Scotland’s largest city is arguably also the most vibrant, filled with an eclectic collection of museums, galleries and restaurants, alongside beautiful green spaces and a buzzing music scene. And, just like last year when world leaders descended on the city for COP26, all eyes are on Glasgow this autumn: the city is being hailed as the UK‘s ‘first feminist city‘ after councillors passed a game-changing planning motion to put women at the centre of town planning. Green councillor Holly Bruce states that it is ‘fundamental that women are central to all aspects of planning, public realm design, policy development and budgets’ to ensure that the city is safe and inclusive to all. Such measures include widening footpaths for prams and wheelchairs and increasing nighttime lighting in parks and along streets. Fancy paying this forward-thinking city a visit? Here’s what to do, see and eat in Glasgow.
The C&TH Guide To Glasgow
Geographically speaking, Glasgow is divided into four quarters: the city centre, the East End, the West End and the Southside – each of which is split into its own neighbourhoods. The West End is the city’s most well-heeled area, home to Finnieston, a foodie hub filled with cosy coffee shops and hip bars. Southside, meanwhile, is seen as the up-and-coming end of Glasgow. The city is also well-placed for day trips to some of Scotland’s most beautiful attractions, such as Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park – a reminder of the sprawling natural landscapes Scotland has long been famous for, and that initiatives like COP26 work to save.
Whether you’re after a luxurious city centre spot or a traditional Scottish bolthole, there’s a Glasgow hotel to suit all types of traveller. In the West End there’s Hotel du Vin, a country manor-style retreat spread across a series of townhouses, complete with an award-winning restaurant and opulent décor. Another popular option is Dakota Glasgow, a stylish boutique hotel not far from Sauchiehall Street featuring New York-style interiors from Amanda McCulloch. And if you’re after a bit of glitz, the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel – once the headquarters of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club – will fit the bill, with its own spa and a private cinema.
EAT & DRINK
Glasgow’s food scene has come on leaps and bounds in recent years: these days it’s filled with sophisticated brasseries, cool cafés and down-to-earth eateries, featuring both fresh Scottish fare and international flavours. The West End is home to some of the city’s best food spots, including the city’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, Cail Bruich. Nearby you’ll find The Ubiquitous Chip, the long-standing institution that’s been feeding Glaswegians since the ‘70s, and friendly café-restaurant Stravaigin, which offers relaxed dining amid stylish surroundings. In the city centre, cosy up in Café Gandolfi, a rustic spot which has played a big part in the renaissance of the once dilapidated Merchant City.
Looking to sample some fresh Scottish seafood? You’ll be spoilt for choice here. Check out the dedicated oyster bar at Glasgow legend Rogano, or head west for authentic flavours at Crabshakk on Argyle Street. On the other side of the spectrum, though, Glasgow has a big vegan scene. Rawnchy in the East End is a plant-based café serving colourful burrito bowls and raw cakes, while flexitarian spot Down To Earth serves up a stellar vegan brunch.
Glasgow is also famed for its lively nightlife, with lots of cosy pubs and chic cocktail bars to explore. Drink up at one of the city’s long-standing institutions like The Horse Shoe on Drury Street or try out a newer addition, such as The Gate which serves craft beers and a large selection of whiskies.
Glasgow is a city rich with culture. A must-visit is Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, known for housing paintings by the Scottish colourists as well as the Salvador Dali masterpiece Christ of St John of the Cross. To feel the spirit of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, check out the oldest museum in Scotland, the Hunterian – home to a large collection of work from the renowned architect. And for a bit of everything, Òran Mór is your best bet. Located in a converted church at the end of Byres Road, the venue hosts everything from theatre to live music, alongside a whisky bar, a restaurant and an auditorium with a beautiful mural ceiling by Alasdair Gray.
There’s plenty to see in the open air too – indeed, the name Glasgow is derived from the Gaelic world ‘Glaschu’, which means ‘dear green place’. You’ll find over 90 parks and gardens dotted around the city, including the pretty Kelvingrove Park and the Botanic Gardens. A great way to explore, meanwhile, is by embarking on the Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail: a tour of colourful street art from the likes of Art Pistol, Rogue One and Guido van Helten. Come evening time, set sail along the River Clyde with the Floating Candlelight Jazz Club: a music night aboard the Glenlee ship, with various events taking place throughout the autumn.