The Glaswegians get you first — friendly, light-hearted, real. Then the city pulls you in with its history and majesty. There’s something special about Scotland’s biggest metropolis, idyllically located on the banks of the River Clyde. It’s a combination of the friendly vibe, the dynamic arts scene, and the vast array of things to see and do.
Glasgow City Chambers
Built at the height of the British Empire, this Victorian-style building is a stunner. Visitors can tour the building and admire the luxurious interiors — including mosaic-tiled ceilings, grand granite pillars, and a Carrera marble staircase that is alleged to be the largest marble staircase in Europe. Sitting prominently overlooking picturesque George Square, the building has acted as the headquarters of successive councils serving the City of Glasgow for more than a century.
There are some similarities between SEC Armadillo, an auditorium on the Scottish Event Campus, and the Sydney Opera House, with both buildings sporting roofs inspired by vessels of the sea. SEC Armadillo’s unique interlocking curved roof, however, is not inspired by sails but by a ship’s hull — as an ode to the ship-building heritage of the River Clyde district. This unique and impressive structure, designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners, can seat 3000 people in its auditorium.
The streets in Glasgow are laid out in a grid-like system, so they are easy to navigate. Walking is a pleasant way to see sights and get a feel for local life, while there are many buses to transport you to destinations further afield.
Trains are another option. Glasgow is home to the second largest railway system in the UK after London and the third oldest in the world after London and Budapest. Two circular lines operate in opposite directions connecting 15 stations across the city centre and Glasgow West End. Taxis and Uber rides are easy enough to organise.
Glasgow Science Centre
On the opposite side of the river from the SEC Armadillo and looking a little like a silver-foiled snail, set aside at least half a day to experience all the Glasgow Science Centre has to offer. Kids and adults alike can busy themselves with experiments, exhibits, and a varied range of activities, many interactive. There’s also an independently operated IMAX cinema in the gleaming building, for those who need a little time to sit and relax.
Mainland Scotland’s only medieval cathedral to have survived the Protestant Reformation of 1560 predominantly unscathed, the Glasgow Cathedral remains a remarkable example of Scottish Gothic architecture.
Recent accolades have brought the Shawlands to the world’s attention, but the cool cats have known about this southside neighbourhood for some time. This hotpot of cultural influences makes for an interesting mix of cafes, restaurants, shops, and nightlife venues to explore. Start with a latte at Frankie, stock up on sourdough from Deanston Bakery, then peruse the artisanal design goods at Godshot Studio (where you can grab another coffee and some cake). For art lovers, the recently refurbished The Burrell Collection has more than 9000 items to admire, spread across multiple galleries. And for night owls, The Shed is where you dance into the wee hours of the morning.
The Hidden Lane
Shop for unique and custom-made goods lovingly crafted by creative locals along The Hidden Lane in Finnieston. There are around 100 or so studios run by a community of artists keen to share their homewares, jewellery, artworks, and more. Pop in to shop, get a haircut, or glide into that much-needed child’s pose while doing a yoga class. It’s all about relaxation and restoration in this part of town.
ART AND CULTURE
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
The extensive and diverse range of exhibitions at Kelvingrove spans three floors and 22 galleries, with more than 8000 objects on display. Key pieces include artworks by Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Rodin, ancient Egyptian artefacts, and a Spitfire suspended mid-air.
Pollok Country Park
This lush green patch of paradise is only 10 minutes from Glasgow Central and offers visitors what feels like a countryside escape … in town. Spanning an area of over 146 ha, it’s all perfectly manicured gardens and extensive woodlands, with plenty of walking and running trails weaving their way throughout. Pollok House is at the centre of the greenery and offers visitors a glimpse into the bygone days of the Scottish elite.
WINE AND DINE
A brasserie menu is available in the bars, mezzanine, and roof terrace, but the courtyard experience at the Ubiquitous Chip is a notch above. Book a table among the greenery and ponds, then sit back and enjoy Scottish fine dining at its best. With an emphasis on local produce, the dishes are artistically put together, and the drinks list is both extensive and creative.
For an unforgettable dining experience, Cail Bruich will not disappoint. Indigenous produce, like Isle of Skye langoustine and Sladesdown Farm duck flavoured with house-grown herbs, and all kinds of deliciousness feature on the imaginative menu. Every plate comes from the kitchen looking exquisite, and it’s easy to see why Cail Bruich has a Michelin star. Book ahead!
Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel
Glasgow’s only five-star hotel is conveniently located in the city centre and features beautiful Georgian architecture and suave grey-and-pastel-hue furnished rooms. The service is superior, the sustainable seafood delicious, and the spa is currently undergoing an extensive refresh, due to re-open on 10 July 2023.
Featuring 83 luxuriously appointed rooms, including 11 suites, Dakota Glasgow is situated within walking distance of major cultural attractions. Relax in Jack’s Bar with a signature cocktail, then choose from the seasonally inspired menu in Dakota Grill for the perfect night in.
Premier Suites Plus Glasgow George Square
The suites on the top floor (one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and penthouse apartments) of the Premier Suites Plus Glasgow George Square are spacious, fitted out with all the mod cons, and whisper quiet … and yet they’re a stone’s throw away from the centre of town. Pets welcome.