University of Glasgow behind lush trees, Glasgow, Scotland

University of Glasgow behind lush trees, Glasgow, ScotlandGetty

Often overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, the once Second City of the Empire, Glasgow offers just as much to the tourist as Edinburgh, albeit in a more down-to-earth way.

A UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow is known for its thriving music scene and is home to all but one of Scotland’s music and cultural organisations as well as a bustling events calendar. It's also a must see for design fans as its architecture is a striking mix of neoclassical buildings built by wealthy merchants in the 1800s alongside the more futuristic Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport which was designed by Zaha Hadid and is a feat of modern building. 

The city is also home to a broad array of museums, art galleries, an exploding foodie scene and some of the friendliest people you’ll find in the UK there’s a reason its motto is People Make Glasgow. 

Here’s just three reasons why you should make time to visit Glasgow on your next trip to the UK. 

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Home to world-class paintings such as the Salvador Dali masterpiece Christ of St John of the Cross - Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has grown from humble beginnings to now house over 8,000 objects across 22 galleries, including displays dedicated to Ancient Egypt and local man Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The museum reopened in 2006 after a three-year extensive renovation and remains as impressive as ever. 

Younger visitors have been known to become quite taken with Sir Roger, a full-size Asian elephant who lives in the museum (he’s stuffed we might add!) while those less inclined to look up will miss out on the Spitfire LA198 which remains suspended from the ceiling of the west court. Upcoming events include autism friendly talks and events as well as a calendar of free family events running all year round. While art fans will enjoy the Glasgow Style Gallery which is housed within the museum and contains the world’s largest collection of works by Glasgow artist Charles Rennie Macintosh, featuring stained glass, metalwork and even reconstructed rooms from this internationally important period of design.

The museum's location within the West End means that after an afternoon spent soaking up the atmosphere and exploring the treasures within, an array of food and shopping options remain right outside the door. We recommend Starry Starry Night for vintage lovers while those who worked up an appetite will love Oran Mor, a collection of bars and restaurants housed in an old church on the corner of Byres Road, a short walk away. 

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The Glasgow Necropolis 

While visiting a cemetery while on holiday may seem a little eerie, Glasgow’s Victorian Necropolis is an experience that cannot be missed and it brings together all that makes the city unique - including famous architecture, stunning sculpture and fascinating stories about the some 50,000 residents who populate 3,500 tombs. 

The Necropolis itself was modeled on the Pére-Lachaise in Paris and is home to original works by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson and Charles Rennie Macintosh as well as an array of wildlife who call the 37-acre site home. The focal point is the John Knox memorial which provides stunning views over Glasgow, and believe it or not is not home to the grave of John Knox, who is instead buried in Edinburgh. Just one fun fact about the Necropolis! 

Walking tours of the site are free but need to be booked in advance and when teamed up with a visit to next door’s Glasgow Cathedral, which was built in the 13th century and is Scotland’s finest gothic building, the Necropolis passes an enjoyable afternoon. 

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Charles Rennie Macintosh 

He’s one of the world’s most famous artists, and Glasgow is the only city where you can see a concentrated collection of Charles Rennie Macintosh’s works - albeit across several different locations. Known for producing interiors, furniture, and posters with visionary style during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Macintosh was born and bred in Glasgow and is responsible for some of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, including the Glasgow School of Art. 

Those looking to learn more about his works, should start at The Lighthouse, which was Macintosh’s first major project. Completed in 1899 and originally known as the Glasgow Herald Building, it is now home to the Macintosh Centre and Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture. The Lighthouse a prime example of how influential the artist’s work was and showcases his unique use of light and shade. 

For a more indepth look at the life behind the art, learn how Macintosh and his wife lived by visiting the Macintosh House - a perfect reassembly of their home located within The Hunterian Art Gallery. Each room of the house Macintosh shared with his wife, fellow artists, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, has been painstakingly recreated in exact detail and are in themselves, works of art showcasing the talent of the pair. 

Finally, finish your Macintosh adventure at Macintosh At The Willow to be fully immersed in his art. The building originally started life in 1903 as the Willow Tea Rooms owned by a Miss Cranston and designed by Macintosh but it is now a beautifully refurbished working restaurant and gift shop on the famous Sauchiehall Street. Enjoy high tea in the Salon de Luxe or sit on the roof terrace during summer surrounded by Macintosh’s original works before wandering through the interactive exhibition which showcases his skills in a unique way.