Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, situated on the River Clyde. Well known for its beautiful, thriving shopping districts and the culture that it has to offer. It attracts a large number of tourists every year. It doesn’t matter whether you want to experience culture, food or shopping, you’ll find something to fit your interests within the boundaries of this up and coming city. The slogan, “People Make Glasgow”, really does fit the place, and you’ll be having friendly conversations with locals and travellers alike there before you know it.
Journey with us through the best things to do in Glasgow to learn just how vital the history of the city was to make it what it is today.
1. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Situated within the heart of Glasgow’s famous West End you can find Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Standing for more than a century it was purpose built to be what it is today, with stunning architecture and a range of separate exhibit rooms. As a free attraction it really shouldn’t be missed, and it’s only a quick walk away from the Kelvingrove subway station, making it easy to get to. Inside you’ll find more than 22 themed galleries, and 8000 objects to capture your attention. Go from seeing Salvador Dali’s Christ of St. John of the Cross to seeing exhibits on dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals. Not to mention all of the beautifully displayed animals, and the skeleton of a stag who could make even the tallest of people feel short.
2. Shopping on Buchanan Street
Are you one of those travellers who absolutely has to go shopping no matter where in the world you travel to? If so, then Buchanan Street will feel just like home to you. It forms the central stretch of the city’s shopping district, linking you to an array of shops in each direction. It’s best known for the variety that it offers both tourists and locals alike, and most shoppers spend a lot of time inside of Buchanan Galleries. In there you can find everything from Hollister and Pandora, to Millie’s Cookies and The Whisky Shop. Given that Scottish weather isn’t exactly known for being the best, it would also be a great way for you to escape the rain.
3. Glasgow Tigers Speedway
Boasting a reputation as the only professional speedway team in the west of Scotland, these men certainly have something fantastic to offer. The season runs from the end of March through to the end of August, but it would be advisable to check the match schedule before your trip if you’re looking to attend one of their events. You’ll have a fun filled, well fuelled day watching them, sitting on the edge of your seats when it looks as if they might fall. Adults and children alike will enjoy watching the Glasgow Tigers Speedway events while they compete for their place on the British Speedway’s Premier League table.
4. Bread Meats Bread
Since the opening of Bread Meats Bread it has quickly become one of the finest eating establishments in the centre of Glasgow. One of the things that has earned it the reputation it deserves is that when you go, there’s no such thing as reservations there. Everyone is treated exactly the same, giving it the feel of a real family owned business, where each customer is kindly treated as a house guest. Don’t let the name deceive you either, they also serve vegetarian options! Pop in for an amazing burger, and give yourself the choice between something simple like a classic burger, or their signature Wolf of St Vincent Street burger. They also now serve poutine, Canada’s national dish, and since this there seems to have been a nice decrease in the number of Glaswegians suffering with terrible hangovers! So take yourself in for a lovely, family focused meal.
5. The Riverside Museum
If you would like to experience more of Glasgow’s past during your time in the city, you certainly shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit The Riverside Museum. You can follow the city’s subway system around to Partick Subway Station and it’s just a 7-minute walk away. The subway really is the easiest way to get around the city, and with its loop system you’re unlikely to get lost. Inside of The Riverside Museum you’ll find something for everyone, while diving into the rich history that Glasgow has to offer. Everything from locomotives and vintage cars to an actual Stormtrooper can be found on display there. So, take a step back in history and walk through the interactive “shops” you’ll be presented with, climb aboard the exhibits and have fun.
6. The West End
Considered by many to be the most beautiful part of Glasgow, you certainly shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see the West End while you’re adventuring around. It’s one of those places that leaves a mark on you while you’re travelling, having its own independent character that can’t easily be defined. With a beautiful mix of character and stunning architecture it houses some of the loveliest vintage shops, and alleyways full of small, intimate bars and restaurants. You can find everything from vegetarian Indian restaurants to small restaurants serving classic Thai food. It’s an area that you will be wanting to find yourself in again and again.
Both adults and children will love the well-known Nardini’s Ice Cream Parlour. Step through the doors of the shop that sits on a corner in the West End and you’ll be struck by the sights of 32 different flavours of ice cream for you to choose from, all of which are prepared in house. They won the UK Ice Cream Championship twice, and use a traditional recipe to ensure that their ice cream tastes better than any that you’ve ever tasted before. You can get small ice cream cones to take out, or you can sit and indulge in a sundae. There are options your children will love, like the Chocolate Marshmallow Dream, and there are options that might just capture your fancy, like the Raspberry Snowball Delight and the Tasty Toffee Tablet. Inside you’ll find that it’s lovely and warm, so even if you’re travelling through the colder part of the year, which is most of it in Glasgow, you’ll find sitting in the parlour to be an enjoyable experience.
