Scotland’s largest city is a sprawling metropolis renowned for its culture, friendly people, and gritty character. As Scotland’s largest city, and the UK’s fourth largest, Glasgow isn’t short of things to do and places to see. While a longer stay is recommended to truly get to know this great city, it’s still possible to see the essentials in a day. There’s a lot to see in this vibrant city, so get ready for a packed day with moments bound to live long in the memory.
Getting to the city centre is easy wherever you might be staying. Buses and an underground subway mean the short commute is a relatively inexpensive one.
Begin the day with a wander around George Square. The main civic square in Glasgow, buildings of significance such as the City Chambers and the Merchants House surround the large square. Scattered around the square are some notable statues of iconic Scottish figures including Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, as well as a cenotaph commemorating Glaswegians killed in the first world war.
After this, take a wander to the Gallery of Modern Art on Royal Exchange Square to see a statue with a peculiar accessory. Symbolic of the humour of Glasgow, The Duke of Wellington Statue has an orange traffic cone on its head, a tradition that dates back to the mid-80s.
Head down the pedestrianised Buchanan Street for a spot of window shopping (or actual shopping if you see something you like!). This street is lined with shops either side, both commercial and independent, and there are often street performers of all types on this lively street armed with everything from guitars and makeshift drum kits to magic cards and fancy costumes. After this, head along Argyle Street until you arrive in Merchant City for an exploration of some incredible street art.
The Glasgow Mural Trail takes you on a journey through the city where wondrous works of art from a number of talented artists decorate a variety of buildings. You can download a map of the City Centre Mural Trail, which shows you all of the murals in the city. The ones not to be missed are the St Mungo Mural on High Street, St Enoch and Child on High Street, Fellow Glasgow Residents on Albion Street, and Billy Connolly on Osbourne Street. This city centre trail will also familiarise you with some of Glasgow’s fine 19th-century Victorian architecture and the “Glasgow Style” developed by the acclaimed Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Once you’ve completed some of the Glasgow Mural Trail (Or all of it if you’re feeling ambitious!), walk to the east of the city centre. If this feels too far, find a bus stop and hop on a bus that goes east — the number 38 is a good option.
A trip to a cemetery may sound like an odd tourist activity to suggest, however, Necropolis is undoubtedly one of Glasgow’s most compelling must-see places. Rest assured you will not be burying or digging up anything ghoulish! Situated in the east of the city centre, next to Strathclyde University, Necropolis is a gothic cemetery with over 3,500 monuments that radiates a fascinating atmosphere. Meander around the monuments and work your way to the top of the hill to cast your eyes on a spectacular view of Glasgow.
|Hours:||7am-4:30m 7 days a week|
Located at the bottom of Necropolis and next to Strathclyde University is Glasgow Cathedral. Dating back to 1197, Glasgow Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow. Little remains of Glasgow’s medieval architecture in the city, however, this piece of gothic Scottish architecture is something to marvel. Stark and imposing, Glasgow Cathedral is ideal for a photo with the interior giving off a calming aura.
With your appetite warmed up, make your way down to St. Enoch’s Square for a spot of lunch. Our recommendation is the Glasvegan, a vegan fast food restaurant in the heart of the city centre that promotes sustainability. They have an expansive menu with everything from Donner Vebabs and Chilli Nachos to pancakes and ice cream sundaes.
|Address:||Castle St, Glasgow G4 0QZ|
|Hours:||10am-12pm, 1-4pm Mon to Fri, Sat|
Closed on Sunday
From the city centre, hop on the underground subway and get off at Kelvinhall station to begin your exploration of Glasgow’s wonderful West End. Once you have alighted from the train, head out and enter Kelvingrove Park.
Accompanied by the River Kelvin flowing through it and luscious green hills and trees, Kelvingrove Park is the perfect place for a leisurely escape from the bustling city centre. The 85 acres of green land are a haven for students and residents to go for walks in, have picnics, or read a book. Potter around the park as you please and soak in the sensationally serene surroundings. If you get lucky with the weather, Kelvingrove Park becomes a very lively chill out spot, making the atmosphere of the park all the more high spirited.
|Hours:||24 hours 7 days a week|
After London, Kelvingrove Museum is the most visited museum in the UK and the most popular free tourist attraction in Scotland. That kind of reputation doesn’t come by chance. Situated on the edge of Kelvingrove Park, it is the perfect place to visit after a leisurely stroll through the park. The majestic red sandstone building, built in the Spanish baroque style, is immediately noticeable. There are 22 galleries and more than 8,000 pieces on display in this collection with a broad range of exhibits from renaissance art to ancient artefacts.
|Address:||Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG|
|Hours:||10am-5pm Mon to Thu, Sat |
11am-5pm Fri and Sun
We’re not asking you to enrol in a four year degree here, but we do suggest that you visit this university for its splendid architecture. This historical university has some impressive sites, such as the 278 foot iconic gothic tower, and the university Cloisters, a network of pristine archways and columns that many say make you feel like you’re in Hogwarts (Though Harry Potter was never actually filmed here). Aim to go there after the rush hour of students, normally late afternoon is a good time to go.
|Hours:||24 hours 7 days a week|
Another delightful green space in Glasgow, the Botanic Gardens are filled with history, diverse plants, and fine buildings. Head to the entrance on Great Western Road to commence your botany adventure. The gardens feature a variety of glasshouse buildings, however, the pick of the bunch is definitely the Kibble Palace. This striking, dome-shaped glasshouse is home to the National collection of tree ferns. Exotic plants branch through this glass building with a diversity that ranges from the arid to the tropical. Once you’ve had a wander, take a pit stop at the Botanic Gardens Tearooms for some afternoon tea.
|Address:||730 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 0UE|
|Hours:||10am-7pm 7 days a week|
Byres Road is the beating heart of Glasgow’s West End. This diverse, cultured street is lined from top to bottom with coffee shops, restaurants, charity shops, book shops and so much more. Have a browse at the different shops as you saunter down. When it comes to food, we recommend Bothy Glasgow, a relaxed Scottish restaurant that serves classics with a modern twist. The menu often changes, befitting of the seasons, however, the ingredients sourced from all over Scotland is a constant.
To conclude your jam-packed day out, after your meal, head to Ashton Lane, tucked just off Byres Road. Ashton Lane is a quaint, charming tiny street decorated with pretty fairy lights and cobbled stoned roads. There are a host of lively pubs to wet your lips in, giving the street a radiant atmosphere. Stop at Innis and Gunn for a classic pint or a craft brew, or at Vodka Wodka for a funky cocktail.