The largest city in Scotland, Glasgow has become a true hub of culture, music, food, and arts. While trying to shake off its reputation as a “mean” city, it’s maintained its humour and charm, making it one of the most fun cities in the UK. Plus, a perfect place to be a student.
You can’t help but smile when walking down Sauchiehall Street on any given day, walking past everything from acoustic buskers to bagpipers to a middle-aged man dancing with his shirt off. This is Glasgow, and newcomers will quickly learn that the city has a personality of its own.
Things to do
Weather permitting there’s always something to do outdoors, and a true Glaswegian takes advantage of sunny days. Luckily, the city has plenty to offer for when its pissing it down as well.
- Glasgow is a green city with loads of open areas, so you should definitely check out the variety of parks and green spaces scattered throughout the city. Glasgow Green is perfect for walking and jogging if that’s your thing, and there’s also the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens to check out if the rain’s pouring down and you want to imagine yourself in the tropics.
- Kelvingrove Park is a quiet city retreat in the beautiful West End. On a rare warm, sunny day the whole city flocks to its main lawn overlooking the Glasgow Uni tower to sunbathe, picnic with friends, and revel in being taps aff.
- The same goes for the River Clyde Cycle Path. Walk down the path for some peace and quiet, check out the various walking bridges, and rent a city bike if you want to explore further.
- If you’re into history, visit the impressive gothic Glasgow Cathedral and neighboring Necropolis, a beautiful cemetery with amazing city views.
- Want an off-kilter alternative to a club night? Dance while you bounce on a trampoline to a DJ at Air-Space.
- The Botanic Gardens are located in the vibrant West End, and provide a warm, dry city oasis. Keep a look out for events such as movie-nights or book fairs being hosted there.
- They say Glasgow has the best shopping in the UK outside London. The Style Mile connects shops from Argyle Street, Buchanan Street, to Sauchiehall Street with anything you could possibly want.
Arts & Culture
Move over, Edinburgh. When it comes to culture, Glasgow is Scotland’s real capital.
- The Gallery of Modern Art is worth a visit for its beautiful architecture, and The Kelvingrove Museum is Glasgow’s home to some legendary masterworks – sit on the marble bench and stare at the Dalí.
- You also need to check out the Lighthouse, which not only offers new exhibits pretty regularly but also has a tower which gives you a magnificent view of the whole city. Perfect for taking parents when they come to visit.
- If cinema is your thing, the Cineworld on Renfrew Street is the tallest in the world, so there’s something for everyone. Independent films can be found at the Glasgow Film Theatre, a beautifully restored old-fashioned cinema. Every February it provides the main venue for the Glasgow Film Festival.
- Looking for a play? Maybe your parents are in town and you want to seem a bit cultured? The Tron Theatre is located in the heart of Merchant City and is a leader in mid-scale Scottish productions (not to mention a top class bar and restaurant).
- The CCA is Glasgow’s hub for the arts – film, photography, poetry, spoken word.
- Speaking of spoken word, The Blue Chair is right on High Street and hosts open mic nights every Wednesday night. Or try spoken word nights at Inn Deep in the West End (Glasgow has a surprisingly badass spoken word scene. Find out for yourself!).
Music & Nightlife
Music: Culturally, this is where Glasgow really thrives.
- Find a gig at the legendary King Tut’s Wawa Hut and gaze upon the staircase listing the bands who have graced its small stage in years past. Its history includes Radiohead, Florence & The Machine, Arctic Monkeys, and Oasis, who were famously signed there in 1993.
- The Barrowlands, with its bright flashing lights, is another venue that must be experienced, located in the Barras section of the city.
- Meanwhile, the SSE Hydro attracts major acts from all around the world, solidifying Glasgow’s status as a true musical hub.
- In the past year the warehouse SWG3 and the Poetry Club have hosted major acts such as Skepta and D Double E.
Clubs: With five universities, three colleges, and an art school, there are plenty of students to fill up clubs. If you want to you will find something to do, any night of the week.
