I cannot quite believe it has taken me so long to write a 24 hour guide to Glasgow, having grown up in the city and lived there for more than 20 years I know the place inside out! So it is without further delay that I give you my top tips for enjoying a brief but jam packed 24 hours in my hometown!
Note: If you have read our Edinburgh guide you will see that we use a slightly different format to many other 24 hours guides. presenting you with a few different options so you can mix and match to suit your own personal style and schedule.
Start the morning off with a shot of the strong stuff at Tinderbox in the West End. After all these years it is still one of my favourite coffee shops. If you are in the city centre I also like the CCA Saramango Cafe perfect to get you ready for a day of city striding!
Glasgow is a great city for art, culture and shopping and you can mix the three up till your heart’s content as there are so many things to do within easy walking distance of each other. The city centre is also quite conveniently laid out in a grid system – think Scottish Manhattan, so you can’t really get lost.
Art and Culture
No trip to Glasgow would be complete without seeing at least one or two of the city’s best known buildings by famed architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Sadly one of his best examples, the Glasgow School of Art suffered substantial fire damage last year and is undergoing major reconstruction but you can still see some of his work and is worth visiting.
The Lighthouse just off Buchanan Street is another superb example of his work and make sure you visit the tower at the top which has great views out over the city. For one of his most striking pieces of work Scotland Street School is worth a visit. Easy to get to by subway, alight at Shields Road.
If you like nosying around art galleries, then make your way to the Gallery of Modern Art on Royal Exchange Square which has a number of permanent and rotating exhibitions and is always a really interesting place to spend a couple of hours, a short walk down to the Trongate 103 on Argyll Street is worth a visit too (another contemporary gallery). And one final gallery I just love (I used to work there too many moons ago, is the CCA) they have a mix of rotating exhibitions, a cinema and a great café too!
Shop, Shop, Shop
Glasgow is probably one of the best places for shopping outside London and Manchester. The main pedestrian area of Buchanan Street is where much of the action is. For mall style shopping Buchanan Galleries host all your favourites, The St Enoch Centre has had a major upgrade as well and is home to a number of nice clothes brands now.
For luxury shopping I love Princess Square and House of Fraser (home now to Prada, Gucci and Mui Mui) around the Italian Centre on Ingram street is where you will find a number of the main luxury brand names, as well as two Cruise clothes shops… Get your credit card ready.
Go West End or South Side for boutique style shopping both of which are home to a number of home-grown brands. Byres Road in the west end is peppered with little boutiques and make sure you visit Creswell Lane one street behind which is home to Nancy Smillies shop.
Talking of the West End this part of the city is a great place to chill in the afternoon, home to Glasgow University, lots of cafes as well as shops and a number of the best museums in the city.
For speed Glasgow’s underground is convenient and quick and links up the west end with the city centre in 15 mins. Take the underground to Hillhead and get off there, for nice bars and restaurants. If you want to be a true local head to Ashton Lane just of Byres Road for a few pints in one of the many popular bars (My favourite is Brel a Belgian themed bear bar that is a bit of an institution).
If you love a museum you are in for a treat as Kelvingrove has been voted one of the best in the UK. It’s a short walk from HillHead to Kelvingrove through the university, however you can get the underground to Kelvin Hall and the walk is even shorter. For kids and big kids alike they will love the Museum of Transport a ten min walk from Kelvin Hall positioned next to the Clyde River.
Oh and I nearly forgot the Hunterian at the University which has a permanent Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition.
If you are feeling a bit famished by this point Glasgow also has a great afternoon tea scene, so if you have time for something truly British use our guide to find a great afternoon tea.
For good or for bad Glasgow has a reputation of being a city of drinkers and actually it is completely true… the city centre is awash with great bars and restaurants and whilst we have a name for being a bit rowdy, Glasgow people are some of the most friendly people in the world, so a night out is pretty much a guaranteed good time!
For a cocktail or two here is our guide to the best cocktails in Glasgow, but our goto bars in the city for a pint are Brel (west end), Sloans (city centre), Brew Dog (west end), love the Blythswood Hotel Bar (city centre) and the Brunswick Hotel bar (city centre) is fun on a weekend night too.
Unlike Edinburgh restaurants, which I know inside out, I haven’t been to too many in Glasgow in the last couple of years (I plan on changing that). Some of my firm favourites that I highly recommend are – The Left Bank, Ubiquitous Chip, The Honours Malmaison and of course we are major curry heads so Mother India is well worth eating at!
Staying overnight, well who would blame you! You will need a nice hotel to stay at and we have the guide for that too, read our guide of the best hotels in Glasgow. Our personal favourite is Blythswood Square hotel, which is beautifully decorated and the spa is to die for.