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If you’re a foodie, an architecture fan or a lover of traditional art or street art, you need to spend a weekend in Glasgow. I’m here to share my Glasgow itinerary and tips to help you plan the perfect trip.
I recently spent some time backpacking in the UK (my home island) before heading off to Asia. Just like when I tagged Galway onto my Dublin trip, I ended up almost preferring Glasgow to Edinburgh, the location that brought me to Scotland in the first place.
Two days in Glasgow will allow you to explore the city at your leisure and even see some of the countryside.
Glasgow started life as an industrial city and is now coming up as a tourist destination, with prices yet to peak and lots of cool gentrification projects happening.
Granted, it may not be what romantic foreigners come to Scotland for – it’s not a land of gothic castles or rolling countryside. However if like me, you’re European and therefore get your history and culture fix all the time, it’s really bright and lively.
Glasgow is also the gateway to visiting Loch Lomond so there’s plenty of nature too, especially when you consider all the parks and green spaces in the city.
Another great thing about Glasgow is its affordability. It was so cheap compared to home (Oxford), London and even Edinburgh. You can easily spend a weekend in Glasgow on a budget especially as there are plenty of free things to do in Glasgow.
Read next: 32 free things to do in Edinburgh
Now I’ve hopefully persuaded you WHY to visit, I’ll discuss how to spend 2 days in Glasgow, starting with…
The city centre – the heart of the city is like most, plus a lot of street art.
Merchant City – based within the city
The West End – a gentrified area full of fashionable brunch spots and boutique shops. Many of the top things to do in Glasgow, such are Kelvingrove Art Gallery, are based here.
Southside – this area around Pollokshaw Road is so quirky and up-and-coming. I ate all my brunches there. Queen’s Park is a great place to relax with an ice cream in the summer.
Finnieston– the Argyle Road section of this area is packed with shops and bars. It’s in the part of the West End closest to town.
Hillhead – towards the Botanic Garden’s side of the West End you’ll find more shops and cafes including Hanoi Bike Shop which serves fantastic Vietnamese food.
The East End – this area isn’t AS popular but lots of people visit the People’s Park and Winter Palace. I actually stayed here during my 2 days in Glasgow so I’ll talk more about it later.
Where to stay during a weekend in Glasgow
There are lots of places to stay during your weekend in Glasgow itinerary, whatever your budget. I would recommend the following:
Best hostels in Glasgow:
- Euro Hostel – in central Glasgow, this comfy hostel has a free all-you-can-eat breakfast, common areas and 24-hour reception
- Clyde Hostel – this social hostel has a bar, terrace and free Wi-Fi.
Best hotels in Glasgow:
How to get to & around Glasgow
By air: Glasgow International Airport is 8 miles from the city centre. Catch the 500 Aiport Express bus or arrange a private airport pickup.
By public transport: There’s a central train station and bus terminal. Use Trainline to get the best price on trains and get live departure updates. For a budget option, use Busbud to compare UK bus networks and book your ticket.
Getting around Glasgow: I got a £4.50 bus pass each day which gave me unlimited travel around the city. If you plan to go further than the city
There are also subway and rail stations in Glasgow. The pass for these is slightly more expensive. You can buy your individual journeys or day pass with contactless bank card, but if you’re using cash you’ll need the exact change.
DAY 1 – CITY CENTRE
Glasgow city centre is a colourful, friendly place with lots of street art, live music, high street shops and impressive architecture. Where could be better a better place to begin two days in Glasgow? My favourite finds were…
The street art
Exploring the street art is one of the most
Suggested activity: Street art walking tour with a local expert for £12
Despite the name, The Lighthouse has nothing to do with lighthouses. It was actually built as a headquarter for the Glasgow Herald newspaper and is now a modern art gallery with plenty of Scottish talent on display.
Whether you’re into art or not, you’ll want to climb the spiral staircase to admire panoramic views of Glasgow.
