Glasgow is Edinburgh’s cooler little cousin. Wired and creative, visit for alternative nightlife, an exciting live music scene, independent restaurants and stunning architecture. Plus the gregarious Glaswegians have been dubbed the Italians of the north. They do seem to love pizza…
Glasgow parties hard. And there’s a sprawling hangover busting brunch culture to revive the city. Start at Stravaigin, the Scottish word meaning ‘to wonder aimlessly with intent’. This homely place serves everything from full Scottish breakfasts to Indonesian nasi goreng. And if you’re not full, try these mouthwatering coconut dahl eggs at Papercup Coffee down the road.
Gawp: street art
Walk off all that brekkie with Glasgow’s self-guided mural trail. While every city has its street art, Glasgow’s is incredible. The standard is so high, that artists jostle for space and have to apply to the council. Each mural portrays what makes Glasgow great. And if you’ve ever wondered what a giant portrait of Billy Connelly looks like, or a hip-hop marionette, you’ll find out here. For free.
Spend: Merchant City Glasgow
Beautiful architecture, independent boutiques and global cuisine. Nothing to see here then. These beautiful restored tobacco warehouses hold the creative heart of the city and designers and collectives flow into its central square. It’s a delightful place to hammer your wallet for a bit, or to window shop if it’s not quite payday. Pop into the breathtaking Courts of Law nearby for an architecture fix.
Lunch: Paesano pizza, Merchants City
Shopping leads to carb loading, that’s just a fact. And with Glasgow’s Italian Centre round the corner, it’s only polite to devour some pizza. Paesano has accrued a number of evangelists now, and devoted patrons often queue out the door. But with all the Neopolitan classics done so well, it’s worth the wait. Authentic sauce, creamy mozerella, crispy dough, delicious cheesecake. Dribble.
Snap: Glasgow Necropolis
An afternoon in a graveyard sounds morbid, but this one is so beautiful. These tombs with a view are the Glasgow Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery perched high near the cathedral. Get here as the light fades for some stunning photo opportunities. You can enter by an ornate 19th century bridge or by decorated Victorian gates. The vast necropolis is more like a city, so take a guided tour to learn more.
Study: Scotland Street School
Get your geek on at this school museum by Shields Street station. Designed by Charles Rennie McIntosh, this former school is a bit of a looker with huge stained glass windows and art nouveau lettering. Leave your iPhone at the door and find out what learning was like across the decades. Vast chalky classrooms are set up for lessons with props and costumes, so you can model a dunce hat and sit in the naughty corner where you belong.
Sugar rush: What the fudge?
We like a café with a rude acronym. Hehe. The perfect place for an afternoon sugar rush, it serves the naughtiest things imaginable. Belgian waffle bites, marshmallow stuffed cookie dough, Oreo cheesecakes can all be slathered with Nutella on demand. You can have a token side of fruit if you must. They’re also fond of Tango, which comes in desert and drink form. Toothbrush. Now.
Gawp: Kelvingrove Museum
A work of art in itself, Kelvingrove is an imposing gothic building made of red sandstone and spires. Inside, its latticed balconies contain more than 8,000 pieces, including Dali’s Christ of St John on the Cross and artefacts from ancient Scotland and Egypt. It’s huge. Big enough to dangle a Supermarine Spitfire from the ceiling and host a stuffed elephant called Sir Roger in the lobby. One of the best Scottish museums.
Jazz hands: Britannica Panopticon
Visit the world's oldest surviving music hall – the Britannica Panopticon. Tucked above the Mitchell’s Amusement Arcade, the handsome hall is so old, that Stan Laurel made his stage debut here, performing a comedy routine. Still very much in use, the Panopolis could be hosting anything from a drag show to a movie night. See what's on.
Salivate: Number 16 Glasgow
You can see why pastry chef Helen Vass won Bake Off Crème de la Crème. Her talent is the talk of the town. You’ll need to book ahead for this award-winning bistro on Byres Road, which uses seasonal produce on its changing menu. And the deserts. Wonka-esque inventions like the Semi-freddo praline popsicle, Malibu pipettes and caramel crispearls, are just pure imagination.
Head to the West End for Brel. You’ll love everything about this former coach house on cobbled Ashton Lane - the heart of stylish Glasgow drinking. It’s relaxed, colourful and warm. Literally warm. There are stoves all over its twinkly beer garden for cosy chugging. And it’s known as the best beer garden in Glasgow in the summer too. Enjoy an informal drink with a friendly crowd.
This granny flat is actually a lively bar on Bath Street. Fun and quirky, it hosts live bands and DJs and is nearly always bouncing. Music is indie and electro and the drinks menu is genius, serving supermarket cider and Lambrini for £1. The club is branching out with classier cocktails. Pop your head in for an ironic jump on the sofa.
Sleep: Hotel du Vin Glasgow, One Devonshire Gardens
Perhaps your only chance to live in a coveted Victorian terrace in Glasgow’s West End. With roll-top baths, rich hues and giant stained-glass windows, the Hotel du Vin feels far removed from its busy surrounds. Finish your day in one of their giant cloudy beds. And start the next one with their award-winning restaurant. Good for star-spotting apparently.
Good to know
Glasgow is just 30 minutes from Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park. Offering spellbinding scenery, this 23 mile long loch is surrounded by rugged highland peaks and passages. You can try a spot of sailing or sit in a boat and let someone do it for you. It’s beautiful and worth the effort.
Train: 4 hours 29 minutes from London Kings Cross
Coach: 9 hours 25 minutes from London Victoria
Plane: 1 hour 20 minutes from Luton