With the friendliest locals, beautiful architecture and rich history, Glasgow have an incredible amount to offer. The beautifully crafted buildings such as The University of Glasgow or Kelvingrove art gallery are indicators of the rich and thriving city that Glasgow was and continues to be. Glasgow provides visitors with the buzz of the city but also the relaxing option of expansive parks and greenery.
The southside in particular, has Pollok country park, where you will be able to spot Highland cows and even grab a coffee in Pollok House. In terms of cuisine, Glasgow has recently become a gastronomical hotspot, exemplifying beautiful dishes that incorporate local meat and fish. However, remember that your trip will not be complete without consuming the luminous orange drink of Irn Bru that us Scots love so dearly.
Day One: The West End
On your first day of exploring the hearty city of Glasgow, we will begin with the West End and the City centre. The west end is known for being a university area, therefore, it is full of trendy coffee shops, vintage boutiques and brunch spots. The west end exemplifies some of the best of Glasgow’s architecture, with sandstone villas that were the former residence of the wealthiest tobacco lords. Wander around the West End, visiting Kelvingrove Art gallery and the Botanical Gardens when you’re at it. Pop into the quirky bookshop of Voltaire and Rousseau and buy a book to remember your trip, don’t forget to say hi to the cat as well!
Ashton Lane is a quaint cobbled street just a street back from the west end’s main thoroughfare Byres Road. Although just a simple lane, the cobblestone street is lit with fairy lights that hang over the numerous hearty bars that line the street. If you are looking for a proper pint and the warmth of a Scottish pub, look no further than this Lane. With the choice of The Chip, Irish pub Jinty Mcguinty’s or Innis and Gunn, you’ll feel more than at home. As this lane is located in the University area, there is never a quiet night on this street. Students congregate after the lecture for a pint or for a quick drink before heading out for a more adventurous night. However, any time you visit, you’ll be welcomed by the chatter of Scots, the laughter of students and the drunk hubbub of tourists.
Located in the west end of Glasgow, you will find the exquisite building of Glasgow University. Angry gargoyles, proud spires and elaborate stained glass all allude to the building's gothic revival architecture. Glasgow University was in fact, first situated on High Street in central Glasgow, however, due to expansion and industrialisation, the building was moved to the west end and was therefore rebuilt and modelled on the original building. In fact, the building has been used in the filming of Harry Potter, and it is clear to see when you wander through the moody arches and stone cloisters. When wandering around the west end of Glasgow, be sure to stop off at the second-oldest university in Scotland and admire the architecture demonstrated!
Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Located in Kelvingrove Park in the luxurious west end of Glasgow. Built-in Spanish Baroque style with red sandstone, the exterior of the buildings is a site by itself. As you enter the exhibition space, look up, and you will see the Laughing Heads hanging from the ceiling in a bizarre fashion. Sophie Cave’s installation is just one of the delights that lie in this gallery. Perhaps most famous is Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross, full of subliminal messages and iconography. Kelvingrove Art Gallery has a variety of exhibitions and has previously exhibited the photography of Linda Mccartney. Once wandering around the gallery, taking solace from the rain, treat yourself to a coffee in the central café and admire the floating heads above you.
Often a forgotten treasure of Glasgow is the famous Necropolis that sits atop a lush green hill in the east end of Glasgow. Established in 1832, the cemetery holds the tombs of various famous Scottish Barons and Tobacco merchants from Victorian times. The tombs themselves are carved of huge stone and incorporate delicate engravings and even stained glass in some occasions. As you wander around the tombs, the light will strike the stained glass and illuminate the pavements in beautiful pinks and blues. This spot also has some of the best views over Glasgow! This was even used for the filming of the New Batman movie to portray the city of Gotham.
St. Mungo’s Cathedral
Located at the foot of Glasgow’s Necropolis lies the oldest building in Glasgow, St Mungo’s Cathedral. The buildings survived the Reformation and pay homage to Glasgow’s very own patron saint. The gothic building features a 213 feet spire that towers over Glasgow. However, the most spectacular feature has to be the grand paes pf stained glass illuminating the buildings. The windows depict scenes of St Mungo himself and other religious events. Guides will tell you that, in some cases, the eyes of the figures in the glass will even follow you around as you walk. Don’t forget to visit the tomb of St Mungo’s that lies in the crypt.
