Wondering what the city of Glasgow has to offer and how much you can see and do if you are only spending 1 to 3 days in Glasgow? This guide is filled with insights and tips on how to structure your Glasgow itinerary for a short timeframe!
Glasgow is less popular in name and tourism than Edinburgh but ironically the population is at least triple the size! Glasgow has much culture and history to be discovered here and the Glaswegians were nothing short of welcoming!
It’s a perfect starting point before embarking on any road trip through the Scottish Highlands and offers close access to the Harry Potter train stationed in Fort William (more information on this below).
Overall I found the architecture to be less striking than in Edinburgh and there weren’t as many magnificent churches, intricate goth-style architecture, and as many “obvious” activities but I recommend just taking Glasgow for what it is and you will still have a fun time in this city as I did!
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Glasgow Itinerary Overview
While the itinerary outline below is for 3 days you can also narrow down some of the ideas on this list depending on if you are only staying for 1 or 2 days. The first and second days include the best activities I enjoyed the most in central Glasgow.
I recommend spending at least 2 days in Glasgow as this is a good amount of time to be able to experience what the city is really like.
I spent just 2 packed days here so I spread the activities I did across 3 days in this Glasgow itinerary and mention a few more things that I was planning to do but didn’t end up having enough time for. You will really be able to pace yourself nicely if you can do 3 days in Glasgow.
If you only have 1 full day in Glasgow you can quickly see some highlights and history so it would still be worth the visit if you are continuing on to the Highlands or Edinburgh! In this case, I would follow day 1’s itinerary and squeeze in a visit to the Riverside Museum from day 2.
Here is a breakdown of what you can expect to do on this Glasgow itinerary:
Day 1 – Visiting historic sites, seeing the best view of Glasgow, shopping, walking along the river, and dinner at a Turkish restaurant.
Day 2 – Riverside Museum, whiskey tasting at a distillery, dinner while listening to Scottish/live music.
Day 3 – Day trip OR another day in Glasgow spent going on a Loch Lomond pony trek, shopping Argyle Street, and pub hopping.
My Finding’s Tip: One of the best ways to get around Glasgow is the Hop-on Hop-off Bus which only costs 16 GBP for an entire day and only 1 GBP more for a second consecutive day. It stops at 22 different places including most of the places I’ve mentioned on this Glasgow itinerary!
Morning/Early Afternoon – History
We began our first morning of this Glasgow itinerary at the Revolver Hotel’s restaurant (where we stayed) in Merchant City for some shockingly delicious, cheap, and healthy breakfast.
After you eat breakfast at somewhere of your choice you can walk over (or take public transport) to George Square and see the monuments before continuing on to the Glasgow Necropolis which is right behind the cathedral on the top of a hill where you can have a nice look at the city.
This graveyard at the Glasgow Necropolis is the largest medieval cemetery in Europe. With over 50,000 individuals buried here, there are tons of unique headstones to look at. Many notable people from Glasgow’s history are buried here including William Miller a poet who was famous for writing a nursery rhyme called Wee Willie Winkie.
Unfortunately for us, the weather was pretty rainy when we wanted to visit so we weren’t able to fit this into our Glasgow itinerary but it sure looks like it would be a unique and peaceful place to walk around!
Late Afternoon – Shopping on Buchanan Street
After a morning filled with history, it’s time to head over to Buchanan Street which is the main street for shopping, restaurants, and cafes!
You could eat here or grab a snack if you’re hungry and then shop at popular stores like Zara, Urban Outfitters, New Look, and Rayban, or at more high-end shops like All Saints, Joe Malone, Ted Baker, and Michael Kors.
If you want more options you can find them inside the Buchanan Galleries right off Buchanan Street.
I am personally not one who loves to shop on vacation so this was more of a people-watching scenario for me which is always enjoyable. We didn’t spend too much time here so take that into account when planning out your Glasgow itinerary if shopping is something you enjoy doing!
If you are into art there is also the Gallery of Modern Art right off of Buchanan with free admission, so this would be easy to stop at for a little while.
Near the shopping is the River Clyde so we enjoyed walking along the river and seeing the unique bridges such as the South Portland Street Suspension Bridge.
Evening – Dinner at Meze Meze
For dinner on your second day of this Glasgow itinerary, there are lots of options on the lively Argyle Street.
Side note, I have bar hopping in this area as an activity for day 3 but if you aren’t staying for a full 3 days in Glasgow you could also hit some bars in the area before or after you eat. The Ben Nevis was my personal favorite whiskey bar that seemed to draw a local crowd.
For food, we had a particularly exceptional dining experience at Meze Meze. It was my first time trying Turkish food and the range, taste, and quality of their dishes impressed me! I also have to mention how friendly the owner and waitstaff were to us.
