This Image: Daisy Dickinson
Pretty courtyards, stunning roof terraces, riverside restaurants and great pub restaurants: we round up the best al fresco dining spots
De Luca Cucina
Sip on a glass of chilled wine and indulge in a feast of excellent Italian food at De Luca’s roof terrace, which boasts great views over Parker’s Piece. Tucked away on bustling Regent Street, this place really is a hidden gem, offering a peaceful little sanctuary in the heart of the city centre where you can wine, dine and unwind.
Focusing on authentic, classic Italian fare, the menu is bursting with favourites such as seafood linguine, arancini and caprese salads. If the weather turns or you fancy heading inside, there’s a cocktail bar upstairs at De Luca which has a live pianist every Friday and Saturday night.
This Image: Daisy Dickinson
A brand new outdoor eating and drinking venue for Cambridge, Novi’s super cool ‘living’ roof terrace opened its oh-so stylish doors just weeks ago. You’ll be in Instagram heaven as you sip on botanical cocktails at this opulent, plant-filled spot which is entered via a steel staircase. Even if the weather’s not up to much, you can still enjoy the space by cosying up in the snug area, which offers heating and blankets. The rooftop bar is open from 9am until late every day.
It’s easy to fall in love with Bourn’s gorgeous gastro pub, with its Michelin recommended food menu and quirky, shabby chic style. Summer is the perfect time to make the trip, offering a chance to relax in the beautiful country garden out back, with its majestic willow tree and beautiful countryside views. There’s a cute terrace too, and if you’ve got a big group, check out the giant tipi for private dining events, which comes adorned with fairy lights and a fire bowl, and is perfect for 10-20 guests.
King William IV
Bursting with character, it’s easy to see why the King William IV out in Heydon draws in punters from far and wide. Dating back to the 16th century, this ancient pub has a lovely setting in the glorious Cambridgeshire countryside and a great beer garden to make full use of it. Their food is famously great, too, ranging from hearty pub grub to fine-dining delights. Got a veggie in tow? They’ll adore the Vegetarian Verve section of the menu, which is packed with imaginative veg-based treats.
Old Bicycle Shop
Sip on a craft beer or hipster cocktail and soak up some rays at the Old Bicycle Shop’s dinky courtyard.
The food menu is next-level delicious, featuring scrumptious salads, loaded ‘posh’ kebabs and some excellent fish dishes, so there’s plenty to tempt for a lazy al fresco lunch.
Despite its location on hectic Regent Street, this little haven manages to feel secluded and away from the hubbub, making it a pleasant spot for a few drinks in the shade on a warm day.
Graffiti restaurant at Hotel Felix has established itself as one of Cambridge’s leading fine dining spots, known for serving up cutting-edge modern British cuisine in a cool and contemporary setting. The restaurant looks out onto a large, south-facing terrace which is ideal for pre-dinner drinks or al fresco dining on a sunny day. Soak up the views of the hotel’s glorious gardens while you sample Graffiti’s innovative fare for lunch or dinner, or indulge in a champagne afternoon tea which includes dainty finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and choux buns.
Get comfortable on the stylish rattan furniture in the DoubleTree’s pretty garden and you’ll be treated to postcard-perfect views of the River Cam, fabulous food and a drinks selection to die for. Whilst the punts drift past you can relax and enjoy a bite from the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, tucking into juicy burgers, sticky smoked ribs and baked camembert. Alternatively, you could stop by between 1pm and 6.30pm and enjoy Marco’s Afternoon Tea, with classic sandwiches, scones and mini desserts, adding a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne if you wish.
With a location that couldn’t get more central, Pint Shop’s got it all when it comes to al fresco dining: a superlative gin selection for those all-important G&Ts, a splendid food menu and a list of craft beers and real ales so large you’ve got no hope of walking out of there in a straight line.
Most importantly, of course, they also have a small but perfectly formed outdoor terrace (above), just the thing for idling away summer afternoons.
Another venue from the ever-expanding City Pub Company, the Petersfield opened its freshly painted doors to a warm reception back in February.
The food, which is of the high-end pub grub variety, is great, the beer selection doesn’t slouch either, and we love how they’ve made the most of the cute courtyard outside.
Small but perfectly formed, this fairy-light adorned, peaceful little haven is definitely one to add to your list when you’re looking for an al fresco pint in the Mill Road neighbourhood.
D’Arry’s Liquor Loft
Located upstairs at King Street’s d’Arry’s, the Liquor Loft opened last summer and has become a popular in-the-know haunt. The story of this addition to the restaurant began when a fire ripped through d’Arry’s in 2008, prompting a major refurbishment. When renovating, they unearthed an intriguing space upstairs, filled with history. Among the discoveries was original brewing equipment from the George Scales Brewery – which inhabited the King Street spot as far back as 1866. Working around the unique original features, which include the mash tun and pot still, they have created a stylish new 80-capacity bar area, complete with al fresco seating area for drinks and dining. There are blankets and heaters to keep things cosy, a fantastic drinks list with more than 20 gins, home spiced rums and Japanese whiskies, as well as top wines and craft beer. The cocktail list is killer, too, and includes various barrel-aged concoctions such as the orange-infused Espresso Martini and the caramel and ginger Godfather.
We love the look of the modern British menu, too, which is divided into a series of flavour profiles. Choose between bitter (think beer-steamed mussels with bacon), salty (like goats’ cheese flatbread with spinach and sundried tomatoes) and sweet dishes (including sweet chilli tempura prawns). There’s also umami, which fatures octopus stew; and sour, where you’ll find things like paprika and cornflour dusted whitebait with wasabi lime mayo.
The Liquor Loft also hosts regular gigs and open mic nights; keep an eye on the website for more details.
Blue Lion, Hardwick
A fantastic spot for a little out-of-town al fresco feasting, the Blue Lion is located around five miles from Cambridge in Hardwick. The food menu is modern, seasonal and packed with top-quality local produce. Enjoy a glass of wine in the gorgeous garden while you tuck into luscious salads, sumptuous sharing plates and delicious flatbreads. Heaven!
Probably Cambridge’s most talked-about open air drinking and dining spot, the stunning roof terrace on top of the Varsity Hotel is competition slaying when it comes to gorgeous views. Settle in for an afternoon here and you’re treated to panoramic vistas of the city’s skyline (sunset is particularly impressive), as well as a lovely cocktail list. You can grab a bite to eat, too, or head downstairs to the sixth floor to Six, the hotel’s beautiful in-house restaurant. The Roof Terrace is open daily from 12pm-8pm weather permitting.