Interested in Glasgow?
We'll send you updates with the latest deals, reviews and articles for Glasgow each week.
While Americans cousins refer to this area as 'Downtown' it is not a phrase in common use in the UK. To the first time visitor, the most striking of Glasgow's features are the spectacular Victorian buildings with their intricately carved stonework, a testament to the architectural ambitions of Glasgow's rich tobacco barons and shipping magnates of the city's past.
The grid pattern style of Glasgow's streets, which was embarked upon in the 1700s, has often been likened to a U.S city without the skyscrapers; so much so that in 2011 Glasgow was used as a stand-in for Philadelphia in the film "World War Z" with Brad Pitt (around George Square) and as San Francisco in the movie Cloud Atlas with Halle Berry and Tom Hanks (around Blythswood Square). In 2012 Glasgow was also used as a backdrop for some spectacular car racing stunts for the movie The Fast and The Furious 6.
The centre is dominated by the main shopping arteries of Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, often referred to as the golden Z. It is here you will find the second largest 'downtown' shopping district in the British Isles after London. Buchanan Street has a wide range of upmarket designer retailers - crowned off by the boutique-style Princes Square mall on the halfway point on the street. At the northern and southern ends of the street you will find the city centre's two main shopping malls - the Buchanan Galleries at the northern end, while the St. Enoch Centre - Europe's largest glass roofed building (which underwent major redevelopment in 2009) is located at the bottom of the hill. Both have a wide range of the usual big name British high street chains.
Sauchiehall Street is home to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Willow Tea Rooms and nearby his School of Art attracts lovers of the Art Nouveau period. Also of architectural note for its stunning art deco interior is the GTF (Glasgow Film Theatre) on Rose Street just off Sauchiehall Street. Rennie Mackintosh's legacy can be found all overthe city. DIY walking tours which encompass some of Glasgow's architectural gems can be downloaded free of charge from the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society website.
The always bustling city centre also boasts such artistic endeavours as the School of Music and Drama, the Royal Concert Hall, and the Theatre Royal, home to Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet. It comes as no surprise to those familiar with the city that it was recently named UNESCO City of Music.
Towards the western end of the city centre you will find Blythswood Hill and Anderston, which form Glasgow's financial district with its eclectic mix of Georgian townhouses and state-of-the-art modern office buildings.
The West End
As you head directly west along Sauchiehall Street, the M8 motorway creates a psychological barrier between the city centre and the beginning of the West End. The bohemian hinterland around Glasgow University's gothic spires features the wonderful hidden gems that are the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery together with the inspiring reconstruction of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's home. Nearby are the dramatic Kelvingrove Art Galleries, the newly redeveloped waterfront along the River Clyde, Kelvingrove Park, the Botanic Gardens, up and coming Finnieston with its burgeoning restaurant, bar and music scene. and bustling Byres Road with its cafes, bars, vintage stores and independent shops.
The much loved Museum of Transport at Kelvin Hall has in 2011 relocated a little further west to the clyde waterfront, and has been renamed the Riverside Museum of Transport. The rest of the city has to fight to keep up with the West End’s wonders. To celebrate all this bounty, the West End Festival, held every June, has fast become Scotland’s other major arts festival.
Recommended delights of the West End include; Ashton, Cresswell and Dowanside Lanes – cobbled alleys off thoroughfare Byres Road, where quaint whitewashed buildings house bars, cafes and hip designer outlets (don’t miss the Grosvenor Cinema/ Bar complex or Starry, Starry Night vintage clothing); Oran Mor (bars, restaurant, live theatre and music venue) and restaurants at the north end of Byres Road where it meets the equally engaging Great Western Road; Cottiers Theatre (off Hyndland Road and Hyndland Street) where theatre and live shows take place in a converted church; Partick Farmers' Market – anyone for an ostrich burger or a fresh Florentine? Also worth a look is the Hidden Lane, off Argyle Street, which houses artists, musicians and a super wee cafe.
