The past three months in Glasgow have given me a great insight into living in the city and all the fun things you can do there. The summer has been beautiful with temperatures going as high as 28°C (taps-aff weather, as they call it here), but obviously there have been various degrees of restriction due to the pandemic. Most of these are now being lifted so more people are expected to travel into the city again.
I have listed a few great things to do in Glasgow just now. The city is full of green parks, great walks and museums to visit. Of course, I have included a few drink-related options as well.
1 Gin School at Crossbill Distillery
This masterclass is hosted at the Crossbill Distillery, which is in the East End of Glasgow at The Barras. This area has a lot of history and has seen many improvements in recent years. You can now find several new shops, bars and studios in the area, bringing life into the historic site.
During the two-to-three-hour masterclass, you will select your botanical basket and distil your own gin in a miniature copper pot still. All this while sipping a refreshing G&T and enjoying a few snacks. The gin school is a shared experience, so the price is for two people (£110) and you will make the gin together.
Read more about the distillery and its gin school in my previous article.
2 Get a treatment at Gin Spa
The Gin Spa is an urban day spa, meaning it only has treatment rooms and a little relaxation area where the gin is served. They use a selection of Scottish botanical products from JustBe Botanicals, which are all handmade in Scotland using pure and natural ingredients. The botanicals used in the products match well with the gins served at the spa.
I often opt for the ‘Just the Tonic’ package with friends as it includes tea on arrival, a personal consultation and a 30-minute treatment, a G&T of your choice and an afternoon tea with prosecco in the Cup Tea Rooms (also known as Gin71) next door. Can you think of a better way to spend the afternoon?!
Read more about the Gin Spa here.
3 Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
Right by Kelvingrove Park you will find the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which houses one of Europe’s greatest art collections and is free to enter. The museum has 22 galleries, where you can find works by Monet, Dali, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Glasgow Boys, and Mackintosh, and the Life Galleries section includes natural history, human history and prehistory.
They also offer changing exhibitions on the ground floor. Last year I saw the Linda McCartney Retrospective there.
4 Visit The House for an Art Lover designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh
In 1901 Mackintosh entered a competition organised by a German design magazine to design a ‘Haus Eines Kunstfreundes’ or ‘Art Lovers House’. Although he was disqualified due to a technical breach, the judges were very impressed with his work.
His design remained on paper for over 80 years until in 1989 Graham Roxburgh had an idea to build the House for an Art Lover in Glasgow. The building finally opened its doors in 1996. It is remarkable to think they only had a few drawings and no technical plans for the actual house, yet they managed to do such great work.
There is a café where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or an afternoon tea with some cocktails. If the weather allows, you can also sit outside in the garden.
5 Enjoy a rum tasting at Wester Distillery
Wester in the West End of Glasgow is an independent micro-distillery, where they use renewable energy and sustainable sources to produce no-nonsense spirits. A team of three looks after each part of the production.
You can now book a tour (only £15) at the warehouse to see how they ferment, distil and flavour their rums and other spirits, followed by a tasting of their flavoursome rums. All the rums I tried were lovely and not overly sweet like some other flavoured or spiced rums can be. All their flavourings are natural. Their coffee and chocolate rums were to die for! Negroni material….
Book directly from their website. You can also buy the rums online.
6 Go on a day trip on Waverley, the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world
Waverley is the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer. In fact, 2021 marks the 75th anniversary of Waverley’s launch.
Highlights of the Clyde sailing programme include afternoon cruises around Bute, on Loch Striven, viewing the remote North Arran coast and sailings round Ailsa Craig.
They serve food and drinks (there’s a proper bar) on board, including a Sunday roast.
7 Learn more about Glasgow at the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens
The People’s Palace is a museum of social history. It tells the story of the people of Glasgow and the city from 1750 to the present day through a collection of objects, photographs, prints and film. After your visit to the museum, you can enjoy the oldest park in the city, the Glasgow Green.
8 Saturday market at The Barras
Located in the East End of Glasgow, The Barras has a lot of history and it has seen many improvements in recent years. You can now find several new shops, bars (The Gate is a must for whisky cocktails) and studios in the area, bringing life into the historic site. If you visit on Saturday, there will be a market selling all sorts of bric-a-brac, fruit and veg and more.
9 Walk along the River Kelvin
This is a great walk. Start from the Botanic Gardens and walk through Kelvingrove Park. You will find a few places for a drink along the way as well, or head to Finnieston for a well-earned glass of wine or a wee dram.
If you are into vintage shops, take a detour to the Great Western Road near Kelvinbridge underground station. You will find five vintage clothing stores nearby, all reasonably priced.
10 Have a roast in Finnieston
Finnieston is the best place to be in Glasgow right now. The bars and restaurants are top notch, some perhaps slightly overpriced, but the quality of the food, drinks and service makes it all worth it. The best roast we had was at La Petit Cochon, and if you don’t eat meat, they have many other tasty options to choose from. Other places worth checking out include Ox & Finch, The Finnieston (they have a secret garden btw) and the Butchershop Bar & Grill. All the places I’ve mentioned have a great wine list too.
11 Walk around the Glasgow Necropolis
The Glasgow Necropolis is a Victorian cemetery where over fifty thousand people are buried.Walk around the cemetery and enjoy the view up on the hill. You can find a William Wallace memorial as well as the Cheapside Street whisky bond fire memorial there. The fire was Britain’s worst peacetime fire disaster, with 19 lost lives and many neighbouring buildings destroyed. The warehouse contained over a million gallons of whisky (21,000 casks) and 30,000 gallons of rum.
Also, the Glasgow Cathedral is worth a visit. It is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow.
12 Visit a whisky distillery
Of course, you can’t come to Glasgow and not visit a whisky distillery. Unfortunately, some distilleries are only offering tastings without the tour of the premises, but it is still a great way to learn more about the brand and their whisky range.
Try Auchentoshan (pronounced Och’n’tosh’n), Clydeside Distillery (full tours available) or Glengoyne Distillery (get a direct bus from Glasgow).
Have you been to Glasgow? Would you add anything to this list?