Glasgow city guide: Where to stay, eat, drink and shop in Scotland's cool capital of culture

While often overlooked by tourists seeking Harry Potter thrills in neighbouring Edinburgh, Glasgow is undeniably Scotland’s cultural heart, with the finest homegrown music scene in the country. It’s Scotland’s largest city, with a population of 800,000 – but the neat, manageable grid of a centre is easily traversed on foot, and you’re never too far away from where you’re heading. Edinburgh may be where Scotland’s regal, romantic history is based, but Glasgow is where arty, bold and musical things are happening now.

Glasgow city guide: Where to stay, eat, drink and shop in Scotland’s cool capital of culture
© Glasgow Life

Glasgow has plenty of colour and flavour, with a modern cultural scene

– Glasgow Life

The industrial revolution was kind to the city – a veritable treasure trove of grandiose Victorian architecture – and it’s currently seeing another sociocultural and financial boom as more and more creatives move there for its affordable housing, good vibes and proximity to nature. It’s just a short drive to Loch Lomond, while Central Station is your gateway to the west Highlands.

What to do

Explore the dynamic art scene

There’s an array of edgy, contemporary art galleries in Glasgow, a good cluster of which are based in Merchant City, just off Trongate. Start with the Modern Institute, a long-established space that exhibits work by major names like Jeremy Deller and Simon Starling. Around the corner, South Block is a multipurpose organisation housing artists’ studios and a large gallery space that always brings the goods. Street Level Photoworks is also unmissable, showing the best of Scottish photography as well as international talent. On the other side of the centre, the Centre for Contemporary Arts, or CCA to its friends, is a hub for art exhibitions, performances, gigs, and arts retailers such as Aye-Aye Books and Welcome Home.

Glasgow city guide: Where to stay, eat, drink and shop in Scotland’s cool capital of culture
© Provided by The Independent Kelvingrove Museum (Glasgow Life)

Get lost in the crowd at a gig or club

Whatever your favourite sounds, there’s something for you in Glasgow, whose burgeoning music scene is to be thanked for indie legends Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian and Deacon Blue, as well as house and techno whizzkids Eclair Fifi, Nightwave and Optimo. Head to an iconic venue like the Barrowlands, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, or the O2 Academy for all things guitar-based; or if you’re hankering for a late one, check the listings for club nights at SWG3, Room 2 and Sub Club. These joints get busy, so book tickets in advance.

Stroll through the past

It’s very easy to imagine yourself in the 19th century simply by glancing upwards in this city, but its museums and tour guides can really breathe life into those fantastic facades. The best timewarp in town is the Tenement House: a perfectly preserved 1911 apartment in that historic staple of Glasgow’s housing stock, a tenement building. The equally enchanting Kelvingrove Museum is home to 22 galleries that display everything from ancient Egyptian artefacts to Charles Rennie Mackintosh designs. But if you’re keen to dive deeper, book yourself onto one of Walking Tours in Glasgow’s reasonably priced sojourns, which include daily ambles themed around the city centre, street art, dark history, the West End and film locations.

Glasgow city guide: Where to stay, eat, drink and shop in Scotland’s cool capital of culture
© Provided by The Independent Food at Fanny Trollopes, Glasgow (Fanny Trollopes)

Where to stay

If you’re looking for affordable and snazzy, Glasgow’s Motel One, an outpost of the great German chain, is conveniently located next to Central Station. It has colourful interiors and sassy design across the bar, lobby and 80 guest rooms, making it a super-appealing and well-placed option. Double and twin rooms here start at £69 per night. motel-one.com

For special occasions at reasonable tariffs, make a beeline for ABode Glasgow – a renovated, grand Edwardian building turned boutique hotel, the rooms of which practically ooze style and elegance. There are delightful period features such as stained-glass windows and original tiled fireplaces to enjoy, as well as a delectable contemporary restaurant and in-house bar. Doubles start from £114 per night. abodeglasgow.co.uk

If a smattering of luxury is in order, Dakota is your Glasgow dream: a ​​decadent, plush, modern hotel located right in the city centre, full of eye-watering design and layers of textiles – the perfect place to unwind after a busy day. The tasting menu at the in-house grill restaurant is also something to behold, presenting dishes that are more like art than food. Doubles come in at £210 upwards. dakotahotels.co.uk/glasgow

Where to eat

Glasgow is wonderfully multicultural and its restaurants are as diverse in cuisine as those in any cosmopolitan global city. Stalwart chain Mother India first opened its doors in 1990 and has been serving real, authentic (read: non-westernised) Indian food across its five branches, in a cosy, homely environment that delights punters, including the late, great Anthony Bourdain. Head to their Finneston branch on Westminster Terrace for the works. If it’s south Indian cuisine you’re after though, look no further than Madras Cafe, where the dosa, idli and malai kofta are inimitably tasty while the Keralan monkfish is beyond delicious.

