Comprising of various smaller districts, the west is a great place to discover the distinctive characters of Glasgow’s neighbourhoods. Served by great transport links, it’s also easy to get around and explore by foot.
It might be steeped in history, but the west has embraced change and there’s no better example of this than the rise of Finnieston as one of Glasgow’s trendiest places to visit, especially if you’re looking for some food and entertainment. Nearby, The SSE Hydro arena is one of the world’s busiest live entertainment venues, hosting global stars and always featuring a fantastic programme throughout the year. With the main Finnieston “strip” located just a short walk away, it's always bustling with concert-goers and has subsequently led to a bunch of great places to dine springing up here.
And it’s a tough choice for those who only have an afternoon or evening here, as there’s a plethora of eateries to choose from. Consider the pioneers, those who were here before Finnieston was rated as “the hippest place in the UK” by The Times and as one of the "top ten coolest neighbourhoods in Europe" by The Independent – the likes of Fanny Trollopes, Crabshakk, Lebowski’s and Piece are old favourites and always popular with the locals.
Newer additions include the Michelin Bib Gourmand awarded Ox and Finch, and also The Gannet and Alchemilla. Those looking for something more relaxed should seek the comforting vibes of The 78, a vegan bar and restaurant with a great menu, dog-friendly, and live music. If you’re planning where to dine in advance, make sure to check out Six by Nico, one of Glasgow’s hottest restaurants boasting a unique concept. Every six weeks, the restaurant changes its menu to a completely new theme, comprising of six delicious courses. Tables book up ridiculously fast so don’t dally if you’re interested! Those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss Tantrum Doughnuts for amazing hand-made doughnuts with flavours like pistachio and hibiscus, crème brulee and banoffee pie, Tantrum truly offers a doughnut you won’t get anywhere else.
But it’s not all food and drink – spare some time for a wander down the Hidden Lane, a not-so-secret community of artists, designers, musicians and more. Enjoy a slice of cake and a brew at The Hidden Lane Tearoom, or maybe a wander round the independent local traders – there’s always lots going on and something to pique your interest in the lane. Finnieston’s evening entertainment comes by way of SWG3, a multipurpose venue that regularly hosts gigs, exhibitions, clubs and more, as well as the area’s pubs like the Ben Nevis, where you can hear live traditional music in a great setting.
While you’re here, don’t miss the must-visit Riverside Museum right on the River Clyde, designed by the late Zaha Hadid. A former title holder of European Museum of the Year, this distinctive building houses all types of transport with plenty of vintage cars and bikes to pore over. There’s even a cobbled street depicting life in Glasgow from the turn of the 20th century, where you can wander in and out of recreations of old shops, whilst passing by horse-drawn carriages.
You’ll also get a sense of history when you step out of the museum too with the Glenlee (known as The Tall Ship) berthed right outside. Launched in 1896 and having circumnavigated the globe four times, she now sits proudly outside the museum as a popular visitor attraction. As one of the few remaining Clydebuilt ships that are still afloat, take the opportunity to step aboard a piece of maritime history.
And just a short stroll away from the museum is the newly established Clydeside Distillery (prestigious five star rating from VisitScotland), an exciting addition to Glasgow’s whisky scene, with spectacular Clydeside views. Take a tour of the distillery to see the craftsmen hard at work creating a new single malt whisky and savour some of Scotland’s best whisky, which can be paired with artisan chocolate if taking the Whisky and Chocolate Tour.
The Clydeside Distillery is proud to call Glasgow’s West End home. From its friendly and hospitable people, to its stunning architecture and fascinating history, this part of the city really is a gem to be savoured and enjoyed.
Bridgeen Mullen, Visitor Centre Manager at Clydeside Distillery
Continuing along Argyle Street, you’ll soon see the magnificent Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on your right. As one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions, the museum's many accolades, including being rated the number 1 art museum to visit on TripAdvisor, means that it is simply a must-see attraction in Glasgow. Opened in 1901, this local treasure is stunning inside and out, with 22 galleries presenting a little bit of everything, from Ancient Egyptian artefacts, a Spitfire, Monet, Renoir, van Gogh, and so much more. Must-sees include Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross, the Glasgow Boys gallery, and the Charles Rennie Mackintosh collection of furniture and art on display. Lastly, you might also want to stay for the organ recital (at 1pm Mon-Sat and 3pm on Sundays) as you take the time to marvel over what is one of Europe’s finest art collections.
