How to best spend a few days in Glasgow?
August 23, 2016 1:41 PM   Subscribe

I'll be visiting Scotland this week, and I'll have two days in Glasgow before I head onwards to Islay (and another day back in Glasgow before I leave). What are the condensed must-sees and must-dos?

The main thrust of my trip is the week I'll be spending in Islay, but I scheduled myself to have a bit of extra time to see Glasgow before and after the main trip. I've never been to Glasgow (or Scotland at all) before. I'm staying right by George Square, so I'm fairly centrally located. What are the absolute first things that a tourist in the city should do?

Also, bonus question: I'd like to have a proper tikka masala in the city that invented the dish. Where's your favorite spot for one in Glasgow?

Also also, if any Glaswegian mefites want to grab a beer this weekend, shoot me a memail!
posted by Itaxpica to Travel & Transportation around Glasgow, Scotland (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (A quick note: my interests include food and whiskey (which is why I'm going to Islay in the first place), music (both modern and traditional), and history. Art not so much. But I'm open to pretty much anything)
posted by Itaxpica at 1:44 PM on August 23, 2016

Kelvingrove Park, Kelvingrove Museum, University of Glasgow, The train station downtown, The Necropolis, The big old cathedral right near there, Monorail records is badass (Stephen Pastel from the Pastels owns it) and there's a cute little vegetarian restaurant in the same space. Um. There's a really cool coffee shop called "Artisinal Roast" and the weird subway is awesome too.

I freaking LOVE LOVE LOVE glasgow.

Oh yeah, look up to see if the "Dutchy Pot" DJ night is still happening. That's rad as hell also.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:46 PM on August 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I like the People's Palace for a history of working-class Glasgow. Also just sitting in a pub & talking to people. I think Glaswegians are the nicest, funniest people I've ever met.
posted by dame at 2:02 PM on August 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Frightened Rabbit is playing Glasgow Summer Sessions this Friday (but then again so is a Gallagher brother).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:05 PM on August 23, 2016

You could do worse than taking an open-topped bus tour - cheesy touristy thing to do, but it gives you a good idea of the layout of the city and where the highlights are (also, to spare you the humiliation, it's always whisky in Scotland, with no 'e'!).
posted by penguin pie at 2:21 PM on August 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

To second penguin pie, the bus tour is actually pretty good, doesn't take too long and visits a lot of the attractions you might want to go to, and it's hop-on, hop-off.

If you are from abroad, you may not know that all of the Glasgow Museums have free entry so feel free to take a chance. e.g. I know you're not crazy on art, but the GOMA is right around the corner from you and it's not that big. it's worth a wander around.

To second yet others Kelvingrove Museum, The People's Palace, Uni of Glasgow (including Hunterian Museum). The Necropolis, and the City Chambers. If you like engineering, you can take an interesting tour of Central Station, including now-closed Victorian platforms.

I like the Pot Still as a central pub with a ton of whisky and decent beer . It's not flash, more a pretty typical Scottish pub, which I suspect you might like.

Food and drink personal favourites: West microbewery and Drygate Microbrewery, both handy for People's Palace/George Square/Cathedral area. This area also includes the Merchant City, which has a ton of good restaurants. I like Dabbha and Dakhin as interesting takes on UK-style North/South Indian food. Koolba is also good. Cafe Gandolfi or Gandolfi fish are good modern Scottish with Italian influence. Further west (near Glasgow Uni and Kelvingrove) I like Stravaigin as a restaurant and Tennents bar on Byers road, which is a bit of an institution.

I hope you have a great time.
posted by Jakey at 3:12 PM on August 23, 2016

I really liked the Tenement House.
posted by paduasoy at 3:19 PM on August 23, 2016

My favorite meal in Glasgow was at Crabshakk.
posted by outfielder at 3:47 PM on August 23, 2016

+1 on GOMA, not to mention the statue of the Duke of Wellington out front which will likely have a traffic cone on his head. Also, yes, find a way to just hang out in a pub, if you can understand the accents - it's a friendly place.

If you like history, you should visit the Necropolis and the Cathedral for sure. The Buchanan Street shopping district and all of the central city still have tons of wonderfully Victorian buildings.

