If you’re one of the 56 percent of Americans that are fully vaccinated (only 56 percent?!), then you’re probably already in the midst of planning out your summer travel itinerary. But what plans are you making for next year? Travel influencer Ravi Roth, host of Gaycation Magazine’s Gaycation Travel Show, as well as his own YouTube show Ravi ‘Round The World thinks you should pick Glasgow unless you don’t like great food and nightlife, beautiful parks, and of course, whisky.
“When people think of Scotland, one of the first cities they associate it with is Edinburgh,” Roth tells us. “However, Glasgow is growing massively as the vegan capital of the U.K., has an avant-garde and super fun Queer nightlife, and is bursting with individuality.”
Roth goes to point out that while Glasgow is a “city of grit and fearlessness,” it’s also become a “shining the light on inclusivity and visibility.” Consider us sold!
Roth hit us up with his perfect guide to Glasgow, keying us in on the best food and drink spots, the best places to party, and all of the best ways to spend time in the city. Once you’re done checking out his guide, be sure to watch Ravi’s “Gay Travel Glasgow” video where Ravi takes us on a rapid-fire five-minute tour of the city pre-covid, offering even more selections not covered in this list. For more recent travel mostly focused on the U.S., be sure to catch Ravi on the Gaycation Travel Show, which uploads new episodes every week.
Let’s dive in!
Best Place In Glasgow To Grab A Drink?
Stereo is an eco-friendly, vegan, environmentally conscious bar and restaurant. They offer tapas-style small plates which are sharable and a huge assortment of beer, ranging from IPAs to stouts to sours to ciders and everything in between. If you are into a radical environment and love beer, this is your spot. This is one of the only spots in Glasgow that also offers an assortment of gluten-free beer.
Brutti Compadres in the merchant city specializes in Spanish-style tapas. Super affordable and Queer owned. It’s also a great spot to meet people. I love to sit at the bar and drum up a conversation with locals. The espresso martini will get you GOING and the jug of sangria hits the spot. For small plates, I highly recommend Haggis Croquettes Vegetable Paella and the Deep Fried Halloumi to start!
Do you fancy a cheeky wee drum tasting of whiskey? Visit the Clydeside Distillery, which is Glasgow’s first dedicated single malt whisky distillery. Here, you will experience how whiskey is made, take a tour of the distillery, and have an hour of tastings. I highly recommend a nap after tasting all of this delicious whiskey!
Best Breakfast Spot In Glasgow?
Glasgow is known for haggis, which is made out of the blood and guts of a lamb. If you are vegetarian like me, that might sound like a “NOPE,” however I experienced the most magical vegetarian haggis at Ubiquitous Chip, a lovely restaurant in the cornerstone of Ashton Lane. Here you will find the cutest aesthetic inside with trees lining the walls and a gorgeous patio.
Stravaigin Glasgow is nestled between Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow University. I have yet to visit a brunch spot where the atmosphere matches the food for an unparalleled experience. The food is local with a Scottish fusion and a hint of East Asian flavor. Vegans, get ready to have your mind blown. You must order the vegan breakfast which includes oyster mushroom okara cake, Morrocan chickpeas, grilled tomato, tattie scone, mushrooms, and wilted spinach.
Eusebi Deli in Glasgow’s West End has become an institution. This Italian hot spot features its own deli and sells freshly made pasta, bread and pastries, as well as its popular restaurant and terrace at the entrance to Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park. It’s never too early for pasta, right? For brunch, I highly recommend their Italian coffee to start your day. As an appetizer, get the whipped ricotta, which melts in your mouth and dive right into the potato and truffle pizza.
Best Late-Night Dinner Spot?
Y’all want steak, pizza, fries, grease, and a bomb atmosphere? Here, you will find a progressive and independent live music that is bar smack in the centre of Glasgow. They have live music seven nights a week that’s free of charge. From street eats to sweet treats and an array of burgers, you will definitely leave here feeling full.
Ka Pao has Asian-inspired food and small sharing dishes. If you aren’t feeling like late-night pizza or grease then come here for Southeast asian delights. The coconut old fashioned melts in your mouth.
Topolabamba is a Mexican street food restaurant in Glasgow City Centre with attitude! Here they offer heady cocktails, a mouthwatering menu, friendly staff, and an electric atmosphere. You must get the guac and queso to start. Hands down the best Mexican food in Glasgow.
Best Place To Party In Glasgow?
