Glasgow is a vibrant and welcoming city bursting with character, personality and great experiences. No matter when you visit, you’ll find world-class visitor attractions, unique neighbourhoods, stunning architecture, an ever-evolving food and drink scene and legendary nightlife.
So check out our top reasons to visit the city and find out just why Glasgow was named the 'UK’s top cultural and creative city' in a landmark report by the European Commission in 2019 and one of the top 10 ‘Best Cities in the World’ in 2019 by Time Out Magazine.
Housing one of Europe’s largest civic art collections, the city has a fantastic mix of world-class museums, galleries and award-winning visitor attractions including Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Riverside Museum, with these and many others, FREE to visit. There are also hidden gems to be discovered like the Tenement House, where you can experience what life was like in early 20th century Glasgow, and the oldest surviving music hall in the world - the Britannia Panopticon. There are family-friendly attractions such as Glasgow Science Centre and a cutting-edge arts scene too, evidenced through expertly curated programmes at venues such as Tramway, the Centre for Contemporary Arts and the Gallery of Modern Art.
Glasgow has it covered when it comes to entertainment. It's legendary music scene with many revered independent and intimate venues including the Barrowlands and King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, and an annual calendar of events bursting with world-class festivals such as Piping Live! and Celtic Connections makes sure of it. A creative and cultural hub, home to all but one of Scotland’s national performing arts organisations including Scottish Ballet and the National Theatre of Scotland. Boutique cinemas, basement comedy clubs, glitzy casinos or underground club nights, Glasgow has it all.
"It's the city's unrivalled music scene that really embodies Glasgow's energy and swagger."National Geographic Traveler
If you ask a local what to see and do in the city, many will tell you to take a walk and “look up” to really appreciate Glasgow’s rich and varied architectural heritage. From the medieval Glasgow Cathedral to the Neo-Gothic University of Glasgow – rumoured to be the inspiration for Harry Potter's Hogwarts - to the Art Nouveau wonders of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Glasgow’s wealthy past has left a legacy of the finest Victorian architecture in the UK but you only have to take a short stroll along the ever-changing riverside to see innovative, cutting-edge designs.
“This historic city, known for its Art Nouveau flourishes, also has a blossoming modern side, with daring new buildings, bars, restaurants and galleries.”36 Hours in Glasgow, New York Times
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a pioneering Glaswegian architect and designer and no trip to the city is complete without a visit to one of his magnificent works. In fact, Glasgow is the only place in the world that has a high concentration of Mackintosh designed attractions and architecture. From the Mackintosh House, the reassembled interiors from his original home, to the stunning House for an Art Lover and the newly refurbished Mackintosh at the Willow, Miss Cranston's original Willow Tea Rooms where visitors can now enjoy the new exhibition, visitor centre, tea room and gift shop. The meticulously restored world class cultural and heritage attraction is the only surviving tea room designed in its entirety by Mackintosh.
Tours are a great way of seeing Glasgow and learning fascinating facts about the city from expert locals. There are a number of walking tours on offer where knowledgeable guides can help you explore the city, themed around everything from food and music to history and architecture. You can also take guided tours of many of the city’s venues, including Tennent's Brewery and Glasgow Central Railway Station. Take things at your own pace by following a self-guided trail around the murals or Mackintosh properties. The City Sightseeing Glasgow hop on, hop off bus is also a fantastic way to get yourself acquainted!
Explore the city's neighbourhoods each with their own distinct personality, vibe and hidden gems. As Glasgow is a compact city and easy to get around, you can explore more than one neighbourhood in one day. So you might want to take a bike ride around Pollok Country Park in the leafy South in the morning, followed by some lunch and shopping in the metropolitan City Centre. Afterwards, head to the urban playground that is the North for a stroll along the banks of the canal then enjoy a late afternoon brewery tour in the historic and creative East finished off with dinner in the bohemian West!
"I like how North, South, East and West are such diverse neighbourhoods. It feels quite personal and because it’s a small city, you get to know it really well."Sarah McCrory Gallery Director, Goldsmiths, University of London
Be sure to check out the lanes and arcades in the West neighbourhood for cool vintage, second-hand and independent boutiques, the South for a series of quirky, small stores full of locally created and crafted goods, and the East for some great weekend markets and independent traders. Buchanan Street is the city’s main pedestrianised shopping street where there is no shortage of mega malls, well-known brand names and speciality shopping while Ingram Street in the Merchant City is where to find exclusive fashion brands.
Glasgow has an ever-evolving food and drink scene and the Finnieston neighbourhood, considered to be the city’s ‘foodie quarter’, has been at the heart of this constant reinvention with a tempting mix of cool, quality and affordable venues found here. Also on the up are the city’s many street food markets, where traders create tantalising options from their quaint trucks in a relaxed, sociable setting. Or for a taste of local fare, from the traditional haggis, neeps and tatties to the finest seafood, head to one of Glasgow's Scottish restaurants. If it’s a traditional pub full of Glaswegian charm and a dram of whisky with the locals you’re after, then the city’s bars with weekly toe-tapping traditional music sessions are for you. And for hip hangouts, head to one of our cool music bars, many of which offer plant-based menus, helping Glasgow to maintain its place as one of the UK’s most Vegan Friendly cities.
With fantastic travel links, combining the excitement of a Glasgow city break with a day trip to some of Scotland’s most scenic spots has never been easier. The beauty of Loch Lomond, the history of Stirling and the sandy beach of Ayr are all less than one hour away from the centre of Glasgow by public transport.
Article last update: November 2019