Glasgow Botanical Gardens
The Glasgow Botanical Gardens is a charming park located in the West End of Glasgow. Originally opened in 1817, the gardens span over 27 acres and are open to the public. Enter the gates of the grand park and admire Kibble Palace, a glass house where tropical plants thrive, and coy fish swim in the little ponds. If weather permits, grab a coffee or rose water from the small café and relax on the freshly cut lawns of the garden. Admire the sun beating into the palace, taking a peek at the exotic plants thriving in the greenhouse if wish.
Mr Ben’s Vintage
If you are interested in Vintage Clothing, you must visit Mr Ben’s Vintage in Glasgow’s City Centre. Established in 1990, this boutique has items and has a vast collection of garments and accessories from the 20’s to 90s. If you're in the market for a rich brown aviator jacket, a waxed Barbour coat or even a YSL suit, this is the place for you! Clothes hang from the ceiling, and lines of shoes stretch upwards in shelves around the hidden shop. With very reasonable prices, snag a vintage piece from this cool vintage emporium! The owner is more than happy to guide you on your fashion choices!
Located in a former church on the banks of the Kelvin river, Webster’s theatre is a core cultural centre in Glasgow. Named after William Shakespeare’s Contemporary John Webster, the intimate theatre only has a capacity of 184. I myself was lucky enough to enjoy a production of Waiting for Godot, an absurdist play that I was perhaps too young to fully appreciate. As you enter the theatre, you are welcomed into the warmth of a Scottish Bar where you can grab a glass of wine or a whisky before enjoying the big performance. In summer, the gardens are open for customers, and you can enjoy a pint of a bench sitting beneath the grand church and its spire.
Voltaire and Rousseau
Voltaire and Rousseau is a second-hand bookshop located in the west end of Glasgow. This treasure trove of literature is only a matter of minutes aware from Glasgow University, making it a popular destination among students and academics. Its exterior appears rather unassuming; tucked away down a cobbled lane, Voltaire and Rousseau sit humbly by the bank of the river Kelvin, making for an incredibly peaceful and intimate shopping trip. However, upon entering the shop you will see books piled in precarious towers that loom over you as you wander around. Piles jut out and waterfall onto others. Except the wonderful thing is, the owner has carved a solid path for customers to meander through effortlessly. Despite the daunting piles of books, the owner is incredibly familiar with his collection and is more than happy to assist you in your search. Not only is the owner delightful, but so is his cat. Perched upon the book, the cat sleeps, completely unphased by customers interrupting his sleep. The shop itself specialises in second-hand books and collectors’ items, specifically related to Scottish and Irish heritage.On your visit, grab a coffee from the café at the gates of Kelvingrove Park and head to Voltaire and Rousseau, taking solace from the Scottish weather. Be sure to say hi to the cat if you can find him amongst the piles
Where to Eat
Rafa’s is a tiny take away restaurant located in Finnieston in the famous ‘Hidden Lane’. Swelling freshly made tacos and Mexican beverages, this stall is the perfect palace to grab something to eat on your travels.
Sugo is a quick and easy Italian restaurant located just next to Central Station. For a quick Cacio e Pepe, cheap aperol or a fluffy focaccia, visit Sugo!
Mother India has been heralded as the best Indian restaurant in Glasgow. Famous chef Antony Bourdain raved about the lamb curry and naan that this establishment crafted.
Day Two: The South Side
After completing the main sites in the West End, relax in the spacious and green South Side.
Start off with Pollok Country Park, where you can meet a few furry Highland Cows. Then, inspire your inner artist by visiting Scottish Architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s House of an Art Lover. Reward yourself after a long day of sightseeing by indulging in Scottish delights; Whisky. Learn everything there is to know about Whisky with a guided tour of Glengoyne Distillery. Be sure not to enjoy your visit too much, as you may not be returning home after your final day!
