Best Pub Gardens in Cambs and Suffolk
The sun is out, the sky is blue, it's time to pour a rose or two! From snazzy gastro pubs to rustic little inns, we've got your Suffolk/Cambs summer hit list right here...
What better way to while away a warm day than dining in the surrounds of a gorgeous English pub garden with your nearest and dearest. Whether you want your green space near a river, meadow, fields, village or city, we’ve scoured Suffolk and Cambs for the best in show.
The Rupert Brooke, Grantchester
The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester has a pub garden with a difference – it’s on the roof, so you might want to go steady on the cocktails! The beauty of being up so high though is stunning views over the Cambridgeshire countryside. There’s also a pretty terrace at ground level surrounded by lovely foliage and flowers if you prefer to keep your feet on terra firma. It’s almost a shame to spend the whole time outside though… inside you’ll find an eye-catching eatery with splashes of colour – vivid blue light shades, yellow banquets, tapestries and striped chairs – combining to create a brilliant backdrop which wouldn’t look out of place in a top London restaurant. Our top tip for arriving here in style… grab a punt from Scudamore’s to make an entrance by river.
The Three Horseshoes, Madingley
An idyllic and charming village in south Cambridgeshire, Madingly centres around this pretty pub that was taken over by Cambscuisine in 2017 and won Cambridgeshire dining pub of the year in 2018. The garden has lovely painted wooden benches and you can take in views of the thatched pub, surrounding woodland and quaint village hall. In addition, this year you can nab yourself a spot in one of the very cool new dining pods (there are only two, so book soon!) where you can be served some of the pub’s comforting food in your own private dining area (for 4-6 people).
The Willow Tree, Bourn
The Willow Tree, in the small village of Bourn to the south of Cambridge, was always on top of their garden game, but they are knocking it out of the park with their offering since lockdown. Enjoy the restaurant terrace, with tables under an awning and heaters, or a deck chair in the garden for drinks, or perhaps you want to be in the secret meadow – that features a tipi with dining tables and a fabulous fire pit. There are also six dining domes – magical clear domes, with Dyson heaters for you and a couple of friends to have an almost-alfresco dinner under the stars. We might have to try them all, especially having looked at the tempting á la carte menu including lobster & crayfish linguine, burgers, fresh fish, as well as pizzas and poke bowls too. Also, liking the sound of the gin popsicle!
The Plough, Coton
This lovely village gastropub has a beautiful large garden with a pretty parasol-covered patio that is perfect for whiling away a sunny afternoon with friends and a cold bottle of wine. The outside space also includes a meadow and a play area, so plenty of space for little ones to burn off energy. The Plough came in at number 42 on the Estrella Damm top 50 gastropubs in 2022, so you know the food is going to be pretty special too.
The Three Hills, Bartlow
A gastropub chart-topper (number 22 in the top 50 gastro pubs in the UK in 2021 no less!) The Three Hills is set to be busy this summer, with a lovely covered terrace and extensive garden, outdoor grill and pizza oven. We once spent a rather lovely afternoon working our way through the range of Provence rosé, and can highly recommend chilling out in this beautiful garden with top-notch food and drinks.
The Plough, Fen Ditton
A former paper mill and coaching inn, The Plough pub, bar and restaurant is full of character. The riverside location, courtyard, beer garden and fire pit area make it high on our list of pubs to visit for our alfresco experiences this summer. You can graze on sharing dishes like baked camembert, fried chicken or pizzas, or indulge in a dirty burger or a healthy nourish bowl salad. Something for everyone and loads of green space in which to relax by the river.
The Punter, Cambridge
Beer gardens in town are often a little on the small side, but small can still be perfectly formed. Not strictly a garden more a quirky courtyard, The Punter’s outside space is full of fauna and vintage furniture, a cool laid back place, with super friendly service, which really catches the sun on a summer afternoon. Enjoy hearty and unpretentious dishes, cold beer and wine and you are only a minute from the quayside if you want to hire a punt to make a day of it.
The Waterman, Cambridge
It may be astroTurf on the floor rather than grass but it is still a beer garden, right? Perhaps not in the traditional sense, but this lovely pub by the river Cam (no view though) and midsummer common, has done wonders with its outside space with brightly coloured vintage furniture, a screen (we watched Wimbledon here once) unpretentious, tasty food, and excellent fast service – order from the city club app and your drinks and food appear like magic
The Crown, Stoke-by-Nayland
Bring your four-legged friends to this glorious pub as it has a beautiful garden, is extremely dog-friendly and is located in Constable Country where you can walk for miles in Suffolk’s most stunning scenery. The large garden has a canvas covered area with heaters, strings of pretty lights and fabulous countryside views. There’s even a magical tipi for private events and events that the pub puts on, such as beer festivals and workshops.
