Glasgow’s city motto can be read from the center square, where you’ll find a bright pink sign emblazoned with the words “People Make Glasgow.” And it’s true. While often overlooked in favor of charming Edinburgh, Glasgow’s thriving music scene, art venues, museums, and shopping leave little to be desired. It takes a local to make you fall in love with the city, so when a friendly Glaswegian chats with you at a pub, listen. When they talk about what life is like for them, you’ll hear about their version of the city, learn about the film festival of the week, and discover the latest gig in this UNESCO World Heritage music city. The real bloodline comes from the people, who open your eyes to the creativity bubbling around every corner. Glasgow is real. It isn’t made for tourists, but if you have one day to spend here, let the people show you around. After all, the life inside is what makes it worth experiencing. If you’re planning a 24-hour stay in Glasgow, this itinerary can help you get the most out of your stay.
Morning: Visit Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery
What do the world’s smallest dinosaur footprint and paintings by Raphael have in common (other than the fact that they’re priceless)? Answer: you can find them both here. Enter the University of Glasgow campus and follow the signs for the museum, and you can find five floors of displays on surgical tools, archaeology, fossils, and the life of William Hunter, the museum’s namesake. A few minute’s walk across the street lies the Art Gallery. Home to a sculpture garden and several rooms of masterpieces contrasting the light teal and deep red walls, it also offers entry to an exhibit on Glasgow’s own Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
If you have a little extra time afterwards, take a hop-on, hop-off tour. It’s the best way to get a complete overview of all Glasgow has to offer.
Lunchtime: Lunch in style at The Willow Tea Rooms
Glasgow’s original afternoon tea, tailored to the no-BS nature of a Glaswegian: big portions and a good deal. Although tea can sometimes feel stuffy, the vibe is just refined enough here. An afternoon here includes four mini sandwiches, a scone, a pastry, and, of course, your choice of tea. The food is good, but the experience is the real draw. The servers, dressed in a classic black and white uniform, charm locals and tourists alike. Upstairs in the China Tea Room, geometric turquoise walls and dividers brighten the room. Luckily, you can order afternoon tea in the morning or breakfast at 5pm. A private guided tour will get you a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the history of the building from an expert’s point of view.
Afternoon: Stroll through the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
The foreboding brick walls of this massive museum can be seen from all over Kelvingrove Park, inviting tourists and locals alike to come in for a wander of the three floors and many exhibits. With displays ranging from the history of tartan cloth to rainforest biodiversity, you can spend an afternoon in the free museum and not get bored. We recommend the Glasgow-specific exhibits that detail Glasgow’s rebirth in the 90s, rising from an old industrial hub to the art and music center it is today. Some exhibits charge, but even without them, the museum holds more than you can see through the naturally lit and decorated center areas—make sure to look up to see the floating heads—through the wings. Take a guided tour that includes entrance to the museum and a stroll through the scenic Glasgow streets.
Evening: Grab dinner in the West End
Glasgow’s trendiest neighborhood is an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. Whether you’re in the mood to nosh on some classic neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes) or want something a little more international—like tacos or BBQ—you’ll definitely find it here. Come for dinner, stay for a few drinks.
If you’re really looking to end your stay in Glasgow with a bang, take a West End whiskey tour. You’ll sample some of the best Scotch while learning a little something about the drink’s history. Cheers!