How to Make the Most of a Two Days in Glasgow

Glasgow had a pretty naughty reputation for a while. But the last couple of decades have seen the Scottish city flourish all over again. Much like the proverbial phoenix. And, even though Edinburgh (and Harry Potter) still takes most of the credit for urban tourism in Scotland, Glasgow has gathered a fresh reputation of its own. Did you hear it was voted the friendliest city in the UK (and maybe the world)?

Anyhow, beside being the friendliest city in the UK, Glasgow also happens to be the perfect destination for a short getaway (or many!). It has centuries-long history, stunning architecture and a music scene hard to top. Glasgow offers plenty to keep you not just entertained, but also coming back for more! 

Why so, you may ask. Well, keep on reading to find out all about what makes this Scottish city worth visiting. Also to get some inspiration on what to see in Glasgow in two days and how to make the most of your short getaway to the Scottish city.

How to make the most of two days in Glasgow

Glasgow is conveniently connected within the UK and most major European hubs. Be it by means of air, land or water. You can fly cheaply into Glasgow International Airport from almost anywhere in Europe. Or take the ferry over from Ireland. And of course, there’s also the train or bus from all other major UK cities. That means that no matter where you are, there is no excuse not to organise a weekend in Glasgow.

If you are flying into Glasgow International Airport, you’ll have two options to get into the city. The Glasgow Airport Express bus, which takes you straight into the city centre in about 20 minutes. (Single ticket: 8 Pounds, Open return: 12 Pounds and Children: 4 Pounds). Or the city bus number 77 if you are a bit more adventurous. Nr. 77 takes about 1 hour from start to finish, but it allows you to get off along the way. This bus is especially useful if you’re staying in the West End of the city, or if you want to go for a delicious Full Scottish Breakfast (£8.50) at Celino’s in Partick, which we would highly recommend!

How to Make the Most of a short getaway in Glasgow || Full Scottish Breakfast at Celino's Partick || wanderwings.com
Where to stay in Glasgow

Having your transport booked, it is time to find out where to stay during your weekend in Glasgow. There are plenty of options when it comes to finding the right accommodation for your stay. From 5-Star Hotels in the middle of the city, mid-range B&B spotted across all neighbourhoods, to the local Hostelling Scotland hostel at the top of Park Circus. There’s plenty to choose from, and something for all budgets.

That being said, a homely room at Hostelling Scotland West End hostel will never be a bad choice.

The hostel is located in two Victorian houses overlooking the magnificent West End. The staff are incredibly welcoming as good Scotts always are, the rooms are cosy and the views are simply spectacular. (disclaimer: this was not sponsored, I just love it here and stay every time I’m in town! <3)

How to make the most of 48 Hours in Glasgow | Views from Glasgow Youth Hostel in the West End via wanderwings.com

Day 1: Exploring the West End

Once settled into your home for the duration of your two days in Glasgow, it’s finally time to get exploring. Where to start will depend on where your accommodation of choice is. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll assume you picked the hostel in the beautiful West End of the city.

1st Stop: The Botanical Gardens

Anyhow, a short walk away from the hostel, you’ll find the backbone of the West End, Great Western Road. If you follow this road east, you’ll come into the city centre. If you follow it west, you’ll come to the first stop the Glasgow Botanical Gardens.

The Glasgow Botanical Gardens were founded in 1817 by the Royal Botanic Institution of Glasgow close to Sauchiehall Street. And it wouldn’t be until 1842 that they would find their current location in the West End. They were originally used for concerts and events. In addition to that, they were supposed to supply the botany studies at the University of Glasgow. In its land, you’ll find 3 greenhouses that are home to plants and flowers from all over the globe. It is a great place to go for a quiet walk or sit with a book. On top of that, during the warmer months it is a popular place for people to go enjoy the sun. This makes it the perfect spot for people watching without the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

Òran Mór

Right across the street, you’ll find the imposing Òran Mór. A pub, restaurant and events location housed in the old Kelvinbridge Parish Church. After this church merged with the neighbouring congregation, people took advantage of the empty space. They transformed it into one of the finest pubs in town. If that didn’t pick your curiosity, wait until you hear this. They have one of the finest whisky assortments in town, regular live acts playing and the decoration is simply amazing. Have you ever heard of Alasdair Gray? Well, he’s one of the most acclaimed Scottish authors and artists. He also created the stunning murals you’ll see in Òran Mór.

Ashton Lane

For lunch or dinner you can stop by Glasgow’s beloved Ashton Lane. A small alley packed with pubs, bars, restaurants and a quirky cinema from the 1920s (well, originally at least). In the warmer months you can pay a visit to the popular beer garden at Jinty McGuintys Irish Bar. Across you’ll find Ubiquitous Chip, also known as “The Chip” by the locals. Opened in 1971, it’s your one stop to quality Scottish cuisine. And a few meters down the Lane, you’ll meet with another classic of the area, the Grosvernor Cafe, worth for both their service and the design. Besides the food, Ashton Lane is also a looker. If you can, stop by in the evening, prepare to be awestruck!

