Glasgow is a place that rewards exploration. At first glance, the city’s imposing Victorian architecture and frequently bleak weather give the impression of an unforgiving and slightly melancholy place. Nothing could be further from the truth! Bolstered by its legendarily friendly inhabitants, the city is one of the most vibrant in Britain. The city center and outlying enclaves like the West End are packed with restaurants, bars, music venues, and clubs. Fabulous architecture, a raft of cultural highlights, and a generous array of green spaces help temper the city’s hedonistic side.


Photo By Robert Colquhoun/Shutterstock


When’s the best time to go to Glasgow?

The best time to visit Glasgow is undoubtedly during the summer months (June to August) when the days are longest and there’s a decent chance of some fine weather. Spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) can also be fine periods for travel. The presence of the Gulf Stream means Scotland never gets unbearably cold, but winter means short days and unpredictable (often bad) weather.

How to get around Glasgow

With the expansion of Edinburgh Airport, it’s no longer the case that Glasgow is the natural air gateway to Scotland. Nevertheless, the city’s main airport (Glasgow Prestwick Airport is located around 50 km from Glasgow itself) continues to thrive, with direct flights to North American, Middle Eastern, and European destinations, along with regular connections to other key British cities.

Glasgow’s city center is laid out in a grid system very much like cities in the United States, which makes exploring by foot extremely easy. For the West End, use the Subway/Underground transport system to get to Hillhead Station. Frequent public buses and suburban trains service the city’s various areas. Taxis are plentiful (if not all that cheap) while regular trains run from the city’s two stations (Glasgow Central and Queen Street) to other destinations within Scotland and Great Britain.

Food and drink to try in Glasgow

Yes, Glaswegians tend to be partial to a wee bit of stodge now and again, and a fish supper washed down with a can of Irn Bru remains a quintessential dining experience here. However, the largest city in Scotland has a sophisticated culinary scene that rivals and often surpasses those in other major UK centers. One of Glasgow’s great advantages is the easy access it has to Scotland’s enviable natural larder, which encompasses everything from west coast seafood to fresh meat and produce. Kitchens across the city are making full use of this bounty in imaginative ways, while cosmopolitan venues serving dishes from all over the world continue to crop up regularly.

Culture in Glasgow

When Glasgow was named European City of Culture in 1990, it was the first non-capital city to be handed the accolade. That it was honored in such a fashion came as no surprise to those familiar with the city’s amazing array of cultural highlights, which span everything from legendary music venues to iconic showcases for fine art. Another string to Glasgow’s cultural bow is its architectural legacy, in which Charles Rennie Mackintosh—one of the city’s most famous sons—looms large. (If you take a fancy to Mackintosh’s fancy Art Nouveau designs, dive a little deeper by booking an expert-led private walking tour, Mackintosh in Context, with our partner, Context Tours.)

While Edinburgh’s annual festival binge in August attracts more press, Glasgow is just as packed with celebrations of culture, music, and other excuses to make merry. The festival calendar kicks off early in the year with Celtic Connections, an annual festival of contemporary and traditional Celtic music. From then on, such lively shindigs are practically a monthly occurrence. Highlights include Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, one of the UK’s boldest visual arts events, and the West End Festival, which involves comedy shows, colourful processions, literary events, and much more.

Local travel tips for Glasgow

- Glasgow’s top cultural attractions are among the best in the UK, and many of them are free to access. Flagship draws that won’t cost visitors a cent include the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, The People’s Palace, Glasgow Cathedral, and the Gallery of Modern Art.
- When locals want to get an inspiring overview of their city they head to Queen’s Park in the city’s Southside. The view from the top of the hill here offers glimpses (on a clear day) of Glasgow University’s gothic spires, the Clyde Arc Bridge, and the roofs of the city’s distinctive tenements.

Guide Editor

Read Before You Go
There’s perhaps no better way to immerse yourself in Great Britain’s vibrant cities, UNESCO sites, and gorgeous countryside than on two feet. Whether taking urban strolls, hiking the coast, or ambling through pastoral greenery, you’ll meet local people, slow down, truly take it all in, and increase your steps—all while lowering your carbon footprint.
Resources to help plan your trip
Glasgow, on the banks of the river Clyde, is the largest city in Scotland. Many people come for the vibrant live-music scene—but if club-hopping isn’t your thing, the contemporary arts, theater, and revitalized cuisine will keep you occupied.
In Glasgow, architecture and history often go hand-in-hand—but a spate of architects have enlivened the city’s landscape with beautiful modern buildings, too.
From cozy tearooms and low-key cafés to modern restaurants and vibrant music clubs, Glasgow’s food-and-drink scene has something for everyone.
Glasgow has traditionally been a febrile stomping ground for creatives. Several of Scotland’s greatest men and women of letters were either born or studied here, while the city itself has starred in innumerable works of fiction, most notably Alasdair Gray’s epic Lanark, and H. Kingsley Long’s memorable depiction of life in the notorious Gorbals slum, No Mean City. With the city continuing to support its poets and writers, Glasgow is a great place to get a literary fix.
Make no bones about it—Glasgow is very much a party city. In fact Glaswegians wear the city’s collection of world-class clubs, bars, and music venues as a badge of pride. Glasgow’s obsession with music shines through at many of its venues, which have a strong bent towards live performances. Expertly mixed cocktails and laid-back hangouts are also prevalent.
Although far from intimidating, Glasgow is still big enough to facilitate several days of exploration. Its different areas all have their own fascinating quirks and highlights. From the gritty East End of the city, containing such places as Glasgow Green and Barrowlands, to city center enclaves such as Garnethill and Merchant City, to the leafier environs of the West End and Southside, the city boasts a wealth of possibilities in every direction.
Wendy H Gilmour blogs on about fashion, travel, and life in Glasgow with furry friends Mr. K & Tux. Among Gilmour’s favorite things about her city is the architecture, from the curved streets in Park Circus to The Glasgow School of Art and Gallery of Modern Art. She also loves the people: “Glaswegians are friendly and bend over backwards to help one another - I love that and think it’s unusual in a city.”
Scotland has one of the strongest drinking cultures in the whole of Europe, and Glasgow is over-subscribed with venues for sinking a few pints. While some of the rougher bars in the city won’t win any prizes for aesthetics, there are some lovely long-standing watering holes where live music and friendly locals add to the general conviviality.
Sport plays a central role in Glasgow life. The city is known for its devotion to football. Scotland’s national stadium, Hampden Park, is hallowed ground for many supporters, as too are Celtic Park, Ibrox, and Firhill—the homes of Celtic, Rangers, and Partick Thistle, respectively. The city’s many parks are top spots for leisure activities.
Glasgow’s reputation as Scotland’s shopping capital is largely based on the excellent selection of cutting-edge international brand names available in the city center. Nevertheless, it could just as easily be applied to the fine range of independent retail options tucked away down narrow lanes and in less commercial parts of town. These range from chaotic bookstores to expertly curated record retailers.
When Glasgow was named a world center of music by UNESCO in 2008 it was deserved recognition of its remarkably diverse and energetic music scene. From fey indie rock bands to relentlessly innovative dance sounds, the city’s musical influence can be felt worldwide. Unsurprisingly, there are numerous locations around the city where this enduring fervor can be sampled first hand.
Scotland’s notoriously unpredictable weather may not always come up with the goods during the summer months, but when it does you can be assured that Glaswegians are receptive to the heat. The city comes alive as bars and restaurants dust off their outdoor seating and festivals and al fresco events spring up all over town. The summer months are also a great time to venture into the great outdoors and with Glasgow in close proximity to the coast and the Highlands the possibilities are endless.
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