What to do on your first visit to Glasgow

A beginner’s guide to a Scottish city on the banks of the Clyde. By someone who has only ever been once!

  1. Have a wander around the high street


    Illustration by Anna Simmons

Admittedly, I never expected Glasgow to have a cosmopolitan vibe, but the high street was actually amazing. It’s expansive and is home to a plethora of shops, including Frasers, which I am told is the origin of the nationwide House of Frasers! Although the shops are smaller than that of Oxford Street in London, we are often looking at the same choice of brands and the same general vibe. It is definitely worth checking out if you want to get your hands on either cheap high street shopping or designer clothing. I grabbed myself an adorable pair of ripped jeans from Forever 21, and if anyone in a position of authority in St Andrews is reading this, please build us a Forever 21!

  1. Go on a gallery crawla43c31108f911499a502eeadc9f3820e

    Image sourced from Pinterest

Glasgow is a city that’s produced a plethora of Turner Prize winners, with a total of five of them having come through the Glasgow School of Art. Undoubtedly, the modern art exhibitions are worth seeing. I would recommend are the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMa), which is Glasgow’s foremost centre for contemporary art. It plays host to a variety of temporary modern exhibitions. Also, I would recommend The Transmission Gallery. This gallery aims to showcase the work of young and upcoming artists.

It should also be noted that there are more traditional galleries which are worth visiting, such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This is one of the most visited museums in the UK outside of London. It is host to 22 themed galleries ranging from Impressionism to Ancient Egypt. I would also suggest if you have the time to visit The Burrell Collection. The collection has a selection of over 8,000 pieces! These are mainly comprised of antiques and fine art.

Although I only went to the GoMa and the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), I have it on good authority (hearsay from the GSA students), that all the other galleries are interesting in their own right. I enjoyed seeing the temporary exhibition at the GoMA, which displayed the art of Turner Prize nominees and winners. My favourite piece was probably this installation entitled ‘Seven and Seven Is or Sunshine Bathed the Golden Glow’ by Jim Lambie. It is made with wood, handbags and shattered pieces of mirror, purely for its use of colour and sculptural impact. The CCA however was an altogether weirder experience, partly because my friend and I could not figure out the map and the way the installations were ordered. Some of the items were just plain odd, but thus spectacular at the same time. The highlight would have to be a strangely enchanting black and white video of a Polish ballet dancer doing warm up exercises.

  1. Visit the West End


    Illustration by Alice Dansey-Wright

I wish I had a good anecdote to tell you about the West End but I don’t. I hear that it is a vintage haven and also just a really pretty area to wander around. Unfortunately, my friend tried to direct me there, but we got hopelessly lost and ended up just going back to Buchanan Street to orientate ourselves. This therefore leads me to the next hotspot:

  1. Tron Gate


    Photograph by Alex Shaw

Tron Gate is also a treasure trove of vintage clothing if you look carefully enough. There are shops busting with vintage goodies in close proximity and I managed to grab a seriously soft cashmere scarf for only £7! Everything is top quality and if you have enough patience, you’re guaranteed to nab yourself a bargain.

  1. Eat out at a good restaurant.


    Photograph by Alex Shaw

Although St Andrews has a whole host of independent cafés and family-owned eateries, it is safe to say that there are limited choices for world cuisine and high-end restaurants. Glasgow on the other hand is a whole new ballpark. I had the opportunity to go to Chaophraya, an amazing Thai restaurant which was undoubtedly worth every penny of my now exhausted budget.


Image sourced from Pinterest

6. Take a picture of the Duke of Glasgow

He is apparently one of the emblems of Glasgow and the cone on his head frequently shifts spots. There is even merchandise of him sold around Glasgow, so can you really say you have been to Glasgow if you haven’t got a photo of him?

Sophie Lau: http://thereformedflake.com/

Images sourced from Pinterest and courtesy of Alex Shaw Photography