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

From Henry VIII’s bedhead to the paintings of Cezanne. It’s all going on at the Burrell Collection. This colossal collection takes you on a journey through history. It’ll knock your socks off. What’s more impressive – it was the work of just one man. Sir William Burrell, a wealthy industrialist, handed his vast collection of artefacts to the City of Glasgow. And the Burrell Collection museum is the result. Indian rugs to renaissance tapestries. Stained glass to sculpture. Wow.

Glasgow looks like no other city. And this distinctive look is in part down to legendary architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Glasgow born and bred, Mackintosh left his Art Nouveau fingerprints across the city – designing churches, colleges and private members’ clubs. Must-see Mackintosh

  • Glasgow School of Art: Light pours in through huge windows. Japanese detailing and Scottish baronial architecture come together. This iconic building is still a working art school – visit its new Window on Mackintosh visitor centre – it’s amazing.  

Go back to the future at the Riverside Museum.
Step inside this contemporary, jagged-shaped building (dubbed Glasgow’s Guggenheim) and go back in time. Wander a 1900s street, drive a locomotive. Kids (and grown up kids) love cars? See the buses, cars, trains and even skateboards of yesteryear. It’s on the River Clyde, so you get a bracing stroll thrown in. Must-see Riverside

  • The tall ship: Ship ahoy, me hearties. The Glenlee sailed the world after being built in Glasgow in the 1800s. She passed through Cape Horn 15 times and came out unscathed. Now she’s docked outside the Riverside Museum after being painstakingly restored. 

Feeling hungry? Where to eat

An intimate dinner: Unfussy food. Simple décor. Arty vibe. Off-the-beaten track location. Black Sheep Bistro is the thinking person’s spot for a romantic dinner. No ornate interiors, flamboyant food, or fancy waiters. Just really good food. Think Leek and goat’s cheese filo pie or lamb shank in Guinness with colcannon mash. Simple stuff done super well.

A light lunch: Glasgow is an arty, bohemian city. And at Left Bank you can find an arty, bohemian place to eat. Light pouring in through vast windows and couches to flop down on. Tuck into a spiced chickpea and sweet potato burger with rosemary chips (carnivores may prefer the Scottish Angus beef option).

International: Curry gets a tapas-style makeover at Mother India’s Café. Mother India is an award-winning chain of Indian restaurants in Glasgow and Edinburgh. And here it gets the small-plate treatment. It’s a great way to broaden your foodie horizons – from offbeat side dishes like aubergine fritters to curries so hot you’d be scared to order a full plate. Totally pukka grub.

Street food: Far-flung food from the back of a 1970s Citroen van. That’s the order of the day at Breaking Bread. Middle-eastern flavours meet Scottish meat and veg to create totally tasty grub. Think Lebanese chicken with winter squash humous to slow-cooked Moroccan lamb. Yum. 

Retail therapy – where to shop

High-street heaven

A bona-fide Glasgow institution. Find the best of the high street at the Buchanan Galleries. Fashionistas will love the clothes shops – from H&M to Hollister, Warehouse to River Island. Tech types can browse phones and tablets at Carphone Warehouse. Smellies are sorted at Boots. Or do the lot in one place at John Lewis.

Vintage shops, one-off boutiques and homewares

Missing summer? Channel some festival chic at Glasgow’s West End. It’s famed for its vintage boutiques, while there are plenty of trendy pubs to enjoy a pint – we love the charming cobbles of Ashton Lane.

1 shop to check out

  • Starry Starry Night: From 60s hippy chicks and battered Levi’s to clothing from Victorian times. This boutique can suit your every vintage whim.

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 Grosvenor Cinema <>: A great place to spend a rainy afternoon. Huge, comfy leather seats with plenty of legroom. Drinks delivered to your seat. Great West End location on the cobbled Ashton Lane. Grosvenor says ‘we like to do things a bit differently in our little cinema’. They certainly do.

The Necropolis is perfect for a stroll on an autumn afternoon. It’s a Victorian cemetery inspired by the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Cross the ‘Bridge of Sighs’, walk through the ornate gates and wander among the vast monuments. Charles Rennie Mackintosh is buried here. 

Enjoy your trip to Glasgow.