The leafy west end of Glasgow is known for its top attractions, quirky lanes, amazing food scene and relaxed vibe. Find out more about this bohemian area which has landed on many 'coolest neighbourhood' lists.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Things to see and do
Along the River Clyde are a range of attractions that will appeal to all ages. The kids will love the waterfront attractions of the Riverside Museum and the Clyde-built Tall Ship, which explore Glasgow’s transport collection and maritime history. Both are free-to-visit - more information is available at glasgowlife.org.uk and thetallship.com.
Meanwhile, adults will love the Clydeside Distillery. Book a tour at theclydeside.com and find out about the history of whisky, see craftsmen at work creating a new single malt and savour some samples – all with spectacular Clydeside views. The riverside views showcase the entertainment capital of Scotland, the SEC Campus, which is home to two iconic city buildings, The SSE Hydro and SEC Armadillo. Visit sec.co.uk for more info.
Kelvingrove Park is another brilliant spot surrounded by things to do. The beautiful park provides a leafy backdrop to not one but two of the city's grandest buildings, the University of Glasgow and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
Listed in Lonely Planet's 500 Best Travel Experiences in the World, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a must-see attraction with a little bit of everything, from Ancient Egyptian artefacts to amazing animal displays. Visit glasgowlife.org.uk for more details on the 22 gallery spaces.
The University of Glasgow is a stunning piece of gothic architecture, which is said to be the real-life inspiration behind Hogwarts. Explore the quadrangles and iconic Cloisters of the 4th oldest English speaking university in the world and see why it's often used as a filming location for Hollywood blockbusters.
The University also houses the Hunterian Museum, famed for being the oldest museum in Scotland and home to artefacts including parts of the Antonine Wall. The neighbouring Hunterian Art Gallery is where you'll find Mackintosh House. The recreation of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, artist Margaret Macdonald's home together offers a glimpse into the life of Scotland's most famous architect and designer.
Visit the University of Glasgow's website for details on taking a self-guided tour of the stunning Cloisters and for more on each of its attractions.
Rounding off this amazing concentration of attractions is Kelvin Hall, which is home to soft play, climbing walls, state-of-the-art collections from the University of Glasgow, the National Library of Scotland, and Glasgow Museums. Sound like a lot to take in? Don’t worry - tours are free-of-charge! Check out the full offering at kelvinhall.org.uk.
The west end lends itself to a lazy wander along the historic streets, riverside walkways and cobbled lanes. Walk down one of the city's longest roads, Great Western Road, and stumble across vintage shops, old-fashioned street lamps, churches transformed into arts spaces and Glaswegian businesses with international reach, such as Timorous Beasties and Paulin watches.
Contrast this with a visit to the cobbled lanes, the most well-known of which is Ashton Lane. Here you'll find popular restaurants, bars and a boutique cinema beneath a canopy of fairy-lights. Thrifters will love the independent retailers, vintage tearooms and antiques on the likes of Dowanside Lane, De Courcy's Arcade in Cresswell Lane and Ruthven Mews Arcade. Visit our Independent shopping page for details on where to shop for Glasgow gifts, homeware and more.
- The Hidden Lane is a not-so-secret community of artists, designers, musicians and more, where you can pick up unique Glasgow-made products. Visit the Hidden Lane website for the full list of creators and traders.
- The sweeping stone staircase in Kelvinbridge, the Sixty Steps, is Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s only public structure and is an architectural quirk.
- A statue of Charles Rennie Mackintosh sitting proudly on the Argyle Chair in Anderston was designed by Glaswegian sculptor, Andy Scott, creator of the famous Scottish Kelpies.
- Top tip - make sure your visit to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum coincides with the organ recitals which are daily at 1pm (3pm on Sundays).
- Take in the atmosphere of Scotstoun Stadium by attending one of the Glasgow Warriors rugby union matches. Find out when their home fixtures are at glasgowwarriors.org.
- Glasgow’s most ancient visitor attraction, Fossil Grove is in Victoria Park. The fossilised tree stumps are the remnants of an ancient forest formed some 325 million years ago!
Top places for food and drink
It's in the west end that you'll find Glasgow's only Michelin starred restaurant, Cail Bruich. Meaning ‘eat well’ in Gaelic, Cail Bruich offers fine dining with many ingredients hand-foraged from the local area. View a sample menu at cailbruich.co.uk and for something less formal try Epicures by Cail Bruich (view menus online) for brunches and fresh bakes from their in-house bakery.
You can't go wrong by visiting restaurants that are much-loved by the locals. Two Glasgow institutions are the family-run Eusebi’s Deli, serving the best of Italian cuisine, and Stravaigin, serving Scottish food with their motto 'think global, eat local', always front of mind. Book online at eusebideli.com and stravaigin.co.uk.
Recently named one of the '15 coolest places to eat around the world' by travel magazine Wanderlust, Hanoi Bike Shop offers tasty traditional Vietnamese fare. Visit Hanoi Bike Shop's website to make a booking at Glasgow's original Vietnamese canteen.
Also making it onto top foodie lists is Number 16 on Byres Road, which is one of two Glasgow restaurants to make it into the UK Top 100 list from reservation site OpenTable (2019). Check out Number 16's modern Scottish menu online.
For lots of choice and cool vibes try Dockyard Social, a street food market with community at its heart. Visit dockyardsocial.com to find out which food vendors, specialist bars, live bands and DJs are on each weekend.