Even if you only spend 30 minutes here, definitely drop in. Entry is free.
Peep in at Glasgow City Chambers
To tour this incredibly grand building, take a free tour at 10.30am or 2.30pm, Monday-Friday, or pop in any time of day to see the elaborate entrance and staircases. Add it to your Glasgow itinerary if you’re passing through George Square.
Brunch/lunch in the city
Brunch in Southside
I really can’t recommend the south of the city enough. It’s in the process of gentrification and there are quirky coffee shops and brunch spots popping up everywhere. The prices aren’t too steep and it’s just a 15-minute bus ride from town on the number 38.
My top brunch shouts are Gnom and Cafe Strange Brew. At Gnom, I had the breakfast bao buns which come with pork or mushroom (and a gooey fried egg).
2023 update – Gnom has sadly now closed down!
At Cafe Strange Brew, I tucked into the chorizo and egg hash and was a huge fan.
Look for Highland cows in Pollok Country Park
If you get good weather, take a trip to Pollok Park on Saturday afternoon. Jump on a 10-minute bus if you’ve been visiting the Southside otherwise it’s a 20-minute ride from town.
The park is enormous and you could spend a whole day taking the walking trails or meeting Highland cattle. Art fans can also visit the Burrell Collection featuring 9,000 items from the Middle East, China and other destinations, gifted to Glasgow by Sir William Burrell.
For entry to the house and gallery, buy a ticket for £8.50.
The Glasgow nightlife is lively whether you like bars, clubs or cosy pubs. Here are a few of the highlights for your first evening in Glasgow:
Cool bars – for trendy bars, check out Lebowskis for cocktails and burgers, The Finnieston for gin cocktails (and fresh seafood), Embargo Glasgow for Australasian & Pacific-inspired cocktails, and Tabac and Bar Soba on stylish Buchanan Street.
Pubs – for cosy pubs with classic beers, ales, and wines, visit Ben Nevis for its whisky selection and lively vibe, The Horseshoe Bar which prides itself as being the longest in Europe (and the drinks list is pretty long, too) and The Pot Still, voted the number 1 pub in Glasgow!
WEEKEND IN GLASGOW – DAY 2
I began the second day of my Glasgow weekend by heading back to the Southside for a second round of coffee and brunch. Whether you choose to do this or not, there are loads of ways to spend a Sunday in Glasgow.
After my brunch in the south, I caught a 20-minute bus to…
The West End
The West End of Glasgow has already come ‘up’ in a way that the south is still working on and it’s well established as a cool, cosmopolitan area. My top recommendations are…
The Hidden Alley
This incredible collection of local businesses are housed in colourful, corrugated buildings tucked away off Argyle Street.
The vibe is liveliest on the weekend with more of them open, but it was still worthwhile during my rainy Tuesday visit. The lovely gentleman who set the project up in the late ’80s came out to chat to me and tell me its history (I love the friendly Scots!)
The Hidden Lane Tearoom looked like a cosy spot for coffee and cake but alas, I was stuffed from my recent brunch.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Grand Kelvingrove Gallery is worth a visit regardless of how interested in art and history you are. The interior is stunning and there are regular, changing exhibitions like this (slightly creepy) display of floating heads all with different facial expressions.
Entrance is free!
A pitstop at Tantrum Doughnuts
Just a moment’s walk from Kelvingrove is Tantrum, a stop I’d been recommended by a few people. I opted for a hibiscus and pistachio doughnut but the bestseller, creme brûlée, looked delicious, too.
Most of the doughnuts are around £2 and you can eat in or take them away.
The Botanical Gardens
If you’re cursed with dreary Scottish weather during your Glasgow weekend, head inside the Botanic Garden’s greenhouses. There’s something arty about their shape and symmetry. They’re great for taking photos or just having a wander.
From Kelvingrove, the Botanics are a 20-minute walk – by the time you’ve waited for a bus, you won’t save you much time. This is yet another Glasgow attraction with free entry.
