With so much going on throughout the Year of Homecoming 2014, there’s never been a better time to visit Glasgow: the XX Commonwealth Games will see thousands of athletes and spectators flock to the city in July and August and an A-list line-up will take to the stage at the brand new SSE Hydro for the 2014 MTV EMAs in November. Add to that a host of annual events such as the Glasgow Film Festival,Celtic Connections and the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, and 2014 is guaranteed to be a year to remember.
No matter when you choose to visit, this fun, friendly city offers a buzzing atmosphere, loads of things to see and do, and a great holiday. Take a look at a few of my favourite things about Glasgow, and feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments section below:
Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Museum and Park – Kelvingrove is, in my opinion, one of Britain’s best free attractions, and seeing as it’s the UK’s most-visited museum outside London, it would seem a fair few people agree. In addition to one of Europe’s best art collections, Kelvingrove is home to a real-life Spitfire, a beehive and Sir Roger, an Asian elephant. The building itself is beautiful, and the neighbouring park is the perfect place for an afternoon wander.
Shopping – With some of Britain’s biggest shopping centres, its very own Style Mile of high street, high end designer stores in the Merchant City and unique boutiques dotted all over, Glasgow is a magnet for shoppers. You’ll find everything here, from chaotic charity shops to glossy designer stores and more. I love digging around for second-hand books in the wonderfully shambolic Voltaire and Rousseau, and Mr Ben Retro Clothing is a treasure trove of vintage fashion.
Glasgow Science Centre – This place is great fun for little and big kids alike, with an IMAX cinema, a live science theatre, a planetarium, special events and over 250 hands-on exhibits and games. You can easily spend a good few hours here, and it’s a fantastic way to get kids into science and technology. Those of us who are a bit rusty on our high school biology and chemistry are sure to learn a few things, too!
Ashton Lane – Ashton Lane is a cobbled little street in the West End, illuminated by fairy lights and home to some lovely bars and restaurants. The Ubiquitous Chip serves high-quality fare in an artsy, classy setting adorned with tropical plants, and Ketchup does brilliant burgers with great titles – try From Russia With Love, Who Killed Bambi? or The Incredible Hulk. Right next door is indie cinema The Grosvenor, ideally placed for catching a movie after dinner.
Veggie food – It might come as a surprise to some, but Glasgow has become a bit of a mecca for vegans and veggies. It was named Britain’s most vegan-friendly city by PETA back in August, and came third in VegFestUK’s ‘Best City to Live for Veggies and Vegans’ vote a few months later. Local vegan restaurant Mono also picked up the ‘Best Place to Eat’ award – I bet even the most devout carnivores would love their animal-free pizzas and desserts.
Glasgow Botanic Gardens – Fun fact for all you toponymy enthusiasts: the name Glasgow, or Glaschu in Gaelic, is believed to originate from the Cumbric glas cau, meaning ‘green hollow’ (okay, so ‘fun’ may have been an exaggeration!) There are still lots of green spaces to unwind in and around the city and the Botanic Gardens are one of the most luxurious – it’s worth a trip just to see Kibble Palace, a magnificent Victorian greenhouse overflowing with tropical plants.
Hillhead Bookclub – Not, in fact, a book club, though they might have some reading material lying around should you wish to pick up a tome. This former cinema has been converted into a restaurant and bar and hosts ping pong nights, vintage fashion fairs and sewing classes complete with cocktails. Their veggie menu is full of delicious dishes, and they do a mean brunch on Sundays.
Curry – Glasgow has won the coveted title of Curry Capital of Britain four times (and been runner-up another three), so it’s safe to say it is one of the best places in Scotland to tuck into some Indian food. Opt for ‘local delicacy’ chicken tikka masala, which is said to have been invented in an Indian restaurant in Glasgow.
The Lighthouse – Though it’s just two minutes from Glasgow Central Station, you might never spot the Lighthouse if you didn’t go looking for it. Hidden down a lane, this beautiful building was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and is now a design and architecture centre packed full of exhibitions and art projects. The views from the top of its spiral staircase are fantastic, and the MAKLab runs one-off workshops for adults and kids where you can try 3D printing, play with LEGO robots and more.
With free cultural attractions, excellent places to eat, lovely locals and world-class events like the MTV EMAs and Commonwealth Games to offer, Glasgow is a strong contender for the title of Best European Destination 2014 – it definitely gets my vote! Head to ebd2014.com between 22 January and 12 February to vote, and check our guides on Greater Glasgow and the Clyde Valley for info on travel and accommodation in this fantastic city.