The leafy west end of Glasgow is known for its top attractions, quirky lanes, amazing food scene and relaxed vibe. It has also made it onto many UK-wide '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. Find out more 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 and enjoy samples. The riverside views are stunning, overlooking modern buildings, such as the OVO Hydro and SEC Armadillo.
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 historic campus 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, including the National Library of Scotland's Moving Image Archive. 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 find vintage shops, old-fashioned street lamps, churches transformed into arts spaces, parks and more. It's no wonder Great Western Road was recently named the third 'coolest street in the world' by Time Out (August 2022).
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 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.
Top places for food and drink
It's in the west end that you'll find Glasgow's 2 Michelin starred restaurants, Cail Bruich and Unalome by Graeme Cheevers.
Meaning ‘eat well’ in Gaelic, Cail Bruich offers fine dining with many ingredients hand-foraged from the local area. View sample menus at cailbruich.co.uk. Unalome by Graeme Cheevers offers fine dining by an award winning chef. View the modern European menu at unalomebygc.com.
You can't go wrong by visiting restaurants that are much-loved by the locals. There is the Ubiquitous Chip serving Scottish fare in a leafy courtyard or the family-run Eusebi’s Deli, serving the best of Italian cuisine. Visit ubiquitouschip.co.uk and visit eusebideli.com to find out more.
The well-known Stravaigin serves Scottish produce with innovative flavours within a cosy setting. They also have live music many evenings a week adding to the relaxed environment. Visit stravaigin.co.uk to book.
For lots of choice, try Dockyard Social, a street food market, which also has live music. Visit dockyardsocial.com to find out which food vendors, specialist bars, live bands and DJs are on each weekend.
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 book. Also making it onto top foodie lists is Number 16 on Byres Road - check out Number 16's modern Scottish menu online.
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 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. This area has seen a steep rise in popularity. It is home to one of the world’s busiest live entertainment venues, the OVO Hydro and SWG3, a multipurpose venue that hosts gigs, exhibitions and club nights. There are also many super cool eateries, delis and drinking dens.
With great bars and restaurants, and unrivalled creativity, this is up-and-coming Glasgow at its energetic, edgy finest.
The Sunday Times
For food and drink, you'll be spoilt for choice in Finnieston. The Ben Nevis Bar is a fabulous whisky bar with live music and lively locals! Visit 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. Visit Ox and Finch's website to book. While Six by Nico has a unique concept where they serve 6 delicious courses from a themed menu that changes every 6 weeks. Visit Six by Nico's website to find out the current theme.
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 is based in the middle of one of the city's longest roads, Great Western Road (recently named 'third best street in the world' by Time Out). Take a table at Inn Deep, which is built into an arch beneath the bridge and a craft beer, while overlooking the river. Visit inndeep.com.
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. Partick just happens to be home to the Scotland's Restaurant of the Year (Scottish Bar and Pub Awards, 2022). Gaga Kitchen and Bar scooped the prize for their South East Asian cuisine and cocktails less than a year after opening. Check out gagaglasgow.com to book.
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. Find out more about each of the city's parks at Glasgow City Council's website.
Music and arts in the west end
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.
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.
Visit our top events and festivals page for more info.
For the biggest superstars in the world, the OVO 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. Find out what acts are performing soon at OVO 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.
The Red Sky Bar at Radisson Red Hotel is a great place from pre and post gig partying. Enjoy riverside views and DJs in Red Sky Bar every Friday and Saturday evening. Find out more about this rooftop bar at redskybar.com.
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 2022
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