Glasgow's neighbourhoods each have their own character and charm, with amazing parks and green spaces, stunning architecture to admire and hidden gems to discover. Check out our guide to making the most of each of the city's vibrant and distinctive neighbourhoods.
The west of Glasgow is a lush green area of the city, full of traditional tenement lined streets, quirky independent businesses and some truly standout architecture. With a bohemian edge, it's no wonder that various districts of the west, including Kelvinbridge, Partick and Finnieston, keep appearing in the coolest, best and hippest of neighbourhood lists by leading UK press and media.
For parks and outdoor spaces, people in the west of Glasgow are spoilt for choice. Kelvingrove Park is a superb example of a Victorian park, with its steep rise towards the Park Circus area offering a fantastic viewpoint. The park also serves as a picturesque backdrop to two of the city's finest buildings; the gothic University of Glasgow and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, where as many people come to marvel at the grand exterior as they do to take in the incredible collection. Nowhere is Glasgow's trademark knack for design more on display! For sports fans, Kelvingrove Park's Tennis Courts and Lawn Bowls are both now open, with bookings to be made in advance.
Other green spaces in the west include the Botanic Gardens, which is a tranquil blend of green space, woodland walks and the beautiful glass Kibble Palace. Whilst Victoria Park is known as one of Glasgow's prettiest parks, with an extensive range of formal floral displays and carpet bedding.
Not to be missed in the west, are the cobbled lanes. The lanes are great for a saunter down to take in their quirky look, for Instagram photos and for being able to shop local in some of the unique stores, supporting many of our independent creators and makers. Check out our round-up of those that have been able to open their doors once again.
A true hidden gem in the west is the Sixty Steps. Designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, this sweeping stone staircase was his only public structure and well worth seeking out for those who love architectural quirks. Whilst you are there be sure to check out the cafes, restaurants and pubs that have adapted their offering to provide takeaways ideal for on-the-go explorers and many that now have reopened their outdoor spaces for al-fresco eating and drinking.
There is no shortage of sweet treats options in the west. Try Cake Bar on Great Western Road for traybake boxes, soft-serve ice cream and pick n mix to bring a little sugar high to your day. Or Tantrum Doughnuts on Old Dumbarton Road (Wed-Sun, 10am-sellout) for premium patisserie doughnuts, baked using traditional techniques. For ice cream on those lovely sunny days, head to the retro University Cafe on Byres Road (daily, 3pm-7pm) or try Epicures (Thurs-Sun 10am-5pm) for ice cream and inventive iced spritzers. Also available for takeaway coffees (Fri-Sun), iced and otherwise, is Papercup Coffee on Great Western Road.
For something a little bigger, then Baffo Pizza on Argyle Street is sure to hit the spot. Bar Brett on Great Western Road is open at the weekends with limited outdoor seating now available or fantastic picnic boxes to go! On Byres Road, you can pre-order and collect afternoon tea for two boxes from Sugarfall Patisserie or pick up a lobster supper fresh from the BBQ from Old Salty's. Or if you fancy getting tucked into a big burger, with plenty of sides, then Lebowskis West on Argyle Street is ideal.
Leafy, creative and community-led, Glasgow's south is the perfect place for a long leisurely walk. With beautiful tenement streets, the city's largest parks and trendy little cafes, stay south and have a great day!
When in the south of the city, it's hard not to start with Pollok Country Park. From stately homes to woodland trails to quaint bridges over the White Cart water - there are many lovely Instagram-friendly photo opportunities. And none more picture-perfect than the herd of Highland Cows! Then there is Queen's Park, which is surrounded by trendy areas - in fact, Queen's Park and Govanhill were named as one of the 'UK's coolest neighbourhoods' by Conde Nast Traveler magazine in June 2020. Head to the top of Queen's Park for one of the finest views of the city, with rooftops, turrets and spires in the foreground, all surrounded by the gently rolling Campsie Fells. Why not challenge a friend to a game of bowls or tennis at Queen's Park Tennis Courts and Lawn Bowls, which are now open (advanced booking required). Kids can pick up 'see, learn and draw' activity packs at the main gates and the playpark has now reopened too.
The south is also a good place to view some of the work by two of the city's most famous architects - Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Alexander Greek Thomson. For the Art Nouveau wonders of Mackintosh, check out Scotland Street School Museum and House for an Art Lover in Bellahouston Park which has opened its doors for coffee and cake to go and is also welcoming visitors once again. Wander through the district of Strathbungo and find Moray Place - one of a number of the city's most desirable streets to live in, which can be found in the south. If you enjoy a bit of house envy, check out the stunning streets of Milbrae Cresent, Queen's Drive and Blairhall Avenue. Further out in Cathcart is Thomson's Holmwood House, the architect’s finest residential villa.
