A local’s guide to Glasgow: five great things to do

Artist Annie Hutchinson has fallen in love with Glasgow since moving there to live and work three years ago.


The West End is one of the glitziest bits of the city, and the Finnieston area is nicely crowded with good places to eat. Crabshakk for ace Scottish seafood (scallops in anchovy butter!); Mother India for curries; the Ben Nevis pub for whisky afterwards. If you fancy fried food and homemade ice-cream in a wood-panelled room, the University Café on Byres Road has a magical combo of grandeur and good batter.


Barrowland Ballroom. Photograph: Thornton Cohen/Alamy

If it’s the weekend, go to the iconic Barras market just east of the city centre (scouting artworks on Glasgow’s mural trail as you go), and buy literally anything. Such a magical, motley collection of things for sale. There’s something special about this whole area, a few minutes east of the gleaming Merchant City district. Sturdy, well-loved pubs bump elbows with antique stores, upscale gin distilleries, German breweries (West on Glasgow Green) and radical bookshops (Calton Books). Come night-time, see a show at the Barrowland Ballroom, guided by the glow of its famous neon sign. About 10 minutes’ walk away there’s Glasgow Cathedral (dark, moody exterior, peppermint roof, interior like a jewel box), and the Necropolis, a macabrely grand Victorian cemetery. Thread your way through the enormous marble tombs to the view from the top, with ancient and modern bits of the city all muddled together.


Errols Hot Pizza Hennie Haworth illustration for Locals Guide to Glasgow
Illustration: Hennie Haworth

Sometimes called Glasgow’s Ellis Island, Govanhill’s square mile of tight-knit tenement streets is the city’s most diverse district, and maybe its most distinctive. “Sweeteries, eateries, sunflower seed blossom all over the pavement,” local blogger Peter Mohan writes, in Cheers, Govanhill, a brilliant, semi-fictional blog set within this “cosmopolitan and endlessly fascinating neighbourhood”. What you eat will depend on the weather. If it’s sunny, pick up samosas from Glasgow Sweet Centre or Delicious Corner bakery, or a paratha roll from Pakistani Street Food, and eat them on the grass of Queen’s Park’s flagpole hill. If it’s dreich, have brunch at cosy cafe Milk, or walk through the park into Shawlands for a delicious Malaysian brunch at Julie’s Kopitiam. If you get the golden grail of evening sun, buy the world’s most delicious pizza from Errol’s Hot Pizza. After sunset there are pubs: the Allison Arms for steamy-window atmosphere, wild card McNeill’s for good (and good value) pints of Guinness and live music, or the Bell Jar for more modish pints.

Green space

Kelvingrove Park - Glasgow, Scotland
Kelvingrove Park. Photograph: coleong/Getty Images

Pollok Country Park in the southside has highland cows, beautiful walled gardens and green gorgeous vastness. But closer to town the Kelvin Walkway follows the River Kelvin along a narrow, tree-canopied track, passing under mysterious bridges, with lots of spots for swimming or splashing. Start and end in Kelvingrove Park, which is also beautiful, with dippy hills, ornate fountains, and views of Glasgow University’s charred-butter sandstone turret. Nearby is Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, known for paintings by the Scottish Colourists.


Settle down for the long haul in the Laurieston pub, just south of the city centre. Drink lovely pints in lovely 1960s-time-capsule surroundings, among hip young types and twinkly-eyed stalwarts. If you still have dancing in your bones, the world-famous Sub Club is an eight-minute walk away. If you’d rather watch than dance, try the nearby Britannia Panopticon, the oldest music hall in the UK. It’s down-at-heel, but they are such nice heels. Its brilliant monthly drag show, the Drag-opticon, is starting back up, and there’s lots more listed on its website.


For the full Glasgow experience, stay in a refurbished tenement via Airbnb or Vrbo, from £100 a night, sleeping four.

This article was amended on 26 October 2021 to remove Alchemilla as a food recommendation because it has closed

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