International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
From its audacious architecture to its raucous nightlife, Glasgow – along with Edinburgh – is at the forefront of contemporary Scottish culture. The city isn’t ashamed of its industrial heritage either, and its dockyards are being regenerated at a blistering pace.
Situated by the Clyde, the Riverside Museum is the new home of the Museum of Transport following the original venue’s closure. As well as displaying trams, trains and buses, there are recreations of Glasgow streets through the ages (glasgowmuseums.com; 100 Pointhouse Rd; admission free).
The Glasgow School of Art is the most famous building designed by Glasgow’s greatest son, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Completed in 1909, the building is still the crucible of Scotland’s arts scene (gsa.ac.uk; 167 Renfrew St; admission £9).
The suburb of Milngavie is the starting point of the 96-mile Highland Way, a trail running through some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery to Fort William. The shores of Loch Lomond are 20 miles away from the city (walking.visitscotland.com).
Glasgow Cathedral is one of the country’s finest examples of Gothic architecture – and the only cathedral on the Scottish mainland to have survived the Reformation intact (glasgowcathedral.org.uk; Castle St; admission free).
Glasgow is Scotland’s live music capital, with one of the most vibrant indie-rock scenes in the UK. King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut has long led the charge – this tiny venue showcases both local bands and rock royalty (kingtuts.co.uk; 272a St Vincent St).
Eat and drink
The two Willow Tea Rooms are faithful recreations of a tearoom designed and furnished by Charles Rennie Macintosh. Excellent bagels feature on the menu alongside 25 tea varieties (willowtearooms.co.uk; 217 Sauchiehall St & 97 Buchanan St; light meals from £4).
Once part of Glasgow’s old cheese market, Café Gandolfi is now an excellent bistro and coffee shop, with stained-glass windows and high ceilings. Much of the menu leans towards Italian dishes, but Scotch favourites such as Cullen Skink are also available (cafegandolfi.com; 64 Albion St; mains from £8).
In a city blessed with an abundance of Indian restaurants, Mother India in the West End stands out. The menu ranges from tikkas to more innovative dishes, such as haddock on puy lentils and homemade lemon pickle (motherindiaglasgow.co.uk; 28 Westminster Trrc; mains from £8).
Located close to Glasgow University, Stravaigin 2 has a legendary reputation for its superior burgers, fish and chips, and haggis (stravaigin2.co.uk; 8 Ruthven Ln; mains from £9).
The Ubiquitous Chip has been hailed as a worthy ambassador of Scottish gastronomy for 40 years. Knuckle down for an odyssey through seasonal Caledonian produce, such as Islay scallops, or plump for the trademark venison haggis (ubiquitouschip.co.uk; 12 Ashton Ln; mains from £9).
Located in Glasgow’s Merchant City district, The Brunswick is a small independent hotel with a bohemian spirit – DJs have been known to play in the lifts, and art installations periodically take over the stylishly sparse rooms (brunswickhotel.co.uk; 106-108 Brunswick St; from £35).
The Piper’s Tryst is a modest and comfortable eight-bedroom hotel run by the National Piping Centre next door. Evenings see guests head to the bar-restaurant downstairs, which serves up fine single malts (thepipingcentre.co.uk; 30-34 McPhater St; from £65).
Cathedral House Hotel brings some of the grandness of a Scottish baronial mansion to central Glasgow, with pointy turrets, steep spiral stairs and four-poster beds. Many rooms have good views out onto the cathedral and its necropolis (cathedralhousehotel.org; 28- 32 Cathedral Sq; from £90).
A restored townhouse in central Glasgow, Blythswood Square has interiors Sleep decorated with chandeliers and Georgian panelling, with rooms that look out onto the square. Don’t miss the impressive colonnaded salon, which serves drinks and snacks throughout the day (blythswoodsquare.com; 11 Blythswood Sq; from £105).
The Glasgow outpost of the Hotel du Vin chain occupies three terraced houses in the West End. Inside, stained-glass windows and fireside lounges help create a study in elegance, while its two restaurants – featuring more than 600 vintages – ensure that the place lives up to its name (hotelduvin.com; 1 Devonshire Gdns; from £135).
Glasgow is served by an extensive network of buses, many operated by First Glasgow (single journeys from 90p; firstglasgow.com). Subway and suburban rail services connect to the city at Buchanan Street station (spt.co.uk).
When to go
Summer evenings are when the city’s party spirit is most evident. Featuring a Mardi Gras-style parade, June’s West End Festival is one of the biggest cultural events in all of Scotland (westendfestival.co.uk).
How to go
Virgin Trains operates services to Glasgow Central from Birmingham (from £40) and Manchester (from £15; virgintrains.co.uk). The Caledonian Sleeper runs overnight from Euston (from £55; scotrail.co.uk). BA flies to Glasgow International airport from Heathrow (from £95; ba.com) while easyJet flies there from Bristol (from £70; easyjet.com).