8. Glasgow Science Centre
Have you got children you want to keep entertained while travelling? If so, then this is the attraction for them. The Glasgow Science Centre is purpose built to both teach and entertain children, giving them an insight into the world of science and technology. Children under the age of 7 can use the Big Explorer area, where they can use water and operate a crane to keep a pretend cargo ship balanced. Or they can put on their own little puppet show under the sea, while having some fun with a musical shark and a giant walk on piano. If your children are very young, then they’ll probably have a lot of fun in the soft play area on the bottom floor. But adults and children alike will find the planetarium captivating, letting your imaginations run across the skies.
9. Kelvingrove Park
Do you prefer to have a peaceful day out while travelling? Kelvingrove Park could be just the place for you, situated along the side of the River Kelvin, and set in 85 acres it provides an urban haven for animals and people alike. There’s a possibility that you could come across animals as rare as kingfishers and otters, or as common as red foxes. You should expect to see red foxes quite frequently in the West End of the city after the sun sets, they’re a common sight and will leave you well alone! When the weather is nice the park is popular with all kinds of people, from dog walkers to the students of the nearby university. Have a leisurely stroll, or sit down for a picnic. Maybe you could even take your family for an animal hunt out in the park.
10. Black Sheep Bistro
There are plenty of restaurants across Glasgow that will capture your attention due to the pleasant, family run atmosphere that they provide. But the Black Sheep Bistro is one that you should certainly put some time aside for. The cosy, traditional atmosphere will have you captivated, and the family favourites that they offer will have something to suit your tastes. They serve everything from battered haddock to macaroni cheese, and a selection of different desserts. But it is advisable that you book in advance first, due to the popularity of this place it can get booked up fast.
11. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
There are plenty of performing art venues throughout the UK that can boast putting on some sort of performance already every day, but there aren’t many who can say that they facilitate more than 500 performances every year. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is one of the few that ticks this box! When planning your trip, you should have a little look online and see if there’s something that suits your taste, with drama, musical theatre and pantomimes there certainly should be. You’ll get to sit in a comfortable, modern auditorium with eye catching architecture and friendly, student staff who are happy to answer any questions you have.
Related tour: Glasgow’s Music Mile Tour
12. Glasgow Cathedral
Most of the medieval cathedrals that exist throughout the United Kingdom are now ruins, so you should take advantage of seeing one of the last remaining great cathedrals while you’re in Glasgow. It has been used for worship for more than 800 years, and has one of the largest collections of post-war stained glass windows. You can see the brilliant arches, hand carved pews and memorial pieces that are dotted on every wall. If you have an interest in architecture, history or even photography, then the Glasgow Cathedral is the building that you want to see.
Included in: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
13. The Necropolis
Sitting directly adjacent from the Glasgow Cathedral you’ll find one of the oddest attractions that you should see during your time in Glasgow. Modelled on the Pere-Lachaise in Paris, The Necropolis is now known as one of the most significant cemeteries in the whole of Europe. In the Summer months you can find an array of flowers, bees and butterflies adding colour to the 50,000 monuments that sit in the 37 acres of land. You’re safe to explore for free, and you’re safe knowing that Park Rangers patrol the cemetery on a daily basis. Chances are you’ll recognise an area or two, as The Necropolis has featured in a wide range of television programmes and films!
14. Tiffney’s Steakhouse
If you find yourself in the West End deciding where to eat, Tiffney’s Steakhouse should be somewhere near the top of your list. Providing food that is completely sourced from local suppliers you know that you’re getting the best of quality. Their Highland cattle are reared in a natural, grass fed environment, then their beef is usually dry aged for around 50 days. Sit inside and enjoy a beautiful meal, cooked exactly how you want it. Or turn up on a Sunday and have one of their famous set Sunday Roasts, a staple tradition across the UK.
15. The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens
Do you enjoy learning about the history of each new city that you visit? Now as weather dependent as this attraction is, it will give you the opportunity to view the way life was in Glasgow throughout the 18th to the 20th century. Inside of the main house you’ll find a collection of artefacts, photographs, prints and films from across the years. The Winter Gardens outside of the house are beautiful, which is what makes it such a weather dependent attraction, you can wonder amongst plants from far off lands, and see the beautifully restored Doulton fountain. If you start to get a little bit hungry among the grounds, then there’s a fairly priced café where you can rest and have a bite to eat.
Included in: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
16. The Glasgow School of Art
You can learn a lot about the history of Glasgow from this attraction, which features an hour long tour. You can learn about the famous Rennie Mackintosh and his life, from being a student to a master designer whose work is known around the world. Unfortunately, the building did suffer fire damage recently, so it has had to be restored. The thing that really fascinates a lot of travellers about Mackintosh’s work is his mind. He managed to work in a variety of different sectors, acting as a lead architect, a painter, an interior designer and an all-round brilliant artist. His name is known to the vast majority of people who call Glasgow home, and you can see why too.
