Why Glasgow is our new top city break

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(Image credit: Photographic Unit University of)

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For the best food, coffee and culture, Marie Claire's contributing editor Martha Hayes heads straight for Scotland's seriously hip city ... 

For someone who’s long associated Scotland with Highland whisky – and who is not, I might add, a whisky drinker – a city break in Glasgow wasn’t top of my list.

But that was before I discovered that when it comes to all things hip, happening and home-grown, Scotland’s largest city is blazing a trail…

Sip gin at the Alston Bar & Beef


It’s all botanical gin and local craft beers here. My first stop is a gin masterclass at Alston Bar & Beef in central Glasgow. A taste of six different G&Ts later, including Makar, Glasgow’s potent juniper dry gin, and I’m ready to hit the town.

Gin bar The Finnieston is a must-do for cocktails in, er, Finnieston, a cool quarter of the West End. It’s brimming with boutique B&Bs like 15 Glasgow; softly-lit restaurants (try the Ottolenghi-style small plates at Alchemilla); and buzzy bars and cafes.

On the lookout for a flat white the next morning, I popped into the local speciality coffee roasters, Dear Green Coffee (Glasgow means Dear Green Place in Gaelic), where they run brew classes. It’s no coincidence Glasgow now has an annual coffee festival – it’s all down to these guys.

Discover the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum


The picturesque Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum houses not only one of Europe’s greatest art collections, but a resident organist who plays every lunchtime (his David Bowie tribute went viral).

And don’t miss delving into the Art Nouveau delights of designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh in The Mackintosh House, a replica of his iconic home, and the celebrated Mackintosh-designed Glasgow School of Art, whose notable alumni include Dr Who’s Peter Capaldi and artist David Shrigley.

Fancy catching up on a movie? Take a trip to the iconic, Art Deco-style Glasgow Film Theatre.

Martha enjoys the Glasgow Music City Tour


Join a Glasgow Music City Tour or enjoy one of the city’s 130 different music events each week. Scarlett Johansson was a regular at rock institution Nice and Sleazy when she was in town filming, and Noel Gallagher still pops into King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, where Oasis were first signed after playing in 1993.

Shopping heaven on the Style Mile


Fancy some retail therapy? The main shopping district isn’t nicknamed the ‘Style Mile’ for nothing, with both designer and high street brands lined up alongside cool independent stores. Be sure to check out the treasure-packed vintage shops in the West End.

Irresistible Tantrum Doughnuts


For pit-stops, we love the relaxed vibe of The Drugstore Social in Yorkhill or Singl-End near Glasgow School of Art. The Blythswood Square Hotel does an excellent afternoon tea. Finally don’t miss sampling the eclectic flavours at Tantrum Doughnuts. Vanilla, Earl Grey and Bergamot is one of the tamer options!

Majestic Loch Lomond
(Image credit: Getty Images)


Craving the great outdoors? Glasgow itself has over 90 parks and gardens, so there are plenty of green spaces for you to wander in. If you’re looking for more of an adventure, Loch Lomond is just 40km north of the city, so you can jump on a train and head out for an afternoon of walking, kayaking or even horse-riding through lush countryside.

So that’s settled – get Glasgow on this year’s to-do list…

For more inspiration on why you should make your Next Stop Glasgow, visit peoplemakeglasgow.com.