Literary Glasgow

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.

17 Vinicombe St, Glasgow G12 8SJ, UK
This west end bar is an absolute must for lovers of good drink and architecture alike. Situated in a former cinema, the awe-inspiring space spills out over a number of levels, with the central atrium visible from all regions so you can always keep an eye on your planned snog of the night. While owned by central Scotland’s biggest pub chain, you’d never guess this given it’s robust personality with quirks aplenty. Old school video games and a ping pong table will keep the antsy busy, while the cocktails selection should please most. Libations include Beer and Loathing (Four Roses bourbon with basil, honey and some IPA) and the Bookclub Punch, featuring a mix and mash of whatever’s good for the eve. When I was there, the couple next to me was getting completely sauced off a fancy cocktail served in — naturally — an ancient gramophone. When in Glasgow...
Top of Byres Road, Glasgow G12 8QX, UK
Translating into ‘big song’ in Gaelic, Òran Mór is a linchpin of entertainment in Glasgow’s trendy west end. Located in the former Kelvinside Parish Church, this stunner of a venue is host to concerts (think FKA Twigs), plays (the irresistible play, pie and pint combo), and weddings (naturally) in addition to being a charming restaurant. While I tried my first haggis in Edinburgh, it really fell flat in comparison to this one. Though it’s easy to thistle-up at the idea of eating a sheep’s innards, it’s actually of little concern once you’re hungry and diving into a plate of it. Haggis is whipped up from a sheep’s pluck — aka their heart, liver and lungs — and comes hacked up with onion, oatmeal and plenty of spices. Following the makeover it’s pretty unrecognizable. Traditionally it comes served with neeps and tatties, a rather charming way of saying mashed turnips and potatoes. Here the goods arrive drenched in whiskey sauce and chances are, you’ll eat every bite.
12-14 Otago Ln, Glasgow G12 8PB, UK
If it is a nice orderly shopping experience you are after, Voltaire and Rousseau is not the place to go. However, this veritable Aladdin’s Cave of curiosities is an endlessly fun place for committed browsers. It is difficult to find exactly what you are looking for, but chances are you will happen upon something equally interesting in the process.
North St, Glasgow G3 7DN, UK
Distinguished by its green dome, the Mitchell Library is a true Glasgow icon. Not only that, but it is one of Europe’s largest public libraries with over a million items in stock. The library includes a rare and specials collection and family and local history resources.
Castle St, Glasgow G4 0QZ, UK
While Saint Kentigern (alternatively called Saint Mungo)—Glasgow’s 7th-century patron saint—may well be mythical, early Roman Catholics venerated his memory and started a cult on a hillside site where they believe he worshipped. They first built a church, then a full-blown cathedral, much of which dates from the mid to late 13th-century and remains intact to this day. Highlights include the Blackadder Aisle and the crypt with St. Kentigern’s Well. If you have the time, take in the adjacent Central Necropolis, one of the oldest cemeteries in the United Kingdom.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
National Parks