When it comes to vibrant, arty and culturally rich neighbourhoods, Glasgow’s West End shines as an absolute gem. With its eclectic mix of stunning architecture, thriving arts and food scene as well as its charming streets and lanes, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this lively area. It ranks amongst one of our favourite neighbourhoods in Glasgow!
How to get to Glasgow’s West End
Glasgow’s West End can easily be reached using public transport – either by subway or by bus. Glasgow’s subway – known as the “Clockwork Orange” – consists of a circular line with 15 stations covering key areas of the city. There are 3 stops that serve the West End area: Hillhead Subway (on Byres Road), Kelvinhall Subway (best stop if visiting Kelvingrove Museum & Park) and Kelvinbridge Subway (Great Western Road). The subway runs every 4 minutes during peak time so is a great easy option.
There are also several bus routes that serve the area. We suggest downloading the First Bus app to check bus schedules and to buy tickets. You can buy a variety of tickets including single tickets or day tickets which allow unlimited travel all day in your selected area.
Here are some of the bus numbers to look out for: n°4 or 4A (heading towards Broomhill), n°6 (towards Clydebank), n°77 (towards Glasgow airport), n°15 Glasgow City Bus (towards Milngavie).
We also highly recommend the Glasgow Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus as you’ll learn so much about the history of the area. It makes 22 stops around the city including 4 stops in the West End (University of Glasgow, Byres Road, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and Kelvingrove Park).
Map of Glasgow’s West End attractions
Here’s a handy map with all the Glasgow West End attractions detailed below.
Best things to do in Glasgow’s West End
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum [FREE]
You can’t miss this imposing and beautiful red sandstone building located in the West End of Glasgow. Opened in 1901, this architectural marvel boasts a collection that caters to every taste. From full-sized suspended Spitfires to world-famous artworks, the museum is a treasure trove of wonders waiting to be explored. With 22 galleries showcasing an impressive 8,000 objects, prepare to embark on a journey of artistic and historical immersion. Allow at least two hours to navigate the museum’s vast offerings, though don’t expect to cover everything in a single visit.
How to get there:
The closest subway station is Kelvinhall (0.5 mile away). Alternatively, you can catch the First Bus n° 2, 3 & 77 or McGill bus service n°17. The Glasgow Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing bus stops here too.
Get lost in nature in Kelvingrove Park [FREE]
Located just next to Kelvingrove museum you’ll find Kelvingrove Park. Yet another oasis of greenery in Glasgow, this large park is home to many winding walking paths, an impressive fountain, a bandstand and several play parks. It’s a great place to go before or after visiting Kelvingrove and particularly if you have children as it provides plenty of space to run around.
Kelvin Hall [FREE]
Originally built as an exhibition center in 1927, Kelvin Hall in Glasgow’s West End, is a cultural and historical landmark that has evolved into a multipurpose space housing collections from the Hunterian museum and the National Library of Scotland that are not on show at these venues. It is also home to the Glasgow Club health and fitness centre, a soft play and Clip n’ Climb. Entrance is free!
Harry Potter Vibes at Glasgow University [FREE]
Check out the Hogwarts vibes! You could easily be fooled into thinking you’d stepped onto the set of a Harry Potter movie when wandering around Glasgow University. This renowned institution is the second oldest university in Scotland and the fourth oldest in the UK. It dates back to 1451 (yes, 1451!) and is steeped in history.The east and west quadrangle are incredibly picturesque. Countless visionaries, including the legendary economist Adam Smith and the pioneering inventor of television, John Logie Baird, have emerged from this prestigious institution.
You have two options to explore the campus: embark on a self-guided tour by checking out the link below or join a guided campus tour. Scheduled tours are available from Tuesday to Sunday at 2 pm, and for larger groups or special occasions, you can arrange a personalised tour.
There are a number of attractions to visit that are concentrated at the university including the Hunterian Museum, the Hunterian Art Gallery, The Mackintosh House and the Zoology Museum (see below).