The south has a bustling cafe culture. Bar Vini on Victoria Road is open for outdoor dining or takeaway pizza, pasta, pastries and more (Fri-Sun). Also on Victoria Road is Short Long Black Coffee, which has a selection of coffee and cakes, ideal for taking across the road to Queen's Park.
Craft beer specialists, The Wee Beer Shop, on Pollokshaws Road is open at the weekends for cans and bottles from local independent breweries to takeaway (pre-order).
In Shawlands, there is the Italian family-run Brooklyn Café, which has been serving the south with home baking and homemade ice cream since 1931. Salt and Vinegar offer some of the best takeout fish and chips around and are ideally located right next to Queen's Park.
Newer to the scene is Pink Inc Café - a very stylish and Instagram-friendly cafe that has cakes galore, with an emphasis on rainbow colours!
Bold and beautiful, the city's east neighbourhood is home to some of the city's oldest buildings, as well as exciting new developments; a unique blend of creativity and heritage.
Uncover the medieval heart of Glasgow by taking a stroll around the Cathedral Precinct, which encompasses the grand Glasgow Cathedral, one of the best examples of a medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland and a truly iconic piece of architecture, the Provand’s Lordship, which is the oldest house in Glasgow (built in 1471), and the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, named after the city’s patron saint. Sitting right opposite the Glasgow Cathedral is the Necropolis, a beautiful Victorian garden cemetery with stunning panoramic views over Glasgow, which show just why the city is known as the Dear Green Place. Often described as an outdoor museum and art gallery, the Necropolis is a fascinating place to visit.
There are plenty more green spaces and parks in the east of the city. Tollcross Park is home to a stunning rose garden, with a staggering 240 varieties of rose all arranged in the perfect shape of a rosebud, as well as the glen nature walk and a Children's Farm. The city's oldest park, Glasgow Green straddles both the city centre and the east. The Doulton Fountain, the largest terracotta fountain in the world, stands proudly in front of The People's Palace. Just behind the fountain, marvel at one of the city's most unique buildings, Templeton on the Green - the flamboyantly designed building is based on Doge's Palace in Venice. It also houses WEST Brewery, with their newly reopened beer garden.
For Instagram-worthy images to capture the true spirit of the east of the city, there are two iconic signs that are great to snap. The Barras Market sign and the Barrowland Ballroom neon sign and its great news that The Barras Market traders are back in business. For music memories, head to the nearby Album Pathway at Barrowland Park, which lists the name and date of thousands of bands that have played the legendary venue, arranged like records on a shelf. Which gigs were you at?
For takeaway to enjoy out and about, there are plenty of options. From baked goods to breakfast rolls, the east has got you covered. Pre-order and pick up a box of not-so-guilty cakes or doughnuts from Rawnchy in Dennistoun. All their raw cakes are free from dairy, gluten and refined sugar. Also in Dennistoun is Tapa Coffee and Bakehouse, which has freshly baked bread and hand-roasted coffee and a new all-day brunch menu. Sample some tasty sweet and savoury bakes, froyo and iced lattes, from Akara Bakery on Duke Street (Wed-Sun for collection).
Sweet Jane Bakehouse has hummus, pesto and sourdough, ideal for picnics in the park, as well as their regular selection of fresh bread, cakes and pastries (check their website for details on pre-order times). For something more substantial, then head to the popular bistro on Duke Street, Tibo for veggie breakfast rolls, brunch in a box, or fish n chips, Fri-Sun and are now taking bookings for outdoor dining this weekend. And for some of the best fries in town, try Scran (Fri-Sun, 9am-2pm) on Alexandra Parade. Their takeaway menu includes the likes of halloumi fries, burger fries and Thai fries.
The city's vibrant city centre is known for its long streets on a grid system, lined with some of the UK's best preserved Victorian architecture. Whilst the streets are still a bit quieter, just now is the time to take in the architectural brilliance of this area, which spans from medieval to modern.
Right in the heart of the city is Glasgow City Chambers, which has been used as a backdrop for many film and TV shows because of its grand exterior. Just off George Square, stumble upon the elegant streets of the Merchant City, one of Glasgow’s oldest quarters, dating back to the 1750s. One of those streets is Ingram Street, which is lined by blonde sandstone and was described in The New York Times as “confidently Glaswegian and instinctually international”. Be sure to look up when wandering around the Merchant City so as not to miss the detail and sculptures on buildings; and also look down, so as not to miss out on the pavement poetry. Outside the city's oldest performance space, City Halls, is a beautiful poem by the first Glasgow Poet Laureate, Edwin Morgan.
