Looking to escape somewhere new this Autumn? Why not try Glasgow, a European City of culture, and undoubtedly the friendliest city in Scotland.
There’s a near unlimited list of things to discover in Scotland’s biggest city. From the city’s gothic architecture to it’s pubs and music scene, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of my favourite places I found on my last visit. All of these attractions are within a short walk bus ride from the City Centre.
1. The view from The Lighthouse
The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Design and architecture, sits right in the heart of Glasgow City centre. As you ascend the Lighthouse via it’s escalators you’ll find the Museum of Architecture, showcasing the work of renowned designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Continue on up, and you pass through exhibition spaces, featuring projects and work by local designers and students. When you reach the top, you’re rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of Glasgow. You can see all the city’s major landmarks up here, including the distant Cathedral and the huge glass roof of the Central Railway Station.
On your way out, shop for local souvenirs in the gift shop, and crack out a tune on the Ming Piano in the reception area.
2. Shopping on Buchanan Street
Buchanan Street is the beating heart of Glasgow’s shopping district, boasting a huge range of high-end retailers and several shopping centres. Well renowned for it’s Victorian Architecture, Buchanan Street is the second busiest shopping street in the UK, after London’s Oxford Street. You will also find the Lighthouse just off the main drag, on Mitchell Lane. In addition to the stores along the road, Buchanan Street is home to two massive shopping centres, St Enoch and the Buchanan Galleries.
3. Visit the Botanic Gardens
The Glasgow Botanic Gardens are found in the very cool West End of the city. The Glasshouses contain a huge variety of plant species from around the world in an indoor tropical habitat. You might want to take your jacket off , as its pretty warm inside. Don’t miss the ‘Killer Plants’ room, where you can get face-to-face with the world’s rarest species of carnivorous plants.
The Gardens themselves have plenty of benches and are great for a brisk walk in the autumn (or a relaxing sit-down in the summer). The area is separated to cultivate different plant life, including a living history garden where you can see what Britain’s gardens have looked like throughout the ages. If you look hard enough, you’ll even see the long abandoned ruins of the Botanic Gardens Railway station, a semi-covered underground railway line that closed in 1964.
4. See the Cathedral from the Necropolis
The Necropolis is a giant Victorian cemetery that towers above Glasgow’s Medieval Cathedral, and affords you another fantastic (and totally free) view of the City. About 50,000 notable individuals have been buried here, but the mish-mash of monuments and tombs are dwarfed by the tallest monument – to clergyman John Knox. Between the Necropolis and Cathedral you will cross the Bridge of Sighs (so named because of the sadness of those crossing it). From here you have a great opportunity to get a panoramic picture featuring both the Cathedral and Necropolis.
The Cathedral itself dates back to 1197, and is of a distinctive medieval style with a striking green roof (it looks particularly good when you switch on the ‘Chrome’ filter!)Not all of the Cathedral is from the Medieval era. Glasgow Cathedral is well known for having some of the finest post-war stained glass windows in Britain.
Plenty of the surrounding buildings are also pretty interesting, including Provand’s Lordship, the oldest building in Glasgow, which is a 2-minute walk from the Cathedral entrance.
If you want to go inside the Cathedral itself, be sure to arrive at an allocated visit time.
Did you know: Glasgow’s George Square stood in for Philadelphia in the opening scenes of the Movie ‘World War Z’ in 2013?
5. Live music on Sauchiehall Street
Sauchiehall Street is the beating heart of live music in Glasgow. The city has been responsible for some truly world class indie bands throughout the years (Franz Ferdinand, the Fratellis and Primal Scream to name but a few), and Sauchiehall Street is literally buzzing with amazing venues where you can catch a gig. I recommend The Glasgow Art Club for performances by some brilliant up-and-coming local artists. I saw a band called Pronto Mama here in September.
When the show’s over, head to Firewater and dance to the best Indie tunes out there, played every night by in-house and guest DJ’s. Visit on a Thursday night to meet an awesome DJ called Mhazz, she spins the perfect rock and roll playlist every week.
6. Go Vintage Shopping
The West End of Glasgow has some pretty cool vintage stores tucked away, crammed with retro bargains from bric-a-brac to braces.
Start on the Great Western Road, where you’ll find Glasgow Vintage co. Opposite Hillhead subway you’ll find Ruthven Lane. This is a literal treasure trove of vintage clothes, books and records. As you enter, you’ll pass Relics. This is probably the best bric-a-brac shop i’ve ever been in, crammed with everything from clock radios to guitars to glassware. They don’t appear to have a website, but you can read more about the store here. There are numerous other boutiques to throw yourself through down here. I spent about £20 on records the day I visited here. Give yourself an hour or so to flick through them all.
There are a lot of cats hanging around here.
7. Visit the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)
The Gallery of Modern art (GoMA) is nestled right in the city centre, and boasts an ever-changing array of temporary exhibitions. I was weirdly satisfied to actually see the statue of the Duke of Wellington outside with the traffic cone on its head, as i’ve seen this image literally everywhere and always wondered where it was. The building itself is pretty impressive too, and dates back to the 18th Century. Entry was free, this is definitely one for your list.
Getting to Glasgow
Trains from London to Glasgow arrive at Glasgow Central, Trains to and from Edinburgh run from Glasgow Queen Street. The 2 stations are approximately 5 minutes walking distance from each other.
Check out the Best Restaurants near Glasgow Central Station.
Contributor: Chris Lomas