As the cultural and creative centre of the UK, there is so much to see and do in 2 days in Glasgow. What was once a gritty, industrial powerhouse has transformed over the decades into a vibrant city showcasing some of Scotland’s most impressive architecture, art galleries and award-winning museums. The music and nightlife scene is unrivalled anywhere else in the country. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a friendlier bunch of locals. People do make Glasgow, after all!
You could easily spend a whole week in Glasgow hopping on and off the subway to explore new areas. But if you’re looking to squeeze everything into 48 hours then your best bet is to stick to the city centre and West End. So without further ado, here’s the best way to spend 2 days in Glasgow.
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Catherine Taylor.
Day 1 Of Your 2 Days in Glasgow: City Centre
Early morning: George Square
Start your 2 days in Glasgow in the hub of the city centre – George Square. First built in 1781 and named after King George III, George Square is a great place to admire some of the finest Victorian architecture that Scotland has to offer and get a little bit of history in, too.
Here you’ll find the impressive Glasgow City Chambers, the Cenotaph and a collection of towering statues and monuments dedicated to names including Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. It’s here that you’ll also find the iconic pink ‘People Make Glasgow’ sign, which is always worth a photo.
If you happen to visit George Square at a particular time of year, or even a particular day, George Square might be host to anything from pop-up markets and light shows to religious ceremonies, political rallies and protests. Events or not, the square always has a certain buzz about it. It’s a great place to park up on a bench and do a bit of people-watching (if that’s your kind of thing).
Early morning: Duke of Wellington Statue
From there, make your way down Queen Street towards Royal Exchange Square, where you’ll find the Duke of Wellington statue. Made infamous for the now-permanent bright orange traffic cone balancing on the Duke’s head, you really can’t miss this weird but wonderful landmark.
The legacy of the traffic cone hat is believed to have originated back in the 1980s. A group of locals are said to have scaled the statue after a boozy ‘belter’ of a night out, and the cone has remained ever since.
Voted one of the Top 10 Most Bizarre Monuments on Earth by Lonely Planet, the Duke of Wellington statue is definitely worth a snap. And if you’re not in too much of a hurry, have a peek in the Gallery of Modern Art situated right behind.
Late morning: Buchanan Street and the ‘Style Mile’
Next on the agenda is Buchanan Street and Glasgow’s ‘Style Mile’. Stretching all the way from Argyle Street to Buchanan Street, and onwards to Sauchiehall Street (pronounced saw-key-hall, FYI) the ‘style mile’ is a paradise for shopaholics. It’s almost entirely pedestrianised and lined with shops to suit everyone’s taste. Your bank balance might not thank you after spending a couple of hours here.
But undoubtedly the best part of walking down Buchanan Street is the incredible variety of street musicians and performers you’ll pass. Bagpipe players, up-and-coming musicians, acrobats and so much more. If you find yourself waiting outside a shop for someone, you’ll have plenty of entertainment to keep you occupied.
Early afternoon: Mural Trail
One of Glasgow’s more recent additions is the city centre Mural Trail. The Mural Trail is an incredible display of public street art by local artists, all within walking distance of each other. The bright and unique pieces of work breathe life into the bricks of the city through their impactful depictions of Glasgow legends like Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Saint Mungo and ‘The Big Yin’ Billy Connolly.
Following the Mural Trail is a great way to explore the city by foot. So long as the infamous west coast rain stays away, that is. You can follow the full trail provided by the Glasgow Mural Trail website. Or you can research ahead and pick five to ten murals you’d like to tick off the list and save the rest for next time.
Late afternoon: People’s Palace and Winter Gardens
Slightly southeast of the city centre you’ll find Glasgow Green, the oldest of the city’s parks. This wide-open green space leads you along the River Clyde and down to the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens.
The Palace is home to a very relaxed but informative museum that tells the history and culture of Glasgow’s people from the 1700s to the late 20th century through a collection of photographs, film and objects. The adjacent Winter Gardens is a great place to stop for a tea break.
If you’re into beer, it’s also worth checking out WEST Bar & Brewery. They boast an award-winning fusion of Glaswegian and Bavarian food and drink.
Late afternoon: Glasgow Necropolis
Visiting a graveyard never sounds like the most pleasant experience. But I promise you cannot miss the Glasgow Necropolis! Home to over 3,500 tombs, the Necropolis is a Victorian garden cemetery situated on a low but prominent hill overlooking the Glasgow Cathedral.
It’s a slightly eerie but undoubtedly beautiful walk amongst the statues and monuments. Try to get up there for sunset if you can and watch the last of the light sink behind the skyline. It’s arguably one of the best views in Glasgow.
Early evening: Dinner at Paesano Pizza
Glasgow is a foodie’s heaven. With a strong mix of old favourites and new, innovative restaurants, there really is something for everyone. But if you’re looking for a solid, crowd-pleasing dinner spot then look no further than Paesano Pizza.
Over the years the restaurant has become a solid favourite among locals, students and tourists alike for their 100% authentic Neapolitan pizza and amazing prices. Their ingredients and artisan wood-fired ovens are all sourced from Italy. So you know it’s the real deal. Or, if you’re not feeling pizza, try out their sister restaurant, Sugo, which specialises in fresh pasta dishes.
Late evening: King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
For a small venue tucked away on St Vincent Street, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut has made an undeniable mark on Glasgow’s music scene. Since it’s opening in 1990, King Tuts has become one of the most celebrated music venues of all time. Radio 1 crowned it the ‘best UK live venue’ and NME claimed it is ‘quite possibly the finest small venue in the world’.
