Start with a wander around the Cathedral Precinct and uncover the medieval heart of Glasgow. Just a 15-minute walk from George Square and Queen Street Station, the Cathdral Precinct 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 in Glasgow, 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. Don't let the cemetery part put you off - it's a fascinating place to visit and if you take a guided tour, you'll learn how this special place documents the amazing lives and stories of Glasgow's people in such a unique way.
The Glasgow Necropolis is an outstanding outdoor museum and art gallery, encapsulating the history of the city, its people, architecture and sculpture.
Ruth Johnstone, Friends of the Necropolis
Keen explorers of the Necropolis will also find the first recorded commission of the city’s famous architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who lived on a street right next to the beautiful grounds. Taking the form of a granite Celtic cross, the memorial is very different to his later style, making it the perfect place to start your Mackintosh trail around Glasgow to see how his work evolved over the years. After a walk around the green spaces and architecturally renowned monuments within the Necropolis, stop by at the nearby McCune Smith cafe for a bite to eat and chance to rest. An ethical cafe by name and menu, it was named after James McCune Smith, the first African American to receive a doctorate after his education at the University of Glasgow.
Head further east towards Dennistoun and you’ll find yourself in the surroundings of what was designed to be Glasgow’s first suburb. A walk around Dennistoun reveals a vibrant neighbourhood with lots of beautifully kept traditional tenements right next to some of the east's favourite eateries.
Explore the city's social history at the People's Palace, set in Glasgow Green; a museum that tells the story of Glasgow’s people from 1750 to the present day. The collection gives insights into how Glaswegians lived, worked and played in years gone by to the present day.
And find out more about the lives and achievements of women through archives, heritage walks, events and more at the Glasgow Women's Library (GWL), which warmly welcomes visitors from around the corner and around the world into their library and museum (finalist for Art Fund Museum of the Year Prize 2018).
You’ll find the unexpected in Glasgow’s East End: architectural gems, cutting edge contemporary art, outstanding museums, and communities with genuine pride in their heritage and history – and you’re sure to hear some legendary Glasgow ‘banter.’
Sue John, Glasgow Women's Library
The Shopping Scene
Just a short walk from Dennistoun is one of the city’s iconic attractions - The Barras Market, Glasgow's biggest and most popular weekend market. Established by local entrepreneur Maggie Maciver in the 1920s, the market is synonymous with a unique Glasgow experience, with fast-talking traders plying their trade and bringing the market to life every weekend with their sharp wit. Billy Connolly was even inspired to take up comedy by a stallholder here!
The Barras is a special community that’s not only home to generations of families as traders and shoppers but also a place of fantastic entrepreneurship and creativity, traits which have always been passed on through the community. A weekend wander round the Barras visiting the fantastic mix of old and new traders and shops is a must, and you’ll always find a Barras story.
Elsewhere you’ll find custom hand-made furniture at the Glasgow Furniture Collective, real vintage threads at Rip it Up, and low maintenance house plants, from succulents to cacti to aloe, at Pear. Make it easy for yourself and experience The Barras area as part of East End First Saturdays (see website for dates), an ever changing, exciting programme of events with a focus on getting to know the east's many great businesses on foot. You can also relax, have an artisan coffee and connect with the creative community within the Creative East End Hub.
Those with a sweet tooth should also make a beeline to the nearby Glickman’s Confectionery. As the oldest sweet shop in the city and still family-owned, it’s packed full of proper, home-made sweets that will leave you longing for more nostalgic sweet treats.
The Food and Drink Scene
Of course, no trip to the east is complete without a visit to one of its many great food and drink establishments, with something for every kind of foodie. You'll find a great pocket of great restaurants and cafes in Dennistoun and The Barras areas – have a walk around and see what you fancy before you decide!
Italian cuisine and the east go hand in hand with Celino’s and Coia's Cafe, two much loved local restaurants, which have been serving the community and visitors for years; in fact Coia's first opened in 1928!
