The Perfect Weekend In Glasgow – 2 Day Itinerary For First-Timers

Weekend in Glasgow

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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 ESSENTIALS

Glasgow Lonely Planet

Accommodation: Booking.com / Hostelworld

Getting there: Trainline / Busbud

Activities: Get Your Guide

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2 days in glasgow

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…

Glasgow neighbourhoods

The city centre – the heart of the city is like most, plus a lot of street art.

Merchant City – based within the city centre, this area is renowned for its stylish restaurants, cafes and social spaces. It’s also home to some grand architecture and the Museum of Modern Art.

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.

The East End weekend in glasgow

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:

  • Z Hotel – with bright modern spaces inside a period building and a breakfast to be rivalled, this place is a steal for £50 per night.
  • Argyll Western Hotel – just 5 minutes from the city centre, this old townhouse property has cute tartan touches in all the rooms.

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 centre during your Glasgow weekend (such as to the areas mentioned above) this is a good idea.

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.

Weekend in Glasgow itinerary 

Best experiences in Glasgow:

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

Panda street art weekend in glasgow

Exploring the street art is one of the most colourful activities in Glasgow. Most of the urban art pieces are near to each other and easy to come by. Check out my Glasgow street art guide for exact locations. I saw the art at my leisure over a few hours as I explored the city centre.

Suggested activity: Street art walking tour with a local expert for £12

The Lighthouse

Staircase Lighthouse gallery
The Lighthouse gallery glasgow

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.

Skyline view of Glasgow

Even if you only spend 30 minutes here, definitely drop in. Entry is free.

Peep in at Glasgow City Chambers

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

Wilson Street Pantry

There are some brilliant brunch cafes in Glasgow especially around the Merchant City area.

Wilson Street Pantry is a great pick for avocado fans, or head to Garnet Hill’s Singl-end Cafe where apparently the egg dishes are delicious and the cake table is a sight to behold (sadly I ran out of time!).

Brunch in Southside

Bao buns at Gnom Cafe
Bao buns at Gnom – the highlight of my Glasgow weekend!

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).

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

Pollok Country Park
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.

Highland cow
An essential for a weekend in Glasgow!

Glasgow nightlife

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 shopping weekend in glasgow

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

Hidden Lanes shops

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!)

Hidden Lanes Glasgow weekend

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

Kelvingrove gallery glasgow
Lobby Kelvingrove gallery glasgow

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

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

Botanical gardens during a weekend in glasgow

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.

Westend Roasters

Weekend roasters coffee shop

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.

Poutine Bread meats Bread restaurant
Kimchi poutine and burgers at Bread Meats Bread, Glasgow

A few other Glasgow restaurants I can recommend include:

Hanoi Bike Shop – apparently I just love promoting Vietnamese food wherever I go! This Vietnamese canteen serve authentic dishes like pho and banh mi along with street food-style starters.

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.

Head home!

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…

Alexandra Park

Alexandra Park Glasgow

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.

The Necropolis

The Necropolis Glasgow

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).

Grave in the Necropolis
Elaborate grave in the Necropolis

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:

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.

Visiting Scotland? 

Guidebooks – LP always get my seal of approval. Use the latest copy of Lonely Planet Scotland.

Flights (international and domestic) I use Skyscanner and Kayak and search by month to see the cheapest dates.

Car hire – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in the UK (and all around the world).

Confused about visas? I use iVisa to check visa requirements and apply for visas online.

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 World Nomads. They cover 150 countries and have 24-hour emergency assistance.

Thanks for reading my weekend Glasgow itinerary!

If you liked it, please share it 🙂

Check out some of my other Scotland posts:

See you next time for more adventures,

Rose

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Weekend in Glasgow itinerary

One thought on “The Perfect Weekend In Glasgow – 2 Day Itinerary For First-Timers

  1. Christina Holthuis says:

    Wow! Such an incredible post with tons of beautiful pictures! You seems to have enjoyed a lot during the weekend at Glasgow. I like the way, you shared street art pictures, but would also appreciate the artists as well! Thanks for sharing such an informative guide for us.

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