Included in this tour: Glasgow’s Music Mile Tour
17. The SSE Hydro
If you like to watch performances while you’re travelling, then it would be more than worth having a look at what artists are playing at The SSE Hydro at the time that you’re travelling. They’ve housed many a famous name in their purpose built entertainment venue, and with many surrounding bars and restaurants you’ll be able to keep yourself busy both before and after. The venue itself is quite a sight, and has enough room for a large number of people watching the performance, but it quite often shows not just music, but comedy and a variety of other shows. You do need to be aware that it can get quite busy, but for most people this just adds to the atmosphere.
18. Tick Tock Unlock
Live escape games really have caused quite the stir within Britain over the past several months, with this particular venue giving you the opportunity to channel your own inner detective in a team. Your team have to communicate effectively to solve the puzzles that are laid out before them, unravelling the clues that will allow them to escape. Unlike a few venues that house similar live escape games their rooms are all quite large, making them safe for people who suffer with claustrophobia! The exact price can vary depending on the time of year, and you should book online to avoid disappointment.
19. Hunterian Museum
Adding the perfect dash to the already beautiful museums that exist across Glasgow the Hunterian Museum really is the cherry on top that finishes it off. With a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions you can see everything from Ichthyosaurs to Comic Invention. There is also a Zoology Museum you can enter, and both are completely admission free. Occasionally there will be a special exhibition, they cost £5 to enter. Get the Hunterian Museum added to the list of places that you want to visit while you’re in Glasgow!
20. Pollok Country Park
As the only country park within the whole of Glasgow it has its own reputation. Add to this that it has won awards such as the Best Park in Britain, and the Best Park in Europe over the past decade and you’ll know that it’s worth seeing. With walking trails set among 360 acres of green land you will be met with the opportunity to see an array of animals, including Highland Cattle, up close. Children will absolutely love it, but they’ll also be entertained by the great areas built specifically for children to play in, and the natural mini waterfalls that they’ll have the opportunities to see depending on which trail you take.
Book online: Pollok House Entrance Ticket
21. Nippon Kitchen
Just as the Hunterian Museum is the cherry on top of the museums in Glasgow, Nippon Kitchen is a restaurant that stands up on its own right. Using specialist ingredients specifically imported straight from Japan, and fresh produce from only local suppliers you can imagine that their customers are always provided with the best of service. It provides a classic, minimalistic Japanese layout, set among beautiful wooden panels. Importing their sake from Japan they can give you a wide variety to choose from, and are happy to make recommendations for you if you’re not sure. Whether it’s tempura, ramen or sushi, you’ll find it here.
22. City Chambers
Situated in the famous George Square the City Chambers act as the home to Glasgow City Council. You can take a free guided tour through the building at either 10.30am, or 2.30pm on weekdays, but unfortunately they aren’t available at the weekend. From the outside of the building you wouldn’t even get the idea to expect the grand inner chambers that lie within the case of the outer architecture. With a ballroom that appears to have stepped out of another century, and 2 spires with decorated dome ceilings. The tour guides all provide an exceptional service, telling you just the right amount of information to teach you about what you’re seeing. Make sure you take a camera with you, you’ll get some beautiful shots in there.
23. Glasgow Film Theatre
For those of you who love to see the classics of world cinema, or contemporary art house films, Glasgow Film Theatre is the place for you. It houses several film festivals a year, and you’re bound to find something you might enjoy hidden within the building, be sure to look online for a full listing of all of their upcoming shows. They take pride in taking a personal approach with their audiences, providing them with a comfortable, friendly environment to watch the film in. You can also find everything from craft beer to cake nestled within the Café Cosmo area of their Theatre. So go, sit back and enjoy yourself.
24. Grosvenor Riverboat Casino
Are you one of those travellers that enjoys the occasional trip to a casino? If you are, then add the Grosvenor Riverboat Casino to your list immediately. Nestled on the banks of the River Clyde you have a beautiful view, especially as the sun is setting down the river. Along with a their a la Carte Louisiana style restaurant they have a late night bar, and a comprehensive gaming environment. This includes roulette tables, blackjack, poker tables and popular slot machines. With friendly staff, you can either sit down and enjoy a lovely meal, or take your chance in the hand of fate.
25. Willow Tea Rooms
While everyone has different tastes, one of the two Willow Tea Rooms venues will be worth seeing while you’re in Glasgow. Going back to the famous Rennie Mackintosh, he played a large part in their design back in 1903. In fact, he designed everything about them, from the architecture to the waitresses’ outfits. While one exists on Sauchiehall Street, the other sits in the famous shopping area of Buchanan Street. Try everything from homemade sandwiches to traditional scones with clotted cream and jam. Not to mention the variety of teas and coffees that will be available to you.