The Spirit of Glasgow: top 12 things not to miss

Explore Glasgow, a mighty northern city sitting on the banks of the River Clyde.

By Anna Purpurpurpur

Glasgow is the largest and one of the most important cities of Scotland, and I’ve been lucky to visit it twice, around Christmas and in early September. And I hope I’ll be back soon! Scroll down to learn what to do in this mighty northern city sitting on the banks of the River Clyde.

Head to the George Square

George Square, named after King George III is the main square of Glasgow, and there is no way you should miss it! It is framed by the The City Chambers where Glasgow City Council sits and the monuments to Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, James Watt and Sir Robert Peel. In 1919 it witnessed ‘Bloody Friday’, a confrontation between local police and workers. Now it hosts many events including the Christmas Market and the large logo is one of the official tourist boards of Glasgow.

Visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum 

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum made one of the strongest impressions on me among the Glasgow landmarks. The building in red sandstone itself (1888-1901) is absolutely stunning and looks like a palace – and the large pipe organ is its heart indeed. As per the collection, it is distributed through 22 galleries covering everything you can be interested in: from the dinosaurs and ancient civilisations till the paintings of different periods. Don’t miss the parts which narrate famous Scots and showcase their talents such as the Macintosh!

Have a look at the Glasgow Cathedral 

I make sure I visit every main site of worship whenever I go because it usually reflects the historic heritage of a place perfectly. Glasgow wasn’t an exception – but unfortunately I couldn’t get into this magnificent century Glasgow Cathedral twice! All I have settled for were the outside views but they are not bad too huh? 
The patron saint of Glasgow is St Mungo (is it just me, or do you also think of the Harry Potter saga?), and obviously the cathedral is dedicated to this saint. Cathedral is the oldest building of the city dating back to the 12th century and the largest cathedral in Scotland so don’t miss it – and if you’d like to visit, check its website (as I’m writing this blog, they require a special tourist booking at the Historic Environment website.

Wake your inner Doctor Who fan up!

Are there any Whovians around here? The TARDIS aka the old Police box is permanently parked near the Cathedral, don’t forget to check whether it’s bigger on the inside than the outside. By the way, Peter Capaldi is Glaswegian too!

Wander around the Necropolis 

You might find this landmark a bit unusual but the Necropolis in reality is a nice green area adjacent to the Glasgow Cathedral! This Victorian cemetery is peaceful, quiet and can give you an insight into the history. And of course, the views from the top of the hill are pretty stunning!

Stroll along the Glasgow Green

You might think of Glasgow as a gloomy northern city but this is another place to make you think differently: the Glasgow Green, the oldest park of Glasgow. It’s a 55 hectares area not far away from the city centre with many landmarks such as the McLennan Arch, the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, Templeton on the Green (former Templeton Carpet Factory) reminding you of Moorish architectural gems, and the Doulton Fountain created for the 1888 International Exhibition!

Explore the Murals 

Glasgow can be easily called a museum in the open air because of its stunning collection of murals brightening up the streets! It even has its own website where you can find a map with the pre-made mural trail.

Pop into the Botanic Gardens

If you’ve been following me for long enough, you know that I have a soft spot for the Botanical Gardens, and of course I didn’t miss the Glasgow one! And I wasn’t disappointed: it’s a pretty and not a very large area to walk around which originally was owned by the University of Glasgow and later opened to the public. The most prominent sites of it are the iron-framed glasshouses, Kibble Palace and Main Range glasshouses, decorated with statues and housing tropical plants.

Tip: Botanical Gardens are located in the West End area of the city which is a pretty area to wander around and to have some delicious food!

Do some shopping 

If you’re eager to do some shopping, Glasgow has it too! Head to Buchanan Street and adjacent St Enoch Centre, Sauchiehall Street and Argyle Street or Royal Exchange Square or Ingram Street for the high-end shopping experience.
If you prefer to shop for independent designers, head to the Hidden Lane where you can find Arts and Crafts and fashion shops! But we visited it for a different purpose: for the most delicious afternoon tea experience at the tiny The Hidden Lane Tea rooms.

Get enchanted by the Kelvingrove Park

I’ve already mentioned Kelvingrove Park and the University of Glasgow but they definitely deserve a separate place in my blog. Kelvingrove Park is a charming Victorian park dating back to 1852 previously known as West End Park with rich vegetation and an animal paradise. It spreads over the banks of the River Kelvin which later confluences with the River Clyde which runs through Glasgow. Kelvingrove Park’s biggest buildings are the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (see above) and the main building of University of Glasgow, the second largest Gothic Revival building in Great Britain!

Stay alert for the historical architectural insights

Glasgow’s architecture is a feast to the eye for those who love historical architecture. Apart from the most notable buildings mentioned here such as the University of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, glasshouses of the Botanical Gardens, the Cathedral and so on there are many others spreading along the city. Spot Hutchensons’s Hall, St Andrew’s in the Square, the oldest post-Reformation church in Scotland, the seven storey Tolbooth Steeple on the Glasgow Cross built in the 17th century, the 19th century’s St Vincent Street Church, the Mitchell Library and many more!

Spot the traffic cone 

No guide to Glasgow is complete without mentioning the famous headpiece of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington! His statue dating back to 1844 is located right outside the Gallery of Modern Art – and is capped with a traffic cone for decades, since the 1980s! The city authorities discourage this tradition but still it’s alive as ever as you can see.

if you’re in Glasgow, why not to visit the breathtaking Stirling castle easily accessibly by train? And check my blog for more Scottish adventures in Edinburgh and St Andrews!

Glasgow has much more to show than I’ve included above: Science Centre and Hunterian museums, Glasgow docks, the OVO hydro, The SEC Armadillo, beautiful train station… Hope I’ve persuaded you to visit this glorious Scottish city!


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