Glasgow: the highlights

Why visit Glasgow for your weekend away

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and a European City of Culture - and it shows. With unique architecture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a vast array of galleries and museums, and a thriving music and food scene, there’s certainly lots of culture to explore. It’s also one of the world’s friendliest and most welcoming cities, with people very much as its heart - in fact, People Make Glasgow is even their slogan.

The city is set out in a grid structure, just like American cities such as New York, making it pretty simple to navigate. Depending on what you’re looking for (nightlife,bars, restaurants, shops) different areas are great for different things. Glasgow is also ideally located for a day trip to the Highlands.

Explore the City

Finnieston District

Finnieston is the city’s creative hub, home to artists, designers and musicians, so it’s only natural that you’ll find some great nightlife and quirky drinking establishments here. There’s the Kelvingrove Café, a European grand café that does cocktails and SWG3, a versatile venue that hosts everything from pop-up art collections to live music and club nights. If you like seafood, check out The Finnieston.

Merchant City

From George Square to Merchant Square, the Merchant City has plenty of gems with party bars, gay bars and restaurants, promising a great night out. There’s Maggie Mays, one of the area’s most popular bars, with a club-like atmosphere on the weekends. The Social has street-side tables for alfresco drinking underneath a canopy of fairy lights. Boteco Do Brasi has a South American vibe with flavoursome food and salsa nights.

The Style Mile

Glasgow has excellent shopping districts and is said to be the busiest UK shopping city outside of London. The Style Mile is a shopper’s paradise, starting on Buchanan Street, where you’ll find the biggest brands and major retailers alongside independent boutiques and designer outlets. Princes Square is filled with specialist shops, bars and restaurants.

Nightlife Hotspots

Glasgow’s nightlife is super varied with traditional pubs, quirky bars, late-night party hotspots, live music venues and much more - so whichever part of the city you find yourself in, there will always be somewhere great to go. Music is a huge part of Glaswegian culture being a UNESCO City of Music, so it’s no surprise you’ll find some seriously loud and creative places to party. The city attracts the hottest DJ talents and hosts some of the best club nights.

Sauchiehall Street & Bath Street

If you’re planning on staying in one area for your night out, this and the adjacent Bath Street is probably the best. There’s The Garage, Glasgow’s biggest nightclub, Hummingbird, a multi-floor bar that’s good for groups and Buck’s Bar with an American menu and live music performances. Check out Nice ‘N’ Sleazy for chilled out dancing, tasty burgers and great cocktails.

Pub culture

Glasgow has a thriving pub culture, filled with everything from friendly traditional boozers to trendy craft beer taverns. Anyone you ask will have a different list of personal favourites. For an amazing beer garden, head to Brel in the West End. Waxy O’Connor’s is a huge yet homely Irish pub with unique architecture. Have your own mini beer festival at Ark near Strathclyde University.

Themed fun

There are plenty of quirky and fun themed bars and clubs in Glasgow. For cheesy retro hits, Popworld, Club Tropicana and Vogue are the best choices. Flat 0/1 is designed like a house party in a granny’s apartment, with frilly lampshades and mismatched furniture. Lebowskis is a fun movie-themed bar based on The Big Lebowski, with over 30 varieties of White Russians and a huge selection of burgers.

Eat Like a Local

Glasgow is quickly becoming one of the top European destinations for foodies, with traditional Scottish cuisine combined with an eclectic selection of global flavours. There’s always new restaurants and street food vendors popping up around the city, so whether you think the east or west end is better, you’re sure to find something in either.

Byres Road & Ashton Lane

Glasgow has a thriving pub culture, filled with everything from friendly traditional boozers to trendy craft beer taverns. Anyone you ask will have a different list of personal favourites. For an amazing beer garden, head to Brel in the West End. Waxy O’Connor’s is a huge yet homely Irish pub with unique architecture. Have your own mini beer festival at Ark near Strathclyde University.

Thaikhun

Located in Silverburn shopping centre, Thaikhun brings a taste of Thai street food to Glasgow. Hand-selected bric-a-brac and rustic charm have been brought together to create an authentic experience of the streets of Thailand. The food menu features classic favourites like Thai green curry, phad thai and chicken satay, while also allowing you to make your own pinto.

Burgers

Glasgow has no shortage of delicious burger joints. Bread Meats Bread offers award-winning burgers in two locations using fresh, dry-aged Scotch beef. Lebowskis is a movie-themed bar with indulgent classics and seasonal burgers. Buck’s Bar specialises in fried chicken, with their buttermilk fried chicken burgers and an assortment of chicken wings.

Places to Stay

As Scotland’s largest city, there are plenty of places to get some much-needed rest after a late night out. For budget options, check out the local chain hotels in the city centre like Travelodge, Jurys Inn, DoubleTree and the Glasgow Marriott. Sharing a triple room between you or staying further out will get you the best value for money. If you’re happy to splash out a little bit extra, you could book out an apartment instead.

Glasgow, city of art, design, culture and history

Your guide to having it large in Scotland’s largest city

Glasgow’s a vast city and sprawls around all over the place, but the bit you want to get to know is neatly packaged about the centre and easy to understand. Think South, East, West and a bit in the middle and that just about describes the way it works. The city centre couldn’t be simpler, it’s laid out on the same grid-system as Manhattan so just keep moving in straight lines and you’ll be fine.