How to make the most of 48 Hours in Glasgow | University of Glasgow's Gilbert Scott Building via wanderwings.com
The University of Glasgow Campus

If there is one thing you absolutely can’t miss is exploring the stunning University of Glasgow campus and its surrounding area. Especially if you only have a couple of days in Glasgow. Walking up from Ashton Lane, you’ll find yourself straight in the heart of the university.

The campus on itself is well worth a visit. The impressive main building and it’s cloisters. Discovering stunning staircases leading to intricately decorated rooms. Or walking into the surrounding victorian houses (which are seminar rooms and department buildings!).

From Kelvingrove park, you can see the Gilbert Scott Building. The 1800s Gothic revival building towers over Hillhead making you feel as if you were to step into Hogwarts!

For a cultural day, you can visit the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery inside the Gilbert Scott Building (free entry). And If you don’t mind spending some money, you can explore The Mackintosh House right by the library.

Oh and if all the amazingness of the area has made you hungry, make sure to pre-order a (naughty) burger and curly fries via Naughty Burgers, pick it up at their West End location and if the weather is nice, go eat in the park picnic style.

Kelvingrove Park
Kelvingrove Park in the West End of Glasgow  via  wanderwings.com

Once you’ve had your fill of stunning architecture and science. You can walk down and enjoy the fresh air along the river Kelvin. Kelvingrove park is one of the many green areas spread along Glasgow.

This 34-hectares green stretch was created in 1852 following the rapid expansion of the city towards the West End. The idea behind it was to provide recreation opportunities for the middle class setting in the area. Kelvingrove park was also the prime location of the International Exhibitions in 1888 and the 1901, as well as the Scottish Exhibition in 1911. Now, it homes the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and its hanging heads.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
How to make the most of 48 Hours in Glasgow | Kelvingrove Art Gallery via wanderwings.com

As previously mentioned, crossing Kelvingrove park you’ll land in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (free entry). Opened in 1901 for the Glasgow International Exhibition with the proceeds of the 1888 International Exhibition, it is built in Spanish baroque style using Locharbriggs red sandstone.

The building’s 22 galleries host everything from art to history and, of course, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Oh, and if you can, make sure to catch one of the concert pipe organ recitals taking place in the main hall. It will leave you amazed.

Go to a gig at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
Canterbury playing at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow 2009 via wanderwings.com

What better way to end a great first day around Glasgow than grabbing a bite to eat and enjoying the magic of a new and upcoming live band at the famous live rock venue King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in St. Vincent Street? This place has been instrumental to the success of many bands throughout its over two decades in business. One of the most renowned being Oasis back in 1993. Who knows, you may be witness to the next generation of Gallaghers. You can find out their upcoming gigs here.


Day 2: Exploring the city and the waterfront

After an exciting first day and a sound sleep at your accommodation of choice, it is time to head into the waterfront and the city centre’s highlights. That means taking the wee subway (you’ll know what I mean when you get there). If you plan on moving around a bit, it may be worth checking the day tickets. If you are staying in the West End, you can take the subway from Hillhead station (here you can admire Alasdair Gray’s murals), Kelvinhall (perfect to visit the Kelvingrove Museum) or Kelvinbridge, and it will take you under 20 minutes to get to Buchanan Street or St. Enoch.

Walking along the bank of the river Clyde

From either Buchanan St or St. Enoch you can easily walk south to the bank of the river Clyde. Walking from here towards the West End along the river you will reach the incredible new buildings of the conference centre “The Hydro”, the Armadillo, the science centre Tower and the transport museum. All well worth a stop if you are a modern architecture aficionado. And let’s not forget the Clydeside Distillery, “Glasgow’s first dedicated single malt distillery in over 100 years”. You can see all their offered tours here.

Discovering Glasgow’s medieval history
Glasgow's Skyline from the Necropolis via Wanderwings.com

If you decide to head east along George St. through the looker that is George Sq., in about 30 minutes walk you’ll find yourself admiring the skyline of Glasgow from the Necropolis, exploring Glasgow’s catacombs at the Cathedral, learning about the quirky history and characters of old Glasgow at one of the only four surviving medieval buildings in the city, the Provand’s Lordship or the “auld hoose” and taking a well deserved break at the St. Nicholas garden.

On this route, you’ll also come across some of the stunning murals by local street artist smugone.

smugone mural in Glasgow | Wanderwings

On the way back, if instead of taking the same road back, you follow High St. down to the river, you will come to the Merchant City Clock Tower and one of the popular shopping areas in the city, Argyll St.

From here, if you are still fit and feel like exploring further, you can head southeast from the Merchant City Clock Tower through London Rd. and you’ll come to Glasgow Green, another historical green area in the city of Glasgow. Here you’ll also find the People’s Palace, which houses a collection of artifacts (objects, photos, etc) that show how Glasgwegians lived from the past till today (free entry).

To end the 2 days in Glasgow on a high note, you should stop by the Willow Tea Rooms (217 Sauchiehall Street) for tea time and some more Mackintosh genius.

And, if a weekend in Glasgow wasn’t enough, the Scottish city is also close to the coast and the low Highlands (I’m looking at you Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park!), making it the perfect base for your next Scottish getaway!

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