With the 2014 Commonwealth Games fast approaching, the spotlight is firmly on Scotland’s largest city. Susie Henderson explores why creative, innovative, friendly Glasgow exudes class.
0700-0900. A Victorian cemetery may not seem the obvious place to kick-start your day, but the Glasgow Necropolis (Castle Street, 0141 287 5064), located near the city’s medieval cathedral, is well worth exploring. Peppered with monuments designed by some of Glasgow’s greatest architects, including Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, it’s a reflection of Glasgow at the height of its powers when it was considered the second city in the empire. Allow a couple of hours to meander along the heritage trail, which takes in 35 highlights along with stunning views and Glasgow’s own Bridge of Sighs.
0900-1100. Warm up with a cup of tea and tasty home-baking in the café at the adjacent St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art (2 Castle Street, 0141 276 1625). If the sun’s shining, head out into the tranquil Zen Garden then spend time discovering the museum’s artefacts and displays. Make sure you take a peek into Provand’s Lordship across the road (3 Castle Street, 0141 552 8819), the oldest house in the city. Built in 1471, it now gives a glimpse into 17th-century Glasgow, with an extensive collection of furniture from that era. And if you’re still feeling the effects of the night before, you might want to nip that hangover in the bud by heading down to Trans-Europe Café (25 Parnie Street, 0141 552 7999) for a rejuvenating omelette or poached egg on a toasted English muffin.
1100-1300. From George Square, hop on the Riversider 100 bus and travel to the Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum (100 Pointhouse Place, 0141 287 2720). On the way you’ll pass one of Foster and Partners’ latest ventures, The Hydro, a new 12,000-seater entertainment venue currently under construction and due to open in late 2013. It will add to the Clyde waterfront’s ever-expanding list of iconic buildings – its surface will be created from pneumatic translucent cushions. Once inside the glistening Riverside Museum, gaze at (and climb aboard) over 3,000 transport-related objects and wander along a Glasgow street, which guides you from the 1890s to the 1980s.
1300-1500. Stop off for soup and a sandwich in the museum’s superb café overlooking the river and the Glenlee Tall Ship. Or stroll into the West End where you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to midday munchies. Never mind the pubs – you could do a lunch crawl along Byres Road. Deliciously art deco University Café at number 87 (0141 339 5217) is a Glasgow institution and has been dishing up fish and chips, pasta and homemade ice-cream for the best part of a century. The local branch of family-run deli Peckham’s at number 124-126 (0141 357 1454) serves salads, sandwiches and hot meals and is a great place to stock up on edible take-home treats such as smoked salmon, whisky, chocolates and to-die-for cakes and biscuits. At number 227, Paperino’s (0141 334 3811) is one of Glasgow’s best-loved Italian eateries. If you have room, squeeze in a scrummy ice-cream sundae at Nardini’s (215 Byres Road, 0141 339 2221).
1500-1700. When it comes to shopping, Glasgow’s indie stores are top-notch. For vintage clothing, standouts include Vintage Guru (195 Byres Road, 0141 339 4750) and Starry Starry Night (19 Dowanside Lane, 0141 337 1837) whose eclectic stock has to be seen to be believed. For up-to-the-minute fashion, step into tiny La La Land (De Courcy’s Arcade, Cresswell Lane, 0141 237 3882) and check out the funky womenswear and jewellery by emerging designers. Back in the city centre, Monorail Music (12 Kings Court, King Street, 0141 552 9458) is the place to hunt for hip records and is handily located in a bar complete with in-house brewery should you need a pick-me-up. And if you’re thinking of tying the knot, commission glamorous bespoke rings from Brazen Studios (58 Albion Street, 0141 552 4551) in the Merchant City. As an alternative to retail therapy, how about testing your mettle on the new Sir Chris Hoy velodrome? The Siberian pine cycling track has been built for the Commonwealth Games and is part of the Emirates Arena (1000 London Road, 0141 287 7000), which opened in autumn 2012. Follow in the pedals of six-time Olympic gold medallist Hoy by signing up to an introductory session.
1700-1900. Start the evening as you mean to go on. The Hillhead Bookclub (17 Vinicombe Street, 0141 576 1700) serves its cocktails in gramophones and you can challenge your fellow drinkers to a game of table tennis before you’ve had one too many. Indulge in a dram (or three) from over 250 malts at the Whisky Bar in Òran Mór (Top of Byres Road, 0141 357 6200) and stick around for live music later on. For a bar with so much style it hurts, lean on the counter at The Corinthian Club (191 Ingram Street, 0141 552 1101), a former courthouse, and drink in the sight of its stunning domed roof. Or keep an eye out for the latest installation at The Glue Factory (22 Farnell Street), a converted adhesives plant now staging avant-garde performances and exhibitions.
1900-2100. For dedicated foodies, there are great local restaurants such as Stravaigin (28 Gibson Street, 0141 334 2665), whose culinary creations range from Perthshire pigeon to Thai-style mussels. The Butchershop Bar and Grill (1055 Sauchiehall Street, 0141 339 2999) is a stylish New York-inspired seafood and steakhouse. A Glasgow curry is a must too – look no further than Mother India (28 Westminster Terrace, 0141 221 1663), which has been turning out fine curries for over 20 years.
After 2100. Join the cool dudes and watch the up-and-coming alternatives to local bands Glasvegas or Mogwai at cool hangout King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (272A St Vincent Street, 0141 221 5279) which deservedly receives awards year in, year out. Or take a look at the gig list for the Old Fruitmarket (Candleriggs, 0141 353 8000), which hosts everything from jazz to comedy to club nights. If you want to hit the tiles, then slide your dancing shoes over to The Arches (253 Argyle Street, 0141 565 1000) before you hit the sack.
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Written by World Travel Guide.