But it would be criminal to skimp on the Scottish fare while you’re in town: in the West End you’ll find the Art Deco-themed fine dining spot Fanny Trollopes. This team specialises in seasonal fish, seafood, Scottish beef and lamb, fowl and game. But vegans, don’t despair – the poshest falafel you’ve ever seen is up for grabs, too.

Cross the town centre, past the galleries of Trongate, to find Mharsanta, a real gem in more ways than one. An impressive menu of Scottish favourites, including haggis and veggie haggis (yes, veggie haggis!) is lovingly prepared using locally sourced produce. To add to its sustainable ethos, the restaurant is also participating in Plate up for Glasgow – a campaign highlighting the issue of food waste and its impact on our environment and the local economy.

If you’re looking for lighter bites that are just as tasty and locally focused, the multi-award-winning Scran is the cafe for you. Classic, comforting brunch favourites from eggs benedict to toasties and rolls dominate the menu, prepared with fine Scottish ingredients like Stornoway black pudding and Corrie Mains free-range eggs – all with their own loving twist.

Just over the river in the indisputably cool Southside neighbourhood, Bar Vini gets an honourable mention for serving the best Italian food you’ll find in the city, with a rotating seasonal menu (pray for homemade ravioli) and a range of cocktails so sweet you’ll want to try them all.

Glasgow city guide: Where to stay, eat, drink and shop in Scotland’s cool capital of culture
© Provided by The Independent Gig venue King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (Glasgow Life)

Where to drink

Caffeine fans, start your day at Laboratorio Espresso, an authentic artisan Milanese espresso bar that uses the best beans sourced from around the world. Or, if you enjoy baked treats with your cuppa, head to the Riverhill coffee bar, whose shortbread is completely irresistible.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed come evening time, as there’s many watering holes vying for the title of best bar in town. However, the Laurieston has the ultimate Glasgow vibe. A true stalwart, with a history of 185 years (the current incarnation dates back to the 1950s), this delightfully retro spot is somewhere between a working man’s club and a tavern, with memorabilia on the walls guaranteed to draw you in and friendly locals who’ll make you feel welcome.

Another frontrunner is the Allison Arms, fondly known by locals as the Ally. Like the Laurieston, you’ll find it in the cool Southside district. While you’ll be greeted with big Glasgow warmth here, it’s the mind-boggling range of German and craft beers on sale that will keep you coming back for more.

If you like your drinks served with live music or a writhing dance floor, you can’t miss a night out at Nice N Sleazy, a delightfully dingy bar, club and small gig venue that has hosted more bands than you’ve had hot dinners. Probably.

Where to shop

Glasgow is brilliant for interesting independent retailers, and you’ll find community-minded and eco-conscious little shops in every corner of the city. Local institution Monorail Music is just around the corner from the art spaces of Trongate, and the best place to go record shopping – and, if you’re lucky, catch an in-store gig. From there, cross Saltmarket and walk a block to find the doors of Good Press, a bookshop that stocks independent and self-published print as well as hosting events and a book-making studio.

Vintage magpies must head to the West End, where the Glasgow Vintage Co, West Vintage and Starry Starry Night are the standouts for clothes, and the tiny (but impressively overstocked) Relics is the ultimate for bric-a-brac and collectibles. Just around the corner, the decidedly more modern Hoos stocks Nordic and Scottish design and homeware. Don’t worry if you fall in love with more items than you can carry – they do home delivery anywhere in the UK. Another great Scandi-style homewares shop is Aume in Southside, which tastefully curates the artisanal pieces on display.

If you’re self-catering, Locovore is a great social enterprise aiming to build a more sustainable local food system, where you’ll find quality local groceries, with branches in various locations across the city (Govanhill, Garnethill and Partick).

