The 19 best things to do in Glasgow

From Clyde cruises and country park walks to ancient pub crawls, Glasgow has it all

It might not get the kudos that comes with being the Scottish capital but – being the largest, it has plenty to offer. You might identify the city with those two successful football teams but its galleries and museums are among the most visited in the country. When it comes to food, Glasgow shies away from fussy restaurants but also had a hand in spearheading the rise of veganism. It was a crucible of heavy industry but its name translates as the green hollow. Glasgow wears its contradictions on its sleeve, right next to its heart. Here’s your guide to fun by the Clyde.

Glasgow Cathedral
Andrew Forbes
Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis
What is it? Glasgow Cathedral was consecrated in 1197 and remains a sturdy and impressive example of Scottish Gothic architecture both inside and out. The other big Gothic attraction nearby is the Necropolis, Glasgow's gloriously atmospheric cemetery inspired by Père Lachaise in Paris and dating back to 1833.
Why go? Amble among the monuments, look out over the city and wonder just how green and bucolic the view was more than two centuries ago. Ankle-length black leather coat and Demonia boots optional.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Art galleries, Museums, Glasgow
© McAteer Photograph
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
What is it? Glasgow's most popular visitor attraction, and one of Scotland's top three, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum opened for business in 1901, a striking piece of architecture in Spanish Baroque style fashioned out of red sandstone.
Why go? There is some truly wonderful art here – galleries given over to Scottish Colourists or French Impressionism for example. But make sure you look up or you’ll miss Sophie Cave’s spooky floating heads installation, all sporting human expressions as they hang suspended from the gallery ceiling.
The Burrell Collection, Art Galleries, Museums, Glasgow
© McAteer Photograph
Pollock Country Park
What is it? Just a ten minute train journey from the centre lies 146 hectares of lush green space just waiting for your picnic blanket. If you’re in need of a culture-fix, there’s art in the park too. Situated in the park are two of Glasgow’s big attractions: Pollok House and the Burrell Collection. 
Why go? To swoon over the Clydesdale horses, a pedigree fold of Highland cattle and compose a sonnet or two while stretching your legs in the woodland.
Glasgow School of Art, Galleries, Attractions, Free, Glasgow
© McAteer Photograph
The Mackintosh House
What is it? At the Hunterian Art Gallery you’ll find a faithful recreation of the Mackintosh House, which once stood nearby in Southpark Avenue. Whether you find the historically and aesthetically important interior to be the primary attraction here or the brutalist dream state exterior, there's a great deal to engage the visitor.
Why go? If you like to immerse yourself in a city’s architecture, then you can’t miss the work of Glasgow's most celebrated architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. 
The Vintage @ Drygate, Restaurants, Bars, glasgow
© Gordon Burniston
Drygate Brewery
What is it? A vast brewery launched by Dublin-based drinks conglomerate C&C Group and the Williams Brothers, Scottish craft brewers who have been making decent beer for more than twenty-five years. There’s a beer hall with massive screens for sports fans and a terrace for those rare Glasgow days when it’s not raining.
Why go? Sample 26 rotating beers on tap, (and eye up the 200 or so bottles on offer). The genuine commitment to a wide range of good beers is admirable.
Escape Glasgow
What is it? Whispers of ‘Escape Glasgow’ could be mistaken for someone planning their getaway to a sunnier clime. Actually it's the title of the city’s first escape room, which launched back in August 2014. And it seems you lot can’t get enough of being locked in a room with only an hour to solve your way out – there are now five adrenaline-packed games to choose from.
Why go? Inject some adrenaline into your Bristol trip (and discover who your smartest mates are).
Robin Mitchell
Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre
What is it? Sharmanka shows involve sculptures made of reclaimed scrap, synchronised music, coloured lighting and hundreds of carved grotesques living out stories that are sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, all set against the inevitable and relentless cycle of life and death.
Why go? For anyone put off by the notion of Russian tragedy told through the medium of electro-powered wooden figures, don't be. There is something charming, simple, direct and utterly hypnotic about these shows. 
St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Museums, Art galleries, Glasgow
St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art
What is it? Based in a faux-baronial building at the cathedral precinct in the East End, this museum aims to promote understanding and respect between people of all faiths but also to explain religion in West Central Scotland.
Why go? It has some beautiful religious art and artefacts from all over the world touching on Hinduism, the Mexican Day of the Dead and more – also a small, placid Zen garden if you’re feeling inspired to practice your meditation.
The Scottish Football Museum, Museums, Glasgow
The Scottish Football Museum
What is it? Based within the National Stadium at Hampden, the museum focuses on Scotland's unique football heritage. It contains an extensive collection of memorabilia as well as glamour items such as the Scottish Cup - the world’s oldest surviving association football trophy (the English FA Cup would be older but the original was nabbed in 1895).
