With a weekend escape to Scotland’s biggest city on our agenda (and no, I’m not talking about its capital, Edinburgh), Sam and I were extremely excited to discover a little more about Glasgow. Particularly the West End of Glasgow! Full of bohemian personality, incredible gothic architecture and a huge list of hot spots (food alert everyone!), Glasgow’s West End is one of the best parts to explore and stay in. After quickly settling in and dropping our bags, it took us no time to go out and explore the cobbled streets and marvel at the beautiful Victorian Houses. With everything in a walkable distance (a bonus when the Scottish weather brings a fair few showers), I couldn’t help but put together a little list of recommendations for everyone that’s heading to gorgeous Glasgow’s West End.
Here’s our travel guide to Glasgow’s West End – enjoy!
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Opened in 1901, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is the most visited museum in the UK outside London. Built in impressive Spanish Baroque style with Locharbriggs red sandstone, it’s free to visit and contains a total of 22 galleries displaying extensive art collections and over 8,000 artifacts.
Both permanent displays and temporary exhibitions are divided in two main themes: Life (exploring natural history, prehistory and human history) and Expression (encompassing fine art and objects). Some of the most outstanding works include a Supermarine Spitfire mk21 hanging over the West court and paintings by Monet, Renoir, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Gaugin and Salvador Dalí (Christ St John of the Cross).
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum opening times: vary depending on day and season, but usually from 10/11am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday.
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum address: Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG
The Kelvingrove Museum is located in Kelvingrove Park, the largest park in Glasgow’s West End. From here you can enjoy a nice view of the University of Glasgow at the top of Gilmorehill. Why not walk along the River Kelvin and cross the 34 hectares of the the park while admiring its monuments and complexes? The Stewart Memorial Fountain, statues of notable writers and physicists and the skatepark are just some of them.
The University of Glasgow and The Cloisters
The University of Glasgow is undeniably one of the most prestigious and historic buildings in Glasgow’s West End. Founded by a papal bull from Pope Nicholas V in 1451, this is one of the oldest universities in the world! It’s also the fourth oldest in all English-speaking countries alone.
Initially located in the chapterhouse of the Glasgow Cathedral, the University of Glasgow has changed location several times and is now spread over different campuses. The current main building of the University is in Gilmorehill. It was designed in a Victorian style by Sir George Gilbert Scott (the mind behind St Pancras Station in London). The surrounding bohemian and Gothic Revival buildings were later added, including the University’s iconic Gothic bell tower from 1887 that stands at 85 m high (279 ft), designed by Scott’s son Oldrid. The best part? If it’s open, the grounds of Glasgow University are free to wander around. Surprisingly, even though you’ll feel like you’re in Hogwarts, no scenes from Harry Potter were filmed at the University of Glasgow.
University of Glasgow Cloisters
An emblematic part of the University of Glasgow (and undeniably one of its most iconic works of architecture) are The Cloisters, also known as The Undercroft. These gothic-style fluted columns create ribbed vault archways that connect the East and West quadrangles of the University. The Cloisters were also designed by John Oldrid Scott as the main access to both the Hungarian Museum and the Bute Hall inside the Gilbert Scott Building. You may even find a graduation ceremonies taking place here. The Cloisters wrapped upped in fairy lights provide a great Instagram shot too!
University of Glasgow address: University Ave, Glasgow G12 8QQ
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Another gem of Glasgow’s West End are the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. In 2011, the 50 acres gardens were granted the Green Flag award (which recognises quality parks and green spaces). They also celebrated their 200th birthday in 2017.
Open daily from 7am to dusk, the Glasgow Botanic Gardens feature a number of glasshouses with extensive plant collections (such as the fern trees at the Kibble Palace), the Word Rose Garden opened in 2003 by Japanese Princess Tomohito of Misaka and the Garden Tearooms. All glasshouses and areas of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens are free to visit all day long. However, make sure you check the timetables for the glasshouses as these vary throughout the seasons.
For an excellent way to explore the Glasgow Botanic Gardens and learn more about the flora and history of the place, follow the Heritage Trail. Or, if you have children, the Minibeasts, Birds and Trees of the Botanics. You can find more information about the trails at the Kibble Palace.
Glasgow Botanic Garden address: 730 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 0UE
Nestled in Glasgow’s West End is Ashton Lane, a cobbled back alley crowned by fairy lights and full of trendy pubs, quirky restaurants, a cinema and basically the best of Scottish food and drinks. Tucked away from the busier Byres Road and University Avenue, Ashton Lane can be tricky to find if you’re not looking for it. This is a great place to enjoy Glasgow’s nightlife and to get some Instagram worthy pictures.
Where to eat and drink in Glasgow’s West End and nearby
Ashton Lane is just one of the many amazing places to grab a bite in the West End of Glasgow. Whether you’re a coffee and brunch lover or are looking for a great place to have a delicious meal, this area is a hub for foodie lovers. It’s also really close to one of the best food districts in Glasgow – Finnieston. Although not in the West End but neighbouring it, Finnieston is well known for its craft beers, gins and whiskies as well as trendy restaurants with a variety of cuisines. Here are some of the best places to eat and drink in Glasgow’s West End and Finnieston:
- The Ben Nevis – for a proper Scottish pub experience (and plenty of whisky!). 1147 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8TB
- Five March – excellent for sharing yum dishes. 140 Elderslie St, Glasgow G3 7QF
- Mora – for delicious Italian food. 1166-1170 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8TE
- Paesano – for cheap and tasty pizza. 471 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 8HL
- Papercup Coffee Company– for amazing brunch and coffee options. 603 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 8HX
- Mother India – for out-of-this-world Indian food. 28 Westminster Terrace, Glasgow G3 7RU
- The 78 – for excellent vegan dishes. 10-14 Kelvinhaugh St, Glasgow G3 8NU
- Alchemilla – for fancy Mediterranean plates and tasty wine. 1126 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8TD
- Porter & Rye – great for steak lovers (can be pricey!). 1131 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8ND
- Crabshakk – for great fish and seafood. 1114 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8TD
Have you been to this part of Glasgow before? What other places would you recommend visiting? If you loved our guide to the Glasgow’s West End, please leave a comment, pin some photos and show us some love on social media using the buttons below
Do you like exploring the UK Then check out some of our other travel guides:
- Glasgow Mural Trail guide and map
- The 10 best things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland
- Best things to do in York
- Things to do on a weekend in Bath
- How to spend a weekend in Liverpool
- A Day Trip to Cambridge | TRAVEL GUIDE
- Things to do in Oxford in a Day
- A Weekend in Brighton