Famous for being the venue where Oasis first caught the attention of their record label, King Tuts has seen big-name acts like Radiohead, Florence & The Machine, Biffy Clyro, Kasabian, Frightened Rabbit and Paolo Nutini perform over the years. But far from living in the past, this 300-person capacity venue has a constant stream of new, exciting acts that will give you a night in Glasgow you’re unlikely to forget.
Day 2 of your 2 Days in Glasgow: West End
Early morning: Brunch at Papercup
If you’re not too tired (or hungover) from the night before, start the second day of your weekend in Glasgow nice and early. After waking up in your Glasgow hotel, hop on the subway to Hillhead and making the most of the brunch scene there. The West End really spoils us for choice when it comes to the most important meal of the day. But a local’s favourite is Papercup Coffee Company on Great Western Road.
This quaint little eatery takes its coffee and scran pretty seriously. So pair your avo toast or short stack with a flat white to go and you’ll be ready for another day of exploring.
Late morning: Vintage Shopping on Byres Road
Described as the ‘main artery’ of Glasgow’s West End, Byres Road is a vibrant street and a vintage shopper’s dream. So long as you know where to look for treasure, that is.
Tucked away down hidden cobbled lanes like Dowanside and Ruthven Lane you’ll find a whole host of independent retro and vintage shops. You’re guaranteed to find beautiful, one-off antique pieces of clothing and jewellery in Starry Starry Night. And you could end up with all sorts of vintage bric-a-brac after visiting Relics. You’ll also find The Glasgow Vintage Co and West Vintage nearby.
There are a few second-hand charity shops dotted on and around Byres Road if contemporary clothing is more your style. It’s not unheard of to find some designer labels hanging on the racks in there. Keep your eyes peeled…
Early afternoon: Glasgow Botanic Gardens and Kibble Palace
Right at the very top of Byres Road lies the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. You can almost hear the noise of the city disappear behind you as you walk through the gates to this lush green space. And stepping into one of the several glasshouses is like being transported into a tropical garden.
The most famous of the glasshouses is Kibble Palace, a huge wrought iron framed glass structure home to orchids, carnivorous plants and Australian and New Zealand tree ferns. The contrast between the thriving greenery, iron architecture and stone sculptures make this glasshouse a very Instagrammable spot.
The Botanic Gardens stretch alongside the River Kelvin and are a popular spot for visitors, families, runners and dog walkers. Seriously, there are hundreds of good boys and girls roaming around on leashes. The Garden’s Heritage Trail is worth looking into if you want a structured, educational walk. But free-roaming is just as fun!
Late afternoon: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Continue your walk towards Kelvingrove Park. You can make a detour around these impressive grounds if you have the time, too! Soon you’ll stumble across the grand red sandstone building that is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. With 22 themed galleries and a collection over 8000 objects on display, this museum is an absolute must-do.
The museum is an eclectic mix of items. Think famous artwork from the likes of Salvador Dali, a replica of a Spitfire plane hanging from the ceiling and the bizarre Floating Heads attraction. Despite the vast array of content on show, it doesn’t feel overwhelming. And you can of course simply pick and choose which exhibitions you’d like to visit. There’s a changing programme of temporary displays that you can also attend. However, these normally have a small entrance fee.
Late afternoon: The University of Glasgow
A trip to the West End of Glasgow wouldn’t be complete without visiting the iconic buildings rumoured to have inspired Hogwarts – the University of Glasgow. The Gothic-style buildings are decorated with turrets, columns and grand archways. They make you feel like they’ll lead you all the way to Professor Dumbledore’s office!
Make sure you visit the East and West Quadrangles, two of the most popular areas on campus, and of course the famous Cloisters. These incredible fluted columns have featured onscreen in many films and TV shows, including Outlander and Cloud Atlas. There’s also the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery if you haven’t had quite enough of your culture fix yet.
Early evening: The Stand Comedy Club
We already know that Glaswegians have the best banter around. And that’s what makes a visit to The Stand Comedy Club a no-brainer. As the name implies, it’s a stand-up comedy venue with a great mixture of big-name acts, up-and-coming comedians and absolute newbies. Try to get down there as early as possible before the show starts to ensure you get yourself a good seat. A word of caution, though, avoid the front couple of rows if you don’t want to get roped into any of the jokes!
If you happen to be visiting on a Tuesday, you’re in luck. Weekly beginner’s night ‘Red Raw’ is regarded as the best open mic night in the UK. On this night, new and aspiring comics test out their material (to a degree of varying success). I can guarantee you’ll come out of the show with cheeks sore from laughing.
Late evening: Dinner and drinks on Ashton Lane
There really is no better place to end your 2 days in Glasgow than on Ashton Lane. The pretty, cobbled backstreet has twinkling fairy-lights overhead. And it’s home to one of the most lively culinary and nightlife scenes in Glasgow. You could spend all night floating in and out of each venue, making use of the multiple beer garden’s hidden around the back of the old brick stone buildings. Don’t worry, they have heaters for the colder months.
For dinner, try internationally renowned Ubiquitous Chip for some world-class Scottish cuisine, or Brel for year-round alfresco dining underneath a canopy of fairy lights. Both venues are a cracking place to catch a few drinks, too. But if you’re looking for a bit more of a ‘swally’ then head to Vodka Wodka or Jinty McGuinty’s Irish Bar which offers live music almost every night of the week.
So have you ever spent 2 days in Glasgow before? How many activities did you manage to squeeze into your trip? A weekend in Glasgow is more than enough time to see the best of the city centre and West End. But there’s so much more that the city has to offer! Maybe next time…
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