Glasgow city guide: Where to stay, eat, drink and shop in Scotland’s cool capital of culture
© Provided by The Independent Glasgow’s skyline with the Clyde Bridge (Glasgow Life)

Architectural highlight

What remains of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art is yet to be seen, after the disastrous fire of 2018, so in the meantime gorge on his small but perfectly formed Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street – a slice of Art Nouveau bliss from 1902.

Glasgow nuts and bolts:

What currency do I need?

GBP (But keep your eyes peeled and enjoy the Scottish versions of pound notes).

What language do they speak?

English.

Should I tip?

10 per cent minimum.

How should I get around?

By foot, bus or local trains.

What’s the best view?

The view across the city from the Glasgow Necropolis is wonderfully panoramic, but if graveyards aren’t your thing, take yourself to the top of Mackintosh’s Lighthouse tower.

Insider tip?

Bring an umbrella. With an annual average of 170 days of rainfall, you’ve got roughly a 40 per cent chance of showers.

How should I get there?

The train from London, the connection point for many places in the UK, takes 5-6 hours and forges an incredibly scenic route through the Lake District. There are also strong connecting rail links from cities such as Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester.

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Australian Open 2022 quarter-final: Auger-Aliassime v Medvedev – live!

© Photograph: Andy Cheung/Getty Images Rod Laver Arena at sunset. LIVE – Updated at 08:01 Rolling report: Join John Brewin for updates as Félix Auger-Aliassime takes on Daniil Medvedev in ... Read more »

Alicia Rio dead at 55: Porn star dies ‘from Covid complications' as loved ones pay tribute to legendary adult movie star

PORN star Alicia Rio has died from complications believed to be related to Covid-19, reports say. The 55-year-old, who appeared in hundreds of adult film titles during the 1990s, passed ... Read more »

Peter Robbins dead at 65 – Voice of Charlie Brown on Peanuts dies by suicide, family confirm

PETER Robbins, best known for voicing Peanuts character Charlie Brown, has died at the age of 65. His family confirmed that the voice actor had taken his own life last ... Read more »

Kathryn Kates dead: Seinfeld actress dies aged 73 following cancer battle

Kathryn Kates has died at the age of 73 after a battle with cancer, her reps have revealed. Headline Talent Agency confirmed the Seinfeld star passed away on Saturday 22 ... Read more »

Football rumours: Tottenham's Dele Alli wanted by five Premier League clubs

What the papers say Tottenham’s Dele Alli is being watched closely by a number of Premier League teams, according to the Daily Mail. Brighton are reportedly joining Newcastle Burnley and ... Read more »

Sinead O'Connor setting a ‘permanent' reminder of son Shane since his funeral

Sinead O’Connor has revealed she is setting a place for her late son at the dinner table since he passed away. Her 17-year-old son Shane tragically took his own life ... Read more »

Fears of NEW CO2 crisis: Food firms warn of price rises and shortages as three-month stopgap deal that kept open two US fertiliser plants that supply 60% of UK's carbon dioxide expires at end of month

Global US fertiliser firm CF Industries produces 60 per cent of the UK's carbon dioxide supply But it shut two factories amid surging gas prices as they weren't profitable, forcing Government to step in Ministers then helped broker a deal between key sectors and CF Industries  that ends on January 31Food and drink firms warned today that unless another is brokered there will be a fresh crisis in 2022 Read more »

Video: Boris could be first PM EVER interviewed under police caution as he is told to release Sue Gray's full partygate report within HOURS of getting it - after she was handed 'photos of PM next to wine bottles and identified EIGHT parties' 

Read more »

Video: Gladys Berejiklian steps back into the spotlight as she hits the campaign trail - but NOT in the way most Australians would expect 

Read more »

Towie's Yazmin Oukhellou reveals results of botched lip filler in shock U-turn after vowing to dissolve her ‘duck lips'

TOWIE's Yazmin Oukhellou has revealed the results of her botched lip filler after vowing to dissolve her “duck lips”. The TV beauty told fans last week that she'd had her ... Read more »

‘Ello, ello, ello, BoJo!'

