Where to stay, where to eat & fun things to do in Glasgow, Scotland
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I was lucky enough to spend two days in Glasgow at the beginning of an 8 day road trip through Scotland with my friends Anette and Samantha. It was the first trip to Scotland for all of us, and since we had heard such wonderful things about Glasgow we decided to begin our journey there.
As soon as I stepped out in the streets of Glasgow I felt surprisingly comfortable. I guess it’s just one of those cities that welcomes you with warmth, despite the ridiculous amounts of rain pouring from the sky in the same brief moment. Unlike cities like London and Edinburgh, Glasgow is not about facades and putting on a show for tourists (no offence, I love those places too) – Glasgow felt more authentic, it felt real. And I loved every minute of it.
Although two days is far from enough to explore all that Glasgow has to offer, it sure is a start. Here is how you make the most of your limited time in this lovely city.
>> Read More: Guide to the Scottish Highlands
Getting To Glasgow
BY PLANE: Getting to Glasgow should be fairly easy for most people all over the world. Most major airlines fly into Glasgow Airport, which is a 15 minute bus ride from Glasgow City Centre. The 500 Glasgow Airport Express departs the airport every 10 minutes and cost £8 for one adult. Flying into Edinburgh Airport is also a great option. Anette and I saved a lot of money booking return tickets from Norway to Edinburgh instead of Glasgow; so make sure you compare flights to both airports for the best possible prices. The Citylink bus will get you from Edinburgh Airport to Glasgow in less than an hour for £12.50.
BY GROUND: Visiting from another “nearby” cities like London, Manchester or even Dublin and Belfast? You also have a lot of options if you’re planning on traveling to Glasgow by train or bus. Play around with websites like Megabus and Omio to find options that suit your budget and other preferences.
Great Places To Stay In Glasgow
When my time in any given city is limited, my highest priority when choosing a place to stay is location. That way I get to spend less time on transportation and more time enjoying the city of my choice. If possible, I prefer accommodation within walking distance of my selection of sights.
OUR PICK: JURY’S INN
We chose to stay at Jurys Inn on our trip to Glasgow for these reasons exactly. It is located in the middle of Glasgow City Centre, so we could walk to any place we wanted to visit; just how we like it. The hotel holds a great standard for a low cost, so here you’ll get great value for your money. The staff were very friendly and it was always clean as well.
Booking one room for three friends isn’t always the easiest tasks. After all, this world is made for couples really. But at Jurys Inn it was very easy. We booked a room with two large beds, and there was more than enough room for the three of us (and our luggage) in there.
OTHER GREAT PLACES TO STAY
Native Glasgow: A so-called aparthotel inspired by 1920s ocean liners with impressive decor. Great for groups or families.
Fun Things To Do In Glasgow That You Can’t Miss
No matter if you’ve only got two days in the city or two weeks, you’ll always find something to do. There are a ton of fun things to do in Glasgow for everyone and here are my best ideas:
1. HAVE FUN EXPLORING
Start exploring Glasgow the best way possible. Have a walk around the centre of the city and try to take it all in. Observe the locals and the life in the little cobblestone streets. Enjoy the incredible architectural gems on every corner, the delicious smells escaping the different restaurants, the art.. Everything and anything. This way you’ll also get to know the city instead of just taking a taxi from A to B. And trust me, Glasgow has something for everyone.
2. GO SHOPPING
Head over to Buchanan St, Argyle St or Sauchiehall St if you’re in the mood for shopping. The latter two mostly contain chain stores, gift shops and budget warehouses like TK Maxx and Primark. With a few exceptions, of course. Buchanan St has chains like Urban Outfitters, Zara and Miss Selfridges mixed with high-end stores like Gucci, Michael Kors and Hermès. At the north end you’ll find Buchanan Galleries, a mall with stores like River Island, Mango, Monki and Victoria’s Secret.
3. GET THE BEST VIEW OF GLASGOW
Experiencing a new city from above is never boring, and in Glasgow you get to see the great view for free at The Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is actually Scotland’s Centre for design and architecture; and also works as a visitors centre, exhibition space and events venue. So what you get to experience at this place can vary a lot – super exciting! As a bonus you get to enjoy the view of the city, you just need to climb a few stairs first. Although it was windy and rainy at the time of our visit, The Lighthouse remains one of my favorite sights in Glasgow. Bonus: It’s completely free!
