Glasgow is Scotland’s budding metropolis, a sprawling urban area with a heady industrial past that’s reimagining itself as one of the United Kingdom’s most exciting weekend getaway destinations. Born out of the fires and furnaces of the Industrial Revolution, the city is now Scotland’s contemporary cultural hub, and you’ll love exploring everything there is to see during your 3-day Glasgow vacation!
Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city. With a population higher than that of Edinburgh, there’s no denying that Glasgow is locked in a fierce rivalry with the better-known and more touristy Scottish capital. But while Glasgow lacks royal palaces and medieval castles, it does have the People’s Palace and an epic 12th-century cathedral.
From the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to the unique memorials and monuments of the Glasgow Necropolis, this is a city that never fails to intrigue even the most cultured of travelers. The city center streets are awash with murals, street art, and graffiti, while the marvelous Mackintosh architecture fills the skyline with British art nouveau beauty.
With so many indoor attractions, Glasgow is a year-round city break destination, but you might just prefer the summer sunshine when the parks and outdoor spaces are packed with events and festivals. In winter, things are a little dreary outside, but you’ll love celebrating the festive season and seeing in the New Year as part of the eccentric Hogmanay celebrations.
There’s lots to see and do during a weekend in Glasgow, and you’ll need to plan your itinerary hour by hour if you’re hoping to fit in the city’s multitudes of museums and art galleries while still finding time to enjoy an evening of whiskey and curries (you might already know that Glasgow was the birthplace of chicken tikka masala!).
Don’t worry because we’ve got you covered with our mammoth 3-day Glasgow itinerary. Keep reading to find out more!
If you’re still deciding where to stay then make sure to check out our article on the best boutique hotels in Glasgow!
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How to Spend a Weekend in Glasgow, Scotland
Getting Around Glasgow
You’ll find Glasgow to the south of the Scottish Highlands, where the city has expanded across both banks of the River Clyde. As Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow is incredibly well connected to the rest of the United Kingdom.
Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, is just a one-hour train ride to the east, while English cities like Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool are just three or four hours away by train. The fastest trains to London take just five hours, while the Caledonian Sleeper offers a more leisurely overnight ride from the UK’s capital.
Glasgow International Airport is a hub for domestic and international flights. There are regular connections to London airports as well as international destinations like Amsterdam, Paris, and Dubai. The airport itself is located just a 20-minute drive from Glasgow’s city center, with a regular express bus service departing every 15 minutes either way.
Glasgow is a sprawling city, but it’s quite easy to navigate and get around once you’ve got your bearings. The city center is located on the north bank of the River Clyde. This is where Glasgow Central Station is, and you can easily walk around central areas like Buchanan Street and George Square on foot without much chance of getting lost. There’s a walking trail following the River Clyde west, where you’ll find popular sights like Glasgow University and Kelvingrove Park in the city’s West End.
Major sights are connected by public transport, with the local bus routes having the most extensive reach across the city. The best way to get around though is by using the city’s wonderfully historic subway system, which first opened in 1896.
Although there’s just one line and 15 stops, you can use the Glasgow Subway to reach many sights in central Glasgow, the West End, and the South Bank. If you need to, there are always taxi apps like Uber to help you get around when you’re in a hurry.
Glasgow Weekend Itinerary – Day 1
Glasgow’s City Center
Your first day in Glasgow is an opportunity to acquaint yourself with the city center before you branch out into the West End and the South Bank on your subsequent days in the city. Day 1 conveniently begins outside Glasgow Central Station, an easy-to-reach transport hub that’s close to all the action.
From your starting point, you’ll be enjoying a leisurely walking tour of the city center at your own pace. Alternatively, you can sign up for one of the many guided walking tours that lead tourists around the city. They typically have a similar itinerary to the one we’ve listed below, with start points outside Glasgow Central Station.
The city center is located on the north side of the River Clyde and roughly consists of the main streets and squares stretching from the riverside north to Buchanan Galleries. In between, there’s a plethora of statues, monuments, galleries, shops, and museums to visit.
