Are you ready for another city guide? Let’s explore Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest and most boisterous city.
Historically a working class city, Glasgow’s population grew rapidly during the 19th century. As a result, there’s a mix of 19th century Victorian architecture, early 20th century ‘Glasgow Style’ Mackintosh-designed buildings in addition to modern edifices. This impressive combination makes the city a magnet for architecture aficionados.
While Edinburgh is quite touristy, I found Glasgow to be far less so. And Glaswegians are some of the friendliest, most hospitable people I’ve ever met. Travelling alone, I’d often spend my time getting caught up in conversations with shop and café owners throughout the day. Speaking of which, here are my top picks for restaurants, cafés, shops and sights in Glasgow:
I checked into CitizenM, which is a modern chain of boutique hotels throughout Europe, North America and Asia. The Glasgow branch is centrally located and has all the amenities you could ever require. The 24-hour canteen is the perfect spot to get some work done alongside a handcrafted cocktail and a sandwich. The rooms are small, but the beds are big (and ridiculously comfy). I was impressed by the personal greeting on my TV, the stuffed toy (how cute!) and bath products.
As I mentioned above, Glasgow is home to some incredible architecture. I didn’t have the time to take it all in, but I loved what I saw. My favourite spot for design and architecture was The Lighthouse. The first public commission of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, The Lighthouse dates back to 1895. It’s now Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, but has a history as the former home of The Glasgow Herald. The spiralling staircase has some of the best views of Glasgow.
Another gallery worth visiting is GoMA, the modern art museum located in the city’s Royal Exchange Square. The extensive gallery displays work by local and international artists, most of which addresses contemporary social issues.
The People’s Palace is set in the historic Glasgow Green (be sure to check out the gorgeous Winter Gardens). Home to a collection of objects, photographs, prints and film, the palace gives insight into how Glaswegians lived in years gone by.
Another highlight for me was walking to the top of Queen’s Park (unfortunately, it was pouring rain during my entire stay) for the best view of the city!
Oh, where to begin with Glasgow’s restaurant and café scene… I had a long list of places I wanted to try and also received some recommendations, so there was a lot to cover in two days.
Potluck: Just trust me and order the seasonal hotcakes at this tiny café in Glasgow’s Southside. Piled high with different toppings (I had the plum, yum!) this dish is almost too pretty to eat. But definitely eat it, it’s the most scrumptious meal I ate in Glasgow and the coffee was also my favourite in Scotland (big call I know!)
Market Coffee: Surely you’ve seen Market, in all its pastel pink glory, gracing your Instagram feed? If not, let me fill you in. Opened by Glaswegian blogger, Kate Spiers (Kate La Vie) and her husband Jordan Spiers, Market can be found in the city’s Southside. Designed by Kate herself, the interior is carefully considered (and super ‘grammable, obviously). Not only that, the coffee’s excellent and there are plenty of delicious cakes and cookies on offer. Kate and Jordan were away when I visited, but I had some great chats with her brother, Matt. It’s the friendliest (and prettiest) place for a rose petal latte.
Café Strange Brew: This bustling café is home to some of the best coffee and breakfast in the city. I ordered the Turkish baked eggs and a cortado and they didn’t disappoint. I recommend grabbing a window seat for some serious people watching.
Ox and Finch: My top pick for dinner and drinks is Ox and Finch. The meat-focused restaurant serves inventive dishes alongside beautiful cocktails. That said, the vegetarian dishes are equally delicious. Need I say more?
Topolabamba: Quality Mexican fare in Scotland? You’d better believe it. Topolabamba has a range of delicious (and spicy) Mexican dishes and the best margaritas in town. I opted for the fish tacos (pictured below) and they were super tasty.
Glasgow has plenty of high street shops and well-known UK retailers. That said, I personally prefer hitting up one-off boutiques and unique spaces that offer something a little bit different. My nails also needed some TLC while I was in Glasgow, so I booked an appointed at NAF Salon. The space itself is gorgeous, all pink and neon and my nails are still looking amazing two weeks later.
For a carefully curated selection of prints, books and non-tacky souvenirs, head to Stephen O’Neil Art in the Southside. I basically wanted to take everything home with me.
Another local shop that I popped into was Pampas, a charming independent boutique selling several covetable items. Located in the West End, the shop carries labels like Pinko and J Brand.
Have you ever been to Glasgow? Let me know what you got up to!