The city of Glasgow has a lot of misconception surrounding it. It is often missed out of travellers’ itineraries entirely because it is said not to be as beautiful as Edinburgh, with nothing to do or see and spending a whole weekend in Glasgow is something not considered.
Before moving to Glasgow, I was more drawn towards historic Edinburgh’s charms. Now, I am so happy I took the leap and got to discover Glasgow for the cultural, fun-loving, diverse and beautiful city it is and could not recommend it more to spend at least 2 days in Glasgow when visiting Scotland.
Glasgow might not have the same historic ambience as Edinburgh, but it does have history and more importantly has a lot of different ambiences. It is far from being a mere industrial, working city and has a thriving nightlife, beautiful locals, plenty of art and something to do for anyone.
I have lived in Glasgow for nearly six years now, and while I would say I know the city very well, there is still always something new to discover, which I guess is the beauty of it. Hopefully, you will already be reading this without the misconceptions I once had and will be able to piece together the perfect Glasgow itinerary for you.
When to Visit Glasgow
Glasgow does have some tourists visiting, especially over summer, but overall it does have the benefit that it has not yet been as overrun as other destinations. While you might have to share the city with more tourists in these months, the best time is to come between May and October. This is in order to maximise your chances to have some beautiful weather during your weekend in Glasgow.
Do keep in mind that this is Scotland and it could rain at any given point, but at least if you come in those months, it will be overall warmer temperature-wise. Scotland, however, is still not the Mediterranean and best is to be prepared. Remember to bring a good jacket and some good shoes.
Glasgow has a variety of great events throughout the year. Some examples of this are:
- TRNSMT– a new music festival running in summer each year.
- Celtic Connections – an annual folk, roots and world music festival running in January each year.
- The World Pipe Band Championships – Normally on at the end of the summer.
- Aye Write! – Glasgow’s book festival celebrating the best in national, international and local writing throughout April each year.
However, there are events all year round so you will never find yourself short of choice.
Getting To and Around Glasgow
When spending a weekend in Glasgow, getting around is relatively easy. Glasgow has a great selection of public transport, and most of the services run until the late hours of the night.
Getting to Glasgow is straightforward: It is approximately a six-hour drive from London, and its train and bus stations are centrally located. Trains and buses run from London and other major UK cities frequently throughout the day. Click here to check schedules and prices.
There are several different providers for buses, as well as a train and subway system. In terms of getting around the city centre, the easiest way is by foot. However, if you are planning to go outwith the city centre, you need to plan in some form of public transport.
The subway is a great way to get around the city centre, west end and south side and costs as little as £5 a day. If the thought of using the tube scares you, then Glasgow’s subway is still right for you. It is in the shape of a circle with one line running clockwise and the other counter-clockwise. Even if you are on the wrong train, you will just need a little longer to reach your destination.
Renting a car might be a good idea for when you are planning to be outside Glasgow, but within the city be prepared for many one-way streets, limited parking and delays during rush hour.
Weekend in Glasgow Itinerary
Glasgow is a very versatile city that has so many events going on – it truly never sleeps. The best thing to do is to find your niche and then discover the vast selection offers for your interest. No matter if you are a lover of art, history, Scottish culture, music, good food or anything else – likely this city will have something to offer you, and you will quickly fill your 48 hours in Glasgow.
Glasgow Itinerary: Day One
Glasgow’s city centre is home to plenty of sights and things to do, and on day one of your weekend in Glasgow you should take the time to for a stroll through the centre, the beautiful area of Merchant city as well moving towards the East End to take a glimpse of the century-old Glasgow Cathedral and neighbouring Necropolis – two things not to be missed if spending a weekend in Glasgow.
Do a free walking tour
VisitScotland offers free walking tours, which normally start from Central Station and are a great way to get to know the city. The guides know Glasgow very well and let you know all the small things you otherwise might have missed. Please, however, do be courteous and tip the guide at the end. While the tours are free, a lot of work goes into them and giving even a small donation will aid that this great way of seeing the city remains an option.
Not into architecture or history? There is an excellent alternative if this is the case. If street art is more your thing, be sure to include the City Centre Mural Trail in your Glasgow itinerary. Glasgow’s murals are absolutely stunning, and it is a great way to see the city centre at the same time. There are also guided street art tours available.
However, if neither of those walking tours are your thing, you can start your day at George Square – the historic central square of the city – and then see where the path leads you first. These are some options to create your personal Glasgow itinerary:
Make the most of the free entry to Glasgow’s museums
Just a hop, skip and jump from beautiful George Square, you have Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art which is free to enter all year round. You can take a free tour when you are there or just go in and marvel at the artwork and amazing architecture at your own pace.
