Insider Glasgow – what to see and do, where to shop and eat

An edgy arts scene. Achingly hip shops. Galleries chock-a-block with modern art. Hedonistic nightlife. Buildings so distinctive they have their own ‘Glasgow Style’. Down to earth folk. Fabulous grub. Glasgow moves in its own way.

It gave us comedian Billy Connolly too – check out our guide to the best attractions, shops and restaurants in Glasgow.

Need inspiration? What to see

Swot up on art at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Each piece has a short and sweet explainer paragraph – great for pretending you get what the artist meant when you really haven’t a clue.

Feel tiny next to surrealist Salvador Dali’s brooding Christ of St John of the Cross – voted Scotland’s favourite painting in 2005.

  • Interesting fact: An angry visitor tore the Dali painting with a sharp stone – but savvy restorers were able to fix i

The Glasgow Boys changed landscape painting in the late 1800s. Pioneering a more natural feel. Check out their work too.

Glasgow Cathedral really hogs your attention. This big, beautiful and brooding Gothic masterpiece is super-spooky.

Check out the awe-inspiring stained-glass windows depicting the creation, or see if you can count all of the 7 sins represented by figures around the building.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh gave Glasgow its unique look. Born and bred in the city, he pioneered the Art Nouveau movement in the UK.

See how the seminal architect, artist and designer shaped the city’s skyline with a Mackintosh walking tour. Find out more about Mackintosh

Mackintosh masterpiece:

  • The Glasgow School of Art: Regarded as Mackintosh’s masterpiece. With its minimalist exterior and vast windows, the building introduced a new age in 20th century European architecture – it’ still a working art school too, not a dusty museum. A fire destroyed the building’s library in 2014

Feeling hungry? Where to eat

An intimate dinner: Nothing works the magic like a perfectly cooked steak. Wine and dine your better half at the Barolo Grill, where cosy booths and mood lighting set the scene for love. The menu is a mix of grill specialities and Italian favourites like arancini, wood-fired pizza and super-fresh salads. 

A light lunch: Channel your inner hipster at craft-beer hotspot Brewhouse Bar and KitchenDrygate Brewery is famous for its great tasting and distinctively packaged ale, but this bar knocks out great grub too. Its culinary speciality is charcuterie – think salami and pastrami, smoked and cured in-house and served up on sharing platters. Beard and sleeve tattoos optional.

International: The Middle East meets India at Koolba, a Persian-fusion restaurant loved by sussed locals. Think pukka curries and delicately marinated meat, fish and vegetarian dishes - all served up with handpicked wines and local beers. There are some great-value lunch and pre-theatre menus too.

Street food: Slap your senses into gear with some spicy West Indian grub. Fire in Babylon does a heavenly curried goat with rice and peas. Also check out the salt fish and coconut crab – a tastebud tangling alternative to a sandwich or fish and chips. 

Retail therapy – where to shop

High-street heaven

A bona-fide Glasgow institution. Find the best of the high street at the Buchanan Galleries. H&M and H Samuel, Accessorize and Austin Reed, Mango and Moss Bros. Next, Oasis and more. Even has its own John Lewis, and a Fred Perry for the mods. 

Vintage shops, one-off boutiques and homewares

Lose yourself in a funky vintage paradise in Glasgow’s West End. Aside from battered Levi’s and leather jackets, there are stacks of other cool independent shops.

1 shop to check out:

  • Glasgow Vintage Company: Kooky vintagetreasure trove packed with ‘60s suede coats, dapper tweed jackets, and dresses in a kaleidoscope of vintage floral prints. There are kilts to be had too.

Label lovers – designer shopping

Glasgow’s Style Mile is the place to come for designer gear– the square mile in the very centre of Glasgow.

Don’t miss:

Buchanan Quarter:  All polished glass, shiny steel and super, super shops. Scotland’s first Forever 21 store, and Rolex, Cartier and Chanel watches at Watches of Switzerland.

Princes Square: Luxe-label-tastic. Belstaff for biker jackets, Joules for shabby-chic wear, Whistles for preppy ladies wear. And Scotland’s only Vivienne Westwood store. 

Hidden Glasgow

The Tenement House is a National Trust museum that recreates a 19th century tenement flat in Glasgow, down to the tiniest details like working gas lamps and period groceries in the pantry.

Ruchill Church Hall is one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s lesser-known designs, but is packed with original features inside and out. It also has a friendly tearoom.

Enjoy your trip to Glasgow.