Edinburgh might be Scotland’s picturesque capital city, but Glasgow is the country’s biggest and most bustling city. An old port city on the west coast of Scotland’s Central Belt, Glasgow is often overlooked by travellers seeking Edinburgh’s storied past and world-renowned landmarks.
Glasgow is a much cheaper city to visit and easily accessible via its multiple train stations and international airport. It’s also a much better gateway to the Scottish countryside. But is there enough to do to spend 48 hours in Glasgow?
Absolutely! Its many museums, Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture by the famed Charles Rennie Mackintosh means it’s prettier and more cultural than you’d expect. Plus, it has tons of beautiful city parks, lots of shopping opportunities, and an endless list of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.
This 48 hours in Glasgow itinerary will tell you everything you need to know to enjoy the perfect Glasgow weekend trip. It includes when to visit Glasgow and how to get around, what to eat, where to stay, and all the best things to do in Glasgow and places to visit. It even includes all the best tours to do in Glasgow and beyond so you can enjoy a perfect 2 days in Glasgow.
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The Best Time to Visit Glasgow
One thing you don’t visit Glasgow for is the weather. The city has an Oceanic climate which is characterised by mild summers and cold, wet and windy winters. The hottest month is July with an average high temperature of 19°C (66°F) and the coldest month is January with an average low temperature of 1°C (34°F).
The best time to visit Glasgow for the weather is the peak summer season. Accommodation and flight prices will be at their highest, but the student population will have dispersed.
Spring and autumn are the shoulder seasons and these are great times to visit Glasgow for lower prices and fewer people. Just make sure you pack a waterproof jacket!
Winter isn’t a bad time to spend two days in Glasgow at all because you may see some snow and will be able to visit the Christmas Markets.
January to March is likely the cheapest time to visit Glasgow. The weather will be cold and dreary (dreich in Scots) but most of the best things to do in Glasgow are indoors anyway.
How To Get Around Glasgow
If you don’t have any accessibility issues, then you should be able to walk to most of the attractions in Glasgow city centre. In fact, many of the streets like Buchanan Street are pedestrianised. But it’s a deceptively large city and if you wanted to visit the West End or the Southside then you’d probably need to take public transport.
Glasgow’s underground subway is very easy to use and affordable with day passes being less than £5. It’s ideal if you wanted to visit the West End.
If you wanted to visit the Southside, use the regional train stations that depart to and from Glasgow Queen Street or Glasgow Central very regularly. Buses are another affordable option to travel to the rest of the city.
Uber is a great option if you prefer to travel via private transport and you’ll find it easy to hop in taxis outside of the train stations, airports, and many hotels though they might be more expensive. You definitely don’t want to hire a car to drive around Glasgow as there’s always a lot of traffic and parking spaces are few and expensive.
Where To Stay in Glasgow
There are only two areas of Glasgow you should consider staying in during your trip: The West End (where you’ll find Kelvingrove Park and the University of Glasgow) and the city centre which comprises Merchant City and Townhead. This is where all the landmarks are and all the best accommodation options.
Glasgow Youth Hostel in the West End – There aren’t many hostels in Glasgow but the ones the city does have are large and inviting. One of the best is the Glasgow Youth Hostel in the West End. It’s a Hostelling Scotland hostel which has many affiliated hostels around the country. If you are backpacking through Scotland, it’s definitely worth getting a membership and staying in these places.
Motel One in Glasgow City Centre – Situated right next to Glasgow Central Station, you won’t have far to travel with heavy luggage. This chain hotel is perfect if you want your money to stretch further in a well-appointed, affordable hotel.
Fraser Suites Glasgow in Merchant City – Have the cash to splash out on a luxurious suite in your 48 hrs in Glasgow? This aparthotel has everything you need to elevate your weekend in Glasgow including a cosy lounge and beautiful views of Glasgow’s victorian tenement buildings.
Things To Do in Glasgow
Shop at the Barras Market
This indoor weekend market is a Glasgow institution as it’s over 100 years old and one of the UK’s oldest markets.
Wander through the labyrinthine stalls and shop for vintage, antiques, and bric-a-brac items. There’s also an old arcade where you can play games if you can’t fit any more souvenirs in your suitcase.
Laugh at a Stand Up Comedy Gig
Glasgow is a fantastic place to visit if you love watching stand-up comedy because it has so many venues and has nurtured the talent of brilliant UK comics like Billy Connelly, Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges, Susie McCabe, and more.
Eat the Local Scottish Cuisine
Many people think British cuisine is bland and tasteless, and they might be right! But you should taste it for yourself to make up your own mind.
You need to try a traditional Scottish fry-up breakfast because there are notable differences to the English fry-up, the addition of potato scones, Stornoway black pudding and haggis for example. And you need to taste the delicious Scottish dessert cranachan which consists of raspberries, oats, cream and whisky.
Enjoy an afternoon tea at The Willow Tea Rooms which noted artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed. And the best places to head to for a great dinner in Glasgow are Ashton Lane, Buchanan Street, and Byres Road.
Stroll Through One of Glasgow’s Parks
Glasgow has many huge, sprawling country parks that will almost make you forget you’re in the middle of a big city. Kelvingrove Park is the best one to visit in the West End while Queen’s Park is just south of the River Clyde in Shawlands.
If you really want to feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, head to Pollock Country Park in the south of Glasgow where they have botanic gardens and a country house you can explore too.
Photograph Glasgow’s Mural Trail
Some of the top hidden gems in Glasgow are the city’s murals. They are all over the city but you may not spot them if you don’t know where to look!
