48 Hours in Glasgow, Scotland - United Hub

48 hours in Glasgow, Scotland

By Nick Harper

Scotland's biggest city is packed full of world-class museums and galleries, magnificent architecture, peaceful parks and more cultural hot spots than you can fit in 48 hours, so you'll need to select where you go and what you see wisely. If it's your first visit, allow us to guide you through some of the essentials.

South Portland Street Bridge in Glasgow

Getting there

Once you've flown into Glasgow Airport, the city center is only nine miles west or a 25-minute or less taxi or airport bus ride away. The city itself stretches out across the north bank of the River Clyde, with George Square at its heart and many of the city's best hotels located close by. The city is built on a grid system and easily navigated on foot, but if you're more comfortable following a guide, the Glasgow Walking app is a great resource. Additionally, the city's Subway system is laid out in a 15-stop circular network between the city center and the west end making it easy to find your way around.

When to visit

The hands-down best time to visit Glasgow is during the summer, between June and August when the weather is warm, the sun sets as late as 11 p.m. and many of the city's attractions stay open longer.

Glasgow Scotland Red Sandstone Buildings

Where to stay

Located in a tree-lined Victorian terrace in the stylish West End of the city, Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens is a luxury boutique hotel beloved by A-list celebrities. A vibrant addition to the city center, The Principal Blythswood Square Hotel is a series of glorious Georgian townhouses in a quiet square within an easy walk of the city's main sites. And if you're traveling on a budget, The Pipers' Tryst Hotel is connected to the National Piping Centre, built in a 19th-century Italianate church, and buried in the heart of the city's theatre district.

What to see

To get a full view of the city, climb up to the viewing platform at The Lighthouse, designed by the city's greatest architect, artist and interior designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and originally used by the city's Herald newspaper. The Lighthouse is now Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture, and its platform offers expansive views of the city's skyline. Next up, visit the Glasgow School of Art, disputably one of Mackintosh's greatest buildings and the city's architectural heavyweight. It stands opposite the spectacular glacier-like School of Design, making both places easy to explore in one afternoon.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow

Heading west, stroll through Kelvingrove Park and you'll understand why Glasgow in Gaelic means the “dear green place." There you'll find Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, home to Salvador Dali art, stuffed animals and a real Spitfire airplane.

Keep on heading east and you'll find it hard to miss the imposing Glasgow Cathedral, one of the few Scottish cathedrals that survived the Reformation mobs and a shining example of Gothic architecture, with much of the building dating back to the 15th century. From there, head across the Clyde to the south bank and you'll find the ultramodern Glasgow Science Centre with four floors of science and technology that will appeal to kids young and old.

The Gallery of Modern Art in Merchant City is Scotland's most contemporary art gallery, housing works from international artists that will appeal to all ages. Close by, the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre is an experience like no other. The brainchild of Russian sculptor and mechanic Eduard Bersudsky, the theatre boasts vast figures built from scrap that are brought to life in stories set to haunting music. It's clever, colorful and entirely unexpected.

View of Loch Lomond

If you're looking to escape the crowds, head to the Botanic Gardens in the West End, an unexpected oasis where wooded gardens follow the banks of the River Kelvin and the city's hustle recedes into the background. But to truly escape the crowds, take note that Loch Lomond lies just 35 miles to the north of the city. Head there for wide skies, rolling hills and crystal-clear blue water that will take your breath away.

Where to eat & drink

Glasgow's reputation for food and drink has been on the rise for several years now. Exceptional options to suit all tastes and budgets dot the city center and the hip West End. For three of the best places to eat, you should try one or all of the following.

Rogano is a Glasgow legend famed for its art deco cruise liner vibe, Rat Pack soundtrack and the always exceptional quality of its Scottish seafood. Stravaigin mixes a menu of international dishes with classic Scottish fare, so head here if haggis still needs to be crossed off your list. And drop everything else to visit Ubiquitous Chip. A Scottish icon set over several floors and decorated like a hanging garden, its menu is inspired by regional Scottish dishes using only Scottish produce.

Drinking well in Glasgow is even easier than eating well, with pubs, cocktail bars and whisky joints on almost every corner. For a proper Scottish pub, head for The Doublet or The Scotia, or Drygate for craft beer. For cocktails, try Blue Dog or The Salon Lounge. And for whisky, Chinaski's and Pot Still offer more options than you could ever taste — the latter alone has more than 700 malt whiskies available.

Finally, if you want to keep on drinking while sampling some of Glasgow's legendary live music, head on to King Tut's Wah Wah Hut. This intimate but legendary live-music venue is a big reason why Glasgow has earned the UNESCO status as a “city of music."

If you go

United flies seasonal, nonstop routes between Glasgow and Newark International Airport, but connections are available all year round through our Star Alliance partners. For more information and to book your next getaway to Scotland, visit united.comor download our convenient United app.

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