Just outside you will see the infamous statue of the Duke of Wellington on his horse. While the duke himself is not necessarily known by everyone, the statue in question has become an icon for Glasgow’s wits. The duke carries a traffic cone on his head, and despite the council’s frequent attempts to remove it in the past, it has always somehow found its way back.
Chase down the beautiful architecture designed by Charles Rennie Macintosh
Not far away from George Square and the Gallery of Modern Art, you have The Lighthouse – Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture. The building itself used to be home to a local paper, but in more recent years has become a visitor centre, exhibition space and events venue situated in the heart of Glasgow. It has six floors and a fantastic viewing platform if you are brave enough to walk the stairs heading up. The steps are worth it once you get the 360-degree view of the city.
If you are looking for a more relaxed way to see Macintosh’s work, then treat yourself to a ‘wee cuppa’ at the Willow Tea rooms on Buchanan or Sauchiehall Street.
Listen to some of Glasgow’s great local talent
While dedicated music festivals are running throughout the year, Glasgow’s music scene never stops delivering, and you could easily dedicate 48 hours in Glasgow towards discovering local talent alone.
Walk along busy Buchanan Street to see the local buskers, including Celtic drummers, acoustic singers and Glasgow’s very unique ‘Techno Tin Bin Man’ who is often spotted near St Enoch square with his dancing cat puppets.
Make sure to also pop into one of Glasgow’s many pubs while you are walking around. Many places host open-mic afternoons and nights and if you are looking for something iconic, be sure to go visit King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut – the venue where iconic pop-punk band Oasis first got signed.
Visit Merchant City and discover the ‘old Glasgow’
Merchant City might be the gateway between Glasgow City Centre and Glasgow’s East End now, but it used to be the centre of town centuries ago. The area still has a vast array of old buildings and when walking along it becomes visible quite how wealthy some of Glasgow’s tobacco lords were back then. Today, it is a popular area for going out and has a great selection of bars and restaurants.
As mentioned the beautiful Glasgow Cathedral should be something not to be missed, and if you cross the bridge over to Necropolis, you will get a fantastic view from atop of the hill. While graveyards might not seem fun, this one is stunning – even just to gain a magnificent view of the city.
If you are feeling brave during your weekend in Glasgow, visit The Cathedral House Hotel. The Victorian building stands on the site of one of the oldest settlements in the city and holds the title of the most haunted hotel in Glasgow. Before its time as a hotel, the building was used as a rehabilitation centre for female inmates from the nearby prison.
Glasgow Itinerary: Day Two
Glasgow’s West end has over the years developed into several up-and-coming areas. While some of these are situated along the University of Glasgow, other areas such as trendy Finnieston have now become part of many Glasgow itineraries. Just like the city centre, the west end has a great variety of things to do, and you can easily spend a whole day exploring the hidden side streets, quirky bookshops, hip bars and vintage shops.
Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, the Science Centre or the Transport Museum
Just like the Gallery of Modern Art in the city centre, entry to these museums is free unless you are visiting a special exhibit.
It is worth visiting the Kelvingrove Gallery just for the architecture alone. The Science Centre and the Transport Museum are both on opposite sides of the River Clyde but are both only a bridge away from the west end, and it is easy enough to cross over should you wish to visit either of these museums and then continue with your visit of the west end.
Walk along the river and take a glimpse at the Hydro and The Scottish Event Centre & Clyde Auditorium (SECC)
Especially at night, the Hydro – which is an entertainment venue in Glasgow and hosts a large number of concerts and shows – is very stunning and lights up in an array of colours. The SECC, its older neighbour, is often referred to as ‘The Armadillo’ and when you see its shape, you will understand why.
Take a break from the city and walk through Kelvingrove Park
This park is bustling on a sunny day. It might not often be the case, but when the sun graces Glasgow, this is the place to be. However, even on a rainy day, this park is beautiful and simultaneously offers a great shortcut when walking between the west ends neighbourhoods. Just be aware that at night, lighting is not the best, so be sure to plan your visit during the day.
Take a look at the unofficial inspiration behind Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The century-old building of the University of Glasgow on University Avenue stands tall, and You will easily spot the towers when walking across the park and along the west end.
Okay, officially J K Rowling has never said that the University of Glasgow is the inspiration behind Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter series, but it could easily be. Especially at night, when the building is lit up, it does look pretty magical.
Walk, shop, eat, drink and have fun in one of the west end’s trendy neighbourhoods
I already mentioned Finnieston, as it has been one of the ‘up-and-coming’ areas of Glasgow for the last few years and it is immensely popular among locals and tourists alike. Other great areas include:
- Byres Road – on the top of which you can sip a dram in an old converted church
- Ashton Lane – a cobbled street with funky bars and a boutique cinema
- Kelvinbridge – a neighbourhood recently featured in a list of the 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the world. When in Kelvinbridge, be sure not to miss out on comedy shows at The Stand or some spoken word poetry at Inn Deep although the latter only runs on a Tuesday.