A round-up of the headlines from the UK front pages “Ello, ello, ello, BoJo!” reads The Sun’s headline today in a piece describing No. 10 as a “crime scene” following news ... Read more »

Who signed this off? People reveal the WORST design fails they've seen - including a shower head over a towel rack and toilet cubicle with no privacy

Reddit users from around the world have shared worst design fails they've seenOne snap shows a toilet cubicle that doesn't give the person using it any privacyAnother image shows a bathroom decorated with carpet on the cupboards  Read more »

Director Pushpdeep Bhardwaj shares his idea of storytelling in 'Ranjish Hi Sahi'

© IANS Pushpdeep Bhardwaj Mumbai, Jan 26 (IANS) Filmmaker Pushpdeep Bhardwaj, who has been getting a lot of positive response for his recently released web series ‘Ranjish Hi Sahi’, wanted ... Read more »

Mass testing begins as Beijing prepares to host Winter Olympics

The Chinese capital reported 14 new Covid-19 cases as it began a third round of mass testing of millions of people in the run-up to the Winter Olympics. The mass ... Read more »

‘We followed the rules' Anger as Brits share what they did on their lockdown birthday

© PA Wire Prime Minister Boris Johnson jogging in central London – PA Wire Angry Brits have spoken of the sacrifices they made on their lockdown birthdays after allegations Boris ... Read more »

Tricky 20-question English quiz will put your spelling and grammar skills to the test - so, do YOU have what it takes to achieve a perfect score?

A tricky new quiz has been designed to put your English skills to the test Shared on US trivia platform Quizly, it features 20 multiple-choice questions The creator says players have struggled to achieve a full score - but can you?  Read more »

Leading Israeli Consulting with Tefen Group and the Israel Advanced Production Institute

© (photo credit: Inga Avshalom Shylian) Mally Bitzur-Parnes “One who doesn’t learn from a crisis is not wise,” says Mally Bitzur-Parnes, owner and CEO of Tefen Group and chair of ... Read more »

Christian Eriksen takes big step with training as Premier League club prepares move for Danish playmaker

Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen has taken another big step in his recovery after it emerged he’s training with his old club Ajax. Eriksen has recently been linked with a move ... Read more »

Republic Day 2022: Pawan Kalyan, Balakrishna hoist flag; Anushka Shetty, Rashmika & others wish fans

On the occasion of the 73rd Republic Day of India, South celebs like Pawan Kalyan, Nandamuri Balakrishna and Ram Charan were spotted in Hyderabad as they stepped out to hoist ... Read more »

Blackburn Rovers transfer exit scrapped following injury setback

© Provided by Football League World Championship – Queens Park Rangers v Blackburn Rovers Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray has revealed that young striker Daniel Butterworth was set to go ... Read more »

Vishal's 'Veerame Vaagai Soodum' release postponed

© IANS Vishal’s Veerame Vaagai Soodum release postponed. Chennai, Jan 26 (IANS) The release of director Thu Pa Saravanan’s action entertainer ‘Veerame Vaagai Soodum’ featuring actors Vishal and Dimple Hayathi ... Read more »

DOH reports three more fatalities due to Omicron variant

© Philippines Daily Inquirer MANILA, Philippines — The country’s confirmed death toll due to the Omicron variant rose to five after the Department of Health (DOH) recorded the death of ... Read more »

Farewell to the Lion Man of Chelsea: Socialite who bought big cat in Harrods in the 1960s and famously walked it around West London before setting it free in Kenya and being reunited years later dies aged 76

Chelsea-based socialite John Rendall and his friend Anthony 'Ace' Bourke bought a lion cub from HarrodsChristian was a regular sight in Chelsea as he was taken for walks along King's Road by the conservationist Lion was later returned to the wild in Kenya after growing out of Mr Rendall's furniture store, Sophisticat But lion recognised his old master and bounded up to him for hug when he visited in an extraordinary video  Read more »

Newcastle transfer rumours: Toon lead chase for Alli

© PA Newcastle are interested in signing Dele Alli this month All the latest Newcastle transfer news, rumours and gossip, as new manager Eddie Howe looks to improve his squad ... Read more »

These Two Self-Test Antigen Kit Brands Are Now FDA Certified

© Provided by reportr.world The Food and Drug Administration on Monday said it authorized the sale of two brands of self-test antigen kits, making available a reliable and accessible means ... Read more »

The 10 defenders with the most league goals in the 21st century - John Terry 4th

Sergio Ramos scored his first goal for Paris Saint-Germain last Sunday evening. The Spanish defender – who’s had a nightmare with injuries over the past 12 months or so – ... Read more »

Box Office: Hridayam has a strong Tuesday; Crosses 10 crores in Kerala and 20 crores worldwide