The Winged Ox offers great food inside the stunning St Luke’s, a converted 19th century church. Meanwhile much is expected from newbie Mesa as it is sister restaurant to the hugely popular Cafe Strange Brew.
Set within BAaD, the Scottish restaurant A’Challtainn was a finalist for Most Stylist Restaurant at the 2018 Scottish Style Awards. Nakodar Grill was a finallist in the Tiffin Cup in 2019 to find the best South Asian restaurant in the UK.
For elegant surroundings and a menu that you won’t find anywhere else, try Bilson Eleven, set within a 19th century townhouse, which was one of the first homes constructed in the surburb of Dennistoun.
Complementing the brilliant food are the three great breweries in the area, all specialising in something different. Head to Tennent’s and experience their brand new immersive visitor centre before setting off on a tour of the oldest brewery in Scotland, getting behind the scenes of this iconic Scottish brand; or pop next door to Drygate Brewing Co., a craft brewery that lets you see the beer being brewed before you. Finally, purists will fancy a pint at WEST Brewery, with all of their beers brewed in strict accordance with the 1516 Reinheitsgebot, the ancient German Purity Law. On a sunny day, it’s a decision you won’t regret – the WEST beer hall looks onto Glasgow Green and you’ll get a great view of the stunning Templeton Building that the brewery is housed in too!
The Music Scene
Stay east for the evening too! Glasgow’s status as a UNESCO City of Music, one of only two in the UK, partly owes itself to the city’s iconic venues, the most famous of which being The Barrowlands.
As another aspect of Maggie McIver’s legacy in the area, it was built to put on a Christmas dance and meal for her Barras hawkers in 1934, with its sign only dimming during WW2. Nowadays, the famous neon frontage, a sprung floor, and electric atmosphere all add up to a night to remember no matter who you’re going to see.
Wondering who’s played there before? The nearby Album Pathway at Barrowland Park lists the name and date of thousands of bands that have played the legendary venue, arranged like records on a shelf.
TRNSMT returns to Glasgow Green for its third year this July, firmly cementing its position as a highlight in the festival calendar, with this year's line-up including Stormzy, George Ezra and Sigrid, to name but a few. Also taking over Glasgow Green each year is the World Pipe Band Championships, which is a two day competition taking place in August, which showcases the extraordinary ability of 8,000 pipers and drummers from across the globe.
From Sport to the Arts Scene
And when it comes to an amazing atmosphere in the east, football fans will know all about the thunderous crowd at Celtic Park, home to Celtic Football Club. Take yourself on a guided tour (rated 4 Stars by the Scottish Tourist Board Visitor Centre) around the grounds, or if you can, get tickets to a match to experience it for yourself! The nearby Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome was also home to some fantastic sporting action during the 2014 Commonwealth Games – try a lap around the velodrome on a taster session if you’re up for it! It's also the base for Scotland's only professional netball team Strathclyde Sirens and Scotland's professional basketball team The Glasgow Rocks. And just slightly further East you'll find Tollcross International Swimming Centre which has been host to many major international aquatics events, most recently at Glasgow 2018 European Championships in August, and in 2019, it'll be the host venue to The LEN European Short Course Swimming Championships from December 4-8.
Visitors looking to experience some of the arts have plenty to explore in the east. This corner of the city has become a hub for the city’s artists and creators, making it an exciting place to visit. Start at David Dale Gallery for regular exhibitions showcasing emerging artists, before moving onto the nearby Many Studios, Market Gallery, and the Visual Artist Unit for some of the most engaging visual arts programmes in the city. You’ll also most likely spot a few pieces of street art along the way too, as part of the city centre mural trail – the huge depiction of St Mungo at the top end of High Street is unmissable.
So there you have it – the east is a rewarding and unforgettable neighbourhood to explore on your trip to Glasgow, filled with everything that you might expect and a plethora of hidden gems. And if you’re looking to delve a little deeper, find out even more interesting things to see and do on our neighbourhoods map!
Iconic attractions, the history and heritage, where you'll find a "real" experience of Glasgow
Community spirit, the restaurants, closeness to the city centre, creative scene