- The best and busiest student week nights include:
- The Art School (yes, the school hosts its own clubs) has two floors of dance space so keep a look out for its club nights, which are usually packed. Anything from house, hip-hop, jungle, to techno goes.
- The O2 ABC has a variety of popular club nights from chart to indie, as well as live music.
- Polo Lounge is the go to place for LGBTQ+, and has its popular student night on Wednesdays.
- Looking to dress up? Kushion will give you the chance to break out your best dress and heels to some chart music.
- The Garage, too, is an enduring student favorite (and most likely a guilty pleasure of many).
Bars: I’m going to list a few of the best and most popular bars, but a quick side note – lots of these places offer club nights as well in their basements (almost always free for students!) as well as gigs and events.
- Stereo is snugly hidden in an alleyway and offers a cool atmosphere for drinks and listening to a live DJ, usually mellow. Its club nights, though, are anything but.
- Broadcast and Nice n’ Sleazy’s are similar, as well as right next to each other at the end of Sauchiehall Street, and are both dimly lit and have alternative pub quizzes and open mic nights.
- Bloc has more of a rock atmosphere, has cheap bear and (in my opinion) the best £3 White Russians if you’re feeling fancy.
- Bar Soba in the West End is a student place for sure, with an authentic Pan-Asian menu and great drink promos. It has live DJs on the weekends to kick off your night.
- Yesbar is a café, bar, and comedy club right in the city centre. As its name suggests, the bar openly supports the Scottish independence campaign.
In addition to the plethora of nightlife, as a student in Glasgow you will, at some point, need to complete a Sub Crawl. Find a group of friends, buy an all-day subway ticket, and make your way around Glasgow via bars and pubs. Up for the challenge?
Places to Eat
For when pizza just won’t cut it anymore…
- You need to check out Ashton Lane, located right behind Hillhead Subway Station and close to Glasgow Uni. There you’ll find the always popular burger joint Ketchup as well as a café and independent cinema, the Grosvenor. Make sure you stay after sunset to see the lane light up under twinkling fairy lights.
- Right across the road you’ll find Hanoi Bikeshop, a restaurant where you can enjoy authentic Vietnamese dishes on a colorful wee balcony.
- If you’re headed to Strathclyde Uni you won’t want to miss Friends Café, a small Chinese place with large takeaway portions for under 4 quid. It’s close enough that you can pick up a plate between classes.
- Vegan? Not a problem. Mono is a vegan restaurant and record shop located in the hip lower-west area of Merchant City. Stereo and The Flying Duck are also popular options (I recommend the Flying Duck’s macaritos, macaroni and cheese burritos).
- And if you find yourself on the south side of the Clyde, make sure to stop by G’s Fish and Chips for a classic, voted one of the top ten chippies in the UK.
Top Discounts in Glasgow
- Skint but still wanna go out? Flat 0/1 is great for a more alternative scene and is free every night. Dance all night and if you want a break, chill on one of the homey couches while, in true Glasgow style, sipping on Frosty Jack’s from the bar.
- If vintage fashion is your thing, keep an eye out for the Glasgow Vintage Kilo Sale which pops up every few months.
- After some comedy? Tuesday night’s Red Raw at The Stand cost just £3 a ticket, and are usually packed.
What’s on this month?
- 10th November – 22nd December: Christmas Market at St. Enoch’s Square
- 20th November: Glasgow’s Christmas lights switch on at George Square, 6 pm
- 21st November – 26th December (Mondays): All the Young Nudes at Sloan’s. Give life drawing a go! No teaching or previous experience necessary, music (Bowie, Bush, n 80s) and bar provided.
- 24th November: New Scottish magazine Gutter take over Stereo for an issue launch party, free entry!
- 3rd & 4th December: Glasgow natives Teenage Fanclub have blessed us all with two shows in December, the first at the Barrowlands and the second at the O2 ABC.
- 31st December: Ashton Lane Street Party. The best food, drink, and Hogmanay festivities!