Many people that I speak to about their trips to the UK and Scotland outline an itinerary mostly comprising of Edinburgh and Loch Lomond before scooting back over the border to England. Now being Glasgow born and bred, this makes me fizz with annoyance as there is so much more you are missing out on!! First of all being my buzzing, vibrant, multicultural home city, Glasgow. Yes Edinburgh may be the capital of Scotland, and yes it is an incredibly beautiful city at that, however in my opinion there is no city in Scotland like Glasgow! That is why I’m making it my number one place to visit.
Bars and Restaurants
One of my favourite features about this city is the number of bars and restaurants it holds; spreading all the way from the city centre on Bath and Sauchiehall Street, down to the south side at the Merchant City and across to the West-end of Byres Road and the famous Ashton Lane. No matter what your cravings are, you will be able to find it somewhere in Glasgow. My personal favourite watering holes are The Howling Wolf, a blues jazz bar that serve the most amazing burgers, and Slouch, a unique bar with comfy couches to well.. slouch into. Both of these are situated on Bath Street, perfect for after a long day of hitting the shops!
If you fancy a bit of class then throw on your formal wear and head down to Merchant city for the high class Corinthian, or catch Glasgow’s unique and incredibly complex (just kidding) tube and head over to Ashton Lane for a bar crawl.
The layout of Glasgow offers an incredibly easy way of getting around on a night out, which is especially handy since it will probably be raining! Most clubs and bars in the city centre are situated around the Bath and Sauchiehall street area, however if you want to head down to the south side, you can hit Suger Cube and Distrikt, or if you’re in a rock mood, the Cathouse. Again there are plenty of nightclubs on the West-end if you don’t mind a short tube ride, alighting at Kelvinbridge for Viper, or Kelvinhall SPT for Sanctuary.
Glasgow has a true plethora of choice when it comes to bars and nightclubs, so you are guaranteed to find something to suit whatever kind of party you are craving.
Live Music and Gigs
Another area Glasgow specialises in is the music scene, with famous venues such as King Tuts Wah Wah Hut and of course the Barrowlands; both of which offer an intimate experience with low ceilings, good acoustics and close proximity to the band. There are also slightly larger venues such as the O2 Academy and ABC, and then the largest venues, the Hydro and SECC. My favourite gigs have all been in Glasgow, tending to be at the smaller venues due to cheaper tickets and smaller crowds!
Luckily since I live on the outskirts of the city and I am only a short train journey in, I have never had to worry about accommodation. However, I can recommend some of the best places to stay in due to location!
Now as with anywhere in Britain, the hostels are in no way cheap. After getting used to the pennies of Southeast Asia, the cost of British hostels brings a shudder to my body. However, it is still possible to get a shared dorm for less than £20 per night. When it comes to location, the most central hostels are definitely the Clyde Hostel and the Hot Tub Hostel. Both being just a 10-minute walk west of Sauchiehall street’s bars and clubs.
If you are new to the hostel scene and can’t decide if it is for you then check out our handy Ultimate Guide to Hostels. This will show you why you should definitely choose a hostel, what to look out for when picking and what to pack for your adventure!
Getting around Glasgow is relatively easy, almost everything in the city centre is within a 30 minute walk and the West end is only a 10 minute tube ride away. Coming from the likes of London, Glasgow is almost the size of a countryside village!
The best part of Glasgow’s transport system is the bar crawl potential of the subway. Since it is the world’s simplest underground railway system and is comprised of one giant circle, it is easy to buy a day ticket and alight at different stops (or all of them if you’re hard-core) to hit whatever bars you fancy.
Taxis around the city centre are relatively cheap, however it is such a small city I would not bother with them unless you’re feeling especially lazy! The one thing Glasgow (and Scotland in general) is missing compared to other places I have been to is the use of contactless travel cards that can be used on ALL methods of transport, including buses, undergrounds and trains. Unfortunately this means you need to pay separately for each method and cannot simply buy a day pass for all.
Without a doubt, my favourite thing about this beautiful city is the incredible culture that comes with it. There are plenty of things to see and do around the city centre including the large variety of shopping centres and street shops along Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art in Merchant Square and the buzzing George Square itself.
It is especially beautiful around December time when the Christmas lights and markets open up, giving a warm feel to George square and Argyle Street on the cold winter nights. Throughout my time at university it always gave me motivation to study late until the sun went down, just so I could walk home through the lit up square and admire the enormous Christmas tree!
The west end offers the beauty of the Victorian tenement flats that line the streets, and if you’re a Harry Potter fan, the Hogwarts resemblance of Glasgow University. Kelvingrove Park offers a fantastic opportunity to soak up the sun, if you should be so lucky as to experience the short lived Scottish summer.
As always, the number one priority for a backpacker is finding the most affordable way to enjoy a location on a budget. In general Glasgow is a relatively cheap city, mostly due to its heavy student presence (two Universities in the city centre alone). There are a wide variety of budget bars to choose from such as your run of the mill Wetherspoons chain, the Ark just off George Square and Driftwood at the west end of Sauchiehall Street. These places will offer a pint of lager for £3.
If you are feeling slightly more adventurous (and wealthy) then wander up to Bath Street or a selection of cosy bars with low roofs and good vibes. These bars offer a pint of lager ranging from £3.50 to £5. Similarly, bars towards Merchant city offer a mid range cost with a classier feel to the place.
The best advice I can give you is to have a wander between bars and try to experience as many as you can, as many have special drinks deals on that offer considerable discounts. One bar that I recommend you do not miss is Waxy O’Connor’s off George Square. With its cosy, wooden interior and winding staircases branching across the venue, it offers quite a unique experience.
Visiting Scotland for the first time? Read our blogs about what there is to do in this beautiful country here. If you enjoyed this article make sure you subscribe to our emailing list so you never miss a post! Also catch up with us on social media to see what we are up to.
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