Barrowland Ballroom is located in the East End of Glasgow and is one of the World’s most legendary music venues. The Barrowland neon sign out front is said to be the largest in Europe making it a great spot for photo ops. Come here to see both local and iconic performers.
Shoot Your Shot is an LGBTQIA+ event that’s fully inclusive to the Trans, Black, Brown, and the Non-Binary community. This party happens on the first and third Saturday each month. This is an all-inclusive party for anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community, welcoming everyone with sick dance beats, and super fun theme nights.
Polo Lounge is the hottest club in town with a swanky lounge area, cabaret room, and a massive dance club downstairs. Everyone — both tourists and locals alike — ends the night at Polo. I sat in the cabaret room listening to ferocious vocals then danced my face off for half of the nights downstairs. I was truly trying to meet my next ex-husband but instead made the best of friends with the locals.
Best Place To Grab A Whisky?
Named after Scotland’s largest mountain, Ben Nevis Bar is a hole in the wall that’s serious about whisky. There’s a cozy, intimate vibe. It remains solid with regulars and has real authenticity. This whisky bar is located in Finnieston Glasgow, one of the trendiest areas of the city. I highly recommend doing a flight of whiskies here. Get the Holy Smokes flight if you are into smokey whisky.
The Pot Still doesn’t have a lavish interior, but you will get to know all the friendly characters of Glasgow. This bar screams local and has an array of whiskies to choose from including a little something from every style and region of the world. I didn’t even know that this many whiskies existed … welcome to Scotland!
Best Place To Take In The Culture Of Glasgow?
Glasgow Necropolis graveyard might sound like a “yikes!” choice but it’s here because you get an excellent view of the east end of the city. This 37-acre cemetery is out of this world. If you are in need of a fresh post for Instagram then you must check out the Necropolis. They offer guided tours or you can stroll on your own. Come here, unless you are afraid of ghosts, then it’s a hard pass.
Queens Park in Glasgow is a huge outdoor space where cultural events take place, locals picnic and walk their dogs, or hang out with friends! It’s a thriving green space loved by locals and offers one of the best views of the city. The park was dedicated to the memory of Mary, Queen of Scots. If you go on the weekend, I suggest grabbing a coffee while enjoying a relatively short walk (accessible for all) to the top of the park to take in a dramatic view of the city. If it is a clear day, the views are out of this world.
Best Place For A Great Hike Or Way To Take In The City?
Kelvin Walkway/Kelvingrove Museum
Kelvin Walkway is a great hike to take in the nature of Glasgow. If you are like me and love nature within a city then you must hike this gorgeous trail. Bring hiking boots as it can get quite muddy. There is a fantastic spot for bird watching and sightseeing. There is so much greenery inside this old industrial city.
The Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow’s leafy West-End recently completed a multi-million-pound renovation. This attraction is free and filled with historical artifacts, modern art, and natural history. You get there by walking through Kelvin Park, which is the home to Glasgow University. One look at the university and you will immediately be transported into Hogwarts.
Favorite Thing To Do In Glasgow?
Walking Around/Bar Hopping
Glasgow gets the nickname “Dear Green Place” because it has so many public parks, so you will never run out of nature within a city. It is not a concrete jungle. I love to walk around the entire city and bar hop around Merchant City to catch avant-garde drag shows. The winner of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’, Lawrence Chaney, performs all over town and you do not want to miss her.
What Is Your Fondest Memory Of Visiting Glasgow?
Staying At Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel
A city can make it or break it depending on where you stay. If you want chic luxury, you must stay at the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel in central Glasgow. It is a 15-minute walk to Merchant City, the gayborhood of Glasgow. This hotel has a state-of-the-art spa, one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in, and a brand new farm-to-fabulous restaurant called Bo and Birdy. Definitely have dinner here (get the risotto) and make sure to order it with their signature drink ‘The Bo and Birdy’ which has a peacock feather in it!
One Thing Everyone Visiting Glasgow Must Experience?
Category Is Books… And Whisky
Whisky, but also, Category Is Books, which is one of three Queer bookstores in the U.K. shining the light on ending transphobia, genderphobia, biphobia, and homophobia. How? By providing a safe space for Queer people and being visible. This independent bookstore attracts locals and tourists alike and is located on the south side of Glasgow. A fun perk is that they also offer tea inside. During the pandemic, the ferocious owners of this bookstore would do drop-offs so that folks could continue to learn.