)
But the highly-prized tables on the rooftop terrace are where it’s at when the sun is out – the view of the harbourside is panoramic, taking in the colourful houses of Redcliffe Parade, the floating harbour, Prince Street bridge and MShed.
If you’re looking for the quintessential Bristol vista, this is it.
Zerodegrees, Colston Street
A microbrewery and bar set within a converted Victorian tram shed, Zerodegrees benefits from a terrace and three small balconies with stunning rooftop views across the Old City.
Zerodegrees restaurant in Bristol
Count the ancient church spires and crane your neck for far-reaching views towards the surrounding countryside as you sip a Smuggler cocktail (Bacardi spiced rum, Disaronno, Chartreuse, apple juice and chocolate bitters) or sup a foaming pint of fruity Mango Beer brewed behind the central bar.
The White Lion Bar, Sion Hill, Clifton
With sweeping views of the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge, the iconic terrace at he White Lion Bar must be top of the list for anybody looking for the ultimate selfie backdrop.
Its new restaurant overlooks the Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge
Now part of the Hotel du Vin hotel, you can see the Mendips on a clear day, although many sunseekers may not want to look further than their reassuringly pricey pint or cocktail.
Mr Wolf’s, St Nicholas Street
A legendary nightspot for more than two decades, Mr Wolf’s occupies a Georgian building that was once The Radnor Hotel – thought to have been the city’s original gay pub.
Mr Wolf’s on St Nicholas Street
Its heritage is marked by the upstairs Radnor Rooms, which is now used for wedding receptions and private hire but the secret rooftop bar is open to all.
Check out the Sunday rooftop comedy nights featuring the best local and national laughtermeisters.
The Famous Navy Royal Volunteer, King Street
Known by the locals as ‘The Volley’, The Famous Navy Royal Volunteer is one of the most popular venues in the so-called Beermuda Triangle around King Street.
The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer in King Street
(Image: Google Maps)
And yet despite the popularity of this historic pub, surprisingly few drinkers know about the hidden rooftop terrace with its artificial grass and benches.
It makes for a relaxed spot away from the crowds to enjoy one of the 30+ beers and ciders on tap.
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