Glasgow has a compact centre with city bars, restaurants and shops
Its proud industrial background in shipbuilding and its use as a major port meant that the city – a hub for wealthy traders in cotton, tobacco and sugar – used to be known as the “workshop of the world”.
But the decline of industry affected it badly and its fortunes didn’t really start to turn again until the late 1980s.
However it has since evolved into a thriving city passionate about the arts, with just as much culture, history and entertainment to offer as Edinburgh, barely 40 miles to the east.
The city’s artistic icon is local boy Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose distinctive late 19th century Art Nouveau style can still be seen in several locations, such as The Willow Tearooms on Buchanan Street, which he designed, and in The Hunterian Gallery, housed within the university.
But Glasgow has spawned plenty more talent, its School Of Art has produced an impressive seven Turner Prize winners.
The Gallery of Modern Art occupies the stunning, neo-classical former home of a tobacco lord and showcases renowned British artists such as David Shrigley, while more classical art can be found in the imposing Kelvingrove Art Gallery, including Salvador Dali’s famous Christ Of St John Of The Cross.
The Glasgow Riverside Museum in the evening
SEE THE SIGHTS
With a compact centre, most of the city’s bars, restaurants and shops are within walking distance but there are several things a little further out which are worth visiting.
On the south bank of the River Clyde is the striking Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum, once voted European Museum of the Year and home to a vast collection of objects from the city’s past as a key maritime location and its more recent history.
There are themed displays and an emphasis on interactive experiences, making it great for children.
Kids big and small will also enjoy the enchanting Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre, where dozens of crazy mechanical sculptures made from bits of wood and scrap metal “perform” to a music and light show.
To the north east of the city is St Mungo’s Cathedral, a beautiful medieval church which marks Glasgow’s original birthplace.
Looming above it on the surrounding hillside is the magnificent Necropolis, a vast Victorian cemetery studded with grandiose mausoleums.
Glasgow also has many attractive green spaces to stroll in, such as the expansive Botanic Gardens in the city’s West End and nearby Kelvingrove Park on the banks of the River Kelvin.
Gin 71 – One of Glasgow’s colourful and vibrant hotels
SHOP TILL YOU DROP
Glasgow has always championed its commercial side and it is brimming with stores, boutiques and shopping centres such as the St. Enoch Centre, Princes Square and Buchanan Galleries.
Buchanan Street, one of the city’s main arteries, along with Argyle Street and the elegant Merchant City neighbourhood, are collectively known as the Style Mile, where you’ll find anything from designer brands to high street names.
Local homegrown talent includes cashmere knitwear designer and milliner William Chambers (find his store in The Italian Centre on Ingram Street), or textile designer Fi Douglas, who sells stunning soft furnishings from her showroom on Park Circus Place.
Modern architecture and the tall ship ‘Glenlee’ at Riverside museum
If it’s fine Scottish cuisine you want you’ll be spoilt for choice. The city has several must-try “institutions”, including Rogano (roganoglasgow.com), an Art Deco-designed gem which dates from the 1930s and has largely kept its original stylish interiors.
Treat yourself to scallops, sole meunière or a dish of oysters. Café Gandolfi (cafegandolfi.com) in Merchant City serves up black pudding, haggis and venison in laid-back, airy surroundings.
And there’s a profusion of great new restaurants on and around Byres Road in the fashionable West End, including the Ox and Finch (oxandfi nch.com), which specialises in tapas-style, small-plate dishes. Whisky fans should seek out traditional 19th century pub The Pot Still on Hope Street, while Gin71 (gin71.com) is the city’s first bar dedicated to the spirit.
The newest addition to the city’s hotel scene is Dakota Deluxe (glasgow.dakotahotels. co.uk), a stylish design destination right in the middle of town with 83 rooms kitted out with soothing grey tones and New York-style loft windows. Doubles from £199, B&B. Or stay at citizenM (020 3519 1111/citizenm.com), if you want somewhere equally as hip and central but cheaper.
Doubles from £63, room only. For something more intimate, book one of the five rooms at 15 Glasgow (0141 332 1263/ 15glasgow.com), a boutique hotel in a Victorian townhouse.
Doubles from £99, B&B.
● Glasgow tourist board: peoplemakeglasgow.com