One of Glasgow’s most famous restaurants is the Ubiquitous Chip. Book online at ubiquitouschip.co.uk and look forward to sampling Scottish fare in a courtyard surrounded by plants and greenery.
For cosy, Scottish drinking spots, make a stop at the Arlington Bar – it’s reputedly the resting place of the real Stone of Destiny! Those looking for some food to go with their drink should try The Drake, with its exposed stone walls, tweed-covered seats and a coal fire for a cosy feel. Visit arlingtonbar.co.uk and thedrakebar.co.uk for more information.
West end areas on 'cool & hip' lists
The west end is one of Glasgow’s trendiest places to visit and don’t just take our word for it! Three separate areas in this neighbourhood - Finnieston, Kelvinbridge and Partick - have appeared on respected media's 'coolest and hippest' lists.
The area of Finnieston is described as “the hippest place in the UK” by The Times and was named one of the "top 10 coolest neighbourhoods in Europe" by The Independent.
The steep rise in popularity of this area is due to a mix of entertainment and fantastic drinking and dining. With one of the world’s busiest live entertainment venues, The SSE Hydro, nearby a range of super cool eateries, delis and drinking dens have opened on the Finnieston strip.
With great bars and restaurants, and unrivalled creativity, this is up-and-coming Glasgow at its energetic, edgy finest.
The Sunday Times
Adding to its cool status is SWG3, a multipurpose venue that regularly hosts gigs, exhibitions and club nights. Then there is the Hidden Lane with its colourful retail units selling goods directly from the creators.
For food and drink there are places that have been there for years, such as Crabshakk for great seafood and The Ben Nevis Bar, where you can enjoy whisky whilst chatting to locals and listening to live traditional music. Visit Crabshakk's website for details on their cracking good food and The Ben Nevis Bar's website for details on one of the city's most welcoming pubs.
There are too many amazing restaurants to mention. Michelin Bib Gourmand awarded Ox and Finch, serves up sharing plates, whilst Six by Nico, one of Glasgow’s hottest restaurants, boasts a unique concept where they serve six delicious courses from a themed menu that changes every six weeks. Visit Ox and Finch's website and Six by Nico's website.
The Kelvinbridge area was named as one of the 'Top 50 Coolest Neighbourhoods in the World' by Time Out Magazine (2019). Taking the impressive number 37 spot, the area was praised for being packed with historic architecture, green spaces, a thriving cafe scene and warm community. Kelvinbridge, in the middle of one of the city's longest roads, Great Western Road, is anything but middle-of-the-road. Visit Inn Deep's website to book a table and enjoy some quality craft beer in this inviting pub built into an arch beneath the bridge.
Venturing further west, you may want to spare a little time to explore Partick, recently voted as 'one of the UK’s hippest neighbourhoods' by TravelSupermarket. Praised for its quality coffee shops and restaurants, there is great community feel with its popular farmers market, family-friendly Victoria Park and two favourite city sports teams – Partick Thistle and Glasgow Warriors. Try out The Lismore, an old-school pub named after a small Hebridean Island known for its great atmosphere and traditional music. Follow @TheLismoreBar on Twitter for details.
Parks and green spaces
The west end is known for its leafy parks. Kelvingrove Park is one for all ages with bowling greens, tennis courts, a skatepark, the restored Kelvingrove Bandstand and beautiful city views from the top.
Follow the Kelvin Walkway along the River Kelvin and you'll end up at another of the city's most popular parks, the Botanic Gardens. Home to a rose garden, tree trail, woodland river walks and the Kibble Palace. The A-listed Victorian glasshouse, Kibble Palace, is considered one of the finest glasshouse structures in the world, with a collection of significant plants alongside classical marble statues.
Victoria Park is known as one of Glasgow's prettiest parks, with landscaped gardens and floral displays, as well as Fossil Grove, Glasgow’s most ancient visitor attraction. Find out more about each of the city's parks at Glasgow City Council's website.
Music and arts in the bohemian west end
The parks in the west end provide the ideal setting for large cultural events, with everything from music to Shakespeare, and South Indian dance to open air ceilidhs.
The West End Festival brings a month-long series of events, with parades, music, films, talks and much more in one of Scotland's biggest community events of its kind. Whilst Bard in the Botanics brings a selection of Shakespeare's plays to the Botanic Gardens each summer.
The multicultural Glasgow Mela based on the traditions of the Indian sub-continent takes over Kelvingrove Park each summer, with top performers from around the world, alongside some delicious food stalls.
The restored Kelvingrove Bandstand sees a series of concerts take place each summer for Summer Nights Festival, with a stellar line-up each year.
For the biggest superstars in the world, The SSE Hydro is the place to go! This landmark building on the Glasgow skyline continually makes the list of top 5 busiest arenas in the world, attracting musicians, shows, comedians and more. Find out what acts are performing soon at SSE Hydro's website.
If you prefer a more intimate setting for comedians, then The Stand in the Woodlands area of the west end is one of the best comedy clubs in the UK, showcasing local and touring acts.
For club nights, after-show parties, street food and much more, the hippest venue in town is SWG3. Their ever-evolving space has recently welcomed the addition of Yardlife, an urban arts gallery for the graffiti and street art community. Visit swg3.tv for details.
Theatre lovers are well catered for in the west end with a number of former churches enjoying a new life as community theatres. The UK’s most successful lunchtime theatre show, A Play, A Pie, and A Pint, runs in Òran Mór. Both Cottiers Theatre and Webster's Theatre have also been restored beautifully to become magical settings for theatre shows, gatherings, cultural events and dining.
Article last updated: September 2021
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