A Must-See Guide to Glasgow (First-Time Traveller)

Glasgow, UK

I just wanted to start this blog post with a caveat, I definitely don't feel qualified to write an in-depth must-see guide to Glasgow as I've never lived there and I'm only familiar with a small portion of it, that being said, I have such an admiration for the city that I wanted to share where I would recommend visiting if it's your first time to the city or if you're unfamiliar with it! If I'm honest, it wasn't that long ago that I only visited Glasgow for shopping or concerts and didn't fully appreciate what the city had to offer. However, I remember being utterly won over by it on a visit in 2017. So, what changed my mind? Well, before the trip I asked my Instagram friends and Glasgow locals to send their recommendations and that proved to be an invaluable source of information. I thought it might be useful to put together their brilliant recommendations to create a must-see guide to Glasgow!

Day Trip to Glasgow & Local Recommendations

  • First Recommendation - George Square and City Chambers (City Centre) 

If it's your first visit to Glasgow, I think George Square is a lovely place to start. It's at the heart of the city centre and is used throughout the year as a venue for many popular events like Glasgow's Christmas markets! Personally, one of my favourite aspects of the square is the beautiful and grand buildings that surround it. If you're blessed with sunny weather, you might even catch sight of the sunlight bouncing off modern glass buildings and reflecting onto the older architecture. One building, in particular, to keep an eye out for is Glasgow's magnificent City Chambers building, which sits at the east of the square!

  • Second Recommendation: The Lighthouse (City Centre)

When I asked for Glasgow recommendations, The Lighthouse was one of the most recommended Glasgow attractions and, after my first visit, I completely understand why. In case you're wondering, its name stems from the fact it is a beacon for the creative industries in Scotland!

You'll find The Lighthouse tucked away down Mitchell Lane (keep your eyes peeled as you enter as there are several murals dotted around the area). The Lighthouse has various aspects in its favour, such as a wonderful permanent exhibition dedicated to Glasgow's golden boy Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a well-curated and ever-changing exhibition space, a lovely cafe, wonderful gift shop, as well as being one of the best viewpoints in the city centre. What makes The Lighthouse even more special is that it offers two views - one, accessible by the lift which leads to an enclosed glass viewing platform, and the other only accessible from level three via the Mackintosh Tower, which leads to an external balcony space with panoramic views of the city

View from the Lighthouse's Mackintosh Tower

Mackintosh Tower Spiral Staircase
  • Third Recommendation: The Mural Trail 

As I briefly mentioned above, there are several impressive murals in and around Glasgow's city centre. Personally, I love street art and think it works particularly well in Glasgow - there's something exciting about turning a corner and spotting a playful mural adorning a gable end or brightening up a back alley. There are a host of brilliant murals scattered around the city centre and I'd love to visit each one someday, here's the map in case you'd like to hunt them out for yourself!

  • Fourth Recommendation: Princes Square & Argyll Arcade

Although fairly humble in size, Princes Square is quite possibly the most beautiful shopping mall I've been to and is particularly beautiful during Christmas. If you're short on time, its exterior - which is impressively adorned with a massive Art Nouveau Peacock - is worth passing by as it's just a short distance from The Lighthouse. Almost directly next to Princes Square is ever-so-elegant Argyll Arcade, reminiscent of the Burlington Arcade in London. The arcade is one of Europe’s oldest covered shopping arcades and Scotland’s first-ever indoor shopping mall and is now home to a range of luxury jewellers.

Princes Square during Christmas

  • Fifth Recommendation: West End & The University of Glasgow

Once you've explored Glasgow's city centre, I'd highly recommend heading to the West End which is known for being home to the University of Glasgow, the Kelvingrove Museum, cafes, vintage shops, Kelvingrove park and much more. There's the option to walk to Glasgow's West End or hop on their underground train. If you take the subway, I'd recommend getting off at Hillhead station and walking through the extremely charming Ashton Lane (directly next to the station) which eventually leads to the University of Glasgow. Now, being an Edinburgh University graduate, it somewhat pains me to concede that Glasgow university is the more beautiful of the two, but it really is marvellous!

  • Sixth Recommendation: Kelvingrove Museum

The Kelvingrove Museum is another West End gem and whenever I'm in the area, I try to make a point of visiting it! From wonderful architecture, a lovely blend of art gallery and museum (there's something for everyone), a Salvador DalĂ­ painting, daily organ recitals, and lovely cafe, there's so much in its favour. You could easily spend the whole afternoon here and would be ideal for a rainy day.

  • A few foodie recommendations

Again, I'm by no means qualified to share the best places to eat or drink in Glasgow, but these are just a few places I've come across over the years which I enjoyed.
  1. Paesano Pizza (94 Miller Street & 471 Great Western Road) - The first to bring authentic, traditional Napoletana pizza to Glasgow, news of Paesano Pizza has spread across Scotland with many visitors (including myself) flocking to try it when they're in Glasgow.
  2. Tantrum Doughnuts (27 Old Dumbarton Road) - If you find yourself feeling slightly peckish while wandering around the University of Glasgow or the Kelvingrove Museum, just a short walk will bring you to Tantrum Doughnuts where you'll find doughnuts of every colour and flavour. They also have a branch in the city centre (28 Gordon Street)
  3. The Butterfly and the Pig Tearoom (153 Bath Street) - A shabby chic tearoom situated on the ground floor of a charming Glasgow tenement. You can look forward to scrummy brunch options, homemade breads, cakes, pastries, and afternoon tea!

Bye for now!

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