After a couple of hours here, there’s plenty of choice for what to do next nearby. Take up a seat at Brewdog just opposite the museum for a refreshing craft beer before exploring the refurbished Kelvin Hall. This fantastic venue, which holds a coveted five-star rating from VisitScotland, is home to state of the art collections from the University of Glasgow, the National Library of Scotland, and Glasgow Museums. Sound like a lot to take in? Don’t worry - tours are also free of charge!
Beautiful Green Spaces
Just a stone’s throw from the museum is Kelvingrove Park, a relaxing green space that is a superb example of a Victorian park. A stroll around here will reveal its many highlights – bowling greens, tennis courts, a skatepark, and the restored Kelvingrove Bandstand, now home to the Summer Nights mini music festival that brings open-air music back to the park.
The park also serves as a picturesque backdrop for the nearby University of Glasgow, yet another unmissable attraction in the west. Look for the tower while you’re in the park and it’ll bring you to the university grounds, where you’ll see the main building in full view. Designed by George Gilbert Scott in the Gothic revival style, it’s a truly stunning piece of architecture. Many have described it as a real-life Hogwarts and you’ll find that this feeling only intensifies as you explore the Cloisters and quadrangles of the university. And it’s not just Harry Potter – the iconic columns of the cloisters have also been featured in films like Cloud Atlas and the Outlander series too!
The University also houses the Hunterian Museum and Hunterian Art Gallery, famed for being the oldest museum in Scotland with a brilliant collection. Pop in to see artefacts from the Antonine Wall, an entire section dedicated to zoology, and an extensive art collection. One of the jewels of the Hunterian is undoubtedly the Mackintosh House, a meticulous recreation of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s home, Glasgow’s most famous artist, architect and designer. Complete with original fixtures and furniture designed by Mackintosh and his wife, artist Margaret Macdonald, it’s as accurate as can be and presents a beautiful and unique glimpse into the life of Mackintosh. *A redisplay of the Hunterian Art Gallery permanent art displays means that some sections will be unavailable until September 2019. The Hunterian Museum and Mackintosh House remain open as usual.
With the university’s Gothic skyline at its heart, Glasgow’s West End offers an exciting mix of ideas and activities. Museums, galleries, restaurants and entertainment venues compete for attention. But, for the time-strapped visitor looking for something with a lasting impact, I recommend the inspirational calm and beauty of the Mackintosh House.
Nigel Goldsmith, Museum and Gallery Assistant, The Mackintosh House
If you’re having a stroll around the University, you might also want to pop down to Gibson Street nearby for the chance to get a table at Stravaigin, a Glasgow institution that serves quality Scottish fusion food with a “think global, eat local” philosophy. The rustic interior and warm atmosphere is inviting with no pretension, and there’s a dedicated and extensive brunch menu on Sundays – need we say more? Just a few minutes’ walk from Gibson Street is the critically-acclaimed, much-loved Eusebi’s Deli, a family run deli with a rich history and a genuine passion for serving the best of Italian cuisine. Whether you’re just picking up a coffee, sampling something from the deli or having a proper meal in the restaurant, it’s a visit you are sure to enjoy.
Bordering this street is Woodlands, another of the west's smaller neighbourhoods that you can easily cover off with a couple of hours. Pop into The Stand if you’re looking for some comedy, with regular shows on every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night packed with local comedic talent. Tiffney's Steakhouse is one of the best places to go for steak and expect a warm welcome from this cosy restaurant inspired by the owner's Irish American heritage. For more history make a stop at the Arlington Bar for a drink – it’s reputedly the resting place of the real Stone of Destiny, which is on display along with the story of how it got there too. Those looking for some food to go with their drink are also well served by The Drake, an independent gastropub with exposed stone walls, tweed-covered seats and a coal fire for a cosy feel. As you’re exploring Woodlands you might have also seen a small statue by the side of Woodlands Road – this is Lobey Dosser, sheriff of the fictional Calton Creek from Scottish cartoonist Bud Neill. Claim to fame? It’s believed to be the only two-legged equestrian statue in the world!
Byres Road and the Lanes
Afterwards, we’d recommend you make your way towards Byres Road, sometimes referred to as the main artery of the west, and it’s easy to see why with a ton of places to explore on this bustling street. Go shopping for some bargain finds in the various charity and vintage shops dotted around the area, enjoy a bite to eat at top-rated café Kember & Jones, or pick up an artisan cheese from George Mewes. Ice cream lovers are also well looked after here with both Nardini’s and Crolla’s serving their popular gelato.
