Although it’s a fairly under-the-radar city destination outside of Scotland, Glasgow is by no means the lesser destination. It’s one of the best places to visit in Scotland, packed with independent shops, cafes and bars, small batch coffee roasters and beer brewers, food trucks and festivals and a city full of culture; art galleries, pop up exhibitions and fashion shows. It’s also a city with a huge passion for live music and a buzzing music scene. It’s canny marketing slogan “People Make Glasgow” really captures the true essence of the place as the locals are proud to welcome people to their city – in fact it’s often cited as one of the world’s friendliest cities. Here’s what you can experience in this fun and lively city, whatever the weather…
On sunny days explore the fabulous green spaces
There’s plenty to see and do in Glasgow and you will always be welcomed with open arms but there could still be one thing holding you back – its reputation for bad weather! It’s not a myth, Scotland can face some pretty awful weather at times but if you plan your trip well, it needn’t put you off. If you’re lucky enough to get a sunny, clear day on your trip to Glasgow your potential list of activities is endless. Known as the ‘Dear Green Place’ there is plenty of greenery around the city, across its many parks and open spaces.
In the centre of the city there is Glasgow Green on the River Clyde, which is perfect for a scenic stroll through to reach the People’s Palace; a glasshouse containing The Winter Gardens which is brimming with tropical plants. Across the road is the Templeton Building, which is actually modelled on the famous Doge’s Palace in Venice and houses a German brewery offering fabulous Bratwurst and Hefeweisse to enjoy in their large beer garden (which also welcome lots of cute dogs).
Known locally as “The West End” the west side of the city also has great green spaces for picnics when the sun comes out. Kelvingrove Park is a local favourite and if you’re fit enough to make it up its steep hills you’re in for a treat at the top. There are spectacular views of the city here as well as endless people-watching opportunities.
If the weather’s not great then Kelvingrove Park is still an option as you can head inside to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum to view classic works of art by Dali, Monet and Van Gogh and by local artists The Glasgow Boys.
Head to the lively West End (in all weathers)
Walking through The West End – which consists of three main streets conveniently connected by the subway – come rain or shine is a must do on your Glasgow trip. There are a number of alleyways full of quirky shops, pubs and restaurants; the most notable being Ashton and Cresswell Lanes. The architecture around here is spectacular, with the streets often cut off for film crews to capture the buildings in film or TV scenes. Finnieston, another part of the West worth visiting, has experienced a period of regeneration over the past five years which has enabled it to flourish into a hub of great local restaurants and bars. If you like seafood or gin, or even seafood and gin, then this is your spot.
On rainy days head to The Merchant City and Trongate
To experience Glasgow as a true Glaswegian then you’ll have to embrace the rain. Don’t worry, there are plenty of places to retreat to. The people of Glasgow love their coffee and there are a number of fantastic cafes and small-batch brewers serving up great cups. You might already have heard about The Merchant City as an area to head to for something nice to eat or drink but its lesser known neighbour, Trongate, has a wider variety of more unusual options. Jazz bars, vintage shops, vegan and Russian restaurants, militaria, bespoke watch shops, hot yoga, art galleries, a theatre and a pub full of classic arcade games – you can spend hours wandering around here and experiencing something new (or rediscovering something old).
Immerse yourself in the arts
The Arts also flourish throughout the city, highlighted in 2016 when it played host to The Turner Prize. There are a number of great galleries and venues including the CCA, the GOMA and The Lighthouse which all curate cutting edge exhibitions, host spoken word and literature festivals whilst promoting local or up-and-coming artists. If the sun’s out then you could follow The City Centre Mural Tour – a series of huge artwork painted by local artists on buildings across the city. The self-guided tour can be done on foot or by bike (bikes are for hire across the city at various points) thanks to a map highlighting the impressive pieces.
Explore the surrounding countryside
You also don’t need to venture far out of the city to be surrounded by seriously beautiful countryside. For those looking to really immerse themselves in nature, Loch Lomond is only a 45 minute drive north of the city and has a plethora of options to get outside and explore. If you can fit your walking boots in your rucksack then do so for the 3 hour “sight-doing” tours on offer which guarantee forests, hills, waterfalls and wildlife. You might even spot a wallaby (yes they really do have wallabies living there)! Reward yourself afterwards by heading down to Balmaha on the East side of the loch for dinner on the water at a warming pub.
Sample the local nightlife
So, you’ve had a real experience of Glasgow during your day, either inside or out, and now you’re ready to experience its nightlife. No matter what your music tastes are, there is somewhere in Glasgow that will get you toe tapping. In the centre there are a number of jazz bars and a 1920’s club all serving up inventive cocktails. Alternatively there are smaller haunts with indie and 80’s playlists, including one hidden venue at Charing Cross disguised out front as a pawn shop that hosts reggae nights on Thursdays dubbed ‘Walk n Skank’.
The alternative spirit is something that’s been alive in Glasgow for a long time; showcased no better than through its musical heritage. Art and music go hand in hand and bands like Franz Ferdinand formed after meeting at The Glasgow School of Art (which, unsurprisingly, makes for a great night out at its club nights). Glasgow has a huge dance music scene and, as well as nurturing local talent, it attracts renowned DJ’s from all over the world. Gigs, therefore, aren’t on short supply and if you can time your trip accordingly then there are some fab festivals with a variety of great line ups on offer. They include Summer Nights at The Kelvingrove Bandstand, Bellahouston Summer Sessions and the Electric Frog & Pressure Riverside festival. So don’t let the potential lack of sunshine put you off, there’s still more than plenty to do in Glasgow!
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