Famous nightlife, a revered music scene and unique architecture are just a handful of reasons Glasgow deserves at least 48 hours of your time.

Often unfavourably compared to Scotland's capital, the country's biggest city surprises visitors in many ways, with perhaps the biggest draw being the warm, welcoming Glaswegians themselves. ‘People Make Glasgow’ is a saying round these parts and here's our suggestions for being part of that on a short break to the city. 

View of Glasgow City Chambers building in George Square
Glasgow's architecture is one of the city's highlights, including here in George Square © Dragos Cosmin photos / Getty Images

Day One


Hop on the ‘Clockwork Orange’, Glasgow’s iconic subway system, and head west towards the beautifully striking Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. Here, you’ll be dazzled by a treasure trove of 8000 objects, with dozens of natural history collections and centuries of art on display. Free to enter, it also has plenty for kids too.

Then, wind your way through the gloriously green Kelvingrove Park, the city’s most celebrated outdoor space right in the heart of the West End. Expect to be greeted by grey squirrels and dozens of dog walkers.

Dart past the duck pond and head out of the park’s north exit, onto Gibson Street, where a row of artisan coffee shops await. Feeling hungry? Stravaigin will tempt you in for a hard-to-beat eggs Benedict in a smart setting.

Stuffed animals in a gallery in Kelvingrove Museum
Check out the natural history section at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum © Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock


A short meander along the River Kelvin gets you to Great Western Road where can shop for urban chic at retro fashion stores including the colourful Glasgow Vintage Co.

Further west, you have the option of seeking shade or shelter beneath one of the glorious glasshouses of the Botanic Gardens or continuing your journey down Byres Road, the West End’s main drag, abuzz with independent cafes, shops and restaurants – make sure to peek down the side streets for some of the city’s greatest hidden gems.

Follow the hordes of students towards the stunning and hugely atmospheric University of Glasgow, which many feel served as an inspiration for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. Within, you’ll find the superb Hunterian museums and galleries including The Mackintosh House which exhibits a large body of work by esteemed Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

The gothic architecture of Glasgow University is a prominent feature of the city's skyline
Glasgow's own Hogwarts aka the city's grand neo-Gothic university © Cappa Photo / Shutterstock


In this part of the city you would be remiss not to tread the cobblestones of the quaint and characterful Ashton Lane, a row of restaurants and bars with the likes of brewery-fresh beers and expertly-crafted cocktails making for the ultimate upmarket pub crawl.

Before you hit the drink, indulge in the eclectic menu of Ubiquitous Chip, one of Glasgow’s most renowned restaurants with its unique twists on traditional local dishes. Alternatively, in a city which heralds itself as having arguably the best Indian food of anywhere in Europe, never mind the UK, leap across the lane to Ashoka for a tikka masala, the dish which was allegedly created right here in Glasgow.

Make sure to nip into ‘Scotland’s smallest bar’ for a nightcap before you turn in: The Wee Pub transports you away from the hustle and bustle of city life to a cosy Highland inn, the perfect atmosphere in which to unwind with a dram of whisky or two.

A man enjoys a drink at the bar of the Wee Pub
Round off your evening with a wee dram in the Wee Pub © Gary Armstrong / Lonely Planet

Day Two


Head to the historic and handsome Merchant City to fuel up for the day ahead at one of Glasgow’s best brunch spots, Wilson Street Pantry, where a typical local favourite of a roll, Lorne (square) sausage and Stornoway black pudding might take your fancy, or Singl-end for top veggie and vegan fare.

Glasgow Green, another of the city’s favourite parks, is your next stop. Here you’ll come across the magnificent People’s Palace, where you’ll be given a detailed insight into the history of the city and its people through prints, paintings and photography.

Then, spark your creative side by following the city centre mural trail. In recent years, talented local artists have transformed previously unloved areas and buildings, adding splashes of colour throughout Glasgow to document the city’s cultural heritage.

Exterior view of the People's Palace in Glasgow
Learn about the history of Glasgow in the People's Palace © Gary Armstrong / Lonely Planet


A visit to the grand, gothic Glasgow Cathedral tells the story of the city's religious past – the magnificent medieval building has taken pride of place in the East End since the 12th Century.

The adjacent Provand’s Lordship and St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art are further portals into Glasgow’s history, while the hilltop Necropolis cemetery, inspired by Paris’ Pere-Lachaise, is where to get panoramic pics of the city.

Head back towards the centre for more snaps outside the unmissable City Chambers on George Square, before checking out another collection of fine exhibits at the Gallery Of Modern Art (the statue outside of the Duke of Wellington has been adorned with a traffic cone since the 1980s – an example of irreverent Glaswegian humour that authorities have resigned themselves to). 

No visit would be complete without a small shopping spree: Buchanan Street is one of Europe’s most popular retail parades, while the ever-elegant Princes Square offers high-end fashion.

Arched windows inside Glasgow Cathedral
Beautiful Glasgow Cathedral and its neighbouring necropolis are well worth a wander © Rudolf T / Getty Images


Queue up alongside locals at Paesano for fine Neapolitan-style pizzas, or pull into Platform, a street food market set within the cavernous, atmospheric railway arches beneath Central Station.

The Horseshoe Bar, arguably Glasgow’s most legendary boozer, is perfect for people watching with a pint and witnessing many of the city’s most fascinating characters. For whisky aficionados, Pot Still is your Holy Grail with over 700 different bottles of the stuff housed here. Unsure where to start? The supremely knowledgeable bar staff will sort you out.

Essential Glasgow means going to a gig. Dive below street level and look out for the next Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand or Belle and Sebastian performing in front of a sweaty crowd at the serial-award-winning King Tut’sFor bigger, international acts, snap up a ticket for the music venue many artists proclaim to be the world's best, the Barrowland Ballroom, and bounce on the creaky old floorboards into the wee hours. A fitting end to your 48 hours of Glaswegian fun.

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