© Provided by Pinkvilla Hridayam had another strong day at the box office on Tuesday. The film grossed Rs. 2 crores Approx on its day five in India, with Rs. ... Read more »

Keith Urban takes over some of Adele's dates at Caesars Palace

© IANS Keith Urban takes over some of Adele’s dates at Caesars Palace. Los Angeles, Jan 26 (IANS) Country star Keith Urban has just been booked on some nights in ... Read more »

Sara Ali Khan shares a selfie with Vicky Kaushal as they head for a drive on Republic Day

© Provided by Pinkvilla Sara Ali Khan, who is quite active on social media, has a knack for making headlines with her posts on Instagram. She is often seen sharing ... Read more »

Kareena Kapoor Khan flaunts Taimur's healthy 'tricolour breakfast' on Republic Day; PIC

Republic Day is a special occasion for every Indian and our B-Town celebs too are making it special with their families. Speaking of which, Kareena Kapoor Khan gave fans a ... Read more »

Ältester männlicher Gorilla der Welt gestorben

Ozzie, das älteste Gorillamännchen der Welt, ist im Alter von 61 Jahren gestorben. Er hat aber bereits in den vergangenen Tagen an Appetitlosigkeit und Schwellungen im Gesicht gelitten. © Zoo ... Read more »

Auch dank Moderna-Impfstoff: Lonza wächst im Geschäftsjahr 2021 deutlich

Die «neue» Lonza ist deutlich profitabler ohne das mittlerweile verkaufte Chemiegeschäft. Altlasten drücken aber auf den ausgewiesenen Gewinn für das Geschäftsjahr 2021. © Bereitgestellt von Blick Lonza wächst im Geschäftsjahr ... Read more »

Tennis rival UNLEASHES on Nick Kyrgios calling him an 'absolute knob with the maturity of a 10-year-old' after losing against the Aussie bad body in a VERY controversial Australian Open match

Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis through to Australian Open doubles semisBitter opponent lashed out at Kyrgios over his quarter final on-court anticsMichael Venus labelled him 'an absolute knob' with maturity of a 10-year-oldKiwi tennis star told NZ TV station Kyrgios will likely never fulfil his full potential  Read more »

Schneechaos in Griechenland: Tausende Menschen mussten in ihren Autos übernachten

Wegen der starken Schneefälle in ganz Mittelgriechenland haben Tausende Autofahrer die Nacht auf Dienstag in ihren Autos auf Autobahnen verbracht. Auch in der Türkei sorgte heftiger Schneefall für Probleme. © ... Read more »

Bentley's £2.5bn investment in Britain: Luxury car maker reveals plans to convert Crewe plant into a 'dream factory' for building electric models from 2025

Luxury car maker announces 10-year investment in preparation for EV transitionInjection of £2.5bn will turn Crewe plant into an EV-producing 'dream factory'Bentley aims to built its first full EV from 2025 and be carbon neutral from 2030Bosses said the new investment is a vote of confidence in Britain, will be a boost for the UK economy and help retain 4,000 jobs at the UK factory  Read more »

Gladys Berejiklian steps back into the spotlight as she hits the campaign trail - but NOT in the way most Australians would expect

Gladys Berejiklian hits campaign trail for her seat of Willoughby successorFormer NSW premier resigned last year amid shocks corruption allegations She is pushing for Liberal MP Tim James to take over after 19 years in role  Read more »

Tonga: COVID-hit Australian ship delivers disaster aid to virus-free island

© Provided by DW The HMS Adelaide’s entire crew is vaccinated and tested positive before departure, but several has since tested positive An Australian warship docked in Tonga on Wednesday ... Read more »

Kids must move! It's vital for learning – occupational therapist

Playing is learning. If you want your children to develop appropriately, all they need to do when they’re very small is play and move. It should be simple, but with ... Read more »

SIU: DoT flouted process in appointing PPE service provider for taxi sector

© @vm_africa/Twitter Taxis at a Gauteng taxi rank being disinfected as part of measures to protect public transport commuters from contracting COVID-19. JOHANNESBURG – The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation ... Read more »

Greece: Explosion damages buildings in central Athens

© Provided by DW A loud explosion caused serious damage to a multi-story building in the Greek capital Athens on Wednesday morning. The blast happened some 200 meters (656 feet) ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic