No visit to Scotland is complete without spending at least one day in Glasgow. Sure, the biggest city and cultural hub of Scotland lacks the usual big-name tourist sites. But it’s as fascinating a travel destination as any in Great Britain.
As you roam through its busy streets with 24 hours in Glasgow, you’ll discover a city that’s got a ton of heart & soul. Ignore all the trash talk from other travellers, and soak it all in. I guarantee you’ll quickly develop a strong kinship with this under-appreciated Scottish city.
Ready to start your Scotland travel plan off with a roar? Get started with this complete 1-day Glasgow itinerary…
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Where to go in Glasgow in 24 hours: A complete 1-day itinerary
For urban-loving travellers visiting Scotland, Edinburgh captures the most attention. Still, you’ll find plenty of awesome things to do in Glasgow, too. And what’s more is that you can see many of them during your first 24 hours in the city.
This one-day Glasgow itinerary was created with the time-crunched traveller in mind. Like our other city travel itineraries, it minimizes public transport and backtracking. Within the city centre, you’ll be able to walk between many of the stops. Truthfully, walking is the best way to see the city.
The metro system is one of the most popular and easiest ways for getting around Glasgow. You can get an all-day ticket (£4.10 for adults, £2.00 for children) at any subway station. Otherwise, taxis are a good alternative to walking and a little quicker than using public transportation.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at how to plan a trip to Glasgow in 24 hours.
Strolling through the Glasgow Green
Start your day off southeast of the centre at Glasgow Green. This sprawling park is one of the most beautiful places in Glasgow to wander. It’s one of the most historic, not to mention one of the oldest, parks in Scotland.
Until the 19th century, the whole of Glasgow Green was used as a grazing area for sheep and cows. Don’t worry: You won’t be bumping into either animal there these days. (Though a run-in with a bonafide Scottish sheep might make for an interesting story, no?)
Wandering around Glasgow Green is a fantastic way to start off your day with a little relaxation. The entire park stretches from the districts of Bridgeton and Carlton over to the Saltmarket located at the High Court.
You can easily spend an hour or two here. But with only one day in Glasgow, you’ll want to charge up your batteries quickly to get set to take on the rest of the city.
Discover Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis
From Glasgow Green, it takes about 20 minutes to walk to Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis. The two historic sites are among the most interesting attractions in the city.
Glasgow Cathedral was consecrated in 1197 by David I. It’s the only church in Scotland to survive the Scottish Reformation without much damage to its structure.
Inside you’ll be dazzled by the cathedral’s high Gothic arches and stained glass windows. The cathedral also houses a crypt where the patron saint of Glasgow, St. Mungo, lies.
After checking out the inside, head behind the cathedral towards the Necropolis. I know visiting a graveyard on vacation isn’t usually the dream, but this one is something to behold.
The Necropolis has approximately 3,500 monuments and more than 50,000 grave sites. Among them is the burial site for John Knox, the leader of the Scottish Reformation. The views of the city from here are spectacular!
Visiting two monuments in one at George Square
Scotland is full of monuments and Glasgow is no exception. From the cathedral, stroll about 20 minutes via High Street and George Street. You’ll reach George Square, the unofficial heart of central Glasgow.
Located at George Square’s south end, you’ll see an impressive statue & monument to Robert Burns. Born in 1795, Robert Burns was a revered Scottish poet. His most famous work, Auld Lang Syne, is one of the most well-known traditional songs in the world. (Especially when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.)
Once you’ve got an eyeful, elsewhere in the square you’ll see a monument to Sir Walter Scott. Born in 1771, Sir Walter Scott was the first Baronet FRSE, a historical novelist, historian, playwright, and poet.
Dazzle at the square’s monuments & architecture before continuing your Glasgow trip itinerary.
Grab a bite at The Restaurant Bar and Grill
By now your stomach is probably screaming for food: Why not stop at The Restaurant Bar and Grill? The restaurant is just minutes from George Square.
The Restaurant Bar and Grill has plenty of Scottish, vegan, and vegetarian options. There’s something for everyone here. Get comfortable & grab some food before heading back out. (Perhaps some crispy duck with a wine pairing?)
Go shopping on Buchanan Street
From George Square, it’s a quick walk to Buchanan Street. The popular shopping street is home to some of the best shops & boutiques in Glasgow. Don’t want to spend your precious time browsing through stores? Buchanan Street is still one of the best places to put your finger on the pulse of Glasgow.
Shops you’ll find along Buchanan Street include Apple, Nike, and The North Face. You’ll also run into Scottish brands like the Isle of Skye Candle Company, Tartan Plus, and The Whisky Shop.
Wander around Merchant City
From Buchanan Street, you’re just a couple blocks away from one of Glasgow’s most interesting areas: Merchant City. Merchant City is one of Glasgow’s oldest corners. The area is home to some of the city’s finest medieval & Victorian architecture.
Merchant City is a fantastic neighbourhood to exercise your camera’s shutter. In recent, the area has also, along with Finnieston in the West End, become one of the hippest districts in Glasgow. These days, Merchant City bursts with restaurants, bars, markets & art galleries.
Spend some time wandering around here; there’s no end to what you might find!
