Here’s how to make the ultimate holiday in Glasgow, Scotland

Take A Break is your ultimate guide to the perfect trips to recharge your batteries, rediscover yourself and your relationships, and reconnect with the world. We cover shopping stops, great bars, restaurants that are worth your money, photo opportunities, unforgettable rides and experiences, and other important details you need before booking.

Below, we chat with Liza Hearon, an assignments editor at HuffPost, about why you should put Glasgow, Scotland on your bucket list.

What drew you to Glasgow as a place to visit or explore?

I have a group of friends from Glasgow and have been visiting the city regularly since I moved to the UK 11 years ago. It’s always a great time! When Americans visit Scotland, they usually only make it as far as Edinburgh. I understand why – it’s a beautiful city with amazing history and vacation time is a valuable resource. But Glasgow is just plain cooler – the chatter (Scottish term for banter or conversation) is unrivaled!

What are the best times of the year to visit?

Let’s face it – no one goes to Scotland for beach weather. Winters are dark, cold and damp. But there is enough to do in Glasgow to keep you busy all year round. Summers are euphoric, with really long days (sunrise at 4:30 am, sunset after 10:00 pm in midsummer). And I haven’t seen Halloween embraced anywhere else like Glasgow. The whole of the West End is like a fancy dress party with students and more gathering on Ashton Lane for a tremendously fun night out.

If you manage to get weather warmer than about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, you can witness it “types aff” the phenomenon of gentlemen going bare-chested to celebrate.

What is your best tip for getting here? How can you make the trip as stress-free as possible?

You’re probably not coming to Scotland from the US for a long weekend. If you’re already in the UK, Glasgow is really well connected by train. There are many direct trains from London taking around four and a half hours to Glasgow Central. British trains are unnecessarily overpriced so try to buy your ticket in advance, avoid traveling on Friday and Sunday evenings and be sure to specify that you want a reserved seat. It’s also only about an hour by train from Edinburgh, and there are plenty of trains to choose from.

Glasgow has an airport that flies to some European destinations if you are coming from that direction.

Glasgow is easily accessible by train from London and has an airport serving a number of European destinations.

Kenny Williamson via Getty Images

Glasgow is easily accessible by train from London and has an airport serving a number of European destinations.

Where do you recommend staying if you go?

I went once for a birthday present Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, with beautiful plush rooms and a thermal bath on the ground floor. It is surrounded by lush gardens and conveniently located in the city center.

If you are on a budget, Motel One is good value for money. It’s just the basics, but it’s good for a busy city break! point a is similar – small rooms but good if you travel.

What are your favorite restaurants or foods to eat while you’re there?

Glasgow is a great brunch city! who knew The left bankin the West End and Pantry on Wilson Street, in the middle, are some of my favorite spots. Also worth mentioning The single ending, which has two locations in the city.

Glasgow is also one of the most vegan-friendly cities I’ve been to. I’m not vegan but I really liked it Swiss ― Pan-Asian but run by a Malaysian family and the laksa is excellent.

If you are looking for a treat for lunch or dinner, Omnipresent chip is a beautiful place with different areas, like the Wee Whiskey Bar. (You’ll definitely want to make a reservation!)

Which bars or entertainment places do you definitely go to? What is good to drink there or what else should you know?

The Barrowland Ballroom is one of the UK’s most iconic venues for live music. Sometimes they release more tickets for sold out gigs just before the show, so it’s worth trying your luck. I have both bought and sold tickets Twitter ― It is a UK-based platform where sellers are not allowed to charge more than face value for tickets. Barra’s art and design is a cool spot for a pre-Barrowland drink.

But there’s no shortage of great drinking spots in Glasgow! In the West End there is Oran Mora bar in a converted church. The old barber and stereo are two very cool live music bars right next to each other on hidden Renfield Lane. And of course there are plenty of traditional pubs ― The Scots may seem touristy but i really liked it. The pot still claims it has over 800 whiskeys; it gets crowded on weekends.

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland.

Georgeclerk via Getty Images

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland.

If you are a fan of live music or theatreYou really can’t go wrong in Glasgow – it’s an embarrassment of cultural richness.

It’s a totally unique experience Sharmanka Kinetic Theater. These oddly beautiful sculptures move with the music. It’s scary and moving.

And if you’re looking for late-night fun, you might find yourself on Sauchiehall Street, a noisy party street full of places with student drink specials and the like. Make sure you get one of the local specialties on your way home – chips and cheese (note that cheese is charged the same) or a Munchie boxthat’s an unholy combination of drunken food concocted for you in a pizza box.

What are your favorite shops and what do you look for when you are there?

I have to admit I don’t really shop there that much. But I always grab some tattie scones (potato scones) to take back to London. You can freeze them or just pop them in the toaster. What an excellent breakfast or brunch.

What is your favorite spot for photos and why?

That Glasgow Necropolis is a great Victorian graveyard that is a lovely walk on a sunny day or super spooky at night. You also have a nice view of the city. There are two ancient buildings nearby, Glasgow Cathedral and Provand’s Lordship, which date back to the Middle Ages.

Which tourist attraction should people skip and what should they do instead?

To me, the shopping districts around Buchanan Street are mostly the same high street stores that you can find elsewhere in the UK (but if mall-style shopping is your thing, go for it!) BUT! That Modern Art Gallery (GoMA of course) is close by and well worth a visit – the staff is nice and the exhibits are top notch. I saw an exhibition of teenage artists creating works that describe their experiences in lockdown and it brought me to tears.

The city’s iconic image is also right outside the door: the Duke of Wellington with one Traffic cone on head.

Where do you feel most relaxed, calm or happiest?

That Glasgow Botanic Gardens are beautiful! And there is a greenhouse which is nice and hot for the tropical plants and for people from hotter climes who need to warm up!

The Gallery of Modern Art is housed in a neoclassical building on Royal Exchange Square.

gmsphotography via Getty Images

The Gallery of Modern Art is housed in a neoclassical building on Royal Exchange Square.

Which viewpoints do you recommend visiting?

Kelvingrove Park is a lovely park to stroll around and also contains the best Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The University of Glasgow campus is nearby, and if you’re interested in architecture (or Harry Potter) you’ll love seeing the neo-Gothic buildings.

What’s one thing you absolutely should pack when you go and why?

Your sense of humor! Glaswegians are very fun and welcoming people. For physical items – you need layers as the weather is so changeable that you can be cold, damp and then hot in a bar or restaurant on the same day.

What are some special planning tips to know before you go so you don’t get stressed?

I have traveled to Glasgow at different times of the year and honestly there is always something to do. One trick is if you’re traveling in August you can stay in Glasgow and take a day trip to Edinburgh to see the Fringe shows – Edinburgh accommodation in August books up super early and prices are wild.

What surprised you about Glasgow when you first went there?

How international and inviting the city is – unusual for a big city, I think. For example in May 2021, Hundreds of people came surround an immigration van and prevent the deportation of their friends and neighbors on Eid al-Fitr. There is a real sense of community.

Anything else visitors should know?

Try taking the subway to get around – I know it’s so condescending, but it’s adorable and small and it goes in circles. (Unfortunately only two stations have step-free access; hopefully this will be improved.)

And if you want to see Glasgow without leaving your sofa, that’s where the very funny comedy Lovesick is set.