With riveting museums, world-class shopping, splendid architecture and soul-stirring art galleries, Glasgow is brimming with culture. Chic restaurants, rowdy nightlife and lively pubs have cemented Glasgow’s reputation as one of Scotland’s cultural meccas. But culture is not what defines Glasgow. Friendly and a quirky sense of humor are attributes that define its local populace.
A flourishing music and arts scene injects energy into local crowds, and Glasgow is now one of Europe’s most exciting destinations. Hundreds of music events take place each week and renowned artists pull off entertaining performances. Even on occasions where you don’t attend a show, there is always a bevy of attractions in Glasgow.
Top Things to Do in Glasgow
Glasgow is home to several of Scotland’s prestigious cultural institutions and has a knack of piquing all interests. Many of the top things to do in Glasgow spotlight the city’s history, architecture and affinity for the arts. Here are a few recommendations for your Glasgow experience.
Explore the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
One of Glasgow’s superb pieces of architecture and free attractions, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a must-see for every visitor.
The facility features 22 galleries that are filled with all sorts of bewildering artifacts and exhibits. Discover life-size animal figurines, Renaissance art or even relics from Ancient Egypt.
Daily organ recitals accentuate the building’s ambiance and there is a plethora of family-friendly activities. The structure’s elegant framework is equally impressive, and a three-year refurbishment made it one of Scotland’s most beloved landmarks.
Wander the Streets of the West End
Visiting Glasgow without galivanting in the West End would be a disservice. Historic sights, vintage shops, cultural attractions, charming pubs, and sumptuous gardens line its classy alleyways.
The West End has a character all its own and this trendy area of Glasgow leaves a special mark on each visitor. Foodies have an infinite selection of diverse eateries, the colorful Hidden Lane is an artist sanctuary and there are tons of venues for nightly entertainment.
Hang Out in George Square
George Square is the primary square in Glasgow dating back to the late-18th century and a hub of local activity. The square houses the Glasgow City Council, and notable monuments and statues decorate the area.
Locals mingle in the open spaces and relax on benches, but the square comes alive when hosting festive events. Piping Live! and Glasgow Loves Christmas are two popular annual events held here.
Shop on the Stylish Buchanan Street
Glasgow is a shopper’s paradise and the famous Buchanan Street displays an unmatched elegance for retailers. Victorian architecture lines the thoroughfare and upscale shops welcome ambling pedestrians.
From shoes and hip fashion to sports and camping gear, Buchanan Street will allow you to shop to your heart’s content.
Stand in Awe of the Glasgow Cathedral
The Glasgow Cathedral is the oldest building in Glasgow and among Scotland’s most cherished medieval landmarks. Dating back to the 12th century, the cathedral was the lone church on the Scottish mainland to survive the Scottish Reformation unscathed.
The structure is a magnificent representation of Scottish Gothic architecture and features an exquisite collection of stained-glass windows. Its towering arches, immaculate columns and intricate stonemasonry are a dream for any architecture connoisseur.
Best Day Trips from Glasgow
Glasgow is perfectly positioned between several of Scotland’s most inspirational sights. Whether you’re itching to roam the Highlands, book one of relaxing spa breaks in Scotland or discover the country’s medieval history, your ideal adventure is a stone’s throw away.
With plenty of daily connections and only one-hour away, why not visit the bustling capital of Scotland? Visit the unmissable sights of Edinburgh like the iconic Edinburgh Castle or the extravagant Scott Monument. Wander down the Royal Mile to enjoy the splendor of Edinburgh and discover all its hidden medieval corridors.
Stop by other famous landmarks including the Palace of Holyroodhouse and St. Giles’ Cathedral while learning about the city’s remarkable history. Then, head over to the stylish New Town and marvel at its masterful neoclassical architecture. For that special panorama of the cityscape, Carlton Hill and Arthur’s Seat are worth the trek.
For nature lovers, an escape to Loch Lomond is the easiest way to explore Scotland’s pristine wilderness from Glasgow. The sparkling lake is within a one-hour drive of Glasgow and a gateway to numerous outdoor activities. Days at Loch Lomond are spent hiking, cycling, kayaking and exploring the islands scattered throughout the lake’s interior.
Craggy mountains and oak woodlands dot the surrounding landscape, and you have sensational views of Ben Lomond mountain. Keep your eyes peeled for an abundance of wildlife including golden eagles, red deer, black grouse, otters, red squirrels and much more.
The Scottish Highlands are filled with traditions of clans, castles and kilts, and Glencoe Valley miraculously illustrates its untouched beauty. Only two-hours north of Glasgow, the dramatic landscapes are a spiritual retreat for hikers and mountain climbers.
Traversing through the steep valley lets you witness the handiwork of Scotland’s ancient volcanoes and glaciers. Glencoe Mountain Resort is an ideal base to summit Munros (mountains in Scotland eclipsing 3,000-feet), ski or snowboard, mountain bike and spot wildlife.
Places to Stay in Glasgow
Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel (Luxury)
World-class service, exquisite Georgian architecture, revitalizing spa treatments, private dining spaces, delightful afternoon tea and extravagant furnishings highlight this five-star hotel.
Malmaison Glasgow (Mid-Range)
A former Greek Orthodox Church, this trendy boutique hotel offers deluxe suites, the French brassiere-style Chez Mal Restaurant, and commodious space for public events.
Alba Hostel (Budget)
This comfy hostel provides modern amenities and is conveniently located in the lively West End District just a few minutes from the subway.
Places to Eat in Glasgow
The Gannet (Luxury)
The chefs of this award-winning restaurant craft recipes from locally sourced ingredients throughout Scotland and offer seasonal meat, vegetarian and seafood options.
This neighborhood café presents a welcoming atmosphere, keeps their menu fresh with British offerings and has an exceptional breakfast menu available until evenings.
Where the Monkey Sleeps (Budget)
A celebrated sandwich shop with a music-themed ambiance that serves paninis and bagels with local ingredients.
Five Interesting Facts About Glasgow
- Glasgow is the most populated city in Scotland with roughly 620,000 inhabitants.
- Glasgow has the third-oldest underground railway system in the world, dating back to 1896.
- Cineworld Glasgow is the tallest cinema in the world standing at 62 meters high.
- The first international football match took place in Glasgow when Scotland played England in 1872.
- The first long-distance television images were transmitted between Glasgow and London.