Glasgow is on the up—there’s more to this Scottish city than Irn-Bru! Credit: Shutterstock

Glasgow: A City Guide

As attendees of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference just found out, Glasgow is Scotland’s most exciting city

Thanks to the COP26 climate conference, online searches for “Glasgow culture” skyrocketed 300 percent worldwide in the days leading up to the summit. There was also an unprecedented spike in people Googling Glaswegian food.

Thanks to development in areas such as Finnieston over the past decade, a quick search will now bring up an array of impressive hotels and restaurants. Twenty-twenty-one also saw Glasgow’s first Michelin star in 18 years. If you’re hungry to discover what you can see and do on a city break in Glasgow, you’re not alone.

Glasgow

Eat

A former industrial powerhouse and now a modern and vibrant city, Glasgow deserves its reputation for reinvention, especially when it comes to food. Forget the Scottish stereotypes—this city is full of award-winning chefs and menus focused on celebrating Scotland’s finest ingredients rather than deep-fried Mars Bars and Irn-Bru.


Lorna McNee was awarded a Michelin star in January 2021 for her work at West End restaurant Cail Bruich, making her the first solo female chef in Scotland to be awarded a star in 20 years. Its menus are dictated by local, sustainable ingredients and change with the Scottish seasons.

Contributing to Finnieston’s reputation as one of the world’s coolest neighborhoods (just head towards the giant crane to find it), The Gannet is the creation of three friends and also committed to sourcing locally from small artisan producers, foragers and farmers. It joined Ox and Finch, one of Glasgow’s most-loved restaurants for its Mediterranean small plates, as a contributor to Plate Up For Glasgow during COP26. Participating restaurants helped to address food waste by creating drinks and dishes from ingredients that would normally be thrown away.

Born in Glasgow, to Italian parents, chef Nico Simeone also launched his first Six by Nico restaurant in Finnieston in 2017. Locations in Belfast, Manchester, Liverpool and London have since followed. At each, you can enjoy a new six-course tasting menu every six weeks focused on a different place or memory. Beat 6, which you’ll find on Whitehill Street, Dennistoun, is the brand’s new charitable restaurant. Its regularly rotating tasting menu honors some of the most popular dishes created by the Six by Nico team. However, all profits from the restaurant will be donated towards the Beatson Cancer Charity, which supports the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. 

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Scotland’s second city is no runner-up when it comes to culture. It was named European City of Culture in 1990 and, thanks to some of the world’s most famous architects, its museums are as impressive inside as out.

Glaswegian architect, designer and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh is considered the father of Glasgow Style, so you’ll find his work celebrated throughout the city. Highlights include The Lighthouse, housed in the former Herald building, which was Mackintosh’s first public commission and offers unrivaled views of the city from the Mack Tower. More Mackintosh objects and furniture can be found at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and The Hunterian Art Gallery, located at the University of Glasgow.

The Riverside Museum credits its striking façade to the late prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid. Located on the banks of the River Clyde, it houses the contents of the former Museum of Transport and celebrates the city’s shipbuilding and engineering past. The Tall Ship Glenlee is berthed alongside it.

Glasgow’s legendary music scene also saw it named the UK’s first-ever UNESCO City of Music. In any given week, the city can host more than 100 music events in iconic venues such as the Barrowlands and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Recognized by its giant neon sign, the 2,000-capacity Barrowland Ballroom is a Glasgow institution that’s loved by bands as much as gig-goers and has played host to David Bowie and Oasis. Oasis were famously signed by Alan McGee at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in 1993, too.

With around 100 gardens and parks, Glasgow also ranks high among UK’s cities for its green credentials and open spaces. Flanked by the River Clyde, Glasgow Green is the city’s oldest park and a great place to enjoy an afternoon stroll, especially in spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. You’ll also find peace and quiet and an abundance of exotic plant life in the domed Kibble Palace glasshouse at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens in the city’s West End.

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Kimpton Blythswood Square

Overlooking one of the city’s many green spaces, Kimpton Blythswood Square boasts modern five-star amenities, which include an innovative spa, within a 19th-century Georgian townhouse. As part of its own progressive sustainability policy, its new iasg restaurant (the name is Gaelic for fish) celebrates the best Scottish seafood and works with suppliers that guarantee traceability and only source in waters with a healthy supply.

Glasgow

Voco Grand Central 

Forget any preconceptions you may have about train station hotels, the Voco Grand Central complements its location adjoining Glasgow Central in the shopping district with a serious amount of style. Thanks to a 2021 refurbishment, this legendary hotel that has welcomed Winston Churchill and The Rolling Stones in the past has a new contemporary décor to join its original features.