Glasgow is Scotland's biggest, brashest city. It has a long, proud history of trade and industry centered on the River Clyde, but these days it's just as famous for its art, culture, shops and pubs. Friendly locals give the place real character. Or as the city slogan goes: "People make Glasgow."
Glasgow: city layout
Glasgow city centre is laid out in a stately Victorian grid on the north bank of the River Clyde. The main thoroughfares of Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street link into a Z-shaped shopping district, much of which is pedestrianised.
Overground rail links and Glasgow Subway, a simple, circular underground system known locally as "the clockwork orange", make it easy to explore surrounding historic neighbourhoods. Dennistoun to the east, Partick to the west, Strathbungo on the Southside – each has its own beloved pubs and parks.
The western edge of town blurs into the Scottish countryside, and it's less than 20 miles to the fabled "bonny banks" of Loch Lomond.
Top attractions in Glasgow
Wealthy 19th-century merchants left an impressive mark on Glasgow through art and architecture. The Burrell Collection and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum are Victorian treasure houses filled with curiosities – from Cézanne and Degas paintings in one, to mummies and dinosaur eggs in the other.
Visitors also marvel at the later Art Nouveau buildings designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, including Glasgow School of Art and Willow Tea Rooms.
It's an arty city, but music is the first love of many Glaswegians. You can join them for pop concerts at the flying-saucer shaped SSE Hydro, and sweaty rock gigs at the much older Barrowland Ballroom.
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Glasgow accommodation options range from business-friendly hotels near Glasgow International Airport (GLA) to boutique options for weekend breaks in the city centre and suburban retreats in quieter spots like nearby East Kilbride.
A high-rise hotel on the River Clyde is handy for meetings at BBC Scotland and other waterfront media headquarters, concerts at the SSE Hydro, and conventions at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
Keen shoppers and theatre-goers may prefer to stay closer to Buchanan Street, at the beating heart of Glasgow commerce and culture.
Cruise ship passengers can begin or end their voyage at a hotel near Greenock Ocean Terminal. Rooms in Motherwell or Hamilton give you easy access to the M74 motorway, ideal for road trips across Scotland's Central Belt.
The Glasgow diet is famous for its unhealthy options, from fish and chips to deep-fried Mars Bars. But you'll also find classic Scottish dishes like haggis and cullen skink prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
A post-pub fish supper at King's Café is a time-honoured way to end a night out in the city centre. Old Salty's is a gourmet variation on the trusty Glasgow chip shop at the trendy west end of Argyle Street.
The post-industrial Finnieston area has become a hub of fashionable yet casual dining, where restaurants like The Gannet and Crabshakk serve up quality Scottish meat and seafood in gentrified buildings.
Glaswegians claim to have the best Italian and Indian restaurants in the UK. They're loyal to long-standing institutions like Coia's Café in residential Dennistoun, and Shish Mahal in leafy Kelvinbridge.
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Glasgow has so many premium-brand clothing stores and designer boutiques that one advert for the city calls it "Scotland with style". The locals love a bargain though, so there's no shortage of second-hand shops and street markets to rummage in.
The main pedestrian shopping precinct incorporates a busy high-street mall at Buchanan Galleries, and the upscale retailers of Princes Square. You can look for even fancier labels nearby at the Italian Centre, and venture further into the Merchant City for high-quality arts and crafts.
A browse among the stalls and chatty traders of Barras Market makes for an essential Glasgow shopping experience. Cobbled West End side streets like Otago Lane and Cresswell Lane are well worth exploring for used books, vintage clothes and boho curios.
Best independent shops in Glasgow
Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music, famous for its live rock shows, concert halls and underground club scene. There's a kind of music to the flow of conversation in the city's pubs too, while high art thrives in its historic performance and exhibition spaces.
The area around Buchanan Street forms Glasgow's main cultural quarter. You can watch an opera at Theatre Royal, hear a symphony at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and admire local and international masterpieces for free at the Gallery of Modern Art, all within a few blocks of each other.
The Southside has its own arty hotspots, and a short train, taxi or subway ride will take you to a new play at Citizen's Theatre or an experimental dance show at Tramway.
Basement bars and nightclubs line the lively Bath Street. If loud guitars are your thing, you can hear them played live on stage or through a jukebox at one of the city centre's legendary rock and indie music venues.
Glasgow's best historic pubs
Thanks to Victorian city planners, Glasgow is filled with lush parks and gardens. The River Clyde is lined with high-tech museums along both banks, and historic boats to take you "doon the water", as the local saying goes.
The rain falls hard and often on Glasgow, so as soon as the sun comes out local families head straight to the nearest park. From the city centre it's a pleasant stroll or three-stop subway ride west to Kelvingrove Park, and only a little further to Glasgow Botanic Gardens.
To the east there's the aptly named Glasgow Green. It's another top spot for a picnic, with the People's Palace and glass-covered Winter Gardens to keep you dry and busy if the rain starts again.
Down by the Clyde you can't miss the gleaming, zig-zag roof of the Riverside Museum of Travel and Transport and The Tall Ship beside it – a three-masted barque called the Glenlee, built in 1896 and lovingly restored as a spectacular kid-friendly attraction.
Fun ways to see Glasgow