Good News: the weekend is rolling in and so are our freshly baked cakes, pastries and bread 🙌 hope to see you all soon! x K&J pic.twitter.com/MnacbNkOHn
From here, take the opportunity to wander off the main road and into the lanes surrounding Byres Road for a more independent take on food and drink and shopping. There's Number 16 on Byres Road, which is one of two Glasgow restaurants to make it into the UK Top 100 list from reservation site OpenTable (2020). Head towards Ashton Lane for a bite to eat and to see an iconic Glasgow location - this cobbled lane contains a collection of popular restaurants and bars but somehow still feels like a bit of a hidden gem once you’re there. You might want to time your visit for the early evening to enjoy the fairy lights hanging over the lane, and to also check out The Grosvenor, a venue that pairs a cafe with a small intimate cinema for an experience you won’t find in any multiplex. Screening the latest blockbusters alongside arthouse and classic films, pick your film, grab a drink at the bar and settle down on the spacious couches or individual seats and enjoy the extra legroom. Foodies won’t want to miss out on the Ubiquitous Chip, one of Glasgow’s most famous restaurants. Serving contemporary Scottish cuisine, it incorporates the west's leafy vibe in its interior, where you can dine in a courtyard surrounded by plants and greenery. Or if what you’re looking for is a refreshing pint, pop into the Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchen for great pub grub and an extensive selection of craft beers brewed on site. Try the Ashton Lane Pale Ale or something more experimental – highlights to date include a Marshmallow Milk Stout and a Mango IPA.
And once you’re finished here, check out De Courcy’s Arcade in Cresswell Lane to find a hub of indie shops, a vintage tearoom, and the always interesting ArtPistol art gallery to spend some time in. And that’s just the beginning – just a five minute walk away is Ruthven Lane and Dowanside Lane, home to some of Glasgow’s most unique shops. Peer into Relics and feast your eyes on all manner of bric-a-brac, or sift through the latest men’s fashion at W2, hand-picked by owner David Mullane.
Elsewhere, take the opportunity to pore over the huge selection of comics and collectables at City Centre Comics, or find a vintage gem at Starry Starry Night. And if you can’t get enough antiques, make your way towards Ruthven Mews Arcade for a small but perfectly formed collection of ten antique and interior shops, covering all aspects of vintage wares. A relatively new addition to Ruthven Lane is First Trade Days a beautiful curated selection of homewares from independent Scottish makers.
Take a break from sifting through all those antiques at one of many great eateries located in the lanes. Recently named one of the '15 coolest places to eat around the world' by travel magazine Wanderlust, The Hanoi Bike Shop offers tasty traditional Vietnamese fare, whereas The Bothy serves up classic and fresh Scottish cuisine, a perfect choice for those looking for a menu full of quality, locally sourced food and drink.
Venturing further west, you may want to spare a little time to explore Partick, recently voted as one of the UK’s hippest neighbourhoods by TravelSupermarket and rightly so with its eclectic yet friendly character. Praised for its quality coffee shops and restaurants. Check out Meadow Road Coffee for an inviting indie café with great food and coffee sourced from local roasters Dear Green Coffee.
Over in Partick’s Mansfield Park you’ll find a busy farmers market on the second and fourth Saturday of every month bringing locally sourced fresh fruit and veg for reasonable prices. If you’re planning to stick around for dinner later in the day, you’ll likely need a moment to consider all of the great options available to you in Partick! You could pick Celino’s, a local east end Italian favourite that’s since expanded to the west, try the delicious pan-asian fare at Nam Tuk Tram Stop, enjoy an authentic Mexican meal at Bibi’s Cantina, or maybe the newcomers at Partick Duck Club will tempt you with a confident menu full of excellent Scottish produce. Afterwards, round off a visit to Partick with a trip to The Lismore, an old-school pub named after a small Hebridean Island known for its great atmosphere and traditional music.
If you’ve decided to visit Partick, this also presents a great opportunity to make the short journey over to Victoria Park for a visit to one of Glasgow’s prettiest parks. Inside you’ll find heritage walks, landscaped gardens and floral displays, as well as Fossil Grove, Glasgow’s most ancient visitor attraction. The grove contains eleven fossilised tree stumps from the remnants of an ancient forest, originally formed some 325 million years ago and now a site of special scientific interest. Close to the park is Scotstoun Stadium, home of the Glasgow Warriors rugby union side. With matches regularly selling out, the electric atmosphere inside the stadium during match day is something that any sports fan would enjoy, so keep an eye on the fixture list!
Time to Stop and Stare
Don’t forget to add the northerly end of the neighbourhood to your itinerary with a trip down Great Western Road, one of Glasgow’s longest roads and packed full of places to discover. Hop off at St George’s Cross Subway and head towards the landmark St Mary’s Cathedral to admire this beautiful George Gilbert Scott designed building, but take note of the Hug and Pint before you get there – the popular pub and live music venue serves a top selection of beers and a Pan-Asian inspired menu too.
