& Why Glasgow Should Be on Your Scotland Bucket List
Is Glasgow on your Scotland bucket list? It should be.
A lot of visitors to Scotland don’t think about visiting Glasgow. Edinburgh? Sure. There’s a lot to love about Edinburgh, from the pretty cobbled streets to the castle ruins on top of the hill. The Highlands? Of course. No trip to Scotland is complete without a visit to the Isle of Skye, or snapping a pic of the ridiculously photogenic highland cows.
But Glasgow? It’s a little underrated.
I can see why. It’s not as charming as Edinburgh, and it’s reputation as the ‘knife crime capital of the world’ (which it’s not any more, btw), all contributes to this image of Glasgow being this kind of gritty, unsafe city.
And yet I love Glasgow. In the nearly a year that I’ve lived here I’ve fallen in love with Scotland’s largest city. From Glasgow’s restaurant scene and street art, to it’s incredible architecture and friendly people, this is a city that grows on you, and surprises you, in the best of ways.
Not convinced? Dive straight in to discover ten reasons why you should visit Glasgow. Because Glasgow defs needs to be on your Scotland bucket list.
10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Glasgow
1. The Foodie Scene in Glasgow is the Best in Scotland
I come from New Zealand, so my standards are pretty high. New Zealand is (I think) well known for its brunch, it’s flat whites and generally great food. I’m only a little biased.
But Glasgow is up there, too.
One of my favourite things about living in Glasgow has been getting to explore the diverse restaurant scene. For a city known as the home of deep fried Mars Bars, there’s a lot of choice, and the food culture in Glasgow is deeply underrated.
From curries and Asian fusion to traditional Scotitsh (think haggis, neeps and tatties) and fine dining, there’s sure to be something that’ll tickle your tastebuds. Vegan? There’s a huge range of vegan restaurants in Glasgow serving up food so good even carnivores will love it, from The Hug and Pint to The 78. Got a sweet tooth? Make sure to check out Tantrum Doughnuts, or head for a churro (with a twist) at Loop & Scoop.
2. Glasgow has incredible (free!) art galleries)
For me, half the fun of visiting art galleries in Glasgow is that the outside is just as impressive as the works of art inside.
For real, every time I walk past Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum I can’t help but admire the ornate building. Built in Spanish Baroque style in 1901, there’s an urban myth in Glasgow that the building was accidentally built back-to-front, with the entrance facing into Kelvingrove Park.
Inside, you’ll find 22 galleries covering everything from Ancient Egyptians to Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Kelvingrove also has a changing programme of cool temporary exhibits.
You should also make sure to check out the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). GoMA is the most visited modern art gallery in Scotland, and with an interesting programme featuring displays of local and international artworks, it’s easy to see why. Outside the art gallery snap a pic of one of Glasgow’s most iconic statues; the Duke of Wellington on horseback with a traffic cone perched on his head. So Glaswegian.
3. It’s known as the ‘Dear Green Place’, and it lives up to its name
When I was deciding where in the UK I wanted to live, one of the things that drew me to Glasgow was this idea of the city being filled with green spaces. Growing up in New Zealand I was always within a 30-minute drive of a beach to explore or forest to hike, and green spaces were important to me.
In Gaelic Glasgow means ‘Dear Green Place’, and the city really does live up to its name. With over 90 parks to explore and Loch Lomond a short drive away, this kiwi gal has felt right at home in Glasgow.
Make sure to check out Kelvingrove Park, an impressive Victorian park home to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and Glasgow University. In summer the open-air bandstand hosts a range of events, and any time the temperature goes above 15°C the park is filled with Glaswegians going ‘taps aff’. The Botanic Gardens and Pollok Country Park are also worth checking out.
4. Glasgow has some incredible architecture
While not as outwardly pretty as Edinburgh, Glasgow has some stunning architecture. Exploring the city’s tenement flats, cathedrals and buildings designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh should definitely be on your list of things to do when you visit Glasgow.
For a look at one of Scotland’s finest medieval cathedrals head to Glasgow Cathedral. Built between the 13th-15th centuries Glasgow Cathedral is stunning, and the neighbouring Necropolis is also worth a visit. For the Outlander fans, Glasgow Cathedral was used in season 2 as the inside of the L’Hopital des Anges.