And for when it all gets too much…have a cup of tea in Tchai Ovna – Glasgow’s own world tea house. With a selection of over 80 teas and tasty cakes, this little gem is something truly special. Tucked away in a small side street near the University of Glasgow, this is a popular hideaway for students and locals. Be sure to try the Chai! Also, just beside is an amazing little bookstore that sells second-hand books at very affordable prices.
Have More Time?
If you have more time and want to spend 3 days in Glasgow, then there surely is more to do. You could easily spend a day exploring Glasgow’s Southside: Go and take a walk in Queens Park, visit Tramway – an art gallery situated in an old tram station, hang around the trendy area of Shawlands and see some local talent in a community café.
You could easily spend 3 days in Glasgow alone, but it does also offer an excellent gateway if you are fancying an easy day trip. I would highly recommend going to see Loch Lomond. This can easily be done by train. A return ticket to Balloch from Glasgow’s Queen Street station costs under £10 and you will be at the shores of the Loch within an hour. From there, there are beautiful walks along the Loch, a bird sanctuary and cosy pubs to visit.
It is also possible to visit Loch Lomond as part of a guided tour if you prefer to not do the trip independently.
On a sunny day, make your way to Troon beach or to Largs, which are both two west coast seaside towns easily reached by train from Glasgow’s Central Station. However, be warned: On a sunny day, you will likely be sharing the train and beach space with plenty of locals that had the same idea as you.
Where to Eat in Glasgow
Glasgow has many great restaurants and cuisines from all over the world and also has many budget-friendly options. These are some of my favourites:
U Jarka – a great Polish restaurant with delicious, authentic Polish food and massive portions. You can easily at here for £10-£12 and be more than full after.
Paesano – This is not just my favourite. It is probably one of the most popular pizza joints in Glasgow. Serving authentic Napoletanen pizza for under £10 in its west end and city centre branches. Paesano does not take bookings, but believe me, if you do have to wait for a table, it is worth it.
Strip Joint – This neat little bar is not what it sounds like. It is actually a rock bar serving tank and craft beers as well as 2 for 1 pizza all day every day
Dirty Vegan Burger club – quite a new establishment in Finnieston, but it has made itself a name in the past couple of months. The burgers are all entirely plant-based and insanely delicious. One of the best burgers I have ever had.
If you are looking for something more local: The Pot Still in the city centre serves great pies and arguably has one of the best whisky selection in Glasgow.
If you are looking for something vegan: Mono, Stereo and The78 are all fantastic places. There is, however, a great selection of vegan restaurants in Glasgow, so you will most definitely ever go hungry if you are vegan here.
If you are looking to splurge: Six by Nico and Ox and Finch are both amazing restaurants. While Six by Nico serves a different themed menu every six weeks, Ox and Finch serve modern tapas-style dishes. Both of these places are very popular, so if you do plan to visit, the best is to book in advance.
If you are like me and always on the hunt for good coffee and brunch, then be sure to visit Scran in the east – and Papercup . Other great places include Café Strange Brew in the Southside, as well as Mesa – its sister restaurant – in the East End.
Where to Stay in Glasgow
Glasgow is a vibrant and dynamic city with as many accommodation options available as there are interesting things to do. If you’re wondering where to stay in Glasgow, have a look at these suggestions:
Glasgow Youth Hostel — If you’re visiting Glasgow solo or on a tight budget, then this hostel is an excellent choice for you. Centrally located, there are a range of private rooms and dorm beds available and great common areas in order to meet other travellers. Click here to check their availability
citizenM Glasgow — If you’re looking for a chic and centrally located mid-range option, then you can’t go wrong with this hotel. There are a range of stylish, comfortable rooms available and an on-site restaurant and bar. Click here to check their availability
Apex City of Glasgow Hotel — If you’re after a bit of luxury during your visit to Glasgow, then you won’t be disappointed by this hotel. Located within easy distance from all of Glasgow’s attractions, there are a number of plush rooms available, myriad amenities, and a great restaurant-bar located on-site. Click here to check their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Glasgow hotels!
No matter if you choose to spend one, two or three days in Glasgow, I am sure you will not be bored throughout. Hopefully, this list will help you narrow down the things you really want to see in your 48 hours in Glasgow, and have cleared any misconceptions you might have had.
Are you planning a weekend in Glasgow? Have you been recently? Let us know in the comments below!