Why go? When visiting there is also a tour of the 52,000-capacity National Stadium itself and a chance to practice your victory dance in the Scottish Football Hall of Fame. 
Oran Mor, Pubs, Nightlife, Glasgow
Òran Mór
What is it? In sharp contrast to genteel Edinburgh with its fancy international arts festival, Glasgow sees itself as the edgier, grittier cousin. Hang out with the cool kids at Òran Mór, a refurbed Victorian church which functions as a pub-restaurant, theatre, gig spot, nightclub and even a wedding venue.
Why go? Lunchtime slot A Play, A Pie And A Pint has kept bums on seats since 2004. If you ever needed an excuse for a midday pint, this is it. The plays aren’t too shoddy either – attracting acclaimed writers from Scotland and beyond. 
The Ubiquitous Chip, Restaurants, Pubs, Glasgow
Ubiquitous Chip
What is it? Founded in nearby Ruthven Lane in 1971, the Chip moved to its current location in 1976 and now offers a great deal more than its signature venison haggis. Pop in for a couple of beers or nab a table in the lovely plant-strewn, cobbled courtyard restaurant – roofed of course.
Why go? With good Scottish produce, upscale Franco-Scot cooking, a huge wine list plus a clientele who feel that they’ve come somewhere particularly special, it’s hard to resist the charm of the Chip.
The 78
The 78
What is it? The 78 on Kelvinhaugh Street is a vegan-vegetarian bar-restaurant with shabby chic vibes and a decent selection of craft beers, as well as tasty nosh. Don’t fancy a meat-free meal? Check out our pick of Glasgow’s best restaurants.
Why go? To sample veggie delights from an original vegan eatery in one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the British Isles. 
Glasgow Science Museum
Photograph: Stephen G.Breslin
Glasgow Science Centre
What is it? At the striking Glasgow Science Centre you’ll find a stunning planetarium, interactive exhibits and a revolving space-age tower offering city views from 417 foot high.
Why go? There are many reasons to head for the Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) one of the most compelling might be the chance to see a film at The Cineworld IMAX, the biggest screen in Scotland. You will see every hair on Brad Pitt's head and every detail on Matthew McConaughey’s spacesuit.
Riverside Museum, Glasgow
The Riverside Museum
What is it? This waterside museum carries an extensive collection of vehicles including ambulances, buses, police cars, horse-drawn taxis and motor cars that look like they drove to Glasgow from the set of a 1930s action movie.
Why go? As well as the impressive late-Victorian, three-masted sailing vessel berthed directly outside, it holds a remarkable transport collection including everything from bicycles to steam locomotives and model ships, you will find things here that will genuinely interest the whole family (honest!). 
The Scotia, Pubs, Glasgow
© Stephen Robinson
The Horseshoe Bar
What is it? The Horse Shoe in Drury Street has been selling drink since the mid-19th century. As long as you're not put off by the flatscreens, fruit machines and football chat, what you get here is a genuine Victorian island bar (reputed to be the longest in Britain), odd ornaments stacked above the gantry and grand decorative touches. It's busy, it's atmospheric and it's very Glasgow.  
Why go? Don't expect airs and graces but do expect history to come alive through the bottom of your glass.
The Arches, Clubs, Music venues, Bars, Glasgow
© Bartosz Madejski
Sub Club
What is it? A long-standing music venue with a super sound system and a regular roster of house DJ’s who have been spinning the decks here since the early 90s. 
Why go? Don’t miss the chance to sweat it out at Jamaica Street’s Sub Club, not only the venue for Primal Scream's first ever gig but also reputed to be the longest-running underground dance club on the planet. 
The Finnieston Crane and The Clyde, Things to do, Free, Glasgow
Clyde Cruises
What is it? These 90-minute river cruises offer lovely views of central Glasgow, its bridges, its waterfront architecture and the huge cantilever crane that survives among the shiny developments at Finnieston. Our tip: Board in the city centre, travel to the impressive Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum, check it out, then hop on again to get back to the centre.
Why go? Crisscrossing your way along the bridges by foot is nice and all but nothing compares to soaking up Glasgow’s maritime history with a glass of fizz in hand.
Glasgow VIntage & Flea Market
Photograph: Glasgow VIntage & Flea Market
Glasgow Vintage & Flea Market
What is it? Located in the heart of Barras Market (also known as Glasgow Barrowlands Market), you’ll stumble across the Glasgow Vintage & Flea Market. Here you’ll find a mix of antiques, vintage fashion, mid-century items, pre-loved furniture, quirky prints, original art, retro items, old books, collectibles, vinyl records and, of course, plenty of tat too
Why go? To get your mitts on vintage clobber and people watch the snappily dressed eccentrics. 
02.02.3018 - Elephant Sessions @ Old Fruitmarket -47
Celtic Connections
What is it? One of the world’s leading Celtic music festivals with a remit that stretches far beyond folk music from the British Isles and Ireland. The 2019 event, running from January 17 to February 3, will bring 2,100 performers to the city for 18 days of concerts, ceilidhs, exhibitions, workshops and free events. Upcoming highlights include Malian singer Fatou Diawara, multi-instrumentalist supergroup The GRIT Orchestra and Canadian folk band The Dead South.
Why go? The winter festival has taken the Keychange EU pledge, which means the line up aims for a 50:50 gender balance. Hurrah!