One Day in Glasgow | A Local’s Kick-Ass Itinerary

Statue of Wellington on horse with cone on head in Glasgow

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Glasgow is a Scottish city with sass. Every visitor’s itinerary features the capital, Edinburgh, and rightfully so, as it is beautiful and steeped in history, but Glasgow is real, and Glasgow is raw.

It’s a big city with contrasting neighborhoods, deadly music and art scene, and most importantly, people with banter.

Edinburgh is Paris, Glasgow is Berlin, and here is your one-day in Glasgow itinerary curated with love by me, Gemma, the Fifer who ‘grew up’ in Glasgow.

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Don’t Skip This City 

I (Gemma) moved to Scotland’s Dear Green Place at the age of 17 to attend the University of Glasgow and didn’t leave until my late 20s when I moved to the dark side: Edinburgh. I now reside in Fife.

Glasgow is where I met my lifelong friends, formed my political views, danced around my handbag, gained weight by eating chips n’ cheese, and lost the weight running around Kelvingrove Park – when I drive into Charing Cross, the same feeling consumes me, that feeling that I’m home.

Personally, I don’t think one day in Glasgow is enough to really understand why it is special, but I understand itinerary time constraints; I’ve been there.

This itinerary will recommend a variety of options for your day trip to Glasgow so you can pick and choose what suits your travel needs.

Covering Glasgow’s top attractions, the appeal of the five main neighbourhoods, food recommendations, which Glasgow pubs to party at, and where to get the perfect shots.

This guide will also cover Glasgow’s past, which some would like to hide, its involvement in the slave trade.

Glasgow Street Art

Glasgow’s Neighbourhoods 

In Scotland, we don’t really use the term neighbourhoods but from my extensive travel in North America, I understand categorising areas of a city is the easiest way to help visitors find their bearings.

Glasgow does have distinct areas that can be zoned off, making it an easy task.

Beginning with the City Centre you will find both train stations, Glasgow Central and Queen Street at George Square, and the Buchanan Bus Station.

There are three main streets, starting with Argyle Street, which runs from the West End to the East, Buchanan Street, and Sauchiehall Street.

You will find Glasgow’s main shops on these three streets, along with bars and restaurants.

One of the main drags of pubs and clubs for younger revelers is located at the top of Sauchiehall Street, after the shops.

Like with all cities, you want to veer off the big streets to discover the unique pubs like the Butterfly and the Pig, which features mismatched furniture from your Gran’s house, and the gay institution, The Waterloo.

Behind Buchanan Street are the upmarket Merchant City bars, clubs, and restaurants, as well as Strathclyde University.

This is the area of Glasgow most associated with its slave trade involvement.

At the end of Argyle Street to the east is the Trongate; check out the Clutha for a welcoming local bar and the Tron Theatre for shows, which takes you along the infamous Barras weekend market, a real Glasgow tradition and passes the Barrowlands, a true Glasgow establishment which houses music gigs, and into the East End.

Don’t miss Barras Art and Design’s (BaAd) internal courtyard for drinks and shopping.

Support the local shop owners by purchasing here.

The Barras Glasgow

The East End is also home to Glasgow Cathedral, Provand’s Lordship (oldest house in Glasgow), Glasgow’s necropolis, Glasgow Green (park), the People’s Palace, and two breweries.

Running parallel to Argyle Street is Glasgow’s River Clyde.

Bridges take you over to our third neighborhood, the Southside.

The Southside has its own parks, Queens and Pollok.

Most of the bars and restaurants are found around Pollokshaws Road; check out the Glad cafe for vegan cakes and intimate gigs.

The West End of Glasgow is where you will find most of the students in the city, as well as a stylish crowd.

The main street is Byres Road, which is always busy with brunchers and shoppers.

Visit Oran Mor for gigs, and don’t miss the cute cobbled street, Ashton Lane, for drinks under the fairy lights.

In summer, you can find a beer garden on Ashton Lane, and there is also a small cinema called the Grosvenor.

Running along the back of Byres Road is Great Western Road, which is packed with vintage shops, furniture stores, and food stops.

The University of Glasgow is located behind Ashton Lane on University Avenue.

From there, you can reach Kelvingrove Park and Museum or Woodlands Road, where you can watch comedy shows at The Stand. To get back into town, head down to Charing Cross.

However, we are not quite finished with the West End yet because, at the bottom of Byres Road, you will find Argyle Street, which runs into the Finnieston neighborhood.

Finnieston used to be known for its Teuchter or Highlander Triangle because of the three pubs, the Park Bar, The Islay Inn, and Snaffle Bit playing trad music, especially around Celtic Connections time.

However, this area has exploded in the past years.

If you are in town for ethically sourced food, hop into the food trucks at Dockyard Social and drink, or for dirty burgers and cocktails, try Strip Joint.

Finnieston Road leads to the Clyde, the Ovo Hydro, Glasgow SECC, Clydeside Distillery, and the Transport Museum.