For a splurge dinner, get a reservation at the Ubiquitous Chip near the University of Glasgow. But I would also recommend stopping in any local chip shop for a fish supper (fish & chips). Glasgow may have created tikka masala but it is also the home of the deep-fried Mars Bar...
posted by mishaps at 4:41 PM on August 23, 2016

If you like whisky and want the authentic Highland Distillery experience while you're in Glasgow then I strongly recommend that you visit the Glengoyne Distillery which you can get to on the Number 10 bus from Buchannan Street Bus Station. It takes an hour on the bus to get there but it's well worth the trip. The bonus is that you'll see some nice scenery as you leave the city and get some lovely views of the Campsie Fells on the journey.

You'd also be (literally) just down the road from where I live. I would have loved to come into town for a beer or a coffee but you've picked the one weekend in months when I'm away!

Have a great trip!
posted by Chairboy at 5:56 PM on August 23, 2016

Oh, and go to Nardini's on Byres Road for an enormous ice cream sundae!
posted by Chairboy at 6:00 PM on August 23, 2016

Nthing the Necropolis and the Cathedral.

(And not that you asked, but when you're on Islay: When we were there, Bruichladdich's tour was fantastic, Laphroaig's was also good, and for some weird reason, Caol Ila didn't allow photos (???) despite the stunning views of the Paps of Jura from the big room where their stills are and the fact that what their stills look like is not exactly a secret. Have fun! Have a lot of whisky for me!)
posted by rtha at 7:56 PM on August 23, 2016

I'm in Glasgow. I may be biased but this is the best place in the world. Ymmv. Here's a comment I made last year about places to see/do/stay etc. Note that the Burrell may/may not be open.
posted by kariebookish at 12:50 AM on August 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Just got back from a month in Glasgow–really a great city. A lot of good food/whisky/history recommendations above which I won't repeat.

I would add:

food: Bothy off Byres Rd in the West End. Really great Scottish food and drink. Hanoi Bike Shop too. Lots of good Indian around but, for vegetarians, Usha's is great.

history: The Botanics are really wonderful Victorian glass greenhouses. Worth checking out. The Mackintosh House at the University of Glasgow is an art/design stop–but it's super-sweet and unlike a typical art museum experience (though it is attached to an art museum).

drink: The tastings/tours at the distilleries on Islay are all a lot of fun (though I didn't hit them all). Bruichladdich was a particularly well-run and enjoyable experience. I'd recommend trying some gin in Glasgow–they're having something of a gin renaissance in Scotland. Gin71 has an extensive gin menu (and also doubles as an excellent teahouse during the day).
posted by EnoughRope at 10:46 AM on August 24, 2016

Also note: one of the Islay ferries is being repaired(or at least was a few weeks ago), so there's limited room. Book ahead if you want to ensure a space for your car (which you'll need) on the ferry.

If it's booked there's some alternate method (truck or something) to get your car across, but it can take a couple days.
posted by EnoughRope at 10:51 AM on August 24, 2016

I had a scant two days in Glasgow but had the nicest time! Hearty nth-ing of Kelvingrove Park (/Park Circus and the granite staircase) and the People's Palace (I vaguely remember really liking the top floor). I ate here, which lodged a claim as original home of tikka masala... can't speak to veracity, but did have a really lovely meal.

Everyone in the city was so overwhelmingly nice to me and absolutely hilarious. Also seconding the recommendation to stop in any random chip shop - or just generally seizing the chance to chat with Glaswegians whenever possible.
posted by estlin at 11:50 AM on August 24, 2016

Response by poster: Thank you, all! Some great suggestions here. I’ll be sure to come back with a full report next week!

My itinerary for Islay is pretty well set already (I’m taking a week-long hands-on course on whisky production, so I’ll be visiting a bunch of the distilleries!) and I won’t need to bring a car because the program I’m on will be covering transportation, but I appreciate the tip on the ferry. Is it still necessary to book ahead of time as an individual without a vehicle? Is it even possible to do so?
posted by Itaxpica at 12:04 PM on August 24, 2016


After discovering the car situation (disaster later averted by striking a deal with a friendly cab driver on Islay) we bought ferry tickets for foot passengers at the terminal no-problem. So in my (limited) experience there's no need to book ahead unless you need to bring a car over.
posted by EnoughRope at 6:38 PM on August 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

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