As you enter or leave the Botanic Gardens, grab a takeaway coffee from inside this refurbished police phone box. These listed buildings became abandoned when they stopped being used and have only recently been given a new lease of life. What a great idea!
If you’re looking for excellent coffee in Glasgow, you won’t be disappointed. There are new places popping up all the time especially in the Weste End and up-and-coming Southside.
Where to eat during a Glasgow weekend
There are so many dining options for your weekend in Glasgow. A few include…
Bread Meats Bread – I actually ate at the Edinburgh branch but they have the same menu. Prepare yourself for the OTT burgers and poutine (Canadian chips, cheese curd and gravy dishes) with all number of fillings and toppings.
Mono – this vegan restaurant and music venue serve tasty meat-free versions of classic dishes like burgers, pizzas and empanadas. Come for the live music and stay for the desserts…
Kimchi Cult – fans of Korean food should pay a visit to this colourful cafe in the West End. Tuck into authentic bibimbap, Korean fried chicken and kimchi burgers from £5. There are plenty of vegan options.
Ox and Finch – for classic Scottish dining, head to Finnieston. This was once a street food stand which is now one of Glasgow’s most popular restaurants serving dishes like braised lamb, seared scallops and tiramisu.
I hope you have a great weekend and enjoy my recommended things to do in Glasgow! Before I round things off…
A word about Glasgow’s East End
Not many people venture east as the area doesn’t have many key attractions. However, I picked a cheap hostel in the northeast of Glasgow and really enjoyed the bits I discovered nearby.
The East End is a 15-minute bus ride or a 30-minute walk from the centre of town.
Things to do in the East End include…
This enormous park and golf course comes to life in the spring when pink blossom begins to bloom. The gates are open ‘til 11pm so I took an evening walk there after a day of sightseeing. If you have a full two days in Glasgow, consider an evening picnic here.
Recommending a graveyard may seem a bit weird but Glasgow Necropolis has amazing views over the city at sunset. It also has some of the most elaborate graves I’ve seen – more like mini temples than anything else.
I jogged through it on a sunny evening and experienced the best skyline view of Glasgow available (as far as I’m aware).
People’s Palace and Winter Gardens
Southeast of the city and in the middle of leafy Glasgow Green, you can walk to the People’s Palace from town in 20 minutes.
It’s a museum and glasshouse that’s been open for more than 100 years. I didn’t have time to visit but I heard great things.
Day trips from Glasgow
Did you know you can explore Scotland from the urban base of Glasgow? If your time in Scotland is limited and you want to make the most of it, check out the following day trips:
- Loch Lomond, Trossachs & Stirling Castle Tour
- Glencoe & West Highland Castles Day Tour
- Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Tour
I hope you’ve gleaned some inspo for your Glasgow itinerary and love the city as much as I did. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments! I can’t wait to return to Glasgow sometime soon.
Guidebooks – LP always get my seal of approval. Use the latest copy of Lonely Planet Scotland.
Flights (international and domestic) – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Car hire – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in the UK (and all around the world).
For UK trains, I use Trainline. The search feature allows you to compare prices, and they show live departure times on the website.
For buses, I use Busbud. It’s the only site that compares UK coaches and buses. Find London to Manchester journeys for £1!
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
I use GetYourGuide for tours & activities when I don’t want to travel solo. The guides are knowledgeable and you can’t beat the prices. I also check Viator as they often have fun and unique offerings.
For food tours pairing travellers with passionate local chefs and foodies, check out EatWith.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s some of the most affordable insurance out there but still covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
Thanks for reading my weekend Glasgow itinerary!
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Check out some of my other Scotland posts:
- Complete Glasgow street art guide
- 32 free things to do in Edinburgh
- A guide to the Harry Potter locations in Edinburgh
- Reasons to visit Inverness
- The Loch Ness travel guide
- My adventure to Scotland and why coach travel wins
See you next time for more adventures,
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