Royal Exchange Square
Start by walking along Argyle Street to St Enoch Square, where you can then join Buchanan Street. This is Glasgow’s busiest high street, and you’ll have a chance to soak up the atmosphere before turning off into Royal Exchange Square.
Gallery of Modern Art
Here you’ll find the Gallery of Modern Art, which is one of Glasgow’s most impressive neoclassical buildings. The building dates back to the 18th century, although the Gallery of Modern Art was opened much later in the 1990s.
Outside the art gallery is an infamous statue of the Duke of Wellington, which you’ll often see with a traffic cone for a hat, as drunken revelers leaving the pubs late at night traditionally add this unusual garment to the monument. The Gallery of Modern Art is free to visit, so why not pop in and have a quick browse through the exhibits before continuing on your journey?
You’re right next to George Square, which is your next stop in central Glasgow. This iconic public space is home to many of Glasgow’s most famous monuments, including statues of Queen Victoria, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott.
The Victorian-era architecture is wonderful, and the surrounding streets of Merchant City are packed full of great cafes and tearooms that are perfect for your first rest stop of the day.
Singl-end is a great little bakehouse with a fine selection of open sandwiches, while The Spanish Butcher offers a more upmarket tapas-style dining experience. Back on Buchanan Street, one of our favorite cafes in Glasgow is The Willow Tea Rooms!
The Willow Tea Rooms
This charming tea shop is inspired by Glasgow’s most famous local architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who you’ll be learning much more about later in your trip. The original tea room was designed by Mackintosh during the early days of his career in the late 19th century, and you’ll love how this modern establishment draws greatly on its unique past to provide travelers with a seriously quirky dining experience.
After fueling up for the rest of the day, continue on foot north to Cathedral Street, where you’ll pass the University of Strathclyde campus before reaching Glasgow Cathedral around 15 minutes later.
Glasgow Cathedral is one of the city’s oldest buildings, with a long history dating back to the 12th century AD. Construction began under the rule of King David I in 1136 AD, although it would take many centuries for the cathedral to reach its present architectural form.
Next to the cathedral, you’ll find one of Glasgow’s most quirky sights. The Glasgow Necropolis is the final resting place of some 50,000 Glaswegians, many of whom have gothic monuments and elaborate Victorian-era memorials erected in their honor.
The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis offer guided walking tours that bring the dead to life. Their public tours are on weekends only, but you can book private tours for other days in advance.
Now it’s a 20-minute walk south to the banks of the River Clyde, where the People’s Palace is located on Glasgow Green. First opened in 1898, this historic museum has long been dedicated to the people of Glasgow. The main exhibits explore the lives of working-class Glaswegians through recent centuries, showing what life was like from the Industrial Revolution to the modern era.
Spend the rest of your afternoon enjoying Glasgow Green and the River Clyde, then head back to your hotel to freshen up before dinner. On your first night in Glasgow, we recommend sticking to the city center again.
Classic Scottish Pub Food
There are some excellent local pubs where you can try out classic Scottish pub food, including haggis, pies, and fish and chips. A few recommendations include The Pot Still, The Smokin’ Fox, and The Drum and Monkey.
After a few drinks, why not head out to central Glasgow to one of the city’s famous live music venues? Nearby, you’ll find Stereo, which is also home to a vegan bar, while King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut is where the band Oasis was first signed.
Glasgow Weekend Itinerary – Day 2
Day 2 of your 3-day trip to Glasgow will primarily be spent in the West End. Located to the west of the city center, but still on the north bank of the River Clyde, this charming district is perhaps the coolest neighborhood in Glasgow.
The West End has a much more relaxed vibe than the city center, and its leafy suburbs are home to cafes and cozy pubs that will draw you in with their eclectic brunch menus and craft beer selections. Start your day with a feast at The Brunch Club on Old Dumbarton Road, then make your way across the River Kelvin to the grounds of the University of Glasgow.
