In a Nutshell
With a population right around 600,000, Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city, and one of the five largest in all the United Kingdom. Having risen to prominence beginning as a trading and shipbuilding hub in the 1700s, it has remained a busy and active city to this day. Present day Glasgow is renowned for its beautiful architecture, thriving cultural scene, and picturesque location on the River Clyde.
Things to see and do in Glasgow:
1. The idea of a major UK city having large museums or galleries is certainly something you’re used to. But you probably haven’t pictured one quite like the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Located in the West End of the city, it’s a huge, stunning complex as beautiful outside as in. The museum first opened in 1901 and is now home to over 22 galleries on a huge range of subjects, from natural history to modern art.
2. Another attraction typical of major UK cities is a big, relaxing, beautiful park, and Glasgow doesn’t disappoint in this area either. Pollock County Park covers over 350 acres of space, and is essentially a vast green expanse. It’s a little less built up than some of its city park counterparts, but makes for an excellent retreat and a glimpse of Scottish country in the city.
3. The City Chambers absolutely have to be part of your exploration of Glasgow. They consist of Victorian buildings that have housed parts of the city government for some 200 years, and they’re quite something to look at. During the day you can also tour the insides of the chambers for free.
1. We mentioned that Glasgow is renowned for its cultural scene, and nothing quite puts that on display like the so-called “Mural Trail” through the centre of the city. Basically, the trail is a very loosely connected series of murals on the sides of old buildings – and they’re not just graffiti. As one account states, the city council actually began commissioning the works in an effort to revive old, unsightly buildings throughout the city. It makes for a very interesting way to tour Glasgow.
2. Most of us don’t really think about bingo halls when seeking out modern entertainment. But there happen to be a few fun ones dotted around the UK, and one is in Glasgow. The Megga Bingo Forge has seating for more than 2,300 players, and has topped a poll as one of the luckiest clubs in the country. With electronic machines in addition to the main drawing, it feels more like a full casino than a bingo club, and makes for a surprisingly fun time out.
3. The Ben Nevis might not pass as a “hidden gem” for locals given that it might be the most famous pub in town. But as far as tourist attractions go it might be easier to overlook. If you’re curious about an authentic Scottish pub scene though, it’s worth a stop. It’s a wonderful old bar with a great deal of character and a terrific local beverage selection.
Where to stay in Glasgow
Naturally there are plenty of good options for places to stay in a city of this size – to say nothing of more modern, casual accommodations you might find via services like Airbnb. But here are some options to keep in mind.
1. Hotel du Vin is probably the best-known establishment in town, and is known as a fancier option. That said, it’s not exorbitantly expensive, even if it might cost more than some of the other hotels. You can stay for about £100 a night and enjoy a classy, comfortable room and a beautiful location at Devonshire Gardens.
2. If you’re looking for a more modern option, or one that might cater to a younger crowd, look no further than the Village Hotel Glasgow. Minimalist but not without a sense of luxury, and packed with amenities, this attractive little establishment sits right on the banks of the River Clyde (and will cost you only about £70 a night).
3. The Z Hotel Glasgow is another interesting one to consider, particularly if you’re looking for raw authenticity. It sits in a converted print house in a more historic part of town, and frankly costs far less than it ought to (as low as £40/night).
Where to eat and drink
1. You’ve probably heard that London has terrific reputation for Indian food, but other cities around the UK have followed suit. Glasgow is among them, and The Dhabba is as nice a restaurant as you’ll find in town. It stays true to North Indian recipes and traditions rather than providing the standard Indian exports.
2. Cottiers might just be the most interesting restaurant in the city, because it basically occupies the space inside a former church. Lights are streamed above the tables but below the high ceiling, almost creating the feeling that you’re dining outside, and there’s even live music at times. The menu is mostly modern Scottish.
3. We covered the top pub in town above, but there are plenty of other good places to grab a pint. One to keep on your list is The Black Sparrow, a classic old bar serving beer, whiskey, and tapas. It’s got a terrific atmosphere, a sophisticated (if somewhat vintage) appearance, and even a hidden beer garden out back.