If you had a day and night to kill in Glasgow what would you do? Glasgow is one of the liveliest cities in the British Isles. It may seem to many of us that the city is almost like Edinburgh’s wilder brother for its reputation as party town. It’s also a former European Capital of Culture and there’s good reason for it. So whether you’re in town to soak up the atmosphere, absorb the city’s considerable history, simply eat and drink, or get lost in its fine parks, Glasgow literally has something to appeal to everybody.
We’ve put together a quick guide on how to spend one day in Glasgow that should help you cram the best stuff in.
A morning of history and culture
For a great combination of free-to-enter attractions that are close enough to visit together, start in the West End where the imposing Victorian-era Kelvingrove Art Gallery towers over the nearby park of the same name. Inside its vast hallways are world-famous paintings, the fossils and bones of prehistoric animals. After a good explore, find your way to the fabulous café where you can treat yourself to one of their enormous scones. We then suggest, hailing a taxi a short drive to the banks of the River Clyde to investigate the Riverside Transport Museum. Taking the title of European Museum of the Year 2013, it is home to some outstanding vintage vehicles, double-decker trams and Romany caravans. By the time you’ve exhausted the museum, you’ll be ready for lunch.
Where to eat at lunchtime in Glasgow
So one day in Glasgow equals one lunch, so choose carefully. One thing is for sure, and that is you definitely couldn’t get bored of eating in this city. The best place to get a quick lunch in interesting surroundings is the wonderfully memorable Kothel Grill House, in the arcade at the rear of Glasgow Central Station. It has a takeaway deli at the front and a restaurant on a mezzanine. A range of Continental, Scottish and British dishes are on hand in this wonderful eatery. Or for a traditional lunch head out the West End and seek out the Ubiquitous Chip on Ashton Lane. For something a little more well-heeled, head to Brian Maule at Chardon D’Or with its impressive wine list. Arran smoked salmon with herby cream cheese, followed by succulent Aberdeen Angus ribeye steaks are likely to be a hit.
Glasgow has a lot of good shops
You will need more than just one day in Glasgow, but if all you have is an hour or two we would point you in the direction of the Buchanan Galleries at the top of Buchanan Street. Inside, John Lewis takes up four floors all to itself, while typical high street stores, cosmetics shops and fashion outlets fill the rest. Buchanan Street itself is a brick pedestrian walkway lined with trendy designer boutiques and outdoor clothing stores. There are one or two cafes along here, including the ever-popular Willow Tearoom – a present day tribute to the works of Charles Rennie McIntosh. By the time you get to the bottom of this lengthy boulevard you might have had your fill of shopping. If not, turn left and head along Argyle Street where even more shops, food halls and department stores are located. It’s also right next to another covered mall, the St Enoch Centre. The West End is where to head if independent shops are more appealing. If shopping isn’t your thing, the Glasgow Film Centre is in the middle of the city just off Sauchiehall Street and offers a programme of diverse feature films from all over the world. There’s also a Cineworld multiplex too for a more mainstream choice. After all that walking, you’ll be ready for your dinner.
Dinnertime in Glasgow
It’s time for more nourishment after a hard day on your feet, and this time we’re heading to the Merchant City area in the historic part of town, where many of the old market buildings have been converted into exciting ethnic restaurants. Check out Khublai Khan for an unusual take on a dinner service. It’s like an interactive Teppanyaki experience and a tempting buffet combined. For something a little more refined, head to Fratelli Sarti for authentic Italian fare.
Evening stroll in the park
Glasgow has some lovely open spaces and some of the UK’s best city parks. Not far from the centre, find Glasgow Green one of the largest and oldest inside the city limits. Kelvingrove Park is a lovely Winter Garden with elevated views of the city to enjoy that is also a great cut through when journeying on foot from Sauchiehall Street to the West End. In that part of the city is the Glasgow Botanic Gardens is a colourful, well-tended oasis in popular built up part of town. You can see an impressive array of unusual exotic flowers in the hothouse, and don’t forget to bring a loaf of bread there are hungry pigeons and squirrels everywhere you look.
Glasgow is a party town, no doubt about it and you’ll never be short of ideas when it comes to choosing your destination for the evening. The city has many large beer taverns of the kind you only think exist in films. Like any other city, you’ll find there are small pockets of activity with certain neighbourhoods being transformed into lively nightspots after dark. The Arches is popular with students and young adults. If you like to dance make a beeline here. If you want to hang somewhere upmarket, think, the Corinthian Club is super-chic. Over four floors you have the choice of basement cellar bars, private group rooms, the elegant Laird’s room, and an exclusive casino. Taxis are abundant across the city, so you ought to be able to find your way home to bed with no trouble at all.
What are your favourite things to do in Glasgow?
Glasgow is gigantic and we have barely scratched the surface, so one last suggestion for when you visit would be to just see where the day takes you. It’s a thoroughly vibrant, funny, interesting and unique place to spend time. From the fast-flowing waters of the historic Clyde River to the decadent shopping and cultural sights that fill its iconic sandstone-built streets, there are hundreds of things to do in Glasgow, a single day is never long enough.
What’s your favourite sight when you’re in the city?