The Merchant City
Imposing 19th century sandstone buildings fill the blocks immediately behind George Square and around Glasgow’s City Chambers. The free 45 minute tour of the City Chambers (10.30 and 2.30 most weekdays) is highly recommended and despite being extremely popular, there is no need to book. Very much the fashionable city centre address, the Merchant City boasts wine bars, more designer clothes stores than most Italian cities and the city’s small but thriving gay triangle. All this within a stylish scamper of GOMA, the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. Ingram Street is rapidly establishing itself as a haven for upmarket designer fashion shops - rivalling Buchanan Street with names such as Ralph Lauren, Bang and Olufsen and All Saints. It's also home to the architecturally stunning and recently restored Corinthian building, a grand upscale pleasure palace for eating, drinking and partying into the wee small hours. Visitors may also enjoy a DIY walk of the area by picking up a map of the Merchant City Walking Trail at the Tourist Information Office in George Square. It pinpoints many locations of historic interest along its path and includes a mention of Rabbie Burns the famous scottish poet.
Whilst the City Centre and West End have captured all the tourist headlines, Glasgow's East End is now beginning to be discovered. Venturing just east of Glasgow Cross in the Merchant City, you will find a more grittier side of the city, but no less intriguing for the visitor. Your first encounter will be with "The Barras" weekend street market on Gallowgate, a Glasgow institution along with the world famous Barrowland Ballroom music hall. Heading south from the Barras you will find Glasgow Green, the city's largest public park. In the green is the spectacular People's Palace and Winter Gardens. Adjacent to the People's Palace the Templeton Carpet Factory, grandly modelled on the Doge's Palace in Venice, looms large as a stunning backdrop to Glasgow Green. Tucked away in the ex-carpet factory's winding house is a German Microbrewery and restaurant called West. Its outdoor seating makes it popular with dog walkers, family groups and visitors to the park. Venturing further into the East End the most dominating feature is Celtic Park, the 60,000 all seater stadium that is the home of Glasgow Celtic FC which is set to be used for the opening ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. It is hoped that the Games being awarded to Glasgow will boost the regeneration of this part of the city.
A pleasant neighbourhood on the southside of the city, situated beside the beautiful Queens Park, Shawlands is a bustling area, great for shopping and eating out. It has a mixture of traditional Glasgow drinking bars and trendy bars and clubs. Don't miss out Skirving Street, a small street containing a collection of independent shops, cafes and restaurants. The area is steeped in history; Queens park was dedicated to the memory of Mary, Queen of Scots, and not Queen Victoria, a common misconception given the proximity to Victoria Road and that the park was created during her reign. The park has its own glass house, and insect museum, and incredible views of Glasgow can be seen from the flag pole in the centre of the park. The farmers market is held on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. Shawlands is a stone's throw from Pollok park and the famous Burrell collection and close to the Tramway Theatre. The area has seen significant changes over the last few years and is seen by many as the area to rival the West End. For more information on what's on in the Southside visit the southsidehappenings site.
Cessnock does not compete with the west end but it's an interesting area. Situated on the southbank of the river Clyde, it's close to several of the city's main attractions. Disembarking at Cessnock Underground turn left and your faced with Walmer Crescent, an interesting tenement building designed by the famous Glasgow Architect, Alexander 'Greek' Thomson. If you continue along Paisley Road west, you'll come across Bellahouston park, home of the House for an Art Lover, designed by Glasgow's other famous architect Macintosh. Walking past Bellahouston park and into Pollok park you will come across the Burrell collection and Pollok House. Also within the Cessnock area is Ibrox football stadium, home of Rangers FC. Towards the river from the underground station lies the river Clyde and the science centre with its tower and Imax cinema. Nearby the Science Centre lies the recently constructed Clyde Arc (known by Glaswegians as the squinty bridge) and the new BBC Scotland Headquarters designed by Chipperfield.