Last weekend my mum, sister and I got up before the sun and set off on a top secret mission to surprise my other sister, who is a student in Glasgow, for her 21st Birthday. It was just such a fabulous weekend and one that will forever hold wonderful memories. We spent two full days in the city, with Danielle as our tour guide, showing us all the best places and some of the locals best kept secrets. I found it so hard to find a good city guide beyond the main attractions before our trip and so Danielle suggested we work together to give you a list of the top spots, should you ever decide to vist, which, by the way, you absolutely should. It is such a welcoming city. I made a rookie mistake and didn’t bring along my proper camera so the snaps below are a mixture of Android, iPhone and good old Pinterest. Here we go, how to spend 48 hours in Glasgow (collaberation with Desire In The City) –
Eat, Drink & Be Merry
“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast” gosh was there ever a truer word spoken? Glasgow is full of quaint cafes and hipster coffee shops and we were so aware that with only two breakfasts in the city we needed to pick carefully.
We made sure to get a recommendation from Danielle for the Sunday morning as we had mistakenly opted for a pretty, but very disappointing cafe the morning before. Danielle was quick to recommend a super cool place in Merchant City called Wilson Street Pantry. Once again, our breakfast game was lacking as there was a one hour wait for a table and all of us were verging on hangry at this point. Anyway, I loved the look of this place SO much that I have asked Danielle (Desires in The City) to fill you in on what it’s like;
“Monochrome flooring, plants and matte black crockery make this hidden gem an instagrammers delight. Here you can enjoy a delicious breakfast, without the guilt of a greasy fry or bacon bap. The menu consists of avocado (with smoked salt and lemon which is the best version of avocado toast I have ever experience), smoked salmon, poached eggs, amazing buttery scramble, sourdough bread, soups and antipasti. Team your breakfast with an iced caramel latte and finish it off with one of their cake slices.”
Purely by accident we ended up in a Vegan café for brunch. PICNIC was decorated beautifully and the menu made our mouths water. It wasn’t until I asked for the wifi password (GOVEGAN!) that I realised we had chosen a bit of a specialist spot. It did not disappoint and I honestly would recommend that you pay a visit! I had porridge with almond milk, topped with bananas & strawberries and drizzled with cinnamon & maple syrup. I am still daydreaming about it, I have even cooked up my own version at home, it was THAT good. As you know, I am a coffee lover, and my coconut milk cappuccino was probably the best coffee I have had in a long time.
As soon as I spotted Tim Hortons near central station I knew that would be our spot for a little pick me up mid sightseeing. Tim Hortons is a Canadian Café & Bake Shop and I knew from experience in Abu Dhabi that their donuts were out of this world. Grab a coffee and a Boston Cream and I promise you will not regret it. Donuts became our afternoon snack of choice and on Sunday we headed straight to Krispy Kreme when we met Danielle after work. Thank goodness we had racked up around 50,000 steps over the two days or we would have been rolling onto the plane, literally!
Our evenings in Glasgow were our proper celebrations and so we decided to get glammed up for dinner. Deciding where to go was so difficult, there are so many beautiful restaurants that we wanted to try, but hey, it’s a great excuse for another trip. On Saturday night we opted for Zizzi’s as we fancied Pizza, Pasta & Cocktails. Usually I wouldn’t go for a chain restaurant when on a city break because I think it’s way nicer visiting places we can’t go to at home but it just ticked all the boxes. Not straying too far from the pizza & donuts theme we headed to a well kept local secret for dinner on Sunday evening, Paesano. Oh my days, this is my new favourite restaurant. The atmosphere was electric, service was superb and the food was to die for; wood fired artisan pizza of Napoleon origin. I opted for no cheese, almost unheard of in the pizza world, but according to Danielle the tomato base was too good to be tampered with, and she was right. Just as delicious and a little less guilt!
Again, I have asked Danielle to give another top spot for dinner & drinks as our list of possibilities was huge –
“Indulge in Indian tapas in the lively and vibrant Chaakoo Bombay Café on Vincent Street where you can sample all your favourite curries whilst chilled house and techno music plays in the background. Try something a little more adventurous like Saag Paneer- a delicious combination of spiced spinach teamed with cubes of paneer cheese. Team your meal with lemon rice, peshwiri naan and wash it down with a cocktail. I recommend the espresso martini that boasts an extremely moreish almond and coconut twist.”
That evening we met up with Danielle’s friends and had an absolute ball in a local bar, Max’s. There is nothing particularly special about this bar but if you want a fun, relaxed night out with reasonably priced drinks and cool background music provided by the house DJ then this is your spot! I felt like a local and we happily chatted and laughed the night away (until 2.30am)! Side note, we had to be up for our flight home at 4.30am, I am WAY too old for this sort of behaviour.
Other places to note are Merchant Square which hosts a quirky little market by day and is a top spot for soaking up the Glaswegian Buzz by night. Adorned in fairy lights you can start your night with delicious Asian cuisine in Bar Soba, enjoy a Guinness in O’Neils and then try your luck in the Escape Rooms. Take a quick hop, skip and jump to The Social in Royal Exchange Sqaure where you can pick the most insta-worthy cocktail in the UK, The Candy Floss Martini.
Shop Til You Drop
You could shop all day, every day in Glasgow and still not have covered it all. We decided to make a beeline for shops that we either don’t have or only have smaller versions at home. Primark, H&M with one of the UK’s only H&M home departments, Topshop and Office were all very bad for our bank accounts but so good for our shopaholic tendencies. Glasgow is super compact and so if you fancy a short break for shopping then I don’t know that you would find anywhere better to be honest. Be prepared to wish you brought a bigger suitcase!
Top spots & best kept secrets
OK so aside from shopping and great food, Glasgow has a lot to offer. Even just wandering the streets feels like a huge step into culture as the street art is amongst the best I have ever seen! The City Centre Regeneration team has created the very first City Centre Mural Trail, all contained in one easy walking route. My personal highlights were The World’s Most Economical Taxi, Musician – Sauchiehall Lane and Wind Power. Top tip: take your camera!!
If the weather is good it is well worth a visit to see the Necropolis. This is Glasgow’s
oldest Gothic graveyard which aside from housing famous people from Scottish history, especially those who were persecuted for their faith it boasts the most spectacular views over the city. Top Tip: Wear comfortable footwear as it is a very hilly climb. For more beautiful city views, head to the lighthouse museum, nestled subtly down an alleyway on Buchanan Street. Climb the winding staircase and soak up that breath taking view.
Hillhead Book Club not only serves delicious cocktails but you can also channel your inner Forest Gump with a good game of ping pong and the fashionistas amongst you can get their fix at the Vintage Clothing Fair held each weekend. Speaking of fashion, you absolutely should investigate Glasgows Vintage thrift shop scene, it is thriving! Mr Ben’s on King Street is one of the longest established retro vintage clothing and accessory shops in Scotland.
Finally, this one is not much of a secret and will appear on any Glasgow Travel Guide but the Botanic Gardens, accessible by the subway, in Glasgows West End is absolutely sunning. Our visit in October meant that the trees were a beautiful display of Autumnal colours. This is the perfect place to escape the buzz of the city for an hour or two.
This is only my second time visiting beautiful Glasgow but I am already dying to get back. We didn’t cover half of the things we wanted to do! As I mentioned before, if you want a handy, short break I don’t think you could do much better than Glasgow. You are also only a stones throw from Edinburgh so you could easily do both in one trip. Have you visited Glasgow before? I’d love to hear your highlights.