Things to Do in Glasgow, Scotland
I made a quick stop in Scotland between Ireland and Britain. I only had 72 hours, but really wanted to visit both Glasgow and Edinburgh. What can you do in Glasgow with only a day or two? I technically had only 30 hours in the city and managed to see many of the unique attractions in Glasgow. Don’t let limited time deter you from making a jaunt over to Glasgow; it’s only 1 hour away from Edinburgh and can easily be a day trip from Scotland’s capital.
If you only have a short time frame, here are the top things to do in Glasgow, Scotland on your next trip!
1. Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
This is one of the most visited museums in UK and houses everything from natural history to the city’s history. There are over 8,000 exhibits, but Salvador Dali’s mesmerizing Christ of St. John of the Cross was my favorite. The museum has dinosaur skeletons, medieval armor, safari animals and a fighter plane making it a great pitstop for adults and children alike. On Sunday afternoons, there is an organ program. Free entry.
2. George Square
Filled with Glasgow’s rich history, George Square is a starting point for many city tours. I took a free walking tour through GuruWalk with a retired police officer. He provided great insight into the merchant city’s past. The square has cafes on the corners, so you can stop for a drink and people watch.
I’m always on the lookout for cheap, hearty meals. When I came across the Irani Café Chaakoo I knew I had to try it for one of my limited meals in the city. The original Bombay cafes were opened by the Persian & Irani immigrants who came to India in the 19th century. This restaurant in Glasgow provides an authentic throwback to these restaurants with wonderful Indian food and Iranian grill dishes. Each dish is served “tapas style” so you can indulge in several or makes it easy to share with others. I loved the curries and my chocolate chili milkshake.
4. Glasgow Cathedral & Necropolis
I arrived in the afternoon with just enough time to wander over to the Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1197 and is currently undergoing some renovations. Up the path behind the Cathedral you are drawn to the Necropolis. Inspired by Père Lachaise in Paris, the monuments date back to 1833.
5. Clydeside Distillery
This newer whisky distillery is housed inside the old Pumphouse building that once controlled entry to the famous Queen’s Dock. The owners of the distillery have family lineage that helped build the docks. Take a tour and see some of the impressive whisky on display. You get to learn about the distilling process and how it differs from Irish whiskey.
Word on the Street: Clydeside uses Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels to make some of their unique whisky!
6. Merchant Square
In the heart of Merchant City is an open shopping centre with local merchants, good food and often times live events. Stop by to browse the local vendors, have a drink at Metropolitan or enjoy dinner.
7. Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)
The neoclassical building in Royal Exchange Square showcases contemporary artists, with rotating exhibits on the first floor. It’s free entry and just off Buchanan Street. A lengthy visit isn’t needed, but it’s a nice reprieve from the rain or heat while you wander around the city centre.
8. City Centre Mural Trail
There are many different works of street art throughout Glasgow. You can download an app mapping all the artwork, which spans almost 9 miles. Or keep your eyes peeled for the St. Mungo Mural and the Billy Connolly. My favorite is the “falling in love” by the Rebel Bear.
9. Barras Market at Barrowlands
When I wondered through Barrowland there was a Hong Kong Market taking place with lots of local vendors selling Chinese artwork and foods. On any given weekend, you can usually buy fresh seafood or stroll through the antique shops looking for a gem. The Barrowland Ballroom has music festivals and shows, so be sure to check the schedule before your trip. The East End of Glasgow is also home to cheaper restaurants, so while you wander the neighborhood be on the lookout for a bite to eat.
10. Bread Meats Bread
I’m not much of a burger person, but Bread Meats Bread has won best burger in Scotland for multiple years and had a line out the door, so I thought I’d stop in on my first raining evening. They offer basic to gourmet options with several playful twist on the classics. BMB offers spiked milkshakes, various chips (fries) and several plant based options. There are also gluten free versions for those in need. Bread Meats Bread has several locations in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Pro Tip: There is a great airport express bus to and from the city center. It's faster than the train schedule and runs almost 24/7 making early flights easy to make.