Summer is here, and in classic Manchester style, the weather is more unpredictable than ever. However, we all know that when the sun does shine in Manchester, it’s a thing of beauty. Therefore, it helps to be prepared for those gloriously sunny days so that you can make the most of them this summer. To help you soak up some sunshine, we’re rounding up some of the best places to enjoy the sun in Greater Manchester. As Ian Brown once said, "Manchester's got everything except a beach" but that doesn't mean there aren't some gorgeous spots to catch a few rays this summertime. From alfresco dining options to parks and country parks, there are sunny day activities for all tastes. 

Find a rooftop bar 

Manchester isn’t short of rooftop bars, so you can easily find somewhere to take in the sun and skyline views in one go. Depending on whether you’re a cocktail or craft beer person, there’s something for everyone, all you must do is look up! But don’t worry, we’ll name a few to inspire you. Doghouse Manchester, Brewdog’s first-ever hotel offering, has a rooftop bar perfect for a quick cocktail or a sunny catch-up. Naturally, you can enjoy all of Brewdog’s best beers and you’re sure to feel on top of the world. Terrace in the heart of the Northern Quarter is also a great option for a casual beverage or two, with three roof gardens and street seating, there’s plenty of space to make the most of the sun. Of course, we can’t mention rooftop bars in Manchester without giving the infamous 20 Stories a shout-out. If you’re feeling a bit fancier, this bar and terrace high above Manchester has a cocktail with your name on it. Finally, to carry on the fancy theme, The Ivy Manchester’s rooftop décor will take your breath away and is the perfect place to feel sophisticated in the sun. With a gorgeous cocktail menu to complement the spectacular sunshine, you won’t want to leave. 

Escape to Freight Island 

In the heart of Depot Mayfield’s regeneration is Escape to Freight Island, an urban market and festival space with a huge amount of entertainment, food, drink and good vibes. This urban eutopia is the destination for a good time with so much on offer and an effortlessly cool vibe. Mix in the fact it has indoor and outdoor venues, there’s plenty of room to enjoy the sunshine but also retreat indoors if it gets a bit much. With a wide variety of street food vendors and bars, you’re sure to find something to excite your tastebuds. Plus, there are often ticketed events with everything from festivals to comedy evenings and even a New-York inspired roller disco and karaoke venue. If you’re looking for the coolest place in Manchester to make the most of sunnier days, Escape to Freight Island has to be at the top of the list. 

Get some street food 

Greater Manchester is home to some incredible street food markets which will not only make your mouth water but can provide the perfect spot to enjoy the sunnier weather. GRUB in the Red Bank area of Manchester behind Victoria is a bright and breezy eco-friendly beer garden with over 50 street food vendors, so there’s bound to be something that tickles your fancy. 

A trip to Altrincham Market is a must when the sun is shining. Make the most of the variety of street food vendors and independent stalls while basking in the summer sun. There’s plenty of outdoor seating for that all-important al fresco dining and you can explore the unique goods on offer in the outdoor market while you catch some rays. Making the most of the sunshine doesn’t always mean sunbathing, and at Altrincham Market, you can relax with great food and drink while also shopping for some unique gifts. 

Escape to a luxurious terrace 

If you’re looking for a little bit of luxury while you enjoy the sunshine, then the terrace at The Lowry Hotel could be the perfect place for you. With serene riverside views and awnings to protect you from the rays whenever you need it, there’s no better place to grab a cocktail and relax. Look out over Manchester and escape the hustle and bustle on this secluded terrace. The Dakota Hotel in Manchester also has a stunning terrace perfect for enjoying the sunshine in style. Their terrace, which has recently been refurbished, makes a beautiful retreat for alfresco dining and cocktails. At the edge of the Northern Quarter, it’s a blissful spot for a glamorous drink just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle. It’s quickly become a foodie favourite hangout in Manchester city centre. 

Castlefield Viaduct 

The Castlefield Viaduct is the National Trust’s latest North West project and Manchester’s first sky park. Built-in 1892, the Castlefield Viaduct is a core part of Manchester's remarkable industrial heritage but now, it will be home to trees, flowers and shrubs creating a green space for visitors and the local community. With skyline views and a stunning array of plants, Castlefield Viaduct is set to become a Manchester Institution. Although right now you’ll have to book advance tickets due to high demand, this free green space is sure to become a great place to catch some rays in Manchester. 

RHS Garden Bridgewater  

Plant lovers can also soak up the sun at the gorgeous RHS Garden Bridgewater. When the sun is shining, it’s hard to find a better place to unwind than this 154-acre green space. Built on the former site of Worsley New Hall, RHS Garden Bridgewater is one of the largest gardening projects undertaken in Europe in recent years. Its many gardens include The Weston Walled Garden, The Kitchen Garden, The Chinese Streamside Garden and The Paradise Garden. There are plenty of stunning blooms for you to explore. Plus, there’s a gorgeous garden centre and lakeside café for you to cool off and grab some refreshments. 

Manchester River Cruise 

Sunny days are crying out for a boat trip, and luckily Manchester River Cruises are on hand to deliver. Departing from either Manchester City Centre or MediaCityUK in Salford Quays, the variety of tours on offer will let you soak up the sunshine on Manchester’s prestigious canal network. From laid-back Sunday sessions to themed evenings or just a standard city river cruise, there’s something for everyone to enjoy this summer. Relax and unwind on the water while learning about the history and heritage of Manchester’s waterways. 

One of Greater Manchester’s many parks 

Greater Manchester is home to some stunning parks and green spaces that are not only the ideal places to enjoy the sunshine but are free for everyone too. Whether you’re looking for a space to let the kids run wild or just somewhere to sit with a good book for a few hours, Greater Manchester’s parks make a great place to relax this summer. There’s Greater Manchester’s first-ever park, Peel Park in Salford, Stockport’s oldest country park Vernon Park, Alexandra Park in Oldham, Burrs Country Park in Bury and many Green Flag award-winning parks in Rochdale to name just a few. If you’re in the mood for a simple space to relax this summer, there’s no shortage of parks in Greater Manchester. Maybe you’re going to pack a picnic or play some sport, whatever your preference, why not enjoy escaping to some nature? 

There are plenty of spots to take in a bit of sunshine in Greater Manchester and when the sun is out, there really is no place like it. As we prepare for the warmer weather to arrive, you'll be spoilt for choice; picnic or beer garden, family day out or catching up with friends? The possibilities are endless.  

Learn more about events in Greater Manchester by visiting our What’s On page