Leafy, creative and community-led, Glasgow's southside is the perfect place for a leisurely afternoon. With beautiful traditional tenements, the city's largest parks and trendy little cafes, head south for a great day out!
House for an Art Lover
Things to see and do
One of the unique things about Glasgow is that a number of the city's top attractions are located in a beautiful parkland setting. There is the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed House for an Art Lover in Bellahouston Park, which was designed in 1901 and finally realised in 1989. Take in the exquisite suite of rooms, art gallery, exhibition space and Art Lovers Cafe.
For more Mackintosh in the southside, admire the architectural detail of Scotland Street School Museum. The museum, which tells the story of education through the ages, is currently closed, but it is well worth a visit for the exterior alone. Find out more about Scotland's most celebrated architect by visiting our Charles Rennie Mackintosh page.
Glasgow's reputation as a world leader in contemporary art was one of the reasons that the city was named the UK's top cultural and creative city by the European Commission (2019). Nowhere is it better to experience this cutting-edge culture than at Tramway, an international arts space that commissions and produces contemporary visual art, dance, performance and film. Find out what's on at tramway.org.
Pollok Country Park is Glasgow's largest green space and a visitor attraction in its own right. This family-friendly park is ideal for little and big explorers. You could spend the whole day getting pleasantly lost and exploring the woodland walks, mountain bike trails and idyllic river scenes. It is also home to two of the city's top visitor attractions.
Credit: CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collections
The Burrell Collection will reopen in March 2022 as a more energy efficient and accessible museum than ever before, following a building upgrade and redisplay. Sir William Burrell’s extraordinary gift of over 9000 artworks is housed in an A-listed building, considered to be one of Scotland’s finest examples of post-war architecture. The museum includes one of the best collections of tapestries and stained glass in the world and one of Europe’s most outstanding collections of Degas. Visit The Burrell Collection website to find out more.
The picture-perfect Pollok House, a stunning country manor, houses an impressive Spanish art collection, Edwardian tearoom and runs tours for visitors to experience what life was like, upstairs and downstairs, in this 18th century home. And kids will love the evergreen maze in the gardens. Visit the National Trust for Scotland website for details.
The highlight of the park for many is seeing Scotland’s most well-known national animal, Highland cattle. With a fold of around 50 Highland cattle to visit all year round, a trip to see these gentle giants, and their fluffy springtime calves, is a must.
One of the top attractions for families in the country is the Glasgow Science Centre, with 4 floors of interactive fun and displays. Take a journey through the solar system by booking to go into their immersive Planetarium. Find out what is on at glasgowsciencecentre.org.
A former A-listed shipbuilding office in Govan has been restored to become a Fairfield Heritage Centre. Visit fairfieldgovan.co.uk for details on exhibits and information on Glasgow's former life as one of the greatest shipbuilding locations in the world.
Football fans have plenty to look forward to in the southside with both Rangers Football Club and Hampden Stadium offering stadium tours. And if you are touring Scotland’s national stadium, don’t miss The Hampden Experience with its museum full of historic football memorabilia. Visit rangers.co.uk and visit scottishfootballmuseum.org.uk for booking details.
- Explore the Hidden Gardens at Tramway, an award-winning green space with its very own programme of community-led events.
- Constructed in 1858, Holmwood House in Cathcart is Alexander Greek Thomson’s finest residential villa and the only one in the area with public access. Visit nts.org.uk for opening times.
- Grab a coffee from one of the many nearby cafes and head to the flagpole at Queen's Park for one of the city's most stunning views.
- Some of Glasgow's most illustrious addresses are in the city's southside. Blairhall Avenue, Millbrae Crescent, Queen’s Drive and Moray Place are all worth a saunter along.
- A set of 31 carved stones dating from the 9th-11th centuries, the Govan Stones and Govan Sarcophagus are of great archaeology significance (visit their website for seasonal opening times).
- The twice-monthly Park Lane Market (visit their Facebook page for market dates) and the monthly Cooperage (visit their Facebook page for market dates) are both fantastic for picking up Glasgow goods from local creators.