Glasgow at a glance:

  • Scotland’s largest city and packs as big a punch as any major city in the UK
  • Less than an hour from the coast and built round the mighty River Clyde, its own sporting credentials are also underlined by the recent Commonwealth Games and the presence of two world famous football clubs
  • The UK’s busiest shopping city outside of London, the streets are bustling and vibrant every weekend
  • Attracts world class music and DJs, with clubs welcoming the likes of DJ Éclair Fifi, JD Twitch, JG Wilkes and Paul Johnson

City centre – they say Glasgow Loves Shopping and they’re not wrong The second most popular shopping city in the UK is mesmerising. Stand at the top of Buchanan Street on a Saturday afternoon and look down to St Enoch’s Square and it’s hard to believe everyone in the city isn’t out spending. Buchanan Street is Glasgow’s main shopping spine and it’s where you’ll find Princes Square for specialist shops, bars and restaurants, Buchanan Galleries for brand names and big departments stores and hundreds of shops on the street itself.

West End – land of the university and the city’s most desirable homes This is the most expensive area of Glasgow to live in. Long time enclave of the creative, expensively bohemian and successfully artistic, most of the homes are Glasgow’s more gorgeous tenements and they overlook chic shopping, slick bars, little cafés and rising-star restaurants. Try Byres Road for bars, cafés and vintage clothes. Ashton Lane’s good for food and more bars.

East End – green, gritty and good at playing Transformed as the hub of 2014’s Commonwealth Games, Glasgow’s East End isn’t the seedy side of the city it once was. Once infamous Glasgow Green is now a venue for major events, concerts and festivals. World class sports facilities and new housing have almost completely changed the landscape.

Best pubs and bars in Glasgow:

BrewDog, Argyle Street Glasgow loves craft brewing with a passion and BrewDog proves it. Great location opposite Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery.
www.brewdog.com

Brel, Ashton Lane Ashton Lane behind Byres Road has always been a lure for great bars and restaurants and Brel is no exception. The beers are mostly Belgian, the atmosphere’s beachy and laid back and it’s got a great summer garden.www.brelbar.com

Sloans, Argyle Arcade Claims it’s the oldest pub in Glasgow (so do a few others) and it certainly used to be a bit old fashioned. But now Sloans has opened up onto Argyle Street as well as the Arcade and had a new lease of young, energetic life. Friday Night Ceilidhs in the ballroom and good, honest home cooking are good reasons to go.www.sloansglasgow.com

Bon Accord, North Street This is the place where Glasgow’s Ale Revolution started and after several decades, it’s still going strong. Claims to serve over 800 different ales every year, has an outstanding whisky selection and the staff really know their stuff.www.bonaccordweb.co.uk

The Hill, Byres Road One of the best locations on Byres Road, The Hill soaks up every rare drop of Glasgow sun on its south facing terrace. Inside it’s warm and welcoming, the staff are friendly and the beer selection is just fine too.www.thehillbyresroad.com

Oran Mor, Byres Road This one doesn’t even need a street number, just look out for the big church at the Great Western Road end of Byres Road. Fantastic selection of whiskies and infamous club nights.www.oran-mor.co.uk

The Corinthian Club, Ingram Street Opulent and glamorous doesn’t even begin to describe The Corinthian Club. This beautifully restored Georgian Mansion House is four floors of restrained decadence and includes a club, restaurant, casino and cocktail bar.www.thecorinthianclub.co.uk

Best clubs in Glasgow:

The Garage, Sauchiehall Street Vast, cavernous club space with a young crowd and theme nights nearly every night of the week. Dance and chart sounds keep everything lively and the party atmosphere really works for stag nights.
www.garageglasgow.co.uk

The Art School, Renfrew Street Events, club nights and some of the city’s most coveted DJs, The Art School’s been partying in Glasgow for a long time and it’s got really good at it. Loved by students and plenty of others too, actively encourages outrageous fancy dress.www.theartschool.co.uk

Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Sauchiehall Street ‘We don’t have TVs and we don’t show football’, so says Nice ‘n’ Sleazy. Probably not the place to turn up in fancy dress after too many shots then, but a very cool club nevertheless with some of the city’s best DJ talent and a great sound mix.www.nicensleazy.com

SubClub, Jamaica Street Glasgow’s historic club and still one of the city’s most popular. The house DJs are legends and the guest talent is outstanding. Low ceilings, underground vibe and huge mixed crowd.www.subclub.co.uk

The Arches, Argyle Street One of the best clubs in the city for all sorts of reasons. The location is amazing, sprawling and strange. Theme nights are epic events. Showcases incredible international DJ talent. And it’s not-for-profit, just here for the love of the party.
www.thearches.co.uk

Food: eat like a local:

Anyone who’s visited Glasgow in the past two decades knows ‘fish supper as a food group’ is a bit of an urban-myth. Truth is, Glasgow now has some of the most exciting and innovative restaurants in Europe. It’s a city that loves to eat out and demands high standards when it’s parting with hard cash. And if you’re desperate for a fish supper, like everything else, Glasgow does them brilliantly.

Following the great Glasgow East End Café tradition, McCune Smith (Duke Street) pulls foodies from all over the city for great coffee, well priced breakfast and amazing deli-sandwiches – best pastrami and rye this side of Brooklyn.

Worried about the demise of Glasgow fish suppers? Fear not, Old Salty’s (http://www.oldsaltys.co.uk/) on Argyle Street is looking after the tradition just fine. A bit more expensive than average but battered to perfection, crisp, fresh and delicious.

Vietnamese tapas style street food served under brilliantly coloured hanging lanterns and old bike tyres, Hanoi Bike Shop (http://hanoibikeshop.co.uk/) on Ruthven Lane is a delight and sharing plate after plate until you’re full is the way they do things here.

Fresh, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients are Cottiers’ (http://www.cottiers.com/) only signature. The food is amazing, the building’s lovely and it’s tucked just far enough away from Byres Road to feel a bit of rare city peace.

Getting about:

Glasgow’s subway is small, easy to use and the best way to travel between the city centre, the West End and the South Side. There’s an excellent low-level train service from Queen Street Station to the East End.