Getting Around Glasgow

Glasgow has an extensive network of bus routes, trains, and also our beloved underground, aka the metro or subway.

Our underground is not difficult to navigate.

It only goes around in one loop and then back around the other way.

It is affectionally known as the Clockwork Orange, and if you want to spend your one day in Glasgow boozing, you should play the Clockwork Orange drinking game.

The game involves getting off at each stop and having a tipple!

If you want to learn more about the city and save time and your feet, check out the Glasgow hop-on/off bus that includes an audio guide.

One Day in Glasgow – City Centre and the East End

Morning in Glasgow

Kick-off with a full Scottish breakfast or stacked French toast at Café Gandolfi (Albion Street) or eggs at the trendy Wilson Street Pantry in the Merchant City.

You’re going to need the energy.

Next, it’s a visit to one of Glasgow’s points of interest, the Gallery of Modern Art on Royal Exchange Square.

This museum is located in the former Cunninghame Mansion, home of the tobacco and sugar merchant and one of the prolific merchants of the transatlantic tobacco trade, William Cunninghame of Lainshaw.

In front of the GOMA is the iconic Duke of Wellington, who often has a street cone on his head.

Glasgow Duke of Wellington Statue with cone on head

Next, mooch through the Merchant City, keeping your eyes peeled for the street art murals and more links to Glasgow’s slave trade involvement, such as (Tobacco Lord, James) Wilson Street and (John) Glassford Street (tobacco plantation owner in Virginia and Maryland).

It would be great to see Glasgow following in the footsteps of Bristol in England, which has a museum called The Georgian House Museum that documents what a plantation and slave owner’s home may have looked like around 1790.

Street art murals Glasgow

Afternoon in Glasgow Itinerary

Go slightly off-piste to grab a sandwich at the chic takeaway, Piece, jamming to the tunes while you wait on your ‘Jerk Off’ or a roll at the Wes Anderson style Off The Rails cafe, grab a vegan lunch at The Glasvegan at St Enoch Square, or try the steak pie at The Smokin’ Fox.

Head back east via Argyle Street towards the Trongate and onto Barrowlands Park.

Count the bands you’ve seen, then promise to return to watch one live at the Barrowlands.

Walk towards the Barrowlands; if visiting on a weekend, swing by the Barras Market to experience this Glasgow institution set up by Maggie McIver, who died a multi-millionaire in 1958.

If you love music, you will want to join the Glasgow City Music Tours, which are run by music journalists, complimenting Glasgow’s UNESCO City of Music status. Grab a bite to eat at BaAd or continue on to the next stop on your Glasgow itinerary.

From here, you have two options – park, palace, and a pint or God’s house, the graveyard, and gin.

Barrowlands Park Glasgow

Option 1: Glasgow Green, Breweries and Lunch

Glasgow Green is where you will find the People’s Palace, which houses a really interesting exhibition on life in Glasgow throughout the ages.

Look out for the washing line poles in the Green, too; locals used these to dry their clothes!

Take a well-deserved pit stop at West Brewery or Drygate Brewery. Both serve food, beer, and other drinks.

The Palais on Duke Street (Denniston) is another hip lunch option.

Peoples Palace Glasgow

Option 2: Cathedral, Necropolis, and Provand’s Lordship

Walk towards Castle Street to see Glasgow’s Cathedral; tours are available (one hour long), and donations are welcomed.

Behind the Cathedral, you will find Glasgow’s Necropolis, the giant graveyard that overlooks the city.

From up on the hill, you will get some of the best views of Glasgow, so have your camera ready.

End this history tour at the oldest house in Glasgow, Provand’s Lordship, across from the Cathedral, and since you are here, it would be rude not to pop into St Mungo’s Museum to see the Egyptian mummy.

This 2-hour walking tour features the above Glasgow landmarks.

It is run by a real Glaswegian who is happy for you to ask them any question about life in the city!

Glasgow Cathedral blue sky

Take that extra 5-minute walk to see St Mungo himself sprayed on the end gable.

This is not the official name of this street art mural, but it is what locals affectionately call it.

Head back to the Merchant City to enjoy whisky cocktails at Buck’s Bar or classic drinks and bar food at Bar Home.

For a real culture shock, head to the charming Alpen Lodge (25A Hope St) for its banging jukebox and live music at the weekends if you can squeeze in.

Sticking around for the evening? Is it Friday?

Then get yer dancin’ shoes on because Friday night is ceilidh night at Sloan’s.

Add a meal on to make a full night of it.

St Mungo Glasgow Street Art

One Day in Glasgow – City Centre and the West End

Morning Itinerary Options

Follow the above morning itinerary, but after street art spotting at the Merchant City, which continues throughout the city, there are over 22 murals to discover; make your way to Argyle or Buchanan Street underground tube station (subway/metro) to Hillhead Station arriving at Byres Road in the West End.

Alternatively, choose one of the afternoon options if you prioritise those Glasgow tourist attractions.

There are a few lunch suggestions here, depending on when you are visiting.

