Glasgow city centre
Glasgow city centre
Vibrant and historic, Glasgow city centre is a culture-rich neighbourhood that is home to stunning Victorian architecture, as well as amazing shopping, dining and nightlife.
New York style streets
Dining out options
Mackintosh at the Willow
Things to see and do
Where to start but right in the heart of it all! The city's civic square, George Square attracts everything from global events to people watchers. The square is lined with beautiful buildings, including the City Chambers. Join one of their free daily tours to see their Instagram-worthy interiors - visit glasgow.gov.uk for tour times.
The streets of the city centre are an attraction in their own right due to the grand architecture. Head in any direction from George Square and discover some of the UK's best-preserved Victorian architecture. Meanwhile, the cobbled lanes provide a spot for the city's flair for design to come to life in murals, markets and more.
It is the city centre's range of architecture combined with the US-style grid street system that has attracted Hollywood filmmakers. Check out our top film and TV locations page to find out which locations and buildings have appeared on the big screen.
Just around the corner from George Square is Royal Exchange Square - a great space for enjoying outdoor dining. In the centre of the square is a neo-classical building that houses the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). GoMA hosts exhibitions from the best national and international contemporary artists and is also the main venue for the biennial Glasgow International festival of contemporary visual art. Visit Glasgow Life's website to find out which exhibitions are on at the free-to-visit attraction.
GoMA is just one of many city centre historic buildings that has been restored over the years to take on a new life as a restaurant, hotel or gallery space. The Corinthian Club, voco Grand Central Hotel and The Anchor Line are just some examples of modern places that are steeped in 1800s opulence.
Another building worth the visit for the exterior alone is The Mitchell Library. As Europe's largest public library, The Mitchell Library has one of the world’s largest collections of work by Robert Burns and a family history centre to discover ancestry. Find out more at Glasgow Life's library pages online.
When walking around the city centre you can't help but spot huge pieces of street art adorning the sides of buildings. From a floating taxi to kids blowing bubbles, the City Centre Mural Trail makes for a great day out, whether you take a self-guided tour or a tour led by expert guides. Find out more at our mural trail page. The ‘hop on and off’ City Sightseeing Bus Tour is a fun way to see the city's must-see sights. These are just 2 of many city tours that cover everything from music to whisky to cycling. Check out our tours page for more.
The city centre is also a great place to discover the genius of Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A must-visit is the world-class attraction Mackintosh at the Willow. Designed by Mackintosh in 1903, Miss Cranston’s original Willow Tea Rooms was restored and reopened in 2018 as a tea room, visitor centre, exhibition space and gift shop.
Find out more about Glasgow's most famous son and his Art Nouveau style by visiting our Charles Rennie Mackintosh page.
- Spot art all around on the City Centre Contemporary Art Trail, a walkable route of 14 outdoor artworks. Visit our art trail page for details.
- Step back in time and discover tenement life as it was in the early 20th century at the lovingly-preserved Tenement House. Visit the National Trust Scotland website for opening times.
- A lesser-known Mackintosh designed building is the Daily Record building on Renfield Lane which is home to music and vegan venue, Stereo Cafe Bar.
- For a uniquely Scottish experience head to The National Piping Centre and try out the bagpipes. Visit pipingcentre.co.uk for info.
- A number of the city centre's best hidden gems are found in the Merchant City, including the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre, Britannia Panoptican and Glasgow Police Museum. Find out more about these unique attractions by visiting our Merchant City neighbourhood page.
Top places for food and drink
From cool and casual to fine dining, brunch to night-caps, Glasgow city centre has got you covered. There are lots of family-friendly dining options, such as Platform, with their street food-inspired menu and sister restaurants, Sugo and Paesano for yummy pasta and pizza in relaxed surroundings. Check out our tasty food at good prices page for ideas.
Singl-end, Café Gandolfi, Côte Brasserie and Picnic are just some of the many city centre options of places to begin the day well. Visit our best places for brunch in Glasgow page for inspiration.
There are so many flavours to be sampled in the city. For authentic Italian, head to La Lanterna, which has been run by the same Italian family for over 50 years, or for Indian cuisine, head to 'hot' spot Swadish. Visit La Lanterna's website and visit swadish.co.uk to make bookings. Enjoy Iranian-inspired food at Chaakoo Bombay Cafe, Vietnamese meals at Non-Viet or exceptional Chinese food at Lychee Oriental. Visit Chaako.co.uk, nonviet.co.uk and lycheeoriental.co.uk to make bookings.
Merchant city: the city's most stylish quarter
The Merchant City is steeped in history and is home to some of the city's oldest sites. It is also one of the trendiest areas of the city, with boutiques, arts hubs and bars occupying the spaces of former mansions. The Merchant City has so much to see and do that we've created a whole neighbourhood page dedicated to this district. Visit our Merchant City neighbourhood page for details on shopping, eating, culture and more.
One of the best shopping areas in the UK
Glasgow is renowned for its shopping scene. The main pedestrianised street Buchanan Street, and surrounding streets, make up a square mile of fantastic shopping!
Buchanan Street is book-ended by St. Enoch Centre and Buchanan Galleries – huge malls housing the best high street brands. St. Enoch Centre is a family-friendly shopping and entertainment destination, while Buchanan Galleries is home to a range of shops from The Lego Store to John Lewis to the independent Scottish Design Exchange, where 100% of profits go directly to the local makers and creators of the products.
On Buchanan Street you’ll also find:
- Princes Square, a speciality shopping mall that houses designer shops, restaurants, bars and a boutique cinema.
- The original House of Frasers store that has a history dating back to 1849.
- Argyll Arcade, widely regarded as the finest jewellery centre in Scotland.
- Many independent shops and markets, including the likes of Sloans Market.
Visit our shopping pages for more information on Glasgow's amazing shopping scene.
Parks and green spaces
Glasgow Green is the city’s oldest park and is where you'll find the Doulton Fountain, the beautiful McLennan Arch, Nelson's monument and the People’s Palace, a museum dedicated to the social history of Glasgow. The historic park is also home to one of the city's most unusual buildings, Templeton on the Green, which takes its design from the famous Doge's Palace in Venice. There is plenty to keep the whole family entertained with adventure play parks and walks along the River Clyde. Visit our parks and gardens page for more info on green spaces in the city.
Music and arts in the heart of the city
There are also many iconic venues in the city centre, such as The Theatre Royal, The King’s Theatre and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, each with diverse programmes offering everything from ballet to theatre and comedy to orchestras.
If independent and cutting-edge art, performance, events and film are your scene, then head to the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) on Sauchiehall Street. Just around the corner is Scotland's original independent cinema, the Glasgow Film Theatre - a great place for film lovers all year round and host to the annual Glasgow Film Festival each February. Visit our what's on section for details on major and unique events in the city.
As a UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow is known for its legendary music scene. King Tut's Wah Wah Hut heads up an array of independent venues where you'll discover local bands and catch the next big thing in an intimate venue.
Meanwhile, there are classical concerts, musical extravaganzas, film screenings with live orchestra accompaniment and much more at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, City Halls and Old Fruitmarket. Visit glasgowconcerthalls.com to see what's on.
If you want to experience the legendary Glasgow crowd, then check out a city centre music festival. People travel from across the globe for the winter festival Celtic Connections and piping extravaganza, World Pipe Band Championships. Meanwhile some of the biggest rock and pop stars in the world perform at TRNSMT each summer in Glasgow Green. Visit our music venues page for more information on Glasgow's iconic scene.
Article last updated: August 2022
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