Cross the river to Glasgow’s South Side and hang out with hipsters in trailblazing arts venues, cool eateries, stylish shops and gorgeous parkland.
Sweet shops and sights
On the south shore of the River Clyde, the gleaming titanium-clad Glasgow Science Centre (50 Pacific Quay, 0141 420 5000) beckons, inviting budding scientists of all ages to experiment with hundreds of hands-on exhibits, watch live science shows or discover the wonders of the night sky in a state-of-the-art planetarium.
Football fans should make a beeline for Hampden Park, Scotland’s national stadium and the largest in the world until 1950, with a record-breaking attendance of 149,415 at a Scotland v England match in 1937. The Hampden Experience (Hampden Park, 0141 616 6139) guides you through Scottish football memorabilia, the Scottish Football Hall of Fame and a stadium tour where you can almost hear the legendary Hampden roar as you walk through the tunnel. Hampden will host the Track and Field Athletics competitions and the Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Multicultural Glasgow and teeth-wrecking-sugar-loving Glasgow meet at the Glasgow Sweet Centre (202 Allison Street, 0141 424 0000), a specialist Indian sweet shop. If you’re looking for unique gear, the Shawlands district in particular has some fabulous indie store gems. Pop into Butterfly Kisses (8 Skirving Street, 0141 649 3552) for cool women’s and kids’ clothing labels or lifestyle boutique Pierrot et Coco (3 Abbot Street, 0141 649 2489) for original homeware and sleek stationery.
A breath of fresh air
Glasgow’s South Side is home to some incredible green spaces. Bellahouston Park was the site of the 1938 Empire exhibition, which attracted a whopping 12.5 million visitors. Highlights include the walled garden, filled with ferns and daffodils collected by 19th-century plant collector Peter Bar, and the House for an Art Lover (10 Dumbreck Road, 0141 353 4770), meticulously constructed in the 1990s using Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1901 plans. The park is also a short walk from Ibrox Stadium (150 Edmiston Drive, 0871 702 1972), if you fancy catching Rangers in their battle to climb back up the leagues.
Just beyond Bellahouston is Pollok Country Park, the city’s largest park. Here you can amble through a wildlife garden and pretty woodland, tackle mountain bike trails, meet the resident Clydesdale horses – Baron, Duke and Spencer – and encounter a herd of Highland coos. Within the park is grand country pile Pollok House (2060 Pollokshaws Road, 0844 493 2202), billed as ‘Scotland’s answer to Downton Abbey’, with costumed guides bringing history to life in the summer. Another park must-see is the Burrell Collection (2060 Pollokshaws Road, 0141 287 2550); shipping magnate Sir William Burrell amassed over 8,000 artefacts, from paintings by Rodin and Cézanne to Islamic ceramics and ancient Egyptian sculptures.
Even further afield on the southern fringes of the city, Cathkin Braes Country Park mountain bike trails officially opened in June 2013 and are set to host the mountain biking events of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Before and after the Games, the 5.5-kilometre technical circuit is open to the public free of charge. The route covers a mixture of terrain including moorland, woodland and bedrock, with phenomenal views across the city.
The Gorbals may traditionally have had a reputation as one of Glasgow’s grittier neighbourhoods, but within it, the venerable Citizens Theatre (119 Gorbals Street, 0141 429 0022) has been producing cutting-edge modern and classic dramas for seven decades in the UK’s second oldest operational theatre (the building opened in 1878). As well as staging innovative and critically acclaimed performances, the Citizens runs outreach programmes, performing within the community and offering children the chance to participate in theatre.
Glasgow is a font of creativity and one of the city’s leading contemporary arts venues is Tramway (25 Albert Drive, 0845 330 3501), a hip multipurpose visual and performing arts space. From giant eye-catching installations to parkour workshops to experimental dance acts, Tramway’s dynamic programme is thought-provoking and fun. Outside, you can relax in the Hidden Gardens, a lovely, tranquil green space designed as a place where Scotland’s diverse communities can come together. Or grab lunch and a coffee in the smart café-bar.
Mingle with more arty types at The Glad Café (1006A Pollokshaws Road, 0141 636 6119), a classy eatery and funky arts venue rolled into one. The community-focused social enterprise supports the local creative industry, its intimate venue hosting an eclectic mix of musicians, film screenings and theatrical productions, with the eventual aim of using profits to fund music lessons for locals. The café itself serves a fine breakfast (think Scots porridge oats and eggs Benedict with smoked salmon) and good-value soup and sandwich lunches. At night, share a Middle Eastern platter over inventive Scottish craft ales from William Bros Brewing Co, then listen to a poetry reading or check out an up-and-coming band.
The Waverley Tea Room (18 Moss Side Road, 0845 659 5903) is a stylish spot for lunch or dinner, dishing up a hearty selection of ciabatta melts, baked potatoes topped with haggis, and slow-braised beef with Stornoway black pudding. Believe it or not, the sun occasionally makes an appearance in Glasgow and when it does, this place has the South Side’s largest outdoor terrace for cocktail sipping and people watching. If you have young kids in tow, there’s a handy soft play area at the back too, open until 5pm.
Located within a converted neoclassical church, gastropub Church on the Hill (16 Algie Street, 0141 636 9171) prepares all its pub grub from scratch down to the homemade tartare sauce for your fish and chips. Meals range from the traditional (steak and Guinness pie) to the more adventurous (venison sausages) to the distinctly non-Scottish (Szechuan noodles), with live DJs spinning tunes on Friday and Saturday nights.
Another go-to dining and drinking destination since opening in 2011 is cool and contemporary The Bungo Bar & Kitchen (17-21 Nithsdale Road, 0141 423 0023). Small plates of chicken satay skewers, Thai fishcakes or crispy gnocchi go down nicely, but what really sets this place apart is its extensive and imaginative cocktail list. How about a mint and honey daiquiri, a mademoiselle pamplemousse or a white chocolate and raspberry crème brûlée?