What’s the deal with Kelvinbridge?
Walking westwards across the Kelvin Bridge by night, the glowing apex of the illuminated university spire just visible behind the Hillhead tenement skyline, the moonlight rippling on the typically rain-swollen waters of the river as it roars beneath your feet – can there be any more quintessential or enchanting view anywhere in Glasgow?
The point where Great Western Road spans the River Kelvin (technically the Great Western Bridge, but nobody calls it that) has been a key nexus of the West End for centuries. And in recent years, as Byres Road’s fortunes have faded and Finnieston has reached trendiness saturation point, the Kelvinbridge area has seen a flurry of new openings – shops, bars, restaurants, cafés, arts venues and even a radio station – helping to reinvigorate what was already one of the prettiest, most historic and most happening neighbourhoods in the city.
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If you only do one thing...
Go vintage. The Kelvinbridge area is one of the best in Glasgow for retro retail therapy of every kind – be it vintage clothes at Glasgow Vintage Co or Retro, furniture at Authentics, books at Thistle Books or vinyl from Mixed Up.
Go off the beaten track
Find the leafy riverside footpath beneath Kelvin Bridge and follow your feet. Head south through Kelvingrove Park or north past the Botanic Gardens – two of the city’s most gorgeous green spaces. Fancy exploring a little further? Hire a bike from Gear on Gibson Street and head up the Forth and Clyde Canal towpath.
Webster’s Theatre has breathed new cultural life into the long-abandoned Lansdowne Parish Church, a hulking gothic revival construction now housing an intimate theatre. Independent basement music venue The Hug and Pint is the place to catch up-and-coming Glasgow bands; The Stand comedy club, where you might stumble upon the next Kevin Bridges (no relation to Kelvin Bridge).
Paesano. Photograph: Paul Zanre
A stylish fusion of classic Scottish bakery and French patisserie, Cottonrake rustles up braw savouries such as pork shoulder and Stornoway black pudding tarts, plus ooh là là sweets from chocolate macarons to cookies the size of your palm.
For dishes of the world cooked Scottish-style, try Stravaigin. This café-bar takes pub-grub classics to a whole new level, while the basement restaurant serves delectable haute cuisine from za’atar-spiced mackerel to ras el hanout lamb neck and pan-seared cod.
At Paesano, artisan-built wood-fired ovens from Naples churn out authentic, unfussy and inexpensive Neapolitan pizzas just like mamma used to make them. The queue can wind out the door at peak times, but table turnover is quick so you shouldn’t be kept waiting too long.
Grab one of the handful of bench seats and outdoor tables at boho deli-café Roots and Fruits, a whole foods store and Kelvinbridge institution – or get takeaway and make for the park if the weather’s (unusually) good. There are rumours of an attached sit-down restaurant opening soon.
The Doublet. Photograph: Stephen Robinson
A rock of friendly tradition in Glasgow’s ever-shifting drinking scene, The Doublet is one of the last of a dying breed of good honest West End pubs. The clientele ranges from students to trendy locals and silver-haired gents.
One of the best craft beer pubs in the city also boasts one of the most plum premises – Inn Deep is tucked beneath archways right on the bank of the Kelvin, with outdoor tables overlooking the river. It’s dog-friendly, too. Need we say more?
Your go-to for pre-clubbing cocktails, Bananamoon feels more Berlin than Glasgow with its retro wood-panelling, vintage tables and a bar that looks like it belongs in someone’s sitting room. By day they pour coffee by local brewers Papercup and serve pasties from Freedom Bakery.
A wine bar with bonus small plates, Brett offers a daily changing menu of locally supplied meat, fish, vegetables, shellfish, cheese and charcuterie served sharing-style, to pair with choice bottles from around the world.
How to get to Kelvinbridge
Just hop on Glasgow’s famous and laughably easy-to-navigate ‘clockwork orange’ subway system – a single circular line, served clockwise and anti-clockwise by iconic tangerine trains. All routes leads to Kelvinbridge.
What else is nearby?
To the west you’re not far from the shops and pubs of Hillhead and Byres Road, and to the south, Finnieston and several of Glasgow’s finest restaurants.