Turks Head, Hasketon, Nr Woodbridge
‘Dogs, Muddy Boots and Muddy Children Welcome’ ..clearly our kind of place, the Turk’s Head has been named best pub in Suffolk not once, but twice and has a creative appealing menu that will have you in a real dilemma about what to choose as it all sounds so delicious. Yeah, you could have a Suffolk burger or East coast cod, but you could also have Suffolk Billy goat, with chickpea hash and roasted cauliflower and mint yoghurt or a veg Thai green curry with sticky rice – mmmm! There’s a large garden, terrace and petanque court, making it perfect for a long summer afternoon out with friends.
Unruly Pig, Woodbridge
Winning all the awards for their inventive and delicious food, the Unruly Pig is going from strength to strength and it’s going to be a bun fight to get a table this summer. However, if you get there early, from April 14th you can grab an outside table on their large decked area and garden, on a first come first served basis – shhh don’t tell anyone.
The Anchor, Walberswick
Sky blue, with flowers, and bunting, The Anchor is a vision in the sunshine, and you could be forgiven for thinking it is a mirage after the year we’ve all had, but -no.. it is real! A great gastropub, ready and waiting for you with oodles of outdoor seating, on the front and side terraces, or in the lovely garden at the back. The summer menu makes the most of produce from the pub’s own garden and allotment – stuffed courgette flowers, anyone? Mains might be fresh fish, including fish and chips (with jalapeño tartar – so good), and daily specials like crab linguini, or pan-fried halibut. The pizza is a great option for all the family, fresh from the custom made outside oven and there is also an outside bar. Lots of fun things are planned to make your alfresco experience memorable this summer, including the annual oyster festival with live music on August 6-8.
The Ship at Dunwich
Dunwich was once a bustling busy port, to the south of Southwold, now the village consists of one picturesque street, with a great pub – lucky villagers. The garden is on a slope at the back with plenty of tables (and a row boat!) and space, plus there’s a covered area too. However, check the website as the garden is currently undergoing some renovation. It is always good food at the group of pubs owned by the Chestnut Group – enjoy Cromer crab meat, lime, chervil and mascarpone filo tart, watercress and cucumber salad or a black pudding scotch egg with piccalilli to start – followed by a game pie locally shot, wild garlic mash, braised hispi cabbage or a brilliant burger or huge battered haddock and chips. You can walk it all off down on Dunwich beach, as long as you’re not tempted by an ice cream sundae at the old school café.
The Westleton Crown, Westleton
The Westleton Crown has a lovely conservatory restaurant, looking out onto an extensive garden that slopes up a slight hill, with nooks and crannies and shady spots. The terrace also has a grill area, and the pub runs BBQs regularly in the summer. Food is locally sourced and high quality, having been awarded 2 AA Rosettes, but isn’t faffy –you will get home-baked warm bread on the table, a great standard of fresh fish, steaks and rollicking good roasts. You can also make a weekend of it and stay in one of the 34 bedrooms, and dogs are welcome in both the bar and many of the bedrooms. Make sure to pop to the lovely second-hand book shop a little up the street to the left – a treasure trove of books.
The Swan in Lawshall
The Swan in Lawshall near Bury St Edmunds is chocolate-box quaint – an 18th century thatched building, with a large garden. Run by Australian chef and owner, Lawrence, the menu has a real zing to it, with many of your favourite gastro pub dishes, but with a chef-fy sparkle. How about Yuzu marinated scallops with preserved lemon mayo, pancetta and dill oil, or duck arancini with beetroot sauce Bingham Blue and walnuts, then tuck into a deconstructed beef wellington or Tuscan gnocchi and finish it all off with a melt in your mouth chocolate fondant pud, or butterscotch cheesecake- oh wow!
The Henny Swan, near Sudbury
You can pull up at this riverside pub by boat, canoe, kayak, paddle board, rowing boat, er raft if that takes your fancy and then take a pew in the pretty pub garden overlooking fields of cattle. The pub also rents out paddle boards and you can hire boats (although not recommended if you’ve had one too many of their local beers!).