Among the historic faculties and lecture halls of one of the world’s oldest universities (dating back to the 1400s), you’ll find Scotland’s oldest museum. The Hunterian Museum first opened in 1807 to house the collection of William Hunter, a Scottish physician who’d amassed an extensive array of historical artifacts throughout his lifetime.
The museum’s collection has grown further over the last two centuries, and inside you’ll find fossils, Egyptian mummies, and ancient coins. The best display concerns the Antonine Wall, a Roman defensive wall that was built north of Glasgow almost 2,000 years ago.
In separate buildings on the grounds of the University of Glasgow, you’ll also find the Hunterian Art Gallery and the Hunterian Zoology Museum, where you can delve deeper into these respective collections. We expect you’ll spend most of the morning here, so take your time, and when you’re ready, walk over to Kelvingrove Park.
If the sun is shining, take the chance to enjoy the outdoor air in one of Glasgow’s most famous public parks. This is the beautiful heart of the West End, and you’ll love the serene greenery that surrounds the River Kelvin.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (and MacTassos)
If it’s raining, make a sharp beeline for the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of Glasgow’s most important cultural attractions. There’s a cafe inside the museum where you can enjoy a quick bite for lunch or head over to MacTassos in Kelvingrove Park beforehand for what might be the best Greek gyros in Glasgow!
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has a whopping 22 galleries for you to explore, and it’s completely free to enter. The building itself dates back to the Victorian era when it was built during the heyday of Glasgow’s mercantile and industrial boom. The museum opened in 1901, and the galleries now cover everything from dinosaurs to World War II history.
Your next stop on the second day of your weekend in Glasgow is the River Clyde. Take a walk south, through the leafy streets of the West End, and you’ll soon reach the northern bank of Glasgow’s most famous waterway.
The River Clyde flows west toward the Firth of Clyde, which ships can navigate to meet the open ocean. The river was integral to Glasgow’s success as an industrial city, and at the Riverside Museum, you can learn more about it.
The Riverside Museum is one of Glasgow’s most spectacular modern buildings, having been designed by architect Zaha Hadid. It’s home to interactive exhibitions and the Museum of Transport, and it’s a great place to spend the rest of your afternoon.
The Clydeside Distillery
Alternately, if you feel that you’ve spent too much time in museums today, you can also walk over to The Clydeside Distillery (or try both, if you’re quick!). The Clydeside Distillery produces a delectable single malt whiskey in a repurposed dockside location, and you can take a tour and tasting to round out the day.
Dinner is served in the West End tonight. This is where the best of Glasgow’s fine dining restaurants are located. The Ox and Finch serves tapas-style dishes, the Finnieston is the place for seafood lovers, and Mother India is perfect for curry fans!
Glasgow Weekend Itinerary – Day 3
Pollok Country Park
The third and final day of your Glasgow itinerary can start with a hearty breakfast at one of the city’s best brunch cafes. Head on over to Glasgow Green (which you visited on day 1), where you can enjoy Brekkie Rolls, Brunch Buns, and Scran Fries at SCRAN. Once you’re set for the day, jump on a bus or train, and make your way south of the River Clyde to Pollok Country Park.
This vast area of parklands offers you a chance to escape the city. Consisting of 146 hectares of greenery, Pollok Country Park is not only a fantastic place for a countryside walk, but it’s also home to one of Glasgow’s most interesting museums.
The Burrell Collection
The Burrell Collection holds the extensive private collection of Sir William Burrell, a wealthy Glaswegian who accumulated some 8,000 works of art over his lifetime. He gifted the collection to the City of Glasgow in 1944, and you can now see the best works on display in Pollok Country Park.
The Burrell Collection spans time and continents and includes works of medieval art, Islamic art, Chinese art, and much more. Enjoy the worldly artistry, make the most of Pollok Country Park’s outdoor scenery, then catch a bus or train back to central Glasgow and make your way to Mackintosh House.
