How To Experience Glasgow Like a Local

While London and Edinburgh have been getting all the attention over the past two decades, another British city has been slowly transforming into an effortless urban centre that would soon become the envy of all – Glasgow, in good old Bonnie Scotland. Unbeknownst to many, the normally under-the-radar city has quietly evolved from industrial hub to hip, artsy and forward-thinking metropolis that hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2014 as well as several other high-profile events.

Exit the grim, somber looks – and in with a flourishing fashion, arts and food scene that would even make Londoners at heart have an impromptu… change of heart. Let’s see what Glaswegians and Glasgow lovers are up to these days.

things to do in Glasgow

George Square

Stay in a Historic Property

Scotland’s second city boasts a magnificent and plentiful architecture scene; a simple way to enjoy these unique features is by staying in one of Glasgow’s many historic properties, like the award-winning, Education-Department-offices-turned-4*-boutique-hotel Arthouse. It is also the childhood home of the first Scottish-born Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.

Hit the shops in the West End

Glasgow doesn’t lack in the shopping department – not with the Style Mile in the city centre (with an extensive quantity of high street shops, minus London’s typical crowds) and the independently-owned boutiques on and around Byres Road in the West End. The latter offers everything from curated, handpicked hip items (Oliver Bonas, The Bead Company, Timorous Beasties) to quirky thrift shops with flamboyant owners (Nancy Smilie, Starry Starry Knight, Handbags and Gladrags).

things to do in Glasgow

Wine and dine in Finnieston

Hipster alert! Wedged between the luxuriant Kelvingrove Park and the River Clyde, Finnieston has been taken over by beards, wool hats, plaid shirts and, incidentally, plenty of new, aesthetically-pleasant coffee shops and restaurants. Ox and Finch (which specializes in Scottish-inspired, locally-sourced tapas) in particular has gathered its lot of attention, as well as Mother India Café (and its authentic, refined Indian classics). The eponymous Finnieston restaurant and its bespoke beers and ingeniously served seafood is also a must, as is Lebowskis bar, gourmet Crabshakk and java-fueled Coffee Chocolate Tea.

Bask in the sun at the Botanic Gardens

Despite popular belief, the sun actually does shine every once in a while in Scotland – and when it does, the general mood is simply blissful. And what better place to bask in the sunshine than the Glasgow Botanic Gardens and their abundant flora, mature trees and historic iron greenhouses? Local families will happily and quite rapidly fill the green grounds with picnics, strollers, bikes and have an all-too-rare afternoon of sincere fun in the sun – why not join them? Glaswegians are nothing if not friendly!

things to do in Glasgow

Cycle and Cycle Round

Glasgow is one of the most recent cities to have jumped on the proverbial cycling bandwagon by adding a bike sharing scheme to its infrastructures. Although the network is not quite as developed as it is in other parts of the world, it still makes for a novel transportation option on days where Mother Nature graces the city with sunlight. Hop on your rental and cycle onwards to the ex-centered but über-modern Riverside Museum and then back to Kelvingrove Park to rest those calves, and on to Glasgow central for a taste of urban cycling.

things to do in Glasgow

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art

Architecture envy with the Glasgow School of Art

Thanks to its dense heritage and forward-thinking architects, Glasgow boasts an incredibly large variety of architectural gems: from the Hogwarts-like university to Victorian influences, and to, of course, the city’s distinct turn-of-the-century industrial style that generally holds more than meets the eye, with details that can only be spotted and explained during the expert tour lead by the Glasgow School of Art.

Is Glasgow on your Scotland bucket list?

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About Author

Marie-Eve Vallieres

Marie is a native Montrealer trying to balance a deep love for her hometown and an unquenchable thirst for travel and discovery. She has been to more than 20 countries, lived abroad in both France and the U.K., and is always on the lookout for authentic experiences wherever she travels -- especially if it involves chocolate.

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