Start with a wander around the Cathedral Precinct, just a 15-minute walk from Queen St Station, to take in the medieval heart of Glasgow. A walk around here 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, and a further wander around the precinct also reveals the Provand’s Lordship, 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.
But a trip here isn't complete without a visit to the Necropolis, a beautiful Victorian garden cemetery that sits opposite the Cathedral with stunning panoramic views over Glasgow. 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. Stop by at the nearby McCune Smith cafe for a bite to eat and a chance to rest after the walk. It's named after James McCune Smith, the first African American to receive a doctorate after his education at the University of Glasgow and the cafe continues its celebration of historical figures in its menu too, with sandwiches named after a variety of influential people.
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, presenting lots of beautifully kept traditional tenements right next to some of the east's favourite eateries. It’s the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat after a long walk around the Necropolis.
The Shopping Scene
Next up is one of the city’s iconic attractions, just a short walk from Dennistoun. Here is where you’ll be able to immerse yourself in 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.
Jennifer McGlone, The Braw Wee Emporium
And if its markets that you love, the east is home to some more modern iterations with Ross Street Market Market(currently taking a break due to public realm improvement works), Drygate Urban Market, and the Glasgow Vintage & Flea Market at St Luke's all providing their own unique stamp on the city's shopping and a perfect place to pick up something special (check websites for future dates). Don’t miss the opportunity to make your visit to the neighbourhood memorable with a unique gift from the Braw Wee Emporium, a charming gift shop stocking art work, music and much more by Scottish designers.
Elsewhere you’ll find custom hand-made furniture at the Glasgow Furniture Collective, real vintage threads at Rip it Up, alongside all sorts of plants, homeware and accessories at Tuck, a shop with sustainability in mind. 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 End’s many great businesses on foot.
Image: Braw Wee Emporium
Those with a sweet tooth should also make a beeline to the nearby Glickman’s Confectionery, often described as Glasgow’s best sweet shop. 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.
Despite its central location, the east is also home to some peaceful, quiet areas to relax after some sightseeing. The Cuningar Loop is a new and exciting woodland park on the banks of the River Clyde, providing an opportunity to get some fresh air and relax with an extensive walking path network and riverside boardwalks. You could then move onto Glasgow Green, the city's oldest park that houses historic attractions like the Doulton Fountain, the largest terracotta fountain in the world, and the McLennan Arch, a stunning relic of an 18th century Glasgow building.
The Green also regularly hosts a number of major events in the city, including the annual World Pipe Band Championships (August), and the summer music festival TRNSMT which has had headliners such as The Killers, Stereophonics, Artic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand to name just a few - the festival returns in July 2019.
And once you've taken the obligatory photo, explore the city's social history at the People's Palace inside the Green, a museum that tells the story of Glasgow’s people from 1750 to the present day. Finish up with a coffee at the cafe inside the adjacent Winter Gardens, which is home all sorts of exotic plants!
The Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL) 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). Celebrating the lives and achievements of women, the GWL share stories from the past through heritage walks and a treasure trove of archives, preserve the present through current exhibitions and shape the future by inspiring all who visit.
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 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. Handily, 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.
The Winged Ox offers great food inside the stunning St Luke’s, a beautifully converted 19th century church.
A’Challtainn serves only the freshest Scottish produce in a unique setting within the Barras Art and Design Centre.
For elegant surroundings and a menu that you won’t find anywhere else in the east, Bilson Eleven is your best bet.
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
Don’t forget to set aside some time in the evening for the east 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.
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 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 UWS 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 the 4-8 December.
Visitors looking to experience some of the arts have plenty to explore in the east. The influence and work of the many creatives in the area has turned this corner of the city into a hub for the city’s artists and creators, and 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 – 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