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! Both Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, The Hunterian and The Hunterian Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow are now open to the public with bookings to be made in advance. For family-friendly attractions - book tickets now to view the transport collection at the Riverside Museum and be sure to also board The Tall Ship Glenlee docked on the River Clyde.
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. Visit the range of makers and creators that make and sell from over 100 studios in the Hidden Lane and 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, check out the cafes, restaurants and pubs that have reopened for indoor dining, al-fresco food and drink and for on-the-go explorers. Be sure to check individual websites for booking information and be aware that face coverings are mandatory when moving around inside premises and that there is a 10pm curfew in place. Whether you want to sit in or take-out, something satisfyingly spicy or light and sweet, there is so much choice! Try a pot of mussels and an ice cold beer in Brel's outdoor heated beer garden, brunch at cool Partick haunt, Partick Duck Club, fine Scottish dining at Glasgow institution Ubiquitous Chip, lobster supper fresh from the BBQ from Old Salty's or a big burger, with plenty of sides from Lebowskis West on Argyle Street.
For something a bit lighter, there are premium patisserie doughnuts, baked using traditional techniques, from Tantrum Doughnuts on Old Dumbarton Road, ice creams from the retro University Cafe on Byres Road and takeaway coffees, iced and otherwise, from Papercup Coffee on Great Western Road. Be sure to check out Glasgow Coffee Festival, which has 50 independent cafes across the whole city taking part for ten days this October - buy tickets for just £5 here to support independent local cafes.
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. There are many lovely Instagram-friendly photo opportunities, from woodland trails to quaint bridges over the White Cart Water to stately homes (pre-book to visit Pollok House, one of the city's most elegant family homes). 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. For a true outdoor gem, check out the Hidden Gardens - a beautiful urban greenspace where international reach and connections are found within this locally maintained sanctuary.
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 is 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 Crescent, Queen's Drive and Blairhall Avenue. Further out in Cathcart is Thomson's Holmwood House - prebook now to visit the architect’s finest residential villa, which is open on Saturdays.
The south has a bustling cafe culture. Bar Vini on Victoria Road is open for pizza, pasta, pastries and more. Also on Victoria Road is Short Long Black Coffee, which has a selection of coffee and cakes, ideal for eating in or taking across the road to Queen's Park.
One of the city's most popular cafes has recently reopened for sit-ins and takeaways, Cafe Strange Brew. The multi-award winning cafe that regularly tops TripAdvisor lists is open daily (9am-4pm). Just down the road is cafe, venue, arts space and social enterprise, The Glad Cafe, serving brunch and small plates from their new menu.
Also in Shawlands is the Italian family-run Brooklyn Café, which has been serving the south with baking, lunches and homemade ice cream since 1931. Salt and Vinegar offer some of the best fish and chips around.
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 (open now - book tickets in advance), 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? A hidden gem to seek out is Glasgow Women's Library (GWL), which is home to a treasure trove celebrating the lives and achievements of women and a diverse events programme - check out GWL's website for details.
For takeaway to enjoy out and about, there are plenty of options. From baked goods to breakfast rolls, the east has got you covered. Sweet Jane Bakehouse has a great selection of fresh bread, cakes and pastries. And you’ll need to be quick if you want to grab a seriously tasty sausage roll from Scran on Alexandra Parade. Their takeaway menu also includes some delicious vegetarian and vegan options too.
There are a number of east venues that are welcoming diners back indoors so why not make a pit stop at Rawnchy in Dennistoun, where their raw cakes are free from dairy, gluten and refined sugar, Saint Luke's and The Winged Ox for ‘food for the soul’ or much-loved brewery and events space Drygate.
The boutique inn and hotel, Cathedral House is operating a first-come first-served basis for tables within their stunning terrace garden and indoors at their Green Room cafe-bar, serving seasonal menus or for sophisticated dining, Bilson Eleven is welcoming back patrons to their 19th century townhouse and have just launched their new opening menu.
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. They are also offering socially distanced private tours. Glasgow Music City Tours have also relaunched their popular Music Mile and Merchant City tours revealing the sights and sounds of the city’s legendary scene.
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, self-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. Fans of cutting-edge art and culture should also visit the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) which has reopened - check out details of what's on at the CCA here.
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 more on Mackintosh, book afternoon tea and a tour of the exhibition at Mackintosh at the Willow to find out more on the cultural icon and the meticulously-restored Mackintosh designed tearooms - a truly Glasgow-only experience!
Film fans will be delighted that cinemas have reopened. Glasgow's original independent cinema, Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) has reopened its art-deco cinema - check out the GFT's programme here. While the boutique Everyman Cinema in Princes Square with its luxurious seats and in-screen dining options is also open with details of film times and menus on their website.
Many of our favourite cafes, bars and restaurants in the city centre are eager to welcome us back to dine in.
From the award-winning Lychee Oriental where chef Jimmy and his team are serving up their famous Cantonese dishes once again, to Scottish restaurant Mharsanta where you can enjoy lunch, dinner or a cocktail or two in their newly adapted, beautifully designed surroundings.
For casual dining, Platform at Argyle Street Arches brings together the best independent food traders, serving up a great variety from quirky food trucks. Wilson Street Pantry in Merchant City offers perfect poached eggs and avocado brunches and Glasgow institution Café Gandolfi is back serving up delicious Scottish cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
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.
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 delicious dishes by the canalside. 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. More heritage can be uncovered at Maryhill Burgh Halls, home to Maryhill Museum - visit their website to make a booking to visit.
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.
After a long, leisurely walk enjoy a well-earned pit stop at The Botany for comfort food served up in their cosy restaurant, conservatory or outdoor terrace. Or head to Black Sheep Bistro for hearty Scottish favourites such as steak pie and haggis pakora.
For those looking for more action, the north is the place to be for urban adventure. Pinkston Watersports is open on a limited capacity for canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and swimming and Glasgow Wake Park is also open for pre-booked sessions.
For more suggestions of cafes and restaurants that now have indoor and outdoor dining options check out our Dine out in Glasgow feature.
Article last updated: September 2020