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How to discover another side of Glasgow

Against a striking backdrop of world-renowned architecture and history, this thriving metropolis is leading the way for sustainability. From a nightclub that generates power from its dancers, to stunning art trails, urban watersports and mountain biking, Glasgow champions big adventures with tiny carbon footprints – getting you closer to the people and places that make it so special. Feed your curiosity with these alternative things to do, and discover how you can see the city from surprising new angles.

Unique things to do in Glasgow

 Floating Heads Installation by Sophie Cave at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland.

Glasgow is going green – in fact, it’s aiming to be completely carbon-neutral by 2030. But the city’s eco-ambitions aren’t only about securing a better, brighter future: they’re making it a brilliant place to visit right now, bursting with energy, creativity and innovation. You can follow free walking trails to see striking street art and sculptures outdoors, explore its marinas and waterways by paddleboard, or pedal the city’s 185 miles (300km) of cycle paths on one of the Glasgow’s numerous rental bikes.

The city’s best-loved icons are embracing sustainability too, with the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Glasgow Science Centre winning awards for their ambitious carbon-cutting efforts. The latter’s ‘Powering the Future’ exhibition dives into the remarkable science behind renewable energy. Nightlife venue SWG3 is even aiming to become the world’s first club to generate its own power by harnessing the body heat produced at its gigs and parties, in an effort to be net-zero by 2025. What better excuse to grab your dancing shoes?

Whether you love music, architecture or football, Glasgow’s themed walking tours will get you under the skin of the city – and its foodie scene is best explored on-foot too. The Wee Food Tour takes in six little-known restaurants, shops and eateries, with the chance to get your teeth into more than 20 different Scottish delicacies. Better yet, each tour includes a donation to a food bank charity, helping you to give back and support the local community. Alternatively, explore the city with Invisible Glasgow, a social enterprise with tours led by Glaswegians who have experienced homelessness. As well as seeing the city from a new perspective, you’ll be part of a project that really does change the lives of its guides.

The Burrell Collection, Glasgow. Statue on wall.

Hidden away behind the elegant medieval Glasgow Cathedral is a beautiful Victorian necropolis, the final resting place of many notable locals. Tours are available, with proceeds used to conserve this tranquil spot. Meanwhile, the Glasgow Botanic Gardens host live music and outdoor theatre shows throughout summer, and Pollok Country Park (just south of the city) boasts not only a stately Edwardian manor, but mountain bike trails and The Burrell Collection art gallery, which is set to reopen in March.

If you love a good ghost story, don’t miss the Glasgow Central Museum, an underground emporium dedicated to the city’s main railway station. From the 1963 Great Train Robbery, to grisly myths and A-list passengers, the railways of Glasgow Central are full of weird and wonderful history. Book a behind-the-scenes tour, which ventures deep into the station’s vaults and disused platforms, to uncover a side of Glasgow that few people – even locals – have ever explored.

Glasgow’s quirkiest places to stay

The Pipers Tryst Hotel isn’t just a friendly city-centre retreat: it is run by the National Piping Centre, a museum and college dedicated to Scottish bagpiping. From the tartan bedspreads to its traditional Highland breakfasts, every inch is pure Scotland – with all profits helping to support local musicians and preserve the art of bagpiping.

For a grander getaway, ABode Glasgow occupies a three-storey Georgian townhouse, complete with original stained glass windows and local art at every turn. The building was the childhood home of former British Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, but today’s design is modern, fresh and wheelchair-accessible. The Pie & Brew restaurant serves hearty Scottish pies made to order.

With the feel of a country house, The Flower House is set in an exquisitely restored Victorian property in the heart of the city, with a handful of unique bedrooms: think glittering chandeliers, antique furniture and Egyptian cotton sheets. In true B&B style, breakfast is made-to-order and served to your room by the Scottish owners.

Where to dine differently in Glasgow

Whether you’re sipping cocktails at The Finnieston Bar, or tucking into the Michelin-starred menu at Cail Bruich – with its sustainably-sourced ingredients and minimal food miles – Glasgow’s restaurants are deliciously different. The likes of Tiffney’s and Gamba celebrate the bounty of natural produce on Glasgow’s doorstep, serving locally-caught seafood and Scotch grass-fed beef, while Stereo’s tapas-style dishes are 100 per cent vegan.

At The Dockyard Social you’ll find Scottish craft beers, fancy cocktails and up to ten globetrotting street food stalls. Set in a cool converted warehouse, it’s open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so it always feels like a party: ideal for catching up with friends, or making new ones!

Set beneath beautiful brick arches, The Platform is an airy, atmospheric indoor dining venue, complete with its own microbrewery (with tables overlooking the barrels). Here you can sample food stalls offering everything from fish and chips to Thai, Indian and vegan dishes, all served in compostable vegware.

Getting there and around

Glasgow Airport is Scotland’s second busiest international hub, and is just a 15-minute bus ride from the city centre. If you’re travelling from London, Avanti West Coast runs the quickest service, taking around four hours and 30 minutes. Edinburgh is just 50 minutes away, while the city also has connections to Birmingham and Manchester, among other hubs.

The fastest way to get around Glasgow is by Subway: at peak times, trains run every four minutes, serving stations in key parts of the city. The circular route links West End Glasgow, home to the Riverside Museum, with a host of other top sights. Above ground, First Bus services extend throughout the city, while it is also easy to explore on foot, or pick up a rental bike from OVO.

 

Some restrictions on travel to and around Britain may be in place due to Covid-19. You are encouraged to always check individual websites for the latest information, as details are subject to change.

11 May 2022(last updated)

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