Top places to eat and drink in the southside
What better place to experience the friendly community spirit of the southside than at a local café? There are independent cafes at every turn in the southside areas of Shawlands, Strathbungo, Battlefield, Govanhill and Cathcart.
The recently opened Bramble Cafe is perfect for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Make sure to follow Bramble Cafe on Instagram and keep up-to-date with their scrummy dishes, pastries and cakes.
Setting the bar for all the new openings is Café Strange Brew, which continues to win awards and top TripAdvisor lists. This intimate space serves great food and is very popular with locals. Visit their Instagram page to see some of their yummy creations.
For gourmet grub-on-the-go to take into the local parks, try;
- Piatto44 for Italian street food, including pizza, gnocchi and pasta. Visit Piatto44's Facebook page to find out more.
- Deanston Bakery for some of the best freshly baked goods in town. Follow Deanston Bakery on Facebook to see their daily specials.
- The Bakery by Grain and Grind for deli-style sandwiches and pastries perfect for enjoying alfresco. Check out The Bakery’s Instagram page.
And it's not just cafes, some of the city's top restaurants serving a variety of world cuisine can also be found in this neighbourhood.
There's Ranjit’s Kitchen for authentic Panjabi fare, Julie's Kopitiam for masterful Malaysian cuisine, The Luchador for South American dishes and Bar Vini for antipasti, homemade baked pasta and natural wines.
The iconic Battlefield Rest is an Italian bistro housed in one of the most stunning buildings in Glasgow. Check out the Battlefield Rest's extensive menu online. You can also enjoy cool and casual dining at the likes of Church on the Hill, which has a great range of indoor and outdoor spaces. Visit Church on the Hill's website for details.
If you’re here at the weekend, take the opportunity to make the short journey over to the Big Feed, a great indoor street food market packed with delicious food, live music, and games to keep the kids entertained. Visit the Big Feed's website for dates.
Dessert venues are also proving popular, with Aftrs and Loop & Scoop joining the Glasgow institutions of Brooklyn Cafe and Queen's Park Cafe, which are both known for their ice cream.
Parks and green spaces
The leafy southside is home to some of the city's finest parks, including the previously mentioned Pollok Country Park.
Encircled by the trendy southside areas of the city, Queen's Park is home to the Scottish Poetry Rose Garden, a bandstand, which hosts various events, play parks, a large boating pond and a stunning viewpoint.
The second largest park in the city, Linn Park offers lots of space for tranquil woodland and riverside walks. Inside the park are the remains of Cathcart Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots is rumoured to have stayed the night before the battle of Langside in 1568!
Meanwhile, Cathkin Braes Country Park holds the position of the highest point in Glasgow at 200m above sea level - with panoramic views over the city to rival Queen's Park. Cathkin Braes is also home to extensive mountain bike trails, ancient woodland and grassland areas.
Visit Glasgow City Council's parks pages for more info on green spaces in the city.
Arts and music in the creative southside
Glasgow’s reputation as a city for amazing live music also extends to the southside, with the O2 Academy regularly hosting international acts, Bellahouston Park and Hampden Park frequently hosting mega-stars and The Glad Cafe hosting intimate indie gigs. Visit our music venues pages for more details on where to see live music.
The southside is brimming with cultural community-led events, festivals and activities.
The annual Southside Fringe takes place each May and the Govanhill International Festival and Carnival takes place each August. Both programme a series of music, comedy, art, talks, theatre, with a particular emphasis on inclusion and diversity at the Govanhill Carnival.
There are some quirky local events and venues that also appeal to visitors, such as Strathbungo Window Wanderland, an evening arts trail to showcase the community’s imagination through all sorts of beautiful window displays. There is also the Queen’s Park Railway Club, an artist-run gallery that is set on the platform at Queen’s Park Railway Station inside a defunct waiting room - a unique space to experience visual arts.
Article last updated: September 2021
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