Make our trip to Scotland Amazing: Glasgow addition
June 27, 2019 8:04 AM   Subscribe

We'll be visiting Glasgow very soon and would love any ideas for interesting, unusual, or not-to-be-missed sights, spots, or activities.

We'll have a car and will be staying for 3 days. Would love any ideas that might be:

- Lesser known, may not show up in guide books
- A chance to meet or mingle with locals
- Unusual, or require a sense of adventure

posted by quantum to Travel & Transportation around Glasgow, Scotland (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Speedboating down the River Clyde was fun and was a spur of the moment activity for me. I was visiting the Museum of Transport (also fun if you like that kind of thing) and the speedboat tour was right by the museum. Don't know how well-known either of these are as I was basically just wandering and kind of stumbled upon them.
posted by acidnova at 8:25 AM on June 27, 2019

The Botanical Gardens are awesome!
posted by TheCoug at 8:38 AM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Visit Cumbrae - take the ferry, rent bikes, cycle round the island and eat fish and chips and ice cream? Ferry Timetable - you don't need to drive - it's easy on the train.
posted by sedimentary_deer at 8:39 AM on June 27, 2019

Just being in Glasgow you'll probably get a chance to mingle with locals, it's a super-friendly city. Some ideas:

* The Barras - rough and ready street market.
* I'd normally suggest the Citizen's Theatre, but it's closed for renovation and most of its shows relocated to the Tramway, but might be worth checking out over there. The Citz itself is in the traditionally working class area of the Gorbals and has retained a slightly more egalitarian, varied audience than a lot of theatre.
* The Glasgow Necropolis - historic cemetery with guided tours.
* Glasgow Women's Library - full of heart, with cups of tea for visitors. Offer a range of guided walking tours focusing on women's history in Glasgow.
posted by penguin pie at 8:44 AM on June 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre is weird and fascinating.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:47 AM on June 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

ooh, seconding the Necropolis!
posted by acidnova at 8:47 AM on June 27, 2019

We really enjoyed the Edinburgh Beer Tour last month, also available in Glasgow. Learning about beer, its history in general and in the city specifically on a walking tour to a few selected brew pubs.

I'm historically not much for tours, but this was just different enough. It was a fun small group and a good way to walk some of the town and learn to appreciate some brews that in the past have put me off.
posted by conscious matter at 8:49 AM on June 27, 2019

The Lighthouse, Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture. Building by Mackintosh. Definitely not obscure, but definitely cool.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 8:49 AM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Near the Necropolis is a Museum of Religious Life, lots of interesting artifacts and little video clips from different faiths, has something of interest for "all faiths and none" just on cultural grounds.
posted by AuroraSky at 9:04 AM on June 27, 2019

Oh, and Glasgow Mural Trail - not out of the way but would be a good way to explore the city centre on foot.

Or, if you're here before 30 August, you could do the Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail - Oor Wullie is a favourite Scottish kids' cartoon character and there are painted models of him all over the city which you can 'collect' via an app. They're in five different cities and you can choose to do just the Glasgow one.
posted by penguin pie at 9:06 AM on June 27, 2019

Seconding Sharmanka. It's bizarre and magical. I also recommend Voltaire & Rousseau books, and a walk along the canal just in that area.
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:06 AM on June 27, 2019

Following the Kelvin Walkway as far as you can should be your #1. At turns beautiful and super sketchy and mysterious and weird and lush, it is one of my favorite places in the world.

I love the West End for the arts scene, fabulous independent shops and galleries, and great food (including the best vegan food in the country). For a day in the West End here's what I suggest:

Walk along Argyle Street and visit the Hidden Lane Tea Room. There are artists studios in the lane, too! Then walk North through the park up to Great Western Road, to Roots & Fruits (natural food store & cafe!) and several great vintage shops. Walk West to visit the Botanical Gardens, then Southwest along Byres Road and stop in at De Courcy's arcade and some of the other little lanes for more independent shops. Then, walk back South for dinner at The 78, a really good vegan pub with several sister restaurants throughout the city.

In the center of town, Willow Tea Rooms is a bit more for visitors but so worth it.

(My husband is from Glasgow and I have visited every year for the last 8 or so. Have fun!!)
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 10:17 AM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm originally from Glasgow, and I'm just back from a two week visit. All the above are pretty good. While the Barras are neat, there are parts of them you don't want to take pictures in: some of the stallholders may not be entirely legit, and a camera flashed in the wrong place might not make it out in the same number of pieces.

You'll notice the total lack of recommendations for Glasgow Cathedral. It's the dullest cathedral in the world. If you dig architecture, the Rennie Mackintosh/MacDonald House for an Art Lover is pretty neat, even if it isn't original.
posted by scruss at 10:52 AM on June 27, 2019

I really enjoyed attending a Partick Thistle game - it's a small football club, so the fans are not only aware when someone new sits down but were really happy to chat about the team. I don't think you'd get that at a Celtic or Rangers game. Still a few weeks until the season starts, however, but if you find yourself in Glasgow when they're playing at home in Firhill, it's worth the walk!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:41 AM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

+1 for the Sharmanka theatre. I really liked also this bar/restaurant that a friend and I went to -- Hillhead Bookclub.
posted by aaanastasia at 11:52 AM on June 27, 2019

The People's Palace, on Glasgow Green, is well worth a visit. If you find yourself in Hillhead then the Hanoi Bike Shop is another good bet for dinner.
posted by offog at 3:53 PM on June 27, 2019

I loved the Govan Stones, 9th-11th century Viking gravestones from after the Vikings had invaded and destroyed the kingdom of the Britons at Alt Clut around 870 AD. They are at the Govan Old Parish Church, a short-ish walk from the Transport Museum on the south side of the river Clyde. Very very cool to see them and learn more about the history of pre-Norman Britain.

Also, if you like whiskey even a little bit, do yourself a favor and go to one of the pubs in Glasgow that specialize in it. We went to the Pot Still and had a great night with a bunch or really different whiskeys. You can tell the bartender what types of flavors you like - smokey, honey, citrus, etc and they will pull 2-3 whiskeys for you to sniff and select from, like a whiskey librarian. Super friendly, too! They have about 700 whiskeys stored on this elaborate, jam-packed breakfront that stretches the width of the bar, with bottles overflowing onto the adjacent extra shelves and just crammed in there. The bartenders clambered up onto onto it reach the bottles on high shelves, which was charming. And cheap! We had 6 whiskeys and a beer between us and it came to 42 GBP, and tip is included. A far cry from the US where you pay like $20 for a glass.
posted by foodmapper at 5:58 AM on June 28, 2019

If you have a car and like whisky I can recommend a visit to and tour of the Glengoyne distillery, which is around a 40 minute drive from central Glasgow - some really nice countryside round here too, as you're on the edge of the Campsie Fells, and it's not far at all to the Queens View and the hilariously named Whangie, which will give you spectacular views across Loch Lomond and a glimpse of a bigger, wilder Scotland.

Caveat - I live in the next village to the distillery and walk my dog up the Queen's View!
posted by Chairboy at 6:22 AM on June 28, 2019

Also, note that the The Winter Gardens at The People's Palace are unfortunately indefinitely closed at present as a result of repairs being required, so do bear that in mind if you decide to visit.
posted by Chairboy at 6:28 AM on June 28, 2019

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