Outlander Vibes at The Cloisters [FREE]
Located between the East and West Quadrangle, you’ll find the iconic Cloisters, also known as the “Undercroft”. These gothic arches have Instagram written all over them! Not only are the Cloisters a favourite photography spot, but they have also served as a popular filming location. You may recognise these stunning arches from the renowned series Outlander and the epic movie Cloud Atlas, among other notable productions. The arches are dressed in fairy lights during the festive season and are a must-visit if you’re in the area. Magical!
The Hunterian Art Gallery [FREE]
As mentioned above, the Hunterian Art Gallery is located within the University area and encompasses an art gallery and the well-known Mackintosh House which is mentioned below.
Here you’ll find a diverse collection of both classic and modern art, carefully curated to create a meaningful experience for local residents and visitors alike. And that’s not all – The Hunterian also houses general and zoology museums, providing a holistic exploration of knowledge.From hidden gems by under-represented artists to an extensive print collection, a serene sculpture garden, and thought-provoking contemporary art exhibitions, this gallery has it all.
Housed within the Hunterian Art Gallery and within the University Campus, you’ll find the fabulous Mackintosh House. The ground floor is free to access and provides some background to the work of husband and wife, Charles and Margaret (MacDonald) Mackintosh.
A fee is required to access the actual house and is well worth the money. Here you’ll enter into the reassembled home of the famous architect and artist which was originally located at 6 Florentine Terrace. Sadly the original house was demolished in the 1960s, however, thanks to the foresight of a university lecturer, the majority of the contents of the property were saved. The interior has been decorated as closely to the original with all the Mackintoshes’ fixtures and fittings.
We were particularly taken by the cream carpets – yes, cream carpets! I even had to ask the guide if they would actually have had cream carpets and the answer was ‘yes’. Can you imagine keeping them clean in the days when coal was the main way of heating a property. The interior is minimalist, modern, contemporary, completely at odds with the fashion of the Victorian era. It’s a fascinating place to visit and is well worth the entrance fee. It feels like a real haven of peace and tranquillity.
The Hunterian Museum [FREE]
The Hunterian is the oldest public museum in Scotland, and can also be found at the university. It’s a hive of activity, with research projects always going on and an ever-changing range of special collections to see. The Hunterian is among the top places of interest in Glasgow’s West End, with plenty of events, displays, exhibitions and venues to choose from.
The Botanics & the Kibble [FREE]
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a visit to Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens. The site hosts over 9,000 species of plants, and offers both temperate and tropical glasshouses. The pleasant position on the banks of the River Kelvin also adds to the appeal of The Botanics in Glasgow. If you want to linger for longer, you can also pick up refreshments at the lovely coffee shop. The Kibble Palace, with its majestic glass structure, is a true gem housing an impressive collection of exotic plants.
A visit to Ashton Lane is an absolute must if you’re visiting Glasgow’s West End. Located just off Byres Road, the cobbled street is decked with a garland of fairy lights giving it a most magical feel, particularly if visiting in the evening. There are a number of trendy bars, restaurants and even a small independent cinema! The renowned Ubiquitous Chip restaurant can also be found at number 12. This is a famous city eatery featuring lush foliage, fairy lights and elegantly executed dishes.
Grosvenor Cinema on Ashton Lane
Located in the heart of the West End on Ashton Lane, you’ll find a treasure of a place: the Grosvenor Picture Theatre. Not only is it Glasgow’s only fully-licensed cinema, but it’s also Glasgow’s oldest cinema dating back over 100 years! This historic gem brings movies to life with its old-world charm, comfortable leather seating and modern cinematic experiences not to mention its café and The Gardener bar where you can even participate in a cocktail masterclass.
Shops & Restaurants on Byres Road
Nestled within the charming enclave of Glasgow’s West End, you’ll find the bustling avenue of Byres Road. This street offers a perfect blend of retail therapy and gastronomic adventures. The array of shops lining the road is a treasure trove for fashion enthusiasts, art aficionados, and those in search of unique finds. From chic boutiques showcasing local designers to vintage emporiums brimming with nostalgic charm, Byres Road has something for everyone. It’s also a culinary hotspot for the foodies among you offering a wide array of options whether you’re craving a hearty Scottish meal, an exotic international dish, or a cosy cup of artisanal coffee.