Visit Mackintosh House
To round out your appreciation of Glasgow, venture from the city centre to the West End. The leafy West End district centres upon the University of Glasgow. It’s just over 20 minutes by transit, 10 minutes by car, or 45 minutes by foot from Merchant City.
A great first stop in the West End is the iconic Mackintosh House. It was once the home of turn-of-the-century Scottish artist and architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh was responsible for bringing international fame to the art & architecture of Glasgow.
The signage for Mackintosh House can be confusing. To be sure you’re in the right place, stand in front of the Hunterian Art Gallery. Turn around, and you’re there.
Both the history and beauty of Mackintosh House make it worthy of a spot among your first 24 hours in Glasgow. The house itself is quite small. The self-guided tour should take no longer than 45 minutes.
Wander around the University of Glasgow
Once you’ve checked out Mackintosh House, take a look around the nearby University of Glasgow. It’s only about 5 minutes away on foot. The university features some eye-catching buildings that’ll be perfect for your Instagram feed.
Got a little thirsty on your journey through the West End? Pop into one of the restaurants or pubs along Ashton Lane near Hillhead Station. This atmospheric laneway is a favourite for local students and one of the most popular streets for food & drinks in the city.
Tour the Glasgow Science Centre
From the West End, it’s about 30 minutes by foot (or less than 15 minutes by taxi) to the Glasgow Science Centre on the River Clyde.
If you’re travelling with your kids, the Glasgow Science Centre is a must-see. The centre features a wide variety of exhibits, shows & workshops that the whole family will love. (Even if you’re a solo traveller with a slight interest in science, you might get a kick out of this place!)
Dinner in Finnieston at the Crabshakk
From the Glasgow Science Centre, backtrack a little through the neighbourhood of Finnieston. The neighbourhood was recently voted one of the hippest places to live in Britain. Feed your hunger with a hearty dinner at the Crabshakk on Argyle Street.
The Crabshakk is famous in the area for its selection of seafood, pasta, steak, vegetarian dishes, and lovely desserts. If you’re at a loss for what to get, you won’t regret gobbling down the popular Crabshakk Fish Club Sandwich.
End of the day drinks at The Bon Accord
Walk off your Crabshakk dinner on a pleasant 15-minute stroll towards The Bon Accord on North Street. The Bon Accord is regarded as one of the best pubs in Glasgow. In a city as serious about its drinking establishments as Glasgow, this is a tall claim. Once you visit for yourself, you’ll see, perhaps, it’s not so far-fetched.
If you’re an ale lover, you’ll have the time of your life at The Bon Accord. The pub features about 800 different brands. Whisky lovers will also relish a chance to choose from more than 350 bottles of whisky. The selection includes some of Scotland’s most cherished single malts.
Where to stay with 24 hours in Glasgow
With only one day in the city, your choice of where to stay in Glasgow will narrow down considerably. On a time-crunch, I’d recommend sticking in the city centre. There’s a wide range of accommodation here. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore everything on this itinerary in close range.
Here are a few excellent options to start your search:
- The Z Hotel Glasgow isn’t not named after the zombie flick that was filmed right around the corner. (Although that’d be super cool.). But this budget-friendly hotel still belongs here. It holds some of the best room deals in central Glasgow. As if staying in the centre of town on a budget wasn’t enough, extras like the nightly wine & cheese tastings sweeten the deal.
- Hotel Indigo Glasgow follows the hip path of other Indigo hotels worldwide. These lovely Glasgow accommodations are as stylish as any boutique hotel in the city. Glasgow Central is a short walk away for continuing your Scotland itinerary.
- Dakota Glasgow is one of the top luxury hotels in the city centre. This 4-star hotel blends classic & modern stylings in its rooms. It offers a superb selection of contemporary British food & drinks in the on-site brasserie.
When to visit Glasgow
The best time to visit Glasgow is between March and August. In the spring & summer months, the weather is at its most pleasant. You’ll enjoy mild to warm temperatures and the year’s sunniest days.
Glasgow isn’t as popular a tourist destination as other cities in the UK, including nearby Edinburgh. Outside of festival times, you won’t need to worry about accommodation availability as much here. Hotel prices are, however, at their highest in the summer.
How to get to Glasgow
Glasgow is served by Glasgow International Airport (GLA). The airport is located about 16 kilometres from the city centre in the suburb of Paisley. Airlines flying into GLA include easyJet, TUI Airways, and Jet2.com.
Further afoot, about 50 kilometres from the city, lies Glasgow Prestwick Airport (PIK). It’s less convenient than GLA but offers more routes from low-cost carriers like Ryanair.
Already in Great Britain? Travelling by bus is one of the most cost-effective ways to get to Glasgow. Sample bus routes to Glasgow and fastest travel times include:
- Edinburgh (1h24m)
- Aberdeen (3h5m)
- Liverpool (7h3m)
- Manchester (5h)
- London (10h20m)
Although comfortable & efficient, train travel in the UK tends to be more expensive than buses. Sample train routes to Glasgow and average travel times include:
- Edinburgh (1h10m)
- Aberdeen (2h41m)
- Liverpool (3h38m)
- Manchester (3h25m)
- London (5h31m)