Things to do in Glasgow

A short break in Glasgow will never be boring, with more attractions, art galleries and jaw-dropping architecture than almost anywhere else in the UK

Scotland’s largest city is second only to London when it comes to museums and galleries. It is incredibly rich in cultural institutions and insights – Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and the National Theatre of Scotland are all based here, rather than the capital, Edinburgh.

Perched on the River Clyde, Glasgow’s status as a major port city during the Victorian age gave it sufficient wealth to fund handsome, lavish architecture – all of it still intact and making it a very attractive city for those on a weekend break.

Acquaint yourself with Glasgow’s most celebrated artist, architect and designer:

A short break in Glasgow could be planned solely around the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The hugely influential and much-loved architect designed some of Glasgow’s most interesting modernist buildings – from major structures like the Glasgow School of Art (its famous library, tragically damaged in a fire in 2015, is currently undergoing a process of painstaking reconstruction) to the Willow Tearooms, with a distinct Art Deco aesthetic. To learn more about Mackintosh himself, you can visit the Hunterian Museum to see the artist’s Glasgow home, painstakingly restored and reconstructed on site with original interiors and furniture designed to illustrate his distinctive style (and give you major wallpaper envy).

See Warhol and Hockney at the GOMA

The Gallery of Modern Art is a stately building in the town centre, with grand pillars in the neoclassical style – it’s hard to believe that it was built in 1778 as a home for a wealthy tobacconist. Nowadays, it’s Scotland’s most visited art gallery, and includes work from Warhol and Hockney. As an interesting aside, you may notice the statue of the Duke of Wellington in front of the museum is wearing a traffic cone. This is not unusual – the local council long ago gave up removing the cone repeatedly placed on the Duke’s head by unidentified Glaswegians. During the 2012 Olympics, he even wore a gold version in recognition of Team GB’s medal haul.

Set sail on an old steamer

There are lots of ways to take advantage of Glasgow’s riverside location. If you have kids with you, it’s fun to board The Glenlee – one of only five Clydebuilt sailing ships to survive. Visitors can explore the boat, sit in the captain’s cabin, chat to costumed shipmates and dine on board. It’s a short walk to the Riverside Museum from the Glenlee, where you can learn about the history of Glasgow through a range of interactive exhibits. Alternatively, you can board a boat that actually leaves the port in the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer, a fabulous Glasgow day out. The Waverley is a lovely old sea craft with steaming funnels, timber decks and handsome observation decks. You can board for an afternoon or an evening cruise, heading out to the nearby Lochs and islands of outstanding natural beauty, and see Glasgow from the vantage point of the Clyde.

Bristol

Hit the style mile

Purses at the ready – Glasgow is home to more than 1,500 shops. 200 of the finest stores are located on the style mile – the stretch of high street around Buchanan St, Argyle St and Merchant City. The west end of the city has a quirkier offering, with plenty of second hand shops and vintage boutiques to satisfy the city’s large student and bohemian population.

Go west for a beer brewed the Glaswegian way

Thirsty? Why not head to one of Glasgow’s more idiosyncratic attractions? The Templeton Building was constructed in 1892 to house a carpet factory, but was designed to resemble Doge’s Palace in Venice in order to placate neighbours who objected to having an ugly factory in their view. It’s an unusual piece of architecture, and it’s not to everyone’s taste, but it remains a Glasgow landmark. And it’s even more worth a visit now thanks to its most recent tenant – the WEST Brewery. This Bavarian style micro-brewery makes Glaswegian beer the German way, and you can learn about the company’s craft at one of the brewery tours which take place daily. If your interest is in tasting, rather than learning, you can pitch up at the stylish pub/restaurant. On a sunny day, you can dine and drink in the capacious beer garden, which has a great view of Glasgow Green and the People’s Palace – a museum with a spectacular glass outhouse.

Visit Glasgow’s dearly departed

The Glasgow Necropolis is a Victorian cemetery housing the tombs of 50,000 Glaswegians of a variety of creeds and faiths. It’s actually a rather beautiful place to walk – set over 37 acres, perched on a hill overlooking the city, and filled with more than 3000 monuments. Some have been designed by Glasgow’s foremost artists and sculptors – including Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who fashioned a Celtic Cross in his distinctive dDeco style for the grave of his friend, Andrew McCall. The Necropolis was based on the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, and has a tranquil, almost fairytale feel. You can take an official guided tour to uncover its many secrets, or just set aside an hour or two to wander around this strangely charming spot.

This Scottish city has plenty to offer – from art and culture, to shopping and food, so take a look at our hotels in Glasgow and see it all for yourself.