Glasgow: warm spirits and wonderful buildings

Glasgow offers everything from world-class museums and art galleries to a whole square mile of shops. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed buildings and arty vibe set this stylish city apart.

Here’s our guide to some of the best places for sightseeing, eating, drinking and shopping in Glasgow

Things to see and do in Glasgow

Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art should be on any visitor's to-do list, especially as entry is free. But before you step into the gallery, which contains an extensive collection of both local and international art, you have to pay a visit to the famous 'coned' Duke of Wellington. The statue, which is sporting some rather unusual headgear - a traffic cone - has become a local institution.

The design fingerprints of influential architect and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh are dotted across Glasgow’s distinctive buildings. Mackintosh was born and lived in Glasgow and pioneered the Art Nouveau movement in the UK.

To find out more about the man behind some of Glasgow's best known architecture, take a trip to his former home Mackintosh House. Or why not take a Mackintosh walking tour which will allow you to see his influence on the city's skyline for yourself?

Mackintosh masterpieces:

The Glasgow School of Art: This is regarded as Mackintosh’ masterpiece. With its minimalist exterior and vast windows, the building introduced a new age in 20th century European architecture.

Mackintosh Queen’s Cross: This stark, austere building is the only church designed by Mackintosh. It’s now an arts venue, and is widely regarded among Glasgow’s architectural highlights. 

If you consider yourself a scientist rather than a culture vulture, you may wish to pay a visit to the Glasgow Science Centre. There are hundreds of interactive exhibits which will enthral visitors of all ages.

Things to do at the science centre:

  • Find out all about the human body in BodyWorks
  • Let your imagination run wild in the Be Creative, Be Innovative Zone
  • Be wowed by the latest films showing at the IMAX 3D cinema

Shopping in Glasgow

Glasgow is an internationally renowned shopping destination. Here are a few highlights:  
West End: This is a treasure trove of one-off boutiques and specialist shops. The Glasgow Vintage Company always has racks full of vintage clothes for both men and women, including traditional kiltwear and vintage furs. New stock arrives every week so it's always worth a return visit. Another firm favourite is Retro on Otago Street which offers a wide range of vintage costume jewellery and accessories alongside quirky clothes from the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Style Mile: For high-street favourites and high-end stores, you should head to the famous Style Mile – the square mile in the very centre of Glasgow.

Highlights of the Style Mile:

Buchanan Galleries: This vast shopping centre is a Glasgow institution. Find John Lewis sprawled over four floors, iconic mod fashions in Fred Perry, teen favourites Hollister and high-street faves such as Next and H&M.

Buchanan Quarter: Prefer shopping in the open air? Spend an afternoon wandering Buchanan Quarter. Here you’ll find Scotland’s first Forever 21 store, as well as Paperchase, Vans, Office and more.

Food and drink in Glasgow

If you’re looking for traditional Scottish fare or something more exotic, Glasgow will have a restaurant to suit you.

An intimate dinner. Number 16 is the place to go for traditional Scottish cuisine with a twist, with its inventive dishes earning it a place in 2014's Good Food Guide. The menu is constantly changing but tempting options from the a la carte menu have included slow cooked ox cheek and braised Ramsay's of Carluke pork belly.

An unpretentious spot for in-the-know foodies. Glasgow is home to hundreds of Indian restaurants and one of the best has to be Charcoals, which was recently shortlisted for the British Curry Awards. The likes of Gary Lineker and Chris Hoy have been known to enjoy a curry here.

A light lunch. If you're after a light-bite to break up a day of sightseeing or shopping, newcomer to the Glasgow food scene The Scullery boasts a great lunch menu including pastrami, Swiss cheese and dill pickle and grilled halloumi and beetroot houmous sandwiches as well as a range of small plates perfect for sharing. 

Hidden Glasgow

Fancy wandering off the beaten track? Why not try these three hidden gems?

Trans-Europe Cafe: What's not to love about somewhere that serves great coffee, gourmet sandwiches and a rather excellent Sunday brunch? This European-inspired cafe tucked away on Parnie Street also boasts an impressive board game collection.

Ruthven Lane: You could easily walk past this tiny cobbled lane in Glasgow's West End. But if you do manage to find it you will stumble upon an array of antique shops and independent eateries.

Chinaski's: It's not hard to get a good whisky in Scotland, but bourbon may be a bit harder to come by. Unless you visit Chinaski's, the city's only bourbon bar, that is. Located on North Street, this ultra-cool watering hole features an impressive split-level beer garden and an extensive drinks menu, featuring a large selection of genuine bourbons.


Enjoy your visit to Glasgow.