One of Glasgow’s defining features is the red sandstone tenements used to house the city’s population since the Victorian era. These grand, high-ceiling flats are striking to look at, and I’m lucky enough to live in one. For a look at what it was like to live in a tenement flat in early 20th century Glasgow The Tenement House offers a fascinating window into the past.
5. Glasgow’s Iconic Music Scene
If you like music, you’ll love Glasgow.
As the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow is a hotspot for live performances. With venues ranging from the iconic King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and Nice n’ Sleazy, to Barrowland Ballroom and the SSE Hyrdro, there’s always a gig to go to. And trust me, Glaswegians know how to enjoy a gig.
Regardless of your taste, Glasgow’s music scene will have something for you. From bagpipes to techno, and Lewis Capaldi to Paolo Nutini, Glasgow is not afraid to make some noise.
6. Glasgow is home to the second-best shopping in the UK (after London)
Into shopping? Scotland’s largest city is home to the second best shopping spots in the UK.
Whatever your budget and style, you’re sure to find something you love on the ‘Style Mile’ (lol). Head to Buchanan Street in the city centre to find brands such as Zara, Victoria’s Secret, The White Company and more. Your shopping experience will likely be accompanied by busking bagpipers, but hey, you’re in Scotland.
For something a little more boutiquey head to Hillhead or around Ashton Lane in the West End.
7. There’s always a good pub nearby (for those rainy Glasgow days)
Ok, let’s be honest; the weather in Glasgow isn’t great. As I write this I’m grinning because it’s the first time I’ve seen snow in a city (!), but for the other 11 months of winter Glasgow is wet, grey and cold.
Still, Glaswegians, being hardy folk, have managed to adapt in the best way they know how; by making sure you’re always within 5 minutes of a pub. I joke, but honestly though, the pub scene in Glasgow is great.
To really get amongst it you could opt for the infamous Glasgow ‘sub crawl’. It’s a pub crawl, but with a Glaswegian twist; it takes place on the subway. There are 15 stops on Glasgow’s subway and participants get off at every stop for a drink at the nearest pub.
For something a little less, err, messy, you could opt for a pint or G&T at one of my favourite Glasgow pubs, The Sparkle Horse.
8. Glasgow has great street art
One of my favourite things about Glasgow (besides the other 9 things on this list) is the cool street art found all over the city.
Glasgow’s most iconic mural can be found near Glasgow Cathedral on a gable end on High Street. Depicting a modern day St Mungo and the story of The Bird That Never Flew, this stunning mural is sure to please street photographers everywhere.
To discover more works of art around the city follow the City Centre Mural Trail. Keep an out for Bubbles, The World’s Most Economical Taxi and Tiger Style (but there’s also endless other pieces waiting for you to stumble across).
9. Glasgow University is basically Hogwarts
Ok, I’ve already mentioned Glasgow’s architecture, but this building is my favourite in the city and deserves a mention of its own. Hey, it’s my list.
Located in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow’s West End, the university was founded in 1451 and is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world. While it’s still a working university today, wandering the campus is one of the things you must do in Glasgow. Even though Glasgow University was never actually used in the films, it bears a striking resemblance to Hogwarts.
While at Glasgow University make sure to check out (and snap a few pics of) the cloisters. These impressive archways are architecturally stunning, and eagle-eyed Outlander fans will recognise them from the show.
10. Glaswegians are the friendliest people in Scotland
Consistently voted as one of the friendliest cities in the world and with a slogan that literally reads ‘People Make Glasgow’, you kind of know what you’re in for with Glaswegians. But Glasgow really is home to the friendliest people in Scotland.
With their broad Glasgow patter and insatiable love of drinking, Glaswegian’s can’t help but make you feel welcome. Sure, come for the restaurants, the shopping and the pub scene. Explore the city’s art galleries and street art, and go ‘taps aff’ in one of Glasgow’s parks, but stay for the people. Glaswegians are for sure one of the top reasons why you should visit Glasgow.