Most of them are around Strathclyde University and the most famous mural, the one of St Mungo (Glasgow’s patron saint) is on the High Street near Glasgow Cathedral.
Listen to Live Music in Merchant City
As well as stand-up comedy, Glasgow is a great place to listen to some live music. Head to the OVO Hydro stadium if you want to watch world-famous bands or one of the many smaller venues in Merchant City.
The Barrowlands Ballroom, City Halls & Old Fruit Market, and pubs like Slouch in the city centre invite lots of local live music acts and Scottish folk musicians to play.
Places To Visit in Glasgow
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Glasgow has two great art galleries, and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of them.
Situated in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow’s West End, Kelvingrove displays lots of art from the Glasgow School as well as world-class masters like Salvador Dalí and Paul Cézanne. It’s also just a gorgeous, ornate building with chessboard floors and a cafe too.
Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis
Glasgow Cathedral dates back to the 12th century and it is a striking building with beautiful stained glass windows. Be sure to check out the underground cloisters to truly appreciate this magnificent building.
Just behind the cathedral is the Glasgow Necropolis, an old Victorian-era cemetery on a hill with the graves of famous Scots people like James Watt and J. F. Gomoszynski. Because it’s on a hill, it’s a fantastic place to visit at sunrise or sunset for beautiful views across the city.
Gallery of Modern Art
The Gallery of Modern Art is the second art gallery in Glasgow you should visit. It’s completely different from Kelvingrove because it houses work by living artists with lots of exciting installations and sculptures with temporary exhibitions. They also host lots of events and talks for artists.
Arguably the most famous attraction at the Gallery of Modern Art isn’t even inside the building but is a statue just outside the front entrance. Local Glaswegians started a tradition of putting an orange traffic cone on the head of the Duke of Wellington statue.
Local authorities would take down the traffic cone but sure enough, locals would replace it in the dead of night. It’s now a landmark of the city and you’ll find it on greetings cards and postcards.
Want to know more about the history of Glasgow? You should visit the People’s Palace. This riverside museum in Glasgow Green is a fantastic exhibition detailing what life was like in Glasgow for locals over the last 200 or so years.
It covers the main industries, housing, holidays, entertainment, world wars, and so much more.
Glasgow City Chambers
The Glasgow City Chambers building is essentially Glasgow’s city hall. It’s a 19th-century landmark building in George Square and has an incredibly ornate, detailed interior and is much bigger than it looks. You can book guided tours or simply walk around the outside if you’re short on time.
Tours To Do in Glasgow
Street Art Walking Tour
Joining a walking tour in Glasgow is a great idea, but it shouldn’t be a cultural walking tour as you’ll actually want to go inside many of Glasgow’s top buildings and museums.
Join a street art tour instead! You’ll be able to snap photos of all the best ones and learn about the artists and meanings behind them, as many share a cultural bond with the city of Glasgow.
Wester Distillery Tour and Cocktail Masterclass
It’s controversial, but many people don’t actually like Scotland’s favourite tipple; whisky. If you’re someone who’s not ashamed to admit it, you’re in luck.
Wester Distillery is one of Glasgow’s only rum distilleries and they host tours and masterclasses. It’s the perfect pre-night out activity!
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Day Tour
Staying in Glasgow a little longer and wanting to venture out into the lush and dramatic Scottish countryside? From Loch Ness to Glen Coe, you’re positively spoiled for choice. But you should visit Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
It’s only 30 minutes north of Glasgow so you’ll get to spend as much time as possible hiking the Conic Hill or kayaking in the loch.
48 Hours in Glasgow
Day 1 in Glasgow
Start the first day of your two-day itinerary in Glasgow with a Scottish breakfast at Cafe Wander. Then, join a street art walking tour to get your bearings and see all the coolest parts. You’ll be able to ask your guide for their personal recommendations, too!
Then take a tour of the ornate, 19th-century Glasgow City Chambers building or stop by the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art where you’ll find the statue of the Duke of Wellington with an orange traffic cone on his head.
Head to lunch at Stereo or Mono, sister restaurants serving hearty vegan food in Glasgow city centre. Spend your afternoon just north of the River Clyde that runs through Glasgow by visiting Glasgow Cathedral and then strolling around Glasgow Necropolis for gorgeous views over the city.
Next, walk south towards Glasgow Green and wander around the Barras Market and the People’s Palace museum where you’ll learn all about the history of the people of Glasgow.
In the evening, head to the city centre where you can enjoy a delicious meal of Scottish food at Cranachan and then enjoy some live music in Merchant City.
Day 2 in Glasgow
Today you’ll explore more of Glasgow’s West End at a slower pace. Start by tucking into a more bougie breakfast/lunch at The Brunch Club before enjoying a stroll in Kelvingrove Park (fingers crossed for good weather!).
Next, check out the University of Glasgow’s historic buildings and cloisters before visiting the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
On a nice day, walk up to the Glasgow Botanical Gardens or check out the Wester or Clydebank Distillery. Don’t worry about drinking in the afternoon, you are on a trip to Scotland after all!
Eat at one of the cool restaurants on the cobbled Ashton Lane for dinner before watching stand-up comedy at The Stand Comedy Club or the Òran Mór bar.
Recommended tours in Glasgow
- Glasgow City Centre Walking Tour
- Glasgow Street Art Walking Tour
- Gothic Glasgow Walking Tour
- City Sightseeing Glasgow Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
- Merchant City Music Walking Tour of Glasgow
- Glasgow Afternoon Tea Experience