As you move down the road you’ll no doubt catch the colourful products of Timorous Beasties on display at their showroom. This internationally acclaimed studio produces stunning, often surreal wallpaper and fabrics from the minds of Alastair McAuley and Paul Simmons, two graduates from the Glasgow School of Art. Well worth exploring for the house proud looking for furnishings that are a bit more unique.
Further down Great Western Road, be prepared for some slight déjà vu as another beautiful Neo-Gothic church rears into view - this time it’s the former Lansdowne Parish Church, now home to Webster’s Theatre and Bar/Bistro. Having been restored to an exceptional standard, you’ll find the décor full of nice touches like the original brass light fittings, and seating made from the church’s pews. And just across the road, take a peek inside Paulin Watches for an opportunity to take a stylish, Glasgow-made timepiece home. With a number of different styles and the option to create your own bespoke watch, it’s well worth a visit.
Once you’re back on track, keep a look out for the Kelvinbridge, a cast iron road and pedestrian bridge that crosses the river Kelvin. The Kelvinbridge area has recently been named as one of the 'Top 50 Coolest Neighbourhoods in the World' by Time Out Magazine (2019). Taking the impressive number 37 spot, the area is praised for being packed with historic architecture, lush green spaces, a thriving cafe scene and warmth of community. Quench your thirst at Inn Deep, an inviting pub with a focus on top quality craft beer and always featuring an obscure import or two. Built into an arch beneath the bridge, it boasts a riverside terrace leading into Kelvingrove Park. And on the same tenement block, pop into Valhalla’s Goat for even more rare finds, with floor to ceiling shelves stocked full of gins, spirits, wines, and beers. On the same tenement block you’ll also find Roots, Fruits & Flowers, voted Glasgow’s best independent shop by the BBC Good Food Show. It’s where to go for great café style food and then a browse in the deli/shop for all sorts of organic, wholesome goods.
Continuing along, stop for a coffee at Papercup before heading towards the tall spire of Oran Mor, yet another restored church (the former Kelvinside Parish Church) now home to two bars, a restaurant, a nightclub, and the brilliant A Play, A Pie, and A Pint, the UK’s most successful lunchtime theatre and delightfully self-explanatory. With a varied programme, there’s bound to be a play you’ll enjoy along with a freshly pulled pint and a delicious pie to go with it.
And while you’re here, this is also the perfect chance to see the Sixty Steps, a true hidden gem that many locals likely don’t even know about. Designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, another of Glasgow’s great architects, this sweeping stone staircase was his only public structure and well worth seeking out for those who love architectural quirks.
Just a few minutes walk from here is Queen Margaret Drive, where you’ll find the cosy North Star Café and its passion for good food and good service, alongside the William Café, named as one of the 50 best places for breakfast in the UK by the Guardian and a top pick for brekkie or brunch. Just a little bit further along is Francos Bar, famed for a scene in Trainspotting, but has now undergone a transformation into a family friendly pizza bar and kitchen.
Close by is the meeting point for Glasgow Bike Tours, a great way to get around the city and see its famous sights from a two-wheeled perspective. So why not keep your fitness tracker happy and pick one of their tours for something a little bit different!
Botanic Gardens and Kibble Palace
Eventually the path leads you to a beautiful park - the Botanic Gardens. Undoubtedly one of the finest gardens in Glasgow, the Botanics is an award winning park with a world rose garden, tree trail, and children’s play areas, crowned with the Kibble Palace. This A listed Victorian glasshouse is considered one of the finest glasshouse structures in the world, exhibiting a stunning collection of significant plants alongside classical marble statues. The gardens are also home to the much loved Bard in the Botanics, a summer festival of Shakespeare’s greatest works set in the historic surroundings of the park.
And if you’re visiting during summer, you’ll yield a couple of other treats with the arrival of the annual West End Festival in June, a much loved event that brings vibrant events to the neighbourhood, including the ever popular Open Air Ceilidh. A great way to experience traditional Scottish music and dance if you haven’t before. The multicultural Glasgow Mela Festival of music and dance also takes place during summer in Kelvingrove Park, which always attracts lots of top performers from around the world alongside some mouth-watering food stalls too.
So what are you waiting for? With so much to discover, make sure to set aside enough time to explore this fantastic Glasgow neighbourhood and prepare for a pleasant surprise around every corner!
Top tourist attractions, hip and independent, history and prestige
Iconic Glasgow sights, diverse community, great dining