When fashioning the ultimate Scotland itinerary, there’s no better place to launch your travels than Glasgow. While its close neighbour of Edinburgh, just an hour east, is the undeniably prettier of the two cities, Glasgow’s where the heart of modern Scotland beats.
What makes Scotland’s biggest city so intriguing isn’t that it’s chock-loaded with typical tourist sites (that’s Edinburgh’s thing), but that it’s ever-evolving from its rich historical past to express the present & future of the Scottish nation. Ready to discover this quirky and often underappreciated Scottish city? Get started with this quick city guide to Glasgow with the best things to do in Glasgow, Scotland.
Ryan is a local who lived in Glasgow and attended the University of Strathclyde. He writes at Treksplorer, a travel blog. Keep reading for the best things to do in Glasgow with some insider tips for visiting Glasgow from a local!
Things to see & do in Glasgow
For travellers needing their European culture fix, there’s no better first stop than Glasgow Cathedral. Originally built in 1136, the cathedral is not only the oldest church in Scotland but the oldest building in all of Glasgow.
Even before entering Glasgow Cathedral, you’ll be dazzled by its ornate Gothic stained glass windows, arched doorways, and spires. The inside is just as spectacular with high arches concealing colourful windows that bathe the church in light. (On the off chance that you get a sunny day in Glasgow, of course!).
While you’re visiting Glasgow Cathedral be sure to descend into the cellar to check out the 13th-century crypt, built to entomb St. Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow.
I know it’s not exactly commonplace to suggest visiting a cemetery on a trip, but even if you only have 24 hours in Glasgow, you can’t miss out on the Necropolis.
The Necropolis, located directly behind Glasgow Cathedral, isn’t your run-of-the-mill graveyard. The site is home to a number of eye-catching Victorian monuments created by renowned local architects & artists of the era.
Unlike traditional cemeteries, the Necropolis is laid out more like a city park than a graveyard. With its meandering pathways and rolling topography, the views over the city—especially with the monuments taking up the foreground—are absolutely spectacular. Visit the Necropolis at sunrise under a light fog to reveal the Necropolis at its most atmospheric.
Whoever said Glasgow wasn’t worth visiting (and, trust me, you’ll run into quite a few!) clearly didn’t spend enough time in Merchant City. This city
Merchant Square: A hidden, covered courtyard off Albion Street with a long-standing history that’s home to a handful of hip restaurants & bars. Time your visit with the weekly weekend craft & design fair to buy some unique handmade local souvenirs.
The Corinthian Club: One of Glasgow’s best places for a classy cocktail in a building that dates back to the mid-19th century. The ornate interior of this former bank & court is an attraction onto its own.
Ingram Street: Merchant City’s premier destination for high-fashion. Browse the boutiques here featuring some of the world’s biggest international fashion brands including Ralph Lauren, BOSS, and Mulberry.
Buchanan Street: Although not technically in Merchant City, you shouldn’t miss a chance to walk around this popular shopping street—just a few blocks west—that’s one of the best places to put your finger on the pulse of Glasgow. Like on nearby Ingram Street, shopaholics will love the selection of goodies here.
With so much action in Glasgow’s city centre, far fewer travellers venture off to the city’s West End. It’s a shame because heading off this way will give you a far better appreciation of the city—and a surprising one at that!
Glasgow’s West End offers a massive contrast to the more rough-and-tumble character of the
Kelvingrove Park: One of the city’s best
The University of Glasgow: Usually a university campus wouldn’t crack a list of top attractions (my former alma mater of Strathclyde in the
Finnieston: A neighbourhood in the southern part of the West End that’s been recently labelled as one of Europe’s hippest up-and-coming districts. This once dilapidated industrial area is now home to some of the city’s coolest music venues, bars, restaurants, and hidden art galleries.
Ashton Lane: Little known to non-locals, this short & atmospheric cobblestoned laneway near Hillhead Station is a chilled-out place for grabbing some tasty local grub washed down with a relaxing sit-down drink. You’ll find some great craft beer in this area.
Where to stay in Glasgow
Even with the size of the city, finding accommodations in Glasgow isn’t as difficult as in other big cities in the UK. For a short visit, I’d offer up the city
If your travel fund is a little tighter, staying in the West End is another superb alternative. Although a bit further afoot, the prices here are more reasonable with a better selection of budget accommodations available.
Wanderlustingk editor Karen stayed near a cozy guesthouse close to the quieter residential area of Partick
Getting around Glasgow
Sticking around the city centre, your best bet for getting around Glasgow is by foot. Most of the top attractions in & around the area are within no more than 10- to 30-minute walk of each other.
If you want to explore the city a little further (such as venturing over to the West End) the Glasgow metro system is another great alternative. Although the subway only has 15 stations over its twin circular lines, most fall within a quick walking distance of many of the main Glasgow points of interest for