Table of Contents
Perfect Glasgow Itinerary – A Weekend in Glasgow
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, meaning that Glasgow, the largest city is often mistakenly overlooked by tourists. Arguably the cultural capital of Scotland, Glasgow is brimming with fun and possibility.
As a cultural epicenter, bursting with personality and adventure the City of Glasgow isn’t a place to be skipped on your travels. Once a center of the industrial revolution Glasgow has matured into an eclectic hub of creativity. The backdrop of the city is a mix of Victorian grandeur and modern architecture with a vibrant vibe like no other place can offer.
‘People Make Glasgow’ is the city’s slogan and there have never been truer words spoken. The people of Glasgow are renowned for making sure that they welcome every visitor to their home with open arms, fantastic humor, the provide all of the hospitality that you could possibly ask for. Whether you need recommendations, directions or just some good old fashioned conversation – The Glaswegians have got you covered!
Whether you’re interested in jaw-dropping architecture, world-class attractions, trendy markets, fine dining, or eclectic nightlife, Glasgow has something for everyone. In fact, It would be close to impossible for this city to disappoint you.
We are here to make sure that you experience the best of this city that’s brimming with charm and history. Make the most of your weekend in Glasgow with this handy Glasgow itinerary!
Best Things to Do in Glasgow
Kelvin Grove Art Gallery & Museum
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery Museum is an impressive sandstone building that stands proudly in the West End of the city. Built at the beginning of the 1900s, it boasts impressive architecture that is a firm favorite with tourists and locals alike. This free attraction is home to 22 galleries with over 8000 objects, there’s definitely something for everyone.
If you are interested in the work of world-famous designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh then his display in the museum is not to be missed. You can pop in for a quick visit or easily spend the entire day getting lost and taking in the history.
The Hunterian holds one of the most impressive art collections in Scotland. It’s the largest holder of the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and houses pieces by other famous artists including the Scottish colorists, the Glasgow Boys, Rubens, and Rembrandt.
The Riverside Museum
On that banks of the River Clyde, you will find the eye-catching Riverside Museum designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, this masterpiece was commissioned as a tribute to the city’s shipbuilding past. This award-winning, interactive travel museum is home to impressive cars, motorbikes, and even skateboards.
Explore the old streets of Glasgow and get a feel for the city’s history. You can even try your hand at firefighting with their interactive fire engine. If you visit the Riverside museum you will find a selection of futuristic buildings such as the Glasgow Science Centre, SEC Armadillo, and SSE Hydro next door.
By timing this visit well you may be able to catch the River Clyde in the sunset with the impressive ‘squinty bridge and Finnieston crane in the background. You can take it all in from the Radisson Reds Sky Bar if you fancy a little rest.
The Finniestone crane is not a museum but a famous relic demonstrating Glasgow’s glorious history. Standing tall at 175 ft, the crane was used for loading cargo onto ships to be exported around the world. You can catch a glimpse of it while at the Riverside Museum and it was definitely worth a mention.
Situated in the middle of Glasgow’s vibrant Royal Exchange Square Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is both handy to get to and free to enter. The gallery is home to ever-changing exhibitions and works by local and international artists as well as addressing contemporary social issues.
It’s not all modern! The Gallery of Modern Art is housed in a neoclassical building built in 1977 as the townhouse of one of Glasgow’s tobacco lords, William Cunninghame.
Glasgow offers an eclectic mix of modern and historic architecture side by side providing character and dramatic photo opportunities. The Kelvingrove Museum, the GOMA, and the Riverside Museum are outstanding examples of this. Let’s take a look at the other architectural spots of interest!
Glasgow University looks like a scene straight out of a Harry Potter film with many assuming that JK Rowling took inspiration from the university while imagining the magical school of Hogwarts.
Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott who is also responsible for the St Pancras in London this magical building is sure to impress you with its bell towers and turrets. This gothic building has been the playground of several world-changing academics throughout history and it is the fourth-oldest English speaking university in the world.
Take in the views of the entire city of Glasgow by climbing the spiral staircase to the top floor of the lighthouse. This building was originally the headquarters of the Glasgow Herald newspaper and was designed by the Art Nouveau architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who we have already mentioned.
The building was actually his first commission and now contains an exhibition of his work. It’s completely free! This little gem is located on Mitchell Lane which is also home to a few trendy bars such as Tabac, pop in if you have time.