There are many cobbled lanes nearby to discover, including Sloan's Lane, Virginia Court and Mitchell Lane. It is down some of these lanes that you will find some of the huge pieces of street art adorning the sides of buildings, which make up the City Centre Mural Trail. From a fantastical floating taxi to a modern-day depiction of Glasgow's Patron Saint, St Mungo, the mural trail will astound you. Walking Tours In Glasgow have restarted their tours, with three slots per day available for their City Centre, Street Art or West End Tours. The socially distanced private tours are available for up to six people from one household. Their popular Street Art tour takes groups around the city centre offering insights into the inspiration behind each of murals. There are also self-guided tours to enjoy. Take on a music audio walking tour by yourself with Walking Heads or one of Glasgow Women's Library's Heritage Walks giving insight into the unsung women who made Glasgow. Or try SENSEcity's free Glasgow City Centre and Merchant City Augmented Reality app and pocket-sized travel guide (collect from various venues across the city centre once reopen), download the app (iOS and Android) and get started.
Glasgow is very much at the forefront of the contemporary art world and the brand new, sefl-guided City Centre Contemporary Art Trail allows residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy some of the city’s fantastic contemporary art that can be seen from the streets around the city centre. The route of 14 works takes you around the heart of Glasgow from George Wyllie’s Clyde Clock to Jim Lambie’s Album Pathway.
Check out the University of Strathclyde's Wonderwall mural and then head up the hill and discover a quiet oasis in the middle of the city. Rottenrow Gardens, on the former site of the Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital, is a tranquil green space with a giant nappy pin sculpture by famous Glaswegian artist George Wyllie, in ode to the area's past. Glasgow has a history of producing world-renowned artists. You may have heard of the Glaswegian sculptor, Andy Scott, who is famed for his Falkirk Kelpies. But did you know that he took three years perfecting a bronze statue of Charles Rennie Mackintosh sitting proudly on the Argyle Chair, which can be found in the Anderston area of the city?
For food and drinks on the move, try Sprigg on Ingram Street for fresh salads and snack boxes that are jam-packed with colour and taste.
Primal Roast is open on St Vincent street and have been serving up speciality coffee, by local Dear Green Coffee, and homemade cakes, with an emphasis on clean-eating.
The Merchant City is known for its cafe culture, so there are no shortages of places to pick up brunches, lunches and coffees to go. You can now also sit and enjoy a drink in the sunshine in one of the newly reopened outdoor spaces.
There's the Glasgow coffee house and internet chain, iCafe (open daily 9am-5pm), which has a great selection of iced coffees, milkshakes, ice cream and coffees.
Wilson Street Pantry, known for their perfect poached eggs and avocado brunches, now have outdoor seating but are still open for takeaway coffee and food (Fri-Sun). Glasgow institution Cafe Gandolfi has a great selection of Scottish cuisine (Thurs-Sun) to choose from, such as Cullen Skink and fish and chips.
Glasgow's incredibly diverse north neighbourhood is a combination of industrial heritage meets urban playground meets wildlife wonderland. Take a journey along the iconic and historic waterway, the Forth and Clyde Canal - an urban retreat and enjoy the many outdoor activities to take part in, from cycling to canoeing, walking to wakeboarding.
Take in the beautiful Georgian style buildings of Speirs Wharf, once home to industrial mills, before setting off for a walk or a cycle along the Forth & Clyde Canal. For a foodie pitstop, try Ocho, a laid back delicatessen serving up takeaways by the canalside (Fri-Sat, weather dependent). There is much to discover in these tranquil green corridors, which are home to kingfishers, beavers and otters. Along the way, stop to admire the exterior of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed Mackintosh Queen's Cross; a vision of gothic beauty. Just a stone’s throw away from here is Café D'Jaconelli, an artisan ice cream parlour that has been in the neighbourhood since the 1920s. Maryhill Walking Tours are a great way for people of all ages to discover more about the rich history of this area. From steeping stones creating new urban myths to nature trails, choose which self-guided tour to embark upon.
Just across the canal is Glasgow’s very first inner-city nature reserve, Hamilton Claypits Local Nature Reserve. Once home to an area of claypits that produced clay to line the canal and keep it watertight, this reserve is renowned for its viewpoint, as well as the wonderful wildlife, flora and fauna that can be enjoyed there. Another place for great viewpoints of the city is in Ruchill Park. And if you head further north once again, you’ll find one of the oldest nature reserves in Scotland and a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, Possil Marsh and Loch. With a well signposted circular walk around the reserve, you can leisurely meander around this home to rare plants and 150 species of birds.
For those looking for more action, the north is the place to be for urban adventure. Pinkston Watersports is open at weekends on a limited capacity for canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and swimming.
Meanwhile, Glasgow Wake Park is also open (Wed-Sun) with a number of stipulations, including using your own equipment, changing rooms closed and sessions pre-booked only.
For more suggestions of cafes and restaurants that now have outdoor dining options or are still offering collection and home delivery, check out our Experience Glasgow's Amazing Food and Drink Scene.
Article last updated: July 2020