Glasgow’s dynamic music scene, abundance of world-class clubs and after-hours culture continues to confirm its status as the party capital of Scotland. But it’s also home to an impressive variety of grand old buildings, historic museums, an iconic art school and an endless selection of charming independent pubs, bars and eateries that hold community values close to the heart. In a city bulging at the seams with things to do, it’s important to spend your time wisely, so here are some of our picks for this vibrant city.
A must-do for first time visitors to the city. Nestled down a cobbled path in the heart of Glasgow’s West End, this bohemian back street is bustling with great independent bars, restaurants and hang-out spots. Grosvenor’s vintage cinema is sure to satisfy the needs of any film buff, while its connected venue The Lane is Glasgow’s only bar with an exclusively vinyl music policy. For a laid-back atmosphere that doesn’t compromise on quality, head to rustic bar and eatery Brel for a wide selection of Belgian beers, fantastic food and a cracking beer garden. Alternatively, there’s Ubiquituos Chip’s fine selection of whiskies, or the raw set-up of Tomboy Burrito, a South American themed joint serving tequila beers, burritos and more. When it comes to cocktails, you’re spoilt for choice, but we’d recommend you head to either Vodka Wodka, an unpretentious and affordable haunt loved by students, or classy contemporary spot The Research Club, where you can sample from their unique and sprawling list of tipples. For something a bit more casual, head to lively Irish bar Jinty McGuinty’s, an Ashton Lane institution.
This cosy little tea shack has become something of a cult attraction. The old hippy shack at the end of a cobbled lane is famous for its laid-back, quaint and cosy atmosphere, even prompting Belle and Sebastian to shoot the cover art for 2003 album Dear Catastrophe Waitress here. Holding dear the same community values that form the glue to many of the city’s independent venues, it also acts as a platform for local musicians and performing artists. Its inviting surroundings of mismatched furniture and floor cushions forms a popular haunt of students, artists and tea lovers, passionate about their extensive selection of specialty tea. Their home-cooked vegetarian and vegan food is also an absolute steal, while you can pop out to the garden to have a go on the shisha pipes in the summer months. Unfortunately for fans of the alternative teahouse, the threat of closure looms over Tchai Ovna, with consistent threat from re-development prompting many community-led campaigns to save it. We’d recommend you get down and try their delicious chai while you can.
You could spend an entire day at this DIY hub. The beating heart of Glasgow’s independent music and arts scene, Mono hosts a vegan café, bar, music venue, record store and gallery under one domed roof. Celebrated for its pleasant, family-friendly atmosphere, its Monorail record store is co-operated by the city’s much-loved band The Pastels, while its music venue hosts cult leftfield acts alongside breaking stars such as Angel Olsen and Perfect Pussy. Head down early evening for a guilt-free vegan meal and to sample one of their consistently on-point in house bookings.
One of Glasgow’s finest record stores, this is every DJ’s first port of call when they arrive in the city. Located just around the corner from Sub Club, Rubadub is more than a store; it has become one of Scotland’s most vital underground institutions. Selling music equipment as well as records, the walls are lined with synths, monitors, microphones and MPCs, while its crates are stocked with the finest in house, techno and experimental dance, as well as releases from their own Rubadub Records imprint. With a dedicated core team and staff that are the perfect mix of knowledgeable and approachable, it can be worryingly easy to stroll in hoping to browse and leave clutching a stack of fresh purchases.
The Art School
Glasgow’s School of Art was damaged by fire in 2014, tragically destroying the beautifully preserved library and a mass of student work from that year’s graduates. Thankfully, courageous work from firemen meant that the destruction was limited, and there’s still plenty of life in this Mackintosh designed masterpiece, currently preparing for major restoration at the hands of a world-class team of architects. A unique centre for arts in the city, The Glasgow School of Art’s Union has long been at the heart of the city’s creative culture, though its latest incarnation might be our favourite yet. With three floors and dangerously cheap Long Island Ice Tea, by day it’s a vibrant hub for students and by night it hosts bleeding edge club nights with a mouth-watering selection of DJs and international acts, with a focus on experimentation.
After being established as a club night by art students in 1983, Sub Club became a proper club in 1987, acting as a hub for the oncoming wave of 90s euphoria. The venue was also abruptly closed in 1999 after a fire caused extensive damage to the building. Now more than 25 years old, the historic clubbing venue continues to act as the glue holding together one of the most vibrant scenes in the world, hosting the likes of Optimo’s legendary Sunday parties as well as regular events from city ambassadors Numbers. An intimate basement space tucked away below Jamaica Street, the club is notorious for more than its low ceilings, state of the art soundsystem and bodysonic dancefloor; it also boasts a deeply passionate crowd, attracting one of the globe’s most musically savvy clubbing communities. 11pm to 3am opening hours act as the ignition to its rousing atmosphere, ensuring maximum energy throughout the night – so much so that it can cause the place to crumble at the seams; the once glass DJ booth is now plastic after too many feverous beatings, while UK bass maven Boddika famously took home a chunk of the ceiling. Here, being left wanting more isn’t such a bad thing.