1. Wander along the River Clyde
The River Clyde’s importance in the early twentieth century made Glasgow the ‘Second City of the British Empire’. After years of decline, a regeneration project has brought this area back to its original glory and made the river one of Glasgow’s best attractions. The Riverside Museum – winner of European Museum of the Year 2013 – takes a look back at life over the past century in Glasgow and is located on the site of a former shipyard. In front you’ll find the Tall Ship, a preserved Clyde-built boat that you can explore.
2. Go on a shopping spree
Being the second largest retail centre in the UK outside London, one of the most fun things to do in Glasgow is a spending spree. The main shopping street – Buchanan Street – runs between two large shopping centres and is home to many of the biggest high-street and designer shops. However if you prefer a more unique shopping experience, head to Glasgow’s West End and potter around the numerous thrift, charity and vintage shops. Local favourites include Starry Starry Night,Retro, Handbags and Gladrags and Vintage Guru.
3. Admire some art
Glasgow has some of the country’s best artistic heritage. Admire Salvador Dali’s work in Kelvingrove Museum, or visit an exhibition in the Gallery of Modern Art, a beautiful Neoclassical building in Glasgow’s city centre. Glasgow is also dotted with reminders of its most famous artistic resident – Charles Rennie Macintosh. Though the Glasgow School of Art is still being restored after a tragic fire a few years ago, his other buildings are open to visitors and among the most attractive places to visit in Glasgow, from the Willow Tea Rooms to the Lighthouse, a quirky looking tower that from the top has unrivalled views of the city centre.
4. Relax (or party) in Kelvingrove Park
Despite being known as an industrial centre, Glasgow has a huge number of green spaces. Kelvingrove Park offers spectacular views of the University and since having its bandstand and amphitheatre renovated, it has hosted all manner of concerts and festivals throughout the year. For a more relaxing stroll, visit the Botanic Gardens (nearest underground stop: Hillhead) and walk the heritage trails or warm up in the glasshouses at this fantastic free attraction.
5. Visit the University of Glasgow
Ever wanted to visit Hogwarts? Glasgow University is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world and its Gothic architecture, tall towers and turrets make it feel as if you actually are in the Harry Potter film set. As well as being an impressive building, the University hosts several interesting museums including Scotland’s oldest public museum – The Hunterian – which was founded in 1807 and, with its pickled body parts and gory dissections, is certainly not for the faint-hearted. It’s free to visit the museum and Hunterian Art Gallery, aside from special exhibitions.
6. Go to a Play, a Pie and a Pint
This is a Glasgow institution. A Play, a Pie and a Pint is a lunchtime theatre programme that takes place Mon to Sat in the Òran Mór, a renovated church that is now a thriving bar and events venue. It has been running since 2004 and commissions and produces 38 new plays a year. The programme works with some of Scotland’s best writers as well as presenting shows from all over the world. Tickets (including the eponymous pie and pint) cost £10 on Wednesdays, £12.50 Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri, and £14.50 on Saturdays.
7. Have a drink on Ashton Lane
This pretty cobbled backstreet in Glasgow’s West End has some of the best bars in Glasgow. The street is illuminated by fairy lights and is always bustling with students and locals enjoying a quiet pint or fancy cocktail. Check out The Lane Vinyl Bar, next to the Grosvenor Cafe and Cinema for all your evening needs, be they cocktails, buying records, watching a film or simply watching the world go by. Read about more incredible watering holes in our article on the world’s sexiest bars
8. Go to a gig
If you’re not sure what to do in Glasgow of an evening, going to a gig here is a must; Glaswegian audiences are famed as being the best in the world. Catch one of your favourite bands in the newly built SSE Hydro that holds up to 13,000 people, or the legendary Barrowlands Ballroom. If you’d prefer to discover some new talent, get a pint in one of Glasgow’s many smaller venues such as Bloc or Mono that have gigs going on throughout the week.
9. Explore the Necropolis and Cathedral
Glasgow Cathedral is the only medieval church in the Scottish mainland to have survived the reformation, complete with twelfth century Gothic vaults and slightly newer but no less glorious post-war stained glass. To the east you’ll find the Glasgow Necropolis, a Victorian graveyard that winds up the side of a hill and is bursting with ornate, crumbling gravestones and eerie tombs.
10. Do a Sub-crawl
Glasgow’s rickety underground is the third oldest metro system in the world and is considerably smaller than the likes of London with only 15 stops. The sub-crawl challenge has become a popular initiation for Glasgow’s students and visitors alike. The premise is simple, get an all-day rail-pass (£4*) and work your way around all the stops, stopping in the nearest pub to have a beer. If you can make it to all 15 stops you’ll be a fully-fledged ‘Weegie’.
11. Take a trip to Loch Lomond
Take a 30 minute drive from the city centre and you’ll find yourself at the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. Loch Lomond itself is the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain by surface area, but you won’t be thinking about the stats when you’re looking over the gorgeous scenery, the sloping peaks of the munros (mountains that are above 3000ft) in the background. Pick one of the surrounding villages like Drymen as your base for the day, or stay overnight close to the shore at Sunnyside B&B in Balloch.
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*Published October 2016. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.