You can eat any type of food you want in Glasgow.

For mac and cheese, head to Sloans.

I love Japanese and can recommend Nippon Kitchen (91 W George Stree) for traditional meals/bento boxes and Mikaku (25 Queen Street), which is a modern, neon light with smoking sake test tubes kind of place.

October is one of the “it” bars for social media photos.

Fancy tapas? Cafe Andaluz is a consistently good small Spanish restaurant chain in Scotland.

Suga Pasta is a pasta specialist in the center of town; I dream about this pasta often.

If you prefer some pizza, Nonna Said (26 Candleriggs) does Napoli-style pizza and frozen cocktails if starting early…

From Wednesday to Sunday, a cool space called Platform serves food and drinks from the arches of Central Station!

Or hold off for lunch until you hit the West End.

Nachos Espresso Martini October Glasgow pub

Afternoon Itinerary

Enjoy lunch at one of the many cafes/pubs, such as Hillhead Bookclub or Hanoi Bike Shop.

Walk through Ashton Lane to University Avenue, aiming for the University of Glasgow’s cloisters for Hogwarts vibes.

Head down the hill and take a right to Kelvin Way, where you will find the Kelvingrove Museum.

Browse the 22 galleries, including work by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Salvador Dali, and my favourite, the Floating Heads by Sophie Caves.

It’s free to enter, by the way.

Read next: 15 weekend trips in Scotland you have to do 

Floating Heads Installation by Sophie Cave at Glasgow Kelvingrove Museum

Take a stroll through Kelvingrove Park, then if hungry/thirsty, dine/drink at Lebowski’s; White Russians are a must!

If visiting over the weekend, reserve a spot at Dockyard Social for truck food and booze.

Or, if you have a sweet tooth, reserve a table at The Hidden Lane Tearoom for an afternoon tea.

This is a great tradition that can also be enjoyed at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-inspired Willow Tearooms in town.

Staying around to go to ‘the dancing’?

Glasgow Clubs

  • SWG3: Specialist nights such as Bongo’s Bingo, disco, techno, and live bands
  • Sub Club: Longest-running underground dance club in the world
  • Arta: live music in the Merchant City, mixed age groups
  • The Berkeley Suite: Thursday-Monday dance and alternative music
  • Speakeasy: LGBT+ nights Thursday-Sunday
  • Boteco Do Brasil at the Merchant City

Things to do at Night in Glasgow That Don’t Involve Dancing

  • Bowling, but cool kid strikes at VEGA Glasgow
  • Vintage movie house, Grosvenor Cinema
  • Drinks and films at Everyman Glasgow
  • Theatre at the King’s Theatre, The Pavilion, Citizens Theatre or The Tron
  • Bar hopping in town, check out Shilling Brewing Company for craft beer, Kong for rooftop cocktails, and Stereo for vegan
  • Ceilidh at Sloans
  • Bingo, not for the fainthearted

Final Words

So, as you can see, Glasgow in a day really is a challenge, but it is a nice taste of what the city has to offer.

As we say in Scotland, haste ye back – and I’m confident you will return for more because of Glasgow’s miles better, a reference to the 80s Glasgow tourism campaign.

18 thoughts on “One Day in Glasgow | A Local’s Kick-Ass Itinerary

  1. Deborah says:

    Hi Gemma- Love how thorough your Glasgow blog is! We will be in Edinburgh week of April 1 and would like to visit Glasgow on Wednesday for a daytrip. Can you recommend best public transport & timing for 4 adults not renting a car for the day? Thank you and happy travels!

    • Two Scots Abroad says:

      Thanks Deborah! Love to read that you’re going to Glasgow, it is such a fun city. There are two options, the bus or train. You can check Megabus and Citylink for bus times and ScotRail or Trainline for trains. Stations are in the city centre so you won’t have far to walk to attractions there. If you want to visit the West End you can hop on the underground. Have a great trip!

    • Two Scots Abroad says:

      Thanks so much Kern, oversight on my part. The canal is up the back of Maryhill behind the Murano Halls. Sad to see many closed businesses needed removed from the guide. Have a great trip regardless! Glasgow is so much fun.

  2. Stefanie Chase says:

    I came across your brilliant blog as I am panicking a week before I fly to Scotland and Ireland for a 10 day tour with a bunch of strangers, and I need to find fun things to do/eat/explore on my own when I have free time (like when I land and need to walk off the jet lag). Your suggestions are fantastic (I’m checking your Edinburgh post next). Thank you for these!!

  3. Kathleen Feeney says:

    Hi there! I loved your blog. I was just wondering. Did you have anything to recommend for 4 days in winter? I’m travelling back for 4 days December 14th-18th and would love some suggestions for castles/museums/nightlife as I’m travelling in colder months!
    Thanks 🙂

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      Hey! Do you mean in Glasgow? Glasgow is a pretty much an all year round city so the tips will stay the same. The parks might be out for picnics but still nice for walks. Hope that helps!

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