The Glasgow Necropolis
To the east of the city, you will find the dramatic Glasgow Necropolis, a large Victorian garden cemetery. Situated beside Glasgow Cathedral the Necropolis offers stunning and dramatic scenes.
Don’t let the fact that it is a graveyard put you off. The grandeur of the headstones and tombs within the Necropolis offers a peaceful tranquillity that can provide a perfect place for a stroll and reflection with views across the city.
Travel in Circles on the Clockwork Orange
Glasgow has its own underground railway system which only goes around in circles through a small area of the city. Nicknamed the ‘world’s worst subway’ it’s actually the 3rd oldest in the world. You can hop on to get to and from the city center and west end with ease.
If the sun is shining and you fancy some greenery Glasgow has some great parks to wander around. We have picked two for now:
Kelvingrove Park is a classic Victorian park in the city’s west end. It’s home to Kelvingrove museum and a large bandstand which is often used for locals gigs and events. It’s certainly worth a walkthrough if you’re visiting the museum or shopping, eating, and drinking in the vibrant west end.
Pollok Country Park
Take a train a few stops into the south of the city and find yourself in this idyllic Country Park full of woodlands and gardens. If you want to see a Highland cow during your stay in the city then head there for a guaranteed view of the famous ‘coos’. You can walk along the river, explore the grounds of the pollock house, visit the gardens and wander around the park’s museum, the Burrell Collection.
Fancy A Tour in Glasgow?
Hop on Hop Off
Take in the sights of the city via the hop on hop off bus tour. You can buy a one or two day ticket and choose to take it all in, or get off the bus and explore when it takes your fancy.
This open-top bus allows you to visit many of the locations we have already mentioned as well as the Barras, Merchant City, Glasgow Cathedral, and George Square. Book your tickets here >>
Glasgow Central Tour
Head underground to explore Glasgow’s history on this iconic tourist favorite. You will get to wander around Glasgow’s subterranean passageways beneath the city center streets while hearing a selection of fantastic stories of Glaswegian history.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
After qualifying from the Glasgow School of art he quickly became a man who changed the art world forever. As one of the world’s most celebrated 20th-century architects, his legacy lives on throughout the city where he is still known as Glasgow’s ‘father of style’.
If you are keen to take in as much of his work as possible on your visit then we recommend booking onto one of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society’s in-depth city tours. If you are happy with just a little of the Mackintosh experience then we recommend a trip to the Willow Tea rooms instead.
Where to Stay in Glasgow
Glasgow is small enough that you can visit its unique neighborhoods during your stay experience and some of the best-hidden gems for eating out and shopping. This makes it easier to decide where to book your hotel. Whether you venture south to Shawlands, east to Denniston, or further West into Hydnland each area is brimming with architecture, personality, and its own unique charm.
For the best hotels in Glasgow, read our guide with our top recommendations on where to stay in Glasgow.
Restaurants, Bars and Nightlife in Glasgow
Whether you fancy the theatre, a comedy club, dinner & drinks, traditional pubs or clubbing into the ‘wee hours’ the City of Glasgow certainly comes alive at night. Assuming you arrive on a Friday evening, here’s a list of central locations to eat and drink that will offer you a glimpse of what the rest of your weekend has in store.
Allston Bar & Grill
This gem of a restaurant can be found inside Glasgow central station, in fact, it’s underneath with the stairs being found at the main entrance. Specializing in locally sourced Scottish beef with a spectacular gin bar to boot it’s great fueling point to stop off at on the way to your accommodation.
Grand Central Hotel
The iconic Grand Central hotel forms part of the station itself, originating all the way back to 1883 the hotel has retained many of its original features including the grand staircase and the magnificent Champagne Bar with its domed ceiling and marble floor.
Whether or not you are guests at the hotel you are welcome to pop in for a drink or reserve a table in their locally sourced fine dining restaurant. If people-watching is your thing you can grab a table at the window and watch the coming and going inside of the station. If you are lucky you might catch a marriage proposal under the stations ‘big clock’.
Sloan’s Bar and Ceilidh
Glasgow’s oldest bar comes complete with a ballroom where they offer a Friday Night Ceilidh, a traditional social event with Scottish folk music, singing, and traditional dancing. A truly Scottish way to kick off the weekend.
As we mentioned, Glaswegians are funny. If you want to immerse yourself in as much of their humor as possible then check out the comedy listings at the following places during your stay;
The Stand, Glad Cafe, YesBar, Glee Club, The Rotunda, and the Wild Cabaret.
