Glasgow: warm spirits and wonderful buildings

Glasgow may be the third-largest city in the UK, but thanks to its warm and welcoming people it feels much more intimate.

With its Mackintosh-inspired architecture, numerous cafes, restaurants and bars and world-class museums, you have no excuse to be bored.

Here’s our guide to some of the best things to see and do in the city, from shops and eateries to top attractions and hidden gems.

Things to see and do in Glasgow

At the beautiful Riverside Museum you can take a walk down the recently restored Old Street and drop in to its Photographer's Studio. Learn about photography and take your own shots in the replica studio space, with a selection of costumes for the family to dress up. The museum also has a Road to Delhi exhibition and the world’s second oldest Rolls Royce is on display.

You can’t visit Glasgow without encountering its Charles Rennie Mackintosh buildings. The best way to learn more about this iconic designer is to take a tour with the Glasgow School of Art. Sightseers will discover Mackintosh’s ideas, inspirations and relationships by exploring a number of hidden architectural gems across the city.

There’s nothing more Scottish than the sound of bagpipes. At The National Piping Centre you can learn how to play the traditional instrument, as well as discovering their history with a look at the oldest piece of bagpipe in the world. 

Shopping in Glasgow

Often recognised as the largest retail centre outside of London, Glasgow’s ‘style mile’ – the square mile in the heart of the city – is a shopper’s dream. It has everything from large shopping centres, which provide cover from the Glasgow weather, to independent boutiques, designer stores and speciality shops. 

For something a bit different, head to the city’s arty West End. Byres Road is the best area for alternative fashion, with shops like Vintage Guru selling everything from vintage handbags and winter coats to Rat Pack-style cardigans and pullovers.

Glasgow’s Forge Market is billed as Scotland’s largest indoor market and boasts more than 180 stalls, offering everything from fashion and memorabilia through to food and drink.

Antique aficionados should get along to Hannie’s Antiques, which has a voluminous amount of antique furniture on sale. Hannie’s supplies wholesale and retail and will happily help anyone searching for something unusual for their home – whatever the period you’re after. 

Food and drink in Glasgow

The Black Sheep Bistro is a small, family-run restaurant that has gained rave reviews on TripAdvisor. Its unfussy but fabulous food and quirky, homely décor has gone done well with locals. With everything from haddock and chips and leek and goats’ cheese filo pie to haggis-topped burger and beef stroganoff, this is comfort food done well. An intimate restaurant that’s well worth a visit. 

KoolBa, in the Merchant City is an Indian restaurant that offers something different – Indian food with a Persian twist. This is highly recommended for its great service and a menu of food that showcases both the similarities and subtle differences of dishes from Persia and India.

If you’re looking for a spot of lunch while shopping, Merchant’s Square is a great option. With French, Italian and Spanish restaurants alongside modern Scottish bistros, this indoor square offers a taste for everyone. 

Hidden Glasgow

Here are some of the less obvious things you can do in Glasgow…

Glasgow’s underground: Glasgow’s famous underground is a great way to explore the city. It’s the third-oldest subway system in the world and has barely been updated since. From the shopping at Buchanan Street to the West End shops and bars of Hillhead, it’s a great way to keep dry and avoid the traffic while seeing a part of the city’s history. 

Glasgow Science Centre: This offers interactive fun for all the family. As well as hosting the IMAX cinema, the centre also holds a number of special events including Little Explorer activities and a Halloween Fright Night.

Glasgow’s Necropolis: Described as one of the most important cemeteries in Europe, this Victorian site also presents excellent views across the city. A map is available that will lead you to the tombs of some of Glasgow historic figures.

Enjoy your trip to Glasgow.