I've already fallen in love with Scotland's magical capital, Edinburgh, admired the lush green hills in the Highlands and searched for Nessie on a boat ride in Loch Ness (though with no luck). But what to do in Scotland's largest city, Glasgow?
I had no idea or any expectations for my weekend trip in Glasgow. Not even a wee bit. After having spent 48 hours in the city, I'm pleased to tell you that there are lots of awesome things to do in Glasgow. In this friendly, fun and fascinating city you'll find excellent shopping streets, world-class museums and galleries (with free entry!), lots of music events, cool street art and plenty of nice bars, pubs, and, restaurants.
Just like in Birmingham and Manchester, there's also an intriguing mix of old and new architecture (making it very walkable-friendly). In Glasgow, Victorian masterpieces mingle with ultra-modern buildings and the unique “Glasgow style” developed by Mackintosh.
As the cherry on top, a warm Scottish welcome is guaranteed. So let's say hello to Glasgow! Here's my list of 17 cool things to do in Glasgow:
1. Head to Necropolis and Tour the City of the Dead
There aren't many cities where a cemetery is on top of the must-see list. But it's definitely a must to visit Necropolis in Glasgow. Set upon a hill in the middle of the city, Necropolis is a masterpiece of gothic architecture.
It sounds a bit morbid to tour the “City of the Dead,” but one look at this Victorian garden cemetery and you'll see what I mean. Since the first burial in 1832, over 50 000 people are officially laid to rest here: Meaning there are thousands (a city) of impressive sculptures and monuments to admire together with the hilltop views.
2. Visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
It's free, and there's so much to see! Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of Scotland's most visited attractions, with 22 themed galleries displaying over 8 000 objects. Here you will find everything from works by Salvador Dali and Charles Rennie Mackintosh to Egyptian artifacts and Sir Roger the Elephant. There's also a Spitfire plane and floating heads hanging suspended from the ceiling.
It's a very family-friendly museum with things to look at everywhere. Even the buildings striking architecture will catch your eye. What's more: Kelvingrove is totally free to visit (they also have free daily guided tours)! In fact, all the major museums and galleries in Scotland has free entry.
Some other free galleries and museums to visit in Glasgow include the award-winning Riverside Museum, Gallery of Modern Art, St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Hunterian Museum and Hunterian Art Gallery.
3. Explore the Street Art
There's some pretty incredible street art in Glasgow. Just keep your eyes open, and you'll be surprised by the artwork that hides around every other corner.
My favorite street art piece is one of the latest and greatest by the graffiti artist Sam Bates (aka Smug). It's the photorealistic mural seen in the picture above. It's a modern-day representation of Glasgow's patron Saint St. Mungo and ‘the bird that never flew.' It's so detailed and beautiful.
Head to High Street to see it (nearby Glasgow Cathedral).
4. Check out the view from The Lighthouse
The Lighthouse, AKA Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture is a hidden gem in Glasgow's main shopping district. And with hidden I mean easily-missed.
Even though I knew that the alleyway entrance was on the busy Buchanan Street, I somehow managed to walk past the very visible red neon “Lighthouse” sign. Twice. I might have to blame the streets pretty Christmas decorations.
But when you find your way to The Lighthouse, climb up the 134 steps of the spiral staircase to the Mackintosh Tower. Up here you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
You can also browse through the center's permanent collection of Rennie Mackintosh's works and other exhibits on architecture, design, and art.
5. Visit Glasgow Cathedral
Another thing you can't miss in Glasgow is visiting Glasgow Cathedral. It is one of Scotland's most magnificent medieval buildings. It marks the birthplace of the City of Glasgow. The cathedral is built on site where Glasgow's founder, St. Mungo, is thought to have been buried in AD 612.
It is a grand an imposing cathedral. I did, unfortunately, not have time to go inside as we were on our way to Necropolis (which is just next door), but I would have loved to take a look.
6. Go Shopping at The Style Mile
I love shopping in the UK! Glasgow is no exception. What makes this a great city to shop in is that everything you might need or want is within walking distance. Just head to the shopper's paradise: The Style Mile. It takes you through the main shopping streets in Glasgow: Buchanan Street, Argyle Street, and Sauchiehall Street.
Here you'll find over 200 stores – from high end and high street favorites to independent boutiques and vintage shops.
For luxury jewelry, twinkling diamonds, engagement rings or just some glittering window shopping, check out The Argyll Arcade. It's so pretty (see my Instagram evidence)!
7. Go Pubbing
One of the most awesome things to do in Glasgow is to go pubbing. Of course (when in Scotland … you know!). Hang out with the friendly locals, listen to some live music and try out some craft beer or whiskey.
You can also take the Tennent's brewery tour to see how Scotland's best-selling pint is made or blend your own whiskey at Glengoyne Distillery.
I haven't found a whiskey to my liking yet, but I've been told many times that Scotland is the place to seek it. After all, whiskey is Scotland's national drink! Some of the best whiskey bars are The Pot Stills (more than 600 whiskeys!), The Ben Nevis and The Wee Pub at The Chip where the staff and happy-to-help locals will guide you to your perfect whiskey.
8. Experience the works of Mackintosh
If you leave Glasgow without knowing anything about Charles Rennie Mackintosh, it would be like visiting Barcelona and not knowing anything about Antoni Gaudí. You have missed something essential.
Mackintosh is Glasgow's most celebrated architect and designer. His innovative style can be seen throughout the city. From his famous masterpiece: Glasgow School of Art to The Lighthouse, Mackintosh House, Queen's Cross Church, The Willow Tearooms and Scotland Street School. There are various tours of his buildings, a permanent display about his style at Kelvingrove and exhibitions in different museums.
This year there will see even more of Mackintosh in Glasgow, as 2018 mark the 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's birth.