The ten best things to do in Glasgow
It might be Scotland’s second city but it’s by no means second best when it comes to culture, sights and culinary offerings
Edinburgh may be Scotland’s capital, but you wouldn’t know it when spending time in Glasgow, such is the range of things to do on offer. From exploring Scottish heritage through architecture and whisky to enjoying the great outdoors in parks and on majestic lakes, it’s no wonder Glasgow is constantly named as one of the best places to visit in the UK. Here are our top tips for things to do there, whether you’re travelling alone, with a partner or with the whole family (seeing the marvellous Highland cows up-close will win over even the fussiest of young visitors).
The majestic Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum © Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam
Find something for everyone at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Continually rated as one of the best attractions in Glasgow, this cavernous museum and gallery is a treat for both kids and grown-ups. Inside, you’ll find everything from a haunting Salvador Dalí masterpiece (Christ Of Saint John Of The Cross) to various fantastic beasts, including an elephant, giraffe and polar bear – all taxidermies, we should probably point out. Visit Kelvingrove as part of a day trip that also covers the magnificent Glasgow Cathedral, another wonder of the city.
Eat and drink your way through Finnieston
Fancy a bite? Head to Finnieston, Glasgow’s buzzing foodie hub, where there’s a whole world of restaurants and bars serving food from around the globe. Find Mediterranean small plates at Alchemilla, creative all-vegan dishes at The 78, proper chips at Old Salty’s (an old-school chippy given a contemporary rework), top-notch specialty coffee at The Steamie and artisan cocktails at trendy gin bar and eatery The Finnieston. Whatever you’re craving, you’ll find something to savour here.
Try a tipple or two at Glengoyne distillery tour © Glengoyne distillery
Have a wee dram at a distillery
It wouldn’t be a trip to Glasgow without sampling a good whisky or two, so why not take the opportunity to learn more about Scotland’s national tipple? You don’t need to venture far, as less than 15 miles from Glasgow city centre is the Glengoyne distillery, easily reachable on a half-day tour that lets you sit back and enjoy the scenic drive out to beautiful Dumgoyne Hill. The distillery offers a range of tastings and tours, including the Malt Master experience, which lets you create your very own bespoke single malt.
Learn about Glaswegian creative side at The Lighthouse
Designated as Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, The Lighthouse was the first public commission by famed Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose work is celebrated in the Mackintosh Interpretation Centre within the venue. The Lighthouse hosts various innovative art exhibitions, but you can also treat your eyes by simply heading to the viewing platform on the top floor and soaking up the panoramic city views.
Visit the People's Palace at Glasgow Green © Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam
Step back in time at Glasgow Green
Green expanses and ornate fountains aren’t the only reason to visit Glasgow’s oldest park, as it’s also home to the People’s Palace. This beautiful building holds local photographs, prints, films and other treasures from years gone by, telling the stories of Glaswegians right through the ages. Afterwards, treat yourself to a hearty meal and a craft beer at the West brewery and restaurant, which is set in an ornate former carpet factory and just a stone’s throw from the edge of the park.
Quaff a cocktail at The Corinthian Club
There’s no shortage of great bars in Glasgow, but if you want somewhere extra special, visit The Corinthian Club, which is located in a stunning, grade A-listed former bank and high court. Head for Tellers Bar, where you can admire the showstopping, 26 foot-high glass dome as you sip your drink of choice: pick from champagnes, martinis, classic cocktails and whiskies, of course.
Get lost in the Hunterian Museum Gallery © Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam
Explore a kooky collection at The Hunterian
Scotland’s oldest public museum is a gloriously quirky affair, showcasing the collections of Dr William Hunter, a student at Glasgow University and well-known physician. Stroll past dinosaur skeletons, Roman artefacts, an ancient Egyptian mummy, deep-sea coral, scientific instruments, medieval pottery and art by Whistler, Rennie Mackintosh and the famous Glasgow Boys collective.
Meet furry new friends at Pollok Country Park
Just a few miles south-west of the city centre lies a park which is not just Glasgow’s largest, but has also previously been voted the best park in both Britain and Europe. A bold claim, but you’ll soon see why. Firstly, there’s the grand Pollok House with an impressive collection of Spanish art, plus Asian and European artwork in the Burrell Collection, and secondly there are hiking and biking opportunities galore. Kids don’t miss out, either, as there’s also a huge play area and, most importantly, the park’s most famous residents to admire – around 50 brilliantly fluffy Highland cows.
Don't miss the chance to sail across Loch Lomond © Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam
Sail across Loch Lomond
Although Glasgow has all sorts to offer as a city, part of its charm is its proximity to incredible countryside and natural wonders, including the breathtaking Loch Lomond. One of Scotland’s iconic sites, this vast freshwater lake is a life-affirming spectacle that’s perfect for a family visit, and the best way to experience it is to get out on the water. Try a boat trip that starts from the charming village of Balloch, before cruising on the loch waters and past some of its most dramatic scenery – even the kids’ jaws will drop.
Shop around the clock
Glasgow has long been labelled a shopaholic’s paradise due to the sheer scale of shopping areas and the variety of what’s on offer. The ‘Style Mile’, encompassing Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, can solve any fashion needs with big-name brands and designer boutiques. If you’re after something a little more unique, head to Glasgow’s West End, which is home to great independent stores around cobbled Cresswell Lane and Ruthven Lane. Whether you’re after local arts and crafts (try Janet & John), vintage clothes (get sifting at Starry Starry Night) or antiques (delve into Ruthven Mews), you’ll find it here, or at least you’ll have fun looking.