Pollok Country Park
Located in the Southside of Glasgow, Pollok Country park is a haven of greenery and nature. The Park itself spans over 360 acres and is home to The Burrell Collection, an exhibition of over 9,000 pieces of artwork. You will also find almost rolling fields and conker trees, the beautiful Pollok House, an 18th-century mansion which now functions as a café. Enjoy a coffee in this grand mansion then stroll around the beautifully manicured gardens in the back. Gardeners plant fruit and vegetables that are then used in the café and restaurant.
Located in the trendy southside of Glasgow, Queen Park is the perfect place for a Sunday morning stroll. Grab a coffee from Short Long Black on Victoria Road and grab an Almond Croissant before meandering into the beautiful park. The park itself features a glasshouse, pond and bandstand where many famous acts once played. Stroll through the park, admiring the tenement buildings that line the park and look out for the various trendy greyhounds or sausage dogs dressed in polo neck jumpers. This trendy area is perfect for a wholesome walk, people-watching, or even a concert in the summer.
Glasgow Architectural Salvage Centre
Architectural Salvage centre in Glasgow when attempting to hunt down decorative radiators for his house in the southside of Glasgow (don’t ask!). The warehouse is situated in the industrious Clyde side area of Glasgow, just a few streets back from the shipyards. The neglected and unassuming setting juxtaposes with the ornate and decorative pieces that are hidden in the warehouse. The Architectural Salvage specialises in antique wooden doors, stained glass and church pews that have been collected from a variety of buildings around Scotland, the isles and even parts of England. Despite specialising in these items, the warehouse contains a multitude of antiques such as oak fireplaces, wrought iron garden furniture and Belfast sinks. These items are sourced from various locations; however, the staff are more than happy to provide its back story. Some interesting locations they have documented are the Bellshill Swimming Baths, Perth Cathedral and Inverkip House. The salvage centre has worked hard to restore items found throughout Scotland and therefore, they have done their part in nurturing the history of Scottish architecture. Despite not being in the most touristic or beautiful part of Glasgow, the salvage centre is a must for any visitor with a passion for antiques, restoration and history. Head down for a visit or a chat with the restorers to find out where their items come from and dive into the world of Scottish antique and architecture.
House of an Art Lover
Pay homage to iconic Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh by his creation, The House of an Art Lover. The building is located in Bellahouston park in the southside of Glasgow and was constructed based on the specific designs of Mackintosh, who intended the building to be a country house for tasteful individuals. The building was inspired by ocean liners, therefore, rooms were all made south facing. The house incorporates large salons and lengthy hallways. Mackintosh’s usual motifs can be found throughout the house with the use of dark house and stain glass inserts, usually portraying roses and tall, regal furniture. Wander round the grounds of the garden and step inside to appreciate the genius of this Scottish Architect.
Glasgow Women’s Library
Located in the East End of Glasgow, just a short journey from Glasgow City Centre, you will find the decadent Glasgow Women’s Library. This library is the only Accredited library in the Uk dedicated to women’s history dedicated to delivering vital services and teaching programmes to women from a variety of backgrounds and different experiences. Upon entering the library, you will be greeted by the kind staff offering you a cup of tea. As for a tour of the building to hear some interesting facts about the strong women of Glasgow and their feminist history. The archive of items relating to women's history, particularly in Glasgow, is vast and available for viewing under request. Why not attend one of the various exhibitions hosted or women’s walks that are organised!
Built in 1620, The Glasgow Tolbooth is a rather important-looking building, hidden in a forgotten part of the city centre. The proud steeple marks the location of the former prison where revolutionaries, murderers and witches were all hanged. Rumour has it that the heads of criminals were exhibited on the stakes outside the steeple; a reminder to Glaswegians to stay on the right side of the law. The blue-faced gold clock that hangs upon the tower reminds visitors of a time when the Saltmarket thrived. As you take in the history of this famous site, imagine the tobacco lords and officials that used to march around this iconic area.