You’ll have already encountered the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, given he was one of Glasgow’s most prolific designers and architects. Mackintosh pioneered modern British styles, and you can learn more by visiting his former home, the interior of which he, of course, designed himself. Mackintosh passed away in 1928, but he remains one of Glasgow’s most revered personalities.
Once you’ve delved into the worlds of both Burrell and Mackintosh, you very well might be in the mood to continue the day with an artistically minded afternoon in Glasgow. If so, we recommend joining a street art-themed walking tour of central Glasgow. You’ll already be well adjusted to the city by now, but a street art tour gives you the chance to see a different, often hidden side of Glasgow.
The city is well regarded for its murals and graffiti, and you can join a dedicated tour at 2 pm every day. The walking tour takes in artistic highlights like The World’s Most Economical Taxi and the Glasgow Panda, and you’ll learn more about the local artists who are so inspired by the city. If you’d rather make your own tour, then you can also follow this detailed self-guided City Centre Mural Trail from People Make Glasgow, which is the quirky name of the city’s official tourism board.
It’s going to be late in the afternoon now, and with most of Glasgow’s museums and galleries closing at 5 pm, we recommend heading back to your hotel to relax and prepare for your last evening in Glasgow. Glasgow’s foodie scene really is excellent, and we’ve got a few choices for you to consider tonight!
Hotel du Vin
If you’re looking for a serious fine dining experience, then we recommend booking a table at Hotel du Vin. Located in One Devonshire Gardens, Hotel du Vin offers a locally-inspired tasting menu prepared using locally sourced ingredients. The setting is certainly romantic, and your fine cuisine is accompanied by sommelier-selected wine pairings from the restaurant’s cavernous wine cellar.
For a quirkier choice of restaurant, make a reservation at Ubiquitous Chip, one of Glasgow’s most popular brasseries. Located on Ashton Lane, Ubiquitous Chip has been serving hungry Glaswegians delectable Scottish scran since 1971. Featuring salt baked turnips and langoustine custard, the tasting menu here is always prepared to surprise.
Our final suggestion is for the curry lovers out there. Glasgow is the home of the chicken tikka masala, one of British-Indian cuisine’s most popular dishes. It was supposedly concocted at Shish Mahal sometime in the 1970s, and you can visit the restaurant to sample the original.
What to do if you have more than 3 days in Glasgow
If you’ve got extra time to spend in Glasgow, then you’re in luck because there’s a lot more for you to be getting on with. From bagpipes to Roman ruins, here’s what to do in Glasgow if you’ve got more than 3 days:
The National Piping Centre
If you love bagpipes and Scottish tartan, then make sure to visit The National Piping Centre, one of Glasgow’s most traditional institutions. Here you’ll find the Museum of Piping, where you can uncover three centuries of bagpiping history. You can also book bagpiping lessons, while the restaurant here serves up a mean haggis and neeps.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Less than an hour’s drive outside Glasgow you’ll encounter the fierce beauty of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. This is where the Scottish Highlands begin and there’s ample opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.
The Forth and Clyde Canal Towpath
This epic, 66-mile-long hiking and cycling path connects Glasgow with Edinburgh. It follows the route of the Forth and Clyde Canal, and it’s a spectacular way to see more of Scotland.
The Antonine Wall
Everyone’s heard of Hadrian’s Wall, but did you know that the Romans also built another wall much further north? Little remains of the Antonine Wall, but you can find excavated remnants of this Roman-era fortification just outside of Glasgow.
The Scottish Football Museum
Sports fans can visit The Scottish Football Museum, where you’ll learn all about the nation’s most popular team sport. The museum is located in Hampden Park, where the Scottish national football team plays games. If you’re in luck, you might be in the city when there’s a game on. You could also watch the games of local rival teams, Celtic and Rangers.
We hope you enjoy your weekend trip to Glasgow, Scotland! Should we add something else to our 3-day Glasgow itinerary? Let us know in the comments.
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