This post was originally published on A Globe Well Travelled in 2018. The content has been revised and updated with fresh information.
Glasgow is known for having the UK’s best vegan food and alternative culture.
As a hipster haven, I was hoping this city would have plenty for someone like me – a vegetarian minimalist who drinks soy lattes on a daily basis and would gladly fork out for any product with the word ‘eco’ on it. Yes I know, I’m a cliché.
Well, it was unsurprising but wonderful to discover that Glasgow did have plenty for me. Instead of being the kind of place where you hop between sightseeing attractions and barely see anything beneath the tourist facade, Glasgow was the kind of place where you could wander the streets and find the city’s soul around every corner.
Rob and I enjoyed discovering little coffee shops and underground bars, seeking out healthy vegan buddha bowls and gluten-free meals for our GF friend who was travelling around Scotland with us, and admiring the mix of old and new architecture which somehow blended together seamlessly.
Glasgow was truly the perfect place for a weekend city break, except for the weather – those consistently grey skies will never win me over! Here’s my essential guide to 48 hours in Glasgow.
First stop – the cemetery! While this may seem like an odd choice of sightseeing activity, Glasgow’s Necropolis is definitely worth seeing. Perched on a hill overlooking the famous cathedral, this collection of creepy graves and massive tombs mark the burial place of 50,000 people including some famous and historic Glaswegians. Wandering through the gravestones is pretty interesting on your own, but you can also choose to do a walking tour to learn more about the history of this spooky place.
Right next to the Necropolis is Glasgow Cathedral. This 12th century Gothic cathedral is free to enter and is historically significant to the city, as well as being rather pretty on the inside. I really enjoyed venturing underneath the chapel to the crypts to find the tomb of Saint Mungo (Glasgow’s patron saint).
Just south of the cathedral and necropolis are some of Glasgow’s best breweries. We chose to visit Drygate, which had a baller beer hall with industrial decor. They also have a kitchen serving burgers and bar snacks, so this is the perfect spot to order some lunch and replenish your energy for the afternoon with a craft beer.
Just around the corner from Drygate is Wellpark Brewery, which acts as the visitor center and tasting bar for Scotland’s popular Tennent’s beer. You can do a brewery tour here for £10 per person, which is run hourly every day of the week and includes a tasting at the end. Good value, I say!
If you’re not feeling too tipsy after an afternoon of beer tasting, take a walk to check out some of the artworks on Glasgow’s mural trail. It might be worth taking a Glasgow street art tour to see all of the amazing murals throughout the city center! I stumbled upon the Saint Mungo mural on High Street, which depicts a modern-day version of Glasgow’s patron saint.
You can find a hotspot of vegan food and alternative culture at Mono in the city center. This place serves a 100% vegan menu of pizzas and mains, and hosts live music from around 7:30 PM on most Thursday and Friday nights.
Today we’re heading to Glasgow’s West End, starting with the Botanic Gardens. The gardens themselves are lovely, especially at the time of year when flowers are blooming, but I thought the best feature was the beautiful glasshouses which held a selection of tropical plants even in the cold Scottish climate. The glasshouses open at 10 AM, and after you’ve finished admiring the plants, you can stop for a cup of tea with scones at the on-site tearoom.
It’s about a 10-15 minute walk to the next stop – the University of Glasgow. Who would have known that a college building could be so pretty! Wandering around the university feels somewhat like being in Hogwarts with its castle-like buildings. Many visitors to Glasgow (myself included!) visit the West End campus to see these gorgeous gothic arches in the interior courtyard as they make for an absolutely perfect Insta photo.
I had actually planned on having lunch at The Hidden Lane Tea Room, but unfortunately the tiny cafe had no tables available for us. We ended up getting a healthy salad and sandwiches at a nearby cafe that doesn’t even show up on Google Maps.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery is a great place to spend your afternoon. This brownstone building opened as a museum in 1901 and has stunning architecture, both inside and out. I couldn’t get enough of the tiled floors and arches lining the atrium (I may have gone a little overboard taking photos!), but I also enjoyed the Scottish tartans room and an exhibition on Scottish inventions. If you’re lucky, you might catch an organ recital which happens most days at 1:00 PM (or 3:00 PM on Sundays). Oh, and did I mention that this is all free of charge?
Now is the perfect time to have a true Scottish experience of trying haggis! I searched the city for some vegetarian haggis, and found some at the somewhat fancy but also uber trendy Ubiquitous Chip in Hillhead. It was totally worth splashing out on – their version of haggis came drizzled with whiskey sauce and was unbelievably good.
Stick around for post-dinner drinks just around the corner in Ashton Lane. We had a beverage in the beer garden at Brel, but there are plenty of bars in the area to choose from.