Tucked away in a cobblestone lane in Finnieston, you will find the Hidden Lane Tearooms. The building was originally a stable. Subsequently, the building exhibits wooden beams and is therefore hidden. Enter through an alley decorated in street art and find this tranquil haven serving loose leaf tea and beautifully baked cakes. In the same lane, you will find artists' studios, restoration offices and even record shops. Be sure to peruse the other enigmatic shops in the hidden lane.
Whether you are a whisky drinker or not, it is obligatory to give the national drink a try in the place it was birthed! A guide will lead you through the stone warehouse of Glengoyne Distillery, where he will teach you about the laborious distilling process and the science behind cask flavour. You will be able to taste a range of whiskeys paired with the chocolates of famous chocolatier Iain Burnett. For an immersive Scottish experience, take the day to learn about Whisky and enjoy the famous drink! Book tickets here to prepare for your whisky-tasting experience!
The Barras is a marketplace in Glasgow that has been a core part of Glasgow’s history in the East End. During the 1900’s, it became the place where locals and sellers could buy and trade a variety of goods, ranging from produce to clothing. The Barras is equally the place of many a night out in Glasgow, thanks to the famous Barrowland Ballroom, a concert and music venue where various famous people have played. However, at the beginning of the millennium, trade began to die in this once-thriving area. Efforts to modernise and renovate the area have been successful. In fact, a cool and exclusive magazine shop called Ripe Magazine has opened a stall in the area, bringing in artists and creatives. Similarly, a modern beer garden called BAAD café has opened up and has been a success in this area. Head to this area to snug some cool magazines and grab a drink, and tell everyone about your experience before it becomes the new go-to spot!
Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre
The Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre is tucked away atop one of the highest streets in Garnethill, overlooking the West End of Glasgow. Hidden away amongst other blonde sandstone buildings, you will find the decadent exterior of this synagogue and museum that was built in 1879. The Romanesque architecture, evident through the use of arches in the buildings, is also mixed with Byzantine influences. The building is also a museum space dedicated to telling the story of Scottish Holocaust-era history and the personal stories of Jewish who fled to the city of Glasgow. If you are interested in exquisite architecture and history, this hidden gem is for you!
Where to Eat
Café strange Brew is a trendy café located in the south side of Glasgow, where Glasgow yuppies frequent for a wholesome breakfast or brunch.
Gloriosa is located just across from Kelvingrove art gallery and serves beautifully crafted mediterranean inspired dishes. Take refuge from the Scottish weather in this kitschy decorated restaurant.
Caprese Don Constanza is hidden in the basement of a Victorian Villa in the glamorous area of Park Circus. If you are looking for a wholesome Italian meal, look no further that Don Constanza.
Where to Stay
Motel One Glasgow is a smoothly decorated hotel that neighbours Central Station, making it the ideal hotel for a quick trip!
Kelvingrove Hotel is situated in the trendy area of Finnieston, bordering the luscious Kelvingrove art Gallery. Rest your head here after a few drinks in this buzzing student area.
Argyll Guest House is located between the west end and the busy city centre; the ideal location for hitting the main sports in Glasgow.
The Z Hotel Glasgow offers a cool and relaxing stay in the heart of Glasgow. This modern hotel is equipped with a breakfast bar and is just a stone’s throw away from the main thoroughfare.
The Albion Hotel is hidden amongst the blond sandstone townhouses in Glasgow’s west end. The location is perfect for both the west end and the city centre!
Grasshopper Hotel Glasgow greets you with homemade cakes and tea. With chic and calming interiors, you are promised a relaxing stay!
Sherbrooke Castle allows you to escape the buzz on central Glasgow. From choices from castle suites to cottage rooms, you will feel at home at this wholesome hotel.
Hotel du Vin located in the glamorous west end of Glasgow, is the perfect choice for a luxury stay. The former Victorian townhouse is renovated with an oak-paneled bistro where Scottish cuisine and fine wine are served.
Malmaison Glasgow is located in a renovated church on Sauchiehall Street. Equipped with a sleek brasserie and bar, you will leave here rested and rejuvenated!