4. VISIT A MUSEUM
Chances are it’s going to rain. It’s Scotland, after all. But no worries, just pop up that umbrella and find the nearest church, cathedral, gallery or museum. Ohh and did I mention that all the major museums and galleries in Glasgow are free to visit? And not to mention freakin’ gorgeous. It’s not a coincidence that a few of these locations have been selected as filming locations for the TV show Outlander! A few of the most popular places to visit include:
- University of Glasgow
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
- Gallery of Modern Art
- Glasgow Cathedral
- Glasgow City Chambers
5. EXPLORE ALL THE WONDERFUL STREET ART
One of the many reasons why I fell in love with Glasgow was all of the incredible street art the city is covered in. There were so so many and I couldn’t keep track of which one was my favorite. I think I decided on the black cab being held up by balloons – cool, right? If you have a serious case of FOMO or if you’re looking for the location of a specific mural, you can click here for a full mural trail map. There are SO many talented artists out there, I’m in awe!
6. VISIT WINTERFELL & CASTLE LEOCH
Did you know you a famous filming location from Game of Thrones and Outlander is only a 40 minute drive outside of Glasgow? You do now. Doune Castle is a 14th century castle that’s been a popular filming location throughout the years. Most people might recognize it as Winterfell from the first season of Game of Thrones, or as Castle Leoch in Outlander. Monty Python and The Holy Grail was also filmed there. It was such a fun experience and I truly recommend renting a car for a day so you can visit it. Go early in the morning to escape the worst crowds.
If you don’t want to drive yourselves, you can always do a tour instead. This 1 day Outlander tour from Glasgow takes you to several filming locations, like Doune Castle, Falkland (1940’s Inverness), Blackness Castle (aka Fort William) and adorable Midhope Castle (aka Lallybroch). My favorite was Midhope Castle – I get boosebumps just thinking about that place!
7. EXPLORE THE HIGHLANDS
Exploring The Scottish Highlands was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I’m not even exaggerating a little. This is why I can’t stress this enough: if you have the time for it when you’re in Glasgow, VISIT THE HIGHLANDS. Even if you only have one day to spare! I promise you won’t regret it.
We were lucky enough to do a three day roadtrip through the highlands after our great time in Glasgow, and we had so many wonderful experiences. It’s definitely best to rent a car and drive yourself if you want the ultimate highlands experience, as public transportation will only get you to a certain point (both literally and figuratively). We got to see a lot in our three days, but I would recommend four days or more if you have the time for it, as there are so many wonderful sights in the highlands.
>> Read More: Full Guide To The Scottish Highlands
If driving yourself isn’t an option, the best idea is definitely to book a guided tour. Although I’ve noticed most highland tours out there depart from Edinburgh, there definitely are some great tours from Glasgow as well:
- 1 DAY: With this one day tour you get to experience some of my favorite highland highlights like Glencoe, Fort William, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle & lovely Inverness.
- 2 DAYS: You can also enjoy even more highlights with this two day tour through the highlands. Experience breathtaking Cairngorm National Park, historic Culloden Battlefield, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Stirling Castle & much more.
- 3 DAYS: If you have more time on your hands, you could also do a 3 day tour (similar to our trip to the highlands). With this three day tour you get to experience some of my favorite highlands sights like Eilean Donan Castle, the beautiful Glencoe nature, Loch Ness, and the best part – The Isle of Skye. So so so amazing!
Where To Eat & Drink In Glasgow
One thing I kind of regret with our trip to Glasgow was not doing enough research on where to eat & drink before going. Samantha did some research and the places she took us to were all amazing, so all of my gratitude goes to her. I was far too busy researching road trip routes through the Highlands to even think about food haha.
Glasgow is a great destination for foodies though, and there are always new restaurants popping up, so I suggest you research TripAdvisor and Pinterest for some new foodie inspiration before you go. Glasgow is also filled with cozy pubs on every street, so there is really no need to plan if you’re more the spontaneous type.
THE COUNTING HOUSE
2 ST VINCENT PLACE
This was the first place we went to in Glasgow and boooy did it make a great impression. The Counting House is a bar & restaurant located right across the street from George Square in an iconic building from the 1800’s. This architectural treasure started it’s life as the Glasgow head office for the Bank of Scotland – and it shows.
The interior inside is fantastic, there is no other way to describe it. You can even use the bank’s former vaults as an intimate space for socializing, complete with iron gates and a vaulted entrance. SO cool. We were seated by a window with a great view of the George Square, not so bad either.
81-85 RENFIELD ST
The Raven is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a filling meal accompanied by some delicious beer. They specialize in American inspired foods like roast meats, and a variety of craft beers, and it was all soooo delicious. Their sweet potato fries were to die for too. Extra bonus for having a super lovely staff and cute interiors. Definitely worth a visit on your Glasgow trip.
At the time I had no idea Bill’s was a restaurant chain, I didn’t realize it until my Manchester trip two months ago. Bill’s in Glasgow was simply a cute little breakfast & brunch place we saw on one of our walks and we decided to grab breakfast here our last day in Glasgow. The restaurant has such an adorable interior, very down to earth kind and farm-ish vibe. The buttermilk pancakes and the garden breakfast were both amazing, truly recommended.