The city of Glasgow
is one of the most overlooked attractions for backpackers and tourists exploring the bonnie lands of Scotland
. As the largest city in Scotland, this cultural and historical hub leaves any and all visitors unanimously yearning for more.
With so much to see and do, you could spend an entire weekend exploring the bustling streets and only scratch the surface of the best things to do in Glasgow. This quick guide to Glasgow
discusses some of the most amazing sights, activities and highlights of Scotland's largest city, all from the mouth of a local.
Things to Do in the City Centre of Glasgow
Shopping on Buchanan Street
Famous for its high street shops and the multiple indoor shopping centres spread throughout the centre, Glasgow is a shopaholic's dream destination. Spend the afternoon scouring the shops of Buchanan Street, stopping off at both the St Enoch Centre and Buchanan Galleries at either end of this high street.
If you begin to tire and are in need of a rest, there are also plenty of coffee shops and restaurants spread along its length. We highly recommend checking out Bread and Butter for food and Waxy O'Connor's for drinks.
Sunset at the Lighthouse
Just off Buchanan Street down one of its narrow, branching lanes is the renowned exhibition centre of the Lighthouse. This city centre museum showcases the work of Scotland's many talented architects that have made significant contributions across the country and the world.
One of the most famous of these architects is Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who even has his own dedicated section of the exhibition. It is this area that we are most interested in as it offers the best sunset viewpoint in the city centre of Glasgow.
Once you have finished browsing the architecture exhibitions of the museum, head to the spiralling, helical staircase in the Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition. Climb to the very top and head out onto the small balcony for a 360-degree view of the city centre and surrounding countryside.
During the winter months, when the sun sets before 5pm, it is possible to watch from this incredible viewpoint for the best sunset in Glasgow.
Explore the Necropolis and Glasgow Cathedral
Situated on the northeast side of the city centre, away from the modern, grid-like streets of Glasgow is the more historical side of the city. The grand Glasgow Cathedral
is a spectacular sight to come and admire, and its best angle can be found at the top of the Necropolis.
The Necropolis is Glasgow's old graveyard area, a place where up to 50,000 residents of the city have been buried over the last 2 centuries. First opened in 1831, the Necropolis is a slightly creepy, yet undoubtedly beautiful place that is very popular with locals and tourists alike for a peaceful walk.
The Necropolis sits at the top of a small but very steep hill, accessed by a path that winds its way to the top through the gravestones and monuments. Head to the very top of the hill for a spectacular view down over the green roof of the Glasgow Cathedral.
Taste Whisky at the Clydeside Distillery
One of Scotland's most famous delicacies is its world-renowned single malt whisky. All over the country, there are distilleries creating unique and highly desired drink, some dating back hundreds of years and some only just opened.
On the banks of the River Clyde sits one of Scotland's youngest distilleries, the Clydeside Distillery
. So young that they can't sell their own produce just yet (whisky must be aged for a minimum of 3 years and one day), the Clydeside Distillery is a fantastic place to learn about the history of the Glasgow docks, the importance of Scotch Whisky and taste the different styles from across the country.
The distillery itself sits inside an old pumphouse building that was once used to open and close a bridge in the enormous docks that used to exist on the Clyde. The distillery tour is dedicated to showcasing the massive importance whisky played across the globe and how Glasgow was once the central point of transport for it all.
Enjoy the fascinating tour of the old building, learn the process of making whisky and sample the different styles of whisky from across the land. Tours last about 1-hour and cost roughly £15 per person.
Things to Do in the West End of Glasgow
Bar Crawl on Ashton Lane
The cobbled streets of Ashton Lane are the most popular area in Glasgow for a fancy night out on the town (that won't cost the world). Ashton Lane is a short and very quaint alleyway, roofed by a collection of hanging fairy lights and lined with bars and restaurants of all styles.
Our favourite bar to enjoy drinks and finger food is Vodka Wodka, which has a large beer garden out the back to relax in the sunshine. Ashton Lane is our recommended spot to start off any night out on the town in Glasgow.
Explore Hogwarts at Glasgow University
The beautiful architecture of Glasgow University is said to be one of the main inspiration points for JK Rowlings Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Free to enter, the marvellous courtyards and towering spires are a fantastic place to transport yourself to this magical world, far from the "muggle" world outside.
Take a wander through the open areas of the university and enjoy the beauty of its design before you head on to the next area in the west end.
Brunch with the Students
As mentioned before, the West End of Glasgow is where the University of Glasgow is situated, and as such the surrounding cafes, bars and restaurants aim to fit this style. Brunch is a hugely popular concept in this part of Glasgow, with many cute and delicious places offering a wide brunch menu.
Our top recommendations are the Duck Club and TriBeCa, both situated near to the bottom of Byres Road. Both of these restaurants have a wide range of breakfast options, as well as dedicated vegetarian and vegan menus.
Drink in an Old Church
Ever wanted to enjoy a pint in the grand building of an old church? Well, at the northern end of Byres Road you can do just that. Oran Mor
is a hugely popular music and art club that sits inside an old, converted church building.
Gaelic for "great melody of life", this venue offers the complete package of evening entertainment, with a whisky bar, a restaurant and brasserie, a live music and comedy area, and even a nightclub.
This is the best place to end your night in the West End of Glasgow, with good drinks, happy faces and amazing live entertainment.
Things to Do on the Outskirts of Glasgow
The activities and sights in Glasgow don't stop at the border of the city and there is plenty to be explored in Glasgow suburbs and surrounding landscape.
Ice Climbing in Renfrew
In the nearby town of Renfrew, you will find Scotland's largest indoor Snowsports centre. Soar at Braehead has a complete ski slope and ice climbing wall that anyone can come and enjoy.
Hit the slopes and practise your skiing and snowboarding or give ice climbing a try with dedicated instructors ready to give you a helping hand. This is one of Glasgow's most unique experiences and is not to be missed on your visit to the big city.
The Soar centre at Braehead not only boasts an indoor ski slope, ice-climbing wall and sledging area, but it also offers other adrenaline sports, such as rock climbing and abseiling. There are activities such as mini-golf, bowling and arcade games, and a huge selection of bars and restaurants to enjoy after a day on the slopes.
Hill Walking in the Trossachs
Drive just 40-minutes north-west of Glasgow and you will suddenly find yourself in Scotland's isolated highlands. The Trossachs National Park is hugely popular for locals and visitors to Scotland and is home to the famous banks of Loch Lomond
If hiking is more your forte, then here is a perfect place to head for the hills, with mountains and hills that will take between 1-hour and 4-hours to summit. If you are a beginner hiker, we highly recommend heading to Balmaha and climbing the Conic Hill, which sits at just 361m and takes an hour to reach the top.
Explore the Devil's Pulpit (Outlander's Liar Spring)
For an experience that is simply out of this world, head to Finnich Glen, around 30-minutes from Glasgow's city centre. In this quiet part of the country, there is a hidden world that sits below where the eye can see.
The Devils Pulpit is a 70-foot deep gorge, where the water runs blood-red from the sandstone bedrock. With lush, green walls and a completely other-worldly feel to the place, when you reach the bottom of the glen you completely forget about the world above.
The Devils Pulpit was used in the popular TV series, Outlander, in 2014 for the scene of the "Liar's Spring". Since then it has exploded in popularity and is estimated to experience roughly 70,000 visitors every year.
There is definitely a lot more to the city of Glasgow than meets the eye, with history, culture, arts and beautiful architecture waiting to be discovered across the length of the city. On your next visit to Scotland, be sure to visit this vibrant city and see why so many other travellers fall in love. "People Make Glasgow" and you will always be welcome in the city of culture.