The West End
We have touched on the West End, home to Kelvin Grove Park and museum and known for its trendy shopping. The West End is also one of the best areas to spend an evening eating and drinking. We recommending visiting Byres Road, Finnieston, and Ashton Lane in particular.
This lovely cosmopolitan heart of the city has a range of exceptional bars and restaurants for you to visit. Home to the famous Rogano Restaurant. Built during the 1930s the interior was designed to match the Queen Mary ship as it was being built on the Clyde, the restaurant is the oldest in Glasgow and retains many of its original Art Deco features. If you fancy something more modern, Merchant City square offers a plethora of bars and restaurants under one spacious roof covered in fairy lights.
The Glasgow music scene is world-renowned, if clubbing is your scene be sure to check out what’s on in the following locations during the time of your stay; SWG3, SUB CLUB, The Poetry Club, The Buff Club, and Lah Cheetah. If you just fancy a good dance to the latest hits you won’t be short of options, like the Garage or the Cathouse.
Glasgow Shopping is known to be the UK’s Best! Ok, second best. Only beaten by London’s West End. . . which let’s be honest would be impossible to overtake. Whether you love high street, vintage or designer, Glasgow can help you find some real gems for your wardrobe.
The Style Mile
Known as ‘The Style Mile’ Glasgow Buchanan Street is a street that runs straight through the city from one shopping center to another with an extra one thrown in the middle and some department stores. If you venture around the corner to the merchant city you will find a whole host of hidden designer stores and independent boutiques.
The West End
If rummaging rails rummaging for individual pieces is more your style then head to Glasgow’s West End where you will find a whole host of bohemian, vintage, and independent stores. We also recommended checking out any charity shops you happen across as on this side of the city you could strike gold.
The Barras Market
The famous market is an entire experience all of its own. If you want to emerge yourself in the uniqueness of Glasgow then get down there. Situated in the East End of the city this notably shabby and run-down area offers a piece of ‘pure Glasgow’.
Open every Saturday and Sunday, 1000s of market traders flood the area selling pretty much everything you could want, need or imagine, and lots of other things that would never cross your mind!
If all of the hustle and bustle gets too much then you will find two of Glasgow trendiest hangouts. St Lukes & BAAD next door, both ideal places to eat and drink and take in the very unique interiors. St Lukes is a converted church and BAAD is a large glass atrium boasting a huge beer garden and courtyard.
Whatever area you choose to splash your cash in you can be sure that there’s a vast array of pubs, bars, cafes, and restaurants to choose from when you need a break.
Day Trips From Glasgow
Glasgow is situated in the central belt. It’s location makes Perthshire in the north east alongside the eastern Highlands, Loch Lomond, Fort William, the West Coast and the western Highlands all accessible within a 2 hour drive.
These all make excellent day or half-day trips if travellers are willing to hire a car for the day.
Stirling is a 40 minute drive from Glasgow and makes the perfect half-day, or even quarter-day trip. There are plenty of things to do in Stirling like visiting Stirling Castle, Wallace Monument and David Stirling Memorial.
There is also a fun organized day trip that includes Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond, and a Whisky Tour. You can read more details about the tour here >>
Dundee is a big city in itself and often described as the most underrated city in Scotland. The 1.5 hour drive takes you into Perthshire’s countryside with it’s rolling hills and fields.
Travelers will pass several quaint villages before reaching Dundee. Things to do in Dundee include Broughty Castle, The V&A Museum and Dundee Law which offers a fantastic vantage point to view the Tay Rail Bridge.
Dunkeld and Birnam is where Shakespear’s MacBeth play was set. It takes 1.5 hours to drive to Dunkeld from Glasgow and visitors can enjoy exploring the heart of Perthshire, an area which in itself is considered the heart of Scotland itself.
Travelers things to do in Dunkeld must walk the Hermitage and can also explore Loch Ordie and Birnam hill. The town itself is beautiful.
We know we’ve covered a lot of things to see do and experience in Glasgow and you might be pushed to get it all in within one weekend! You could pin your favorites on a map to plan out your weekend. Whatever you choose to do we promise your trip will be one you’ll remember.
Perfect Glasgow Itinerary – Best Things to Do in Glasgow was written by Graham Grieve, a Scottish based travel blogger. Graham’s blog focuses purely on hyper-local travel in Scotland. With over 25 years of experience traveling Scotland’s cities, towns, and villages Graham is the authority on Scottish travel. Please visit his website My Voyage Scotland, his Facebook, and his Instagram for helpful Scotland travel tips.