The Stand Comedy Club
Another fun West End attraction in Glasgow is The Stand Comedy Club. If you fancy an evening of laughs, belly-aches and entertainment then book up some tickets to the Stand Comedy Club. Located in the basement of a former school, you’ll be entertained by performers.
Top tip: make sure you arrive at least half an hour before the start of the show to avoid having to sit in the front row (unless that’s your bag of course 😉
Foodie Heaven in the West End
There’s a thriving café and dining scene in Glasgow’s West End. From cosy cafes serving artisanal pastries to upscale bistros crafting innovative fusion dishes, the West End caters to every palate. There are so many places to choose from, however, here are few of our favourites: the legendary Ubiquitous Chip on Ashton Lane, Hanoi Bike Shop (pictured above) for Vietnamese cuisine with a modern twist (their pho bowls are a must), Ka Pao for a culinary blend of southeast asian food, the Stravaigin for fantastic locally-sourced ingredients and the wonderfully quirky Oran Mor for ‘a play, a pie and a pint’.
Events in Glasgow’s West End
Launched in 2023, WestFest in Glasgow’s West End is a festival that encapsulates the vibrant spirit of this eclectic neighbourhood. From live music performances, concerts, recitals that resonate through the streets to exhibitions that adorn every corner, the festival transforms the area into a hub of creativity and community. Oh, and don’t miss the Kelvingrove outdoor ceilidh!
The Hidden Lane [FREE]
Located in Glasgow’s Finnieston area, this is a real hidden gem in Glasgow’s West End. The trendy area of Finnieston is very much up and coming and is home to many bars and restaurants. This little lane called the Hidden Lane is worth the detour. You’ll find cute colourful buildings, various independent artist and designer shops as well as the must-visit Hidden Lane Tearoom.
The Riverside Museum [FREE]
Although not technically in the “West End”, this museum is in western Glasgow and is just a short 15 minute walk to Kelvingrove Museum. It’s definitely worth a visit and will appeal to all ages! You’ll find yourself stepping into a world of iconic vehicles and the history of transport at the Riverside Museum. It houses a vast collection of cars, bikes, motorbikes, trams, carriages, buses, and steam engines, which showcase the evolution of transportation over the years. There are recreated Victorian-era Glasgow street scenes, complete with horse-drawn carriages and authentic shops. It’s a great place to visit if you have children – we’ve spent many hours there when our kids were younger. Check out this post for more ideas on things to do in Glasgow with kids.
The building was designed by architect Zaha Hadid and is a bold statement in itself. It is meant to represent the meeting of the two rivers – the Clyde and the Kelvin river. It won the 2013 European Museum of the Year Award just 2 years after opening.
Getting there: Catch bus n°100 from George Square or catch a train or subway to Partick Interchange. Although it’s then a 1km walk to the museum. A great option if you’re visiting the city is to book a ticket on the Glasgow Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing bus as it stops at the museum’s doors.
The Tall Ship [FREE]
Also known as the Glenlee, this Victorian sailing ship is situated by where the Kelvin and Clyde rivers meet in Govan, just behind the Riverside Museum.
The fully restored ship is free to explore, and has a colourful history. After being built here in Glasgow, during her days she spent time with the Spanish Navy. She was saved from scrapping in 1993 by the Clyde Maritime Trust.
The Clydeside Distillery
The Clydeside Distillery is the ideal place to sample a wee dram or two of fine Scotch whisky. This is the city’s first single malt distillery to be established in more than a century. At The Clydeside you can take a tour, shop for whisky and merch, and of course sample the products. There’s also an eatery here – serving food that pairs well with whisky, of course.
Concert at the Armadillo SECC or the OVO Hydro
Are you a music aficionado seeking an unforgettable night out in Glasgow’s vibrant West End? Look no further than the iconic concert venues that have made their mark on the UK’s entertainment landscape – the Armadillo SECC and the OVO Hydro. These gems aren’t just among the best in Scotland; they stand proudly as some of the finest concert destinations across the entire UK. For those in search of memorable experiences in Glasgow, securing a ticket to catch your favourite artist live is an absolute must-do.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this round-up of best things to see in Glasgow’s West End. It’s not difficult to see why this is one of our favourite areas of Glasgow!