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

From its edgy arts scene and hip shops to distinctive, trailblazing buildings – Glasgow moves in its own way. Be inspired with Virgin’s pick of the shops, museums, galleries and grub.

Need inspiration? What to see

Amazing architecture. Glasgow looks like no other city. And this distinctive look is in part down to legendary architect and local lad Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who left his Art Nouveau fingerprintsacross the city. Must-see Mackintosh:

  • Glasgow School of Art: This iconic building is still a working art school – visit its new Window on Mackintosh visitor centre – it’s amazing.  

Mackintosh’s buildings alone are worthy of a trip to the city – find cheap train tickets to Glasgow.

Ancient stuff. See the skeleton of a 300-million-year-old shark that was found by – wait for it – a man walking his dog at The Hunterian. Other highlights at this Glasgow Uni museum include coral found by Scottish fishermen (coral reefs aren’t just tropical, apparently) and a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy. 

The science bit. Get your boffin head on at the Glasgow Science Centre. You can build your own rocket, or run on a giant hamster wheel (really) ‘til you’re worn out at this futuristic science centre on the waterfront.

Feeling hungry? Where to eat

An intimate dinner: In the heart of Glasgow’s bohemian West End is the Ubiquitous Chip. The Chip, as it’s fondly referred to by locals, has achieved legendary status in Scotland. The cracking Scottish grub certainly helps. Treat your date to Ayrshire chicken, Loch Melfort mussels or signature dish venison haggis. Swanky.

A light lunch
: Sumptuous interiors. Cosy chairs. Clanking china. Cup Tea Lounge celebrates the indulgence of the Victorian age. Nibble away at posh sandwiches – think crayfish, and smoked chicken and mango. Wash them down with a Venezuelan hot chocolate (if you’re feeling fancy). How terribly decadent.

International: Belgium is famed for its beers. But you can try its food too at Brel . Get down to this cool Ashton Lane hangout for proper Belgian-influenced tucker. We love the moules frites – Scottish steamed mussels served with homemade soda bread. Wash it down with a beer (when in Rome, or Belgium).

Street food: We’d book train tickets to Glasgow on the strength alone of the Bombay sandwich from Babu Bombay Street Kitchen.

Classic Indian street food fare – dive into this smorgasbord of white bread, layers of green chilli and coriander chutney, potato, beetroot, chaat masala and ketchup. Yum.

Feeling hungry? Book train tickets to Glasgow.

Retail therapy - where to shop

High-street heaven

Glasgow’s Style Mile is the square mile in the very centre of the city. Find the best of the high street at Buchanan Galleries and Buchanan Quarter. John Lewis, River Island, Hollister, Skechers, Paperchase, Boots, Warehouse and Gap are all here. 

Vintage shops, one-off boutiques and homewares 

Once the domain of tobacco lords, Merchant City is now a vibrant shopping hub full of quirky independents. Mr Ben Retro Clothing has everything from period dresses to military regalia. 

Label lovers – designer shopping

Ingram Street: Fashion boulevard chock-full of luxury and niche brands. Find locals’ favourite Cruise, Ralph Lauren and Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green store. Mad for it – yes we are.

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. With cheap trains to Glasgow you can afford to splash out. 

Hidden Glasgow

The Mitchell Library: Jaw-droppingly beautiful both inside and out, the Mitchell is Scotland’s largest public reference library. Bookworms will adore it. Discover one of the world’s greatest collections of Burns’ manuscripts, or trace your ancestors at the family history centre. 

Need trains to Glasgow? We’ll get you sorted…