Your guide to having it large in Scotland’s largest city
Glasgow’s a vast city and sprawls around all over the place, but the bit you want to get to know is neatly packaged about the centre and easy to understand. Think South, East, West and a bit in the middle and that just about describes the way it works. The city centre couldn’t be simpler, it’s laid out on the same grid-system as Manhattan so just keep moving in straight lines and you’ll be fine.
Glasgow at a glance:
- Scotland’s largest city and packs as big a punch as any major city in the UK
- Less than an hour from the coast and built round the mighty River Clyde, its own sporting credentials are also underlined by the recent Commonwealth Games and the presence of two world famous football clubs
- The UK’s busiest shopping city outside of London, the streets are bustling and vibrant every weekend
- Attracts world class music and DJs, with clubs welcoming the likes of DJ Éclair Fifi, JD Twitch, JG Wilkes and Paul Johnson
City centre – they say Glasgow Loves Shopping and they’re not wrong
The second most popular shopping city in the UK is mesmerising. Stand at the top of Buchanan Street on a Saturday afternoon and look down to St Enoch’s Square and it’s hard to believe everyone in the city isn’t out spending. Buchanan Street is Glasgow’s main shopping spine and it’s where you’ll find Princes Square for specialist shops, bars and restaurants, Buchanan Galleries for brand names and big departments stores and hundreds of shops on the street itself.
West End – land of the university and the city’s most desirable homes
This is the most expensive area of Glasgow to live in. Long time enclave of the creative, expensively bohemian and successfully artistic, most of the homes are Glasgow’s more gorgeous tenements and they overlook chic shopping, slick bars, little cafés and rising-star restaurants. Try Byres Road for bars, cafés and vintage clothes. Ashton Lane’s good for food and more bars.
East End – green, gritty and good at playing
Transformed as the hub of 2014’s Commonwealth Games, Glasgow’s East End isn’t the seedy side of the city it once was. Once infamous Glasgow Green is now a venue for major events, concerts and festivals. World class sports facilities and new housing have almost completely changed the landscape.
Best pubs and bars in Glasgow:
BrewDog, Argyle Street
Glasgow loves craft brewing with a passion and BrewDog proves it. Great location opposite Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery.
Brel, Ashton Lane
Ashton Lane behind Byres Road has always been a lure for great bars and restaurants and Brel is no exception. The beers are mostly Belgian, the atmosphere’s beachy and laid back and it’s got a great summer garden.
Sloans, Argyle Arcade
Claims it’s the oldest pub in Glasgow (so do a few others) and it certainly used to be a bit old fashioned. But now Sloans has opened up onto Argyle Street as well as the Arcade and had a new lease of young, energetic life. Friday Night Ceilidhs in the ballroom and good, honest home cooking are good reasons to go.
Bon Accord, North Street
This is the place where Glasgow’s Ale Revolution started and after several decades, it’s still going strong. Claims to serve over 800 different ales every year, has an outstanding whisky selection and the staff really know their stuff.
The Hill, Byres Road
One of the best locations on Byres Road, The Hill soaks up every rare drop of Glasgow sun on its south facing terrace. Inside it’s warm and welcoming, the staff are friendly and the beer selection is just fine too.
Booly Mardis, Vinicombe Street
The master cocktail makers of Glasgow’s West End are so confident, they can carelessly play with the classics and win. Brilliantly original list, artistry behind the bar and a delicious spin on its almost namesake, the Bloody Mary.
Oran Mor, Byres Road
This one doesn’t even need a street number, just look out for the big church at the Great Western Road end of Byres Road. Fantastic selection of whiskies and infamous club nights.
The Corinthian Club, Ingram Street
Opulent and glamorous doesn’t even begin to describe The Corinthian Club. This beautifully restored Georgian Mansion House is four floors of restrained decadence and includes a club, restaurant, casino and cocktail bar.
Best clubs in Glasgow:
The Garage, Sauchiehall Street
Vast, cavernous club space with a young crowd and theme nights nearly every night of the week. Dance and chart sounds keep everything lively and the party atmosphere really works for stag nights.
The Art School, Renfrew Street
Events, club nights and some of the city’s most coveted DJs, The Art School’s been partying in Glasgow for a long time and it’s got really good at it. Loved by students and plenty of others too, actively encourages outrageous fancy dress.
Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Sauchiehall Street
‘We don’t have TVs and we don’t show football’, so says Nice ‘n’ Sleazy. Probably not the place to turn up in fancy dress after too many shots then, but a very cool club nevertheless with some of the city’s best DJ talent and a great sound mix.
SubClub, Jamaica Street
Glasgow’s historic club and still one of the city’s most popular. The house DJs are legends and the guest talent is outstanding. Low ceilings, underground vibe and huge mixed crowd.
The Arches, Argyle Street
One of the best clubs in the city for all sorts of reasons. The location is amazing, sprawling and strange. Theme nights are epic events. Showcases incredible international DJ talent. And it’s not-for-profit, just here for the love of the party.
Food: eat like a local:
Anyone who’s visited Glasgow in the past two decades knows ‘fish supper as a food group’ is a bit of an urban-myth. Truth is, Glasgow now has some of the most exciting and innovative restaurants in Europe. It’s a city that loves to eat out and demands high standards when it’s parting with hard cash. And if you’re desperate for a fish supper, like everything else, Glasgow does them brilliantly.
Following the great Glasgow East End Café tradition, McCune Smith (Duke Street) pulls foodies from all over the city for great coffee, well priced breakfast and amazing deli-sandwiches – best pastrami and rye this side of Brooklyn.
Bollywood posters, boldly bright furniture and a great cluttered feel make Babu Bombay Street Kitchen (http://www.babu-kitchen.com/
) on West Regent Street one of the friendliest places to eat in the city. Add the attraction of fresh, new curry choices daily and your joy is complete.
Worried about the demise of Glasgow fish suppers? Fear not, Old Salty’s (http://www.oldsaltys.co.uk/
) on Argyle Street is looking after the tradition just fine. A bit more expensive than average but battered to perfection, crisp, fresh and delicious.
Vietnamese tapas style street food served under brilliantly coloured hanging lanterns and old bike tyres, Hanoi Bike Shop (http://hanoibikeshop.co.uk/
) on Ruthven Lane is a delight and sharing plate after plate until you’re full is the way they do things here.
Fresh, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients are Cottiers’ (http://www.cottiers.com/
) only signature. The food is amazing, the building’s lovely and it’s tucked just far enough away from Byres Road to feel a bit of rare city peace.
Glasgow’s subway is small, easy to use and the best way to travel between the city centre, the West End and the South Side. There’s an excellent low-level train service from Queen Street Station to the East End.