Disarmingly blending sophistication and earthiness, Scotland's biggest city has evolved over the last couple of decades to become one of Britain's most intriguing metropolises.
Glasgow's principal architectural legacy is its impressive assemblage of stately Victorian mansions and public buildings, the product of wealth generated from manufacturing and trade. It gives the centre a solid, slightly staid dignity that is actually rather misleading. More svelte are the sublime designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which dot the city; visiting a few of his buildings and interiors soon reveals his genius. The city – always proud of its working-class background – also innovatively displays its industrial heritage, while modern structures, many along the Clyde River, have quickly become local icons.
Museums and Galleries
Collecting was big in Victorian times, so it's no surprise that Glasgow's architectural legacy from the period is complemented by some wonderful museums and galleries. Kelvingrove combines natural history and diverse objects from around the world with a first-rate art collection, while nearby Kelvin Hall will hold, from 2020, the University of Glasgow's eclectic Hunterian museum exhibits, paintings and sumptuous Mackintosh interior. On the Clyde, the Riverside holds an excellent ensemble of historic vehicles; to the south, the Burrell Collection (due to reopen in 2020) is an extraordinary corpus of archaeological treasures, objets d'art from around the world and fine paintings.
Glaswegians definitely work to live, and the city comes into its own after five – not that people don't pop down for a cheeky lunchtime pint, too. The city's pubs are gloriously friendly places and you're sure to have some entertaining blethers (chats) with locals when you pop into one. Glasgow's live music scene is also legendary; big bands play at iconic venues, but a number of lower-key pubs have regular gigs that are excellent too. Clubbing is also popular, with a couple of famous dance floors, and the LGBT-focused Pink Triangle is a notably friendly scene.
Glasgow is where Scotland shops; the city packs out at weekends when highlanders, islanders, Edinburghers and more come in to cruise the malls. The downtown area has several major shopping centres and arcades fully stocked with global brands as well as more local offerings. On the fringes of this area and in the West End are the bohemian beats: record stores, vintage clothing markets and second-hand booksellers. In the East End, the weekend Barras market is quite an experience, blending modern concepts with cheap designer ripoffs, faded bric-a-brac and a dose of authentic working-class Glasgow.