Although not the capital city, Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland and the third most populous in the UK overall. Nicknamed the Dear Green Place for its numerous parks and gardens, Glasgow has more green spaces per capita than any other city in Europe. In addition to its natural beauty, Glasgow features an abundance of architectural masterpieces both old and new, from the stunning 15th Century Glasgow University to the ultra-modern Glasgow Tower, the only building in the world that can spin a full 360°. With so much to do and see in Glasgow, here are our top picks for making the most out of a weekend trip.
Situated on the banks of the River Clyde, the Riverside Museum is one of Glasgow’s most iconic examples of modern architecture. The roof of the museum is designed to look like waves in a river, with 36 metre high glazed walls on both ends creating a flow between the city and the river. Right now, the Riverside Museum houses Glasgow’s Museum of Transport, which has over 3,000 objects on display. The museum covers all forms of transport, from those as small as prams and skateboards, to those as large as fire engines and trains. Almost 100 large touchscreen panels help bring the exhibits to life, although we imagine that the main attraction must be the old-fashioned fire engine, with which you can put out a real (controlled) fire.
The museum also features realistic recreations of old Glasgow streets and subway stations, and also includes a 19th Century barque docked out the front. Entry to the museum is free, with the opening hours running from 10 AM to 5 PM, except on Friday and Sunday, when it opens at 11 AM.
The Ubiquitous Chip
The Ubiquitous Chip opened in 1971 with the seemingly outrageous idea of serving only locally-sourced produce. While many at the time did not understand why you would only buy locally, it seems the restaurant was years ahead of its time, and it is now generally acknowledged that The Ubiquitous Chip has played a major role in shaping the bar and restaurant scene in Glasgow. The restaurant serves many traditional Scottish dishes, such as Angus beef, but also puts a new spin on some old classics, as illustrated by the fact that it serves both venison and vegetarian haggis. The venue has also been praised for its vegan menu.
While the exterior looks relatively unassuming, the interior is a beautiful array of wrought iron, cascading plants, waterfalls, and fish ponds. A two-course meal here will set you back about £20-30, and the quality of the food means you are definitely getting value for money. If further proof is needed, you can take the word of Marina O’Loughlin, a food critic who was sent to review the restaurant after being fired from there years earlier, only to conclude in her review that the food was “marvelous” and said “it’s impossible to bear the place any ill will”.
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Built in 1817, Glasgow Botanic Gardens is home to thousands of tropical and native-British plants. The gardens were founded by the royally appointed botanist William Hooker in conjunction with the University of Glasgow and grew so rapidly in its first years that it was moved to a larger site in the city’s West End in 1842. The gardens feature a number of stunning glasshouses, the most famous being Kibble Palace, which houses a number of carnivorous plants, as well as some plants that are over 100 years old.
Since its inception, the site has been used as a venue for concerts and other events. This Halloween, the gardens will host the first ever GlasGlow, which is described as “a world of light, sound, and magic”. Over £500,000 has been spent on special effects that will illuminate the plant life and glasshouses, promising to create a magical interactive experience and plenty of photo opportunities. Entry to the gardens is typically free, although tickets for this event cost £12 for adults, and £7 for children.
Another restaurant that prides itself on using local produce, Stravaigin, sets itself apart from its competitors by using Scottish produce to create various dishes from around the world, a sentiment encapsulated by their motto “Think global, eat local”, and the name, which derives from “stravaig”, an old Scottish-Irish word meaning to wander. Examples of such dishes include Sumatran curry, Nasi Goreng Indonesian fried rice, and Syrian lentil & mint kofte.
The restaurant has four main menus: Á La Carte, Pre-Theatre, Café & Bar, and Brunch. A two-course meal will typically cost around £30-40, which is fantastic value considering the quality of the food. In fact, they have been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand for the past 7 years, which is an accolade reserved for establishments that offer high-quality food at a reasonable price.
As one of the biggest cities in the UK, it is not surprising that Glasgow has an array of fascinating attractions and top-notch restaurants. The examples listed above are just a few ways you can ensure that you take in some of the local history and culture on your trip, but with over 1,500 years of history, you can be guaranteed that you’ll never be too far away from sites that are both beautiful and captivating.