It's not just for coffee - Glasgow's cafes are where you’ll most definitely experience the city’s famous friendliness, and the scene is filled to the brim with independent cafes and coffee shops to hang out with your friends, read a book or simply just people watch.
But with so many in every neighbourhood in the city, where should you start? Well here’s a taster of some of the cream of the crop when it comes to enjoying Glasgow’s café culture.
Named after the first ever African American student to achieve a medical degree from the University of Glasgow in 1837 (James McCune Smith – who became an influential American abolitionist) this café’s ethos is entrenched in the city’s history and provenance.
This unique little café is situated in the East, the oldest part of the city, and leads the way in their use of produce from local and ethical suppliers, and is renowned for serving Dear Green Coffee (specialist coffee roasters in Glasgow) and for their Scottish Enlightenment themed deli sandwiches. A tasty piece of history served with a modern NYC twist and a laid-back friendly Glaswegian atmosphere.
Affectionately known as “The Lab” this cosy little café, in the city centre, has been listed in the top 30 of Britain’s best coffee shops (Caffeine Magazine) and one of the world’s best places to drink coffee (Phaidon 2017) – suffice to say, these guys know their coffee!
So if you’re a coffee geek, this is a must visit. The staff are famed for their friendliness and knowledge of a perfect brew, both local and global. Topped with an offering of delicious desserts and Italian pastries making this the ultimate café pit stop for the coffee aficionado.
Earning plaudits for its tasty offerings is Gnom located in Strathbungo, a small, leafy village South of the city. This bright and airy neighbourhood bistro offers a small, varied and quirky menu - French toast ice cream sandwiches anyone?!
Baking up quite the buzz in the city’s café scene is Singl-end, whose basement café and bakehouse in Garnethill have proven so popular that they have recently opened a second spot in the Merchant City.
This little gem is not only a café but also has it’s own bakehouse, boasting some of the best bread, cakes and brunches in town, with plenty of gluten-free and veggie options to boot!
Both family and dog-friendly, this quirky artisan café is all about delivering good honest food with a friendly and laid back vibe as well as serving the odd celebrity too… Christian Slater visited while in Glasgow shooting his movie “The Wife” with his Oscar-nominated co-star Glenn Close.
Move over coffee, it’s time for tea right in the heart of the city at the opulent tea lounge called Cup, where tea is taken very seriously.
Set in a magnificent Victorian building on Renfield Street, designed by the man behind the Natural History Museum (Alfred Waterhouse) this is a stunning venue where you would be recommended to take your time sipping your way through the enormous tea menu.
Most notably known for their afternoon teas this is a café where you could most certainly make an occasion of it. Then come dusk, Cup turns into one of the city’s most popular gin bars, Gin 71.
Rated highly on TripAdvisor as one of the best cafes in Glasgow, it is no wonder that people are queuing around the block at the weekends to try out breakfast, brunch and lunch at Café Strange Brew. Based in Shawlands, South of the city, this friendly haunt, whose affectionate motto is ‘keep Shawlands strange’, serves up baked eggs, speciality pancakes and much more. The décor, which includes old wooden church pews, exposed original tenement tiling and modern prints is as charming as the staff and seasonal menu.
A relative newcomer to the city's cafe scene, Jodandy's is another top-rated venue on Tripadvisor! Located on Pollokshaws Road, one of the main arteries stretching through the South neighbourhood, it's earning 5-star reviews for its fantastic breakfast and brunch menu with plenty of vegan options. You can then walk off those delicious cakes and bakes in the nearby Queen's Park.
Often described as a “bohemian all-day café” the Glad Café, in the city’s South neighbourhood is about more than just the coffee. Run as a social enterprise this is a café where you can well and truly kick back and experience the neighbourhood’s vibe.
Enjoy cakes, including a fantastic range of gluten free, throughout the day alongside some good honest coffee. The café is also open late into the evening, where you can enjoy fresh cuisine from the latest hotly-tipped pop up to take the helm at Glad’s kitchen, whilst indulging in eclectic events from live music to comedy gigs.
Right next door is Glad Rags Thrift, a cool second hand/vintage store that supports the work and ethos of the café and adding to the laidback bohemian experience.
The owners of Riverhill opened their first city centre Coffee Bar in Glasgow a few years ago, and it is now hailed as “the best coffee and cake in Glasgow” by many of their customers and according to Yelp, has “the friendliest staff in Glasgow”.
A low-key café that sits across from the city’s iconic Central Station, this is a café where you can indulge in the Glasgow roasted Dear Green Coffee brand and no shortage of astounding cakes and pastries, with both vegan and gluten-free options.
Explore the beautiful designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh up close and personal at the Willow Tea Rooms located on Buchanan Street in the city centre - enjoy a delicious afternoon tea in surroundings that evoke a past era, linked to one of the city's most influential designers.
A delightful pop of pink on Maryhill Road, Rawnchy is a brand new neighbourhood, plant-based coffee and cake stop.
Owner Poppy Murricane saw a gap in the market for sweet treats catering to specific diets (vegan and free from) and has now found a permanent home from which to offer her healthy, all-natural, un-cooked tasty treats.
Sample chocolatey peanut butter brownies, slices of orange and goji berry, or blueberry and white chocolate and the newly launched savoury menu. The hummus bowl, soup bowl and nibble board are all vegan and gluten-free!
Down another little cobbled lane, you will find a vintage tearoom with a contemporary twist. Nestled nicely amongst local artist studios, this independent café is where you can taste your way around their huge selection of teas in mismatched “granny chic” teacups while tucking into their home-baked cakes, sandwiches and salads. Most notable for their afternoon teas, this funky vintage café is a firm favourite for those who are looking to enjoy a relaxing coffee and cake in a modern yet kitsch tearoom.
Looking for the perfect pit stop while you explore the city? Cottonrake is it!
A little artisan bakery on Great Western Road, in the city’s West neighbourhood Cottonrake is famous for its fresh bakes, cakes and croissants. So popular, you’ll often find it with a queue out its doors at lunchtimes, as locals pick up their freshly baked bread and cakes. It might be small but they still have a little sitting area where you can enjoy their baked goods and people watch, but it’s also an ideal café to drop in and go while you’re busy exploring the city.