Morning – Riverside Museum
Kick off the second day of your 3 days in Glasgow with some modern architecture and history. Whether you typically like museums or not the Riverside Museum is one that people with a variety of different interests and ages would enjoy!
The best part is that admission is FREE but there is a place you can donate if you wish.
It covers the evolution of transport in the 21st century and there are life-sized cars, bikes, trains, etc. There’s even a mini replica of a Glasgow street from the early 1900s.
I am not always so keen on visiting museums but this one was super interesting and I found it enjoyable to look at how much transportation has changed over the years.
The exterior of the building was also mesmerizing to look at! It was designed by Zaha Hadid and the bold shape of the roof was meant to replicate a wave or a pleat.
Before you leave the Riverside Museum make sure to head out back where you can also see the Tall Ship Glenlee on the River Clyde. There is no charge if you want to hop on board and look at the different rooms and it was just recently renovated and reopened in March of 2023.
My Finding’s Tip: If you are coming by car the rate for parking was reasonable (not more than a few pounds from what I can remember) BUT the machine was only taking coins and we couldn’t get the app to work so we had to buy a drink at the on-site cafe to get some change. Don’t forget to have coins on you!
Afternoon – The Clydeside Distillery
For lunch, you could either grab a quick bite to eat before leaving the Riverside Museum or continue on and eat at your next stop on this Glasgow itinerary which is the Clydeside Distillery for some whiskey tasting! A MUST while in Scotland!
To be honest I would recommend waiting until you get to the distillery to eat if you want seating and more options to pick from including sandwiches and whiskey-glazed doughnuts.
Getting to the Clydeside Distillery is only a 10-minute walk from the Riverside Museum which makes it perfect to pair these two activities together!
The whiskey at Clydeside is the first single-malt whiskey in Scotland in over 100 years. If you didn’t know, what makes single malts so special is that they are distilled at a single distillery so they haven’t been blended with any other types of whiskey.
You can join this Clydeside Tour of the distillery for just 17.50 GBP and you can expect to learn all about the history of whiskey, see the distillation process, and taste delicious samples of whiskey from 3 different regions. You can even keep the little sample glass as a souvenir!
I will say that since we had already scheduled a whiskey tour in Edinburgh we didn’t feel like we needed to do a similar activity but I’m confident that this whiskey tour will be just as good as ours was – the reviews speak for themselves!
If it isn’t dark after you finish your Clydeside Distillery Tour you can also walk the University of Glasglow’s campus before it gets dark. The main building to see is the Gilbert Scott Building – it really does look like Hogwarts University!
Evening – Dinner and Traditional Music
Once you’ve worked up an appetite again it’s time for dinner and live music! If you are visiting on Thursday (check their Facebook for schedule updates) then you can find traditional Scottish folk music at Curler’s Rest.
There are a lot of places in Glasgow to hear live music but not too many of them offer food AND live Scottish music as this place does.
Fun Fact: Curler’s Rest is 600 years old – wow, that’s a lot of history!
Another spot is The Park Bar which opened all the way back in 1985! They too play Scottish music but there is no kitchen so make sure to eat somewhere else beforehand!
Visiting one of these spots was one of the things I was most looking forward to in Glasgow! I mean what sounds more cultural than a packed pub of Scots, bar food, and local music?
Unfortunately only having 2 days instead of 3 days in Glasgow didn’t leave us any flexibility when plans fell through and I definitely regret not spending at least another day here.
So hopefully in your case, you are able to go!
If you are able to finish everything from days 1 and 2 of this 3 days in Glasgow itinerary that means you will have some options on how you want to spend your final day.
The first is to either take a full-day trip tour on the Hogwarts Express Steam Train or go on Scottish Highlands Tour to see this picturesque region (more info on these below). If you’d rather stay back to explore more in Glasgow you can still begin the day with a short day trip to go pony trekking around Loch Lomond before coming back to finish the rest of this Glasgow itinerary. Keep reading for the details!
Day trips tours from Glasgow
Ride the Jacobite Train – also known as the Hogwarts Express is one of the top bucket list activities in Scotland, especially for Harry Potter die-hards. If you want to ride on the legendary and scenic train ride you’ll need to book your tickets well in advance and drive or take the train from Glasgow to the town of Fort William where it departs from.
It’s a little complex so you can read the full details in my Harry Potter train guide and review. Alternatively, you can go on this guided full-day trip from Glasgow. It does NOT include tickets to the Jacobite but instead takes you to the famous viewpoint where you can watch the train cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct. You’ll also get to explore the charming seaside town of Mallaig and see a lot of the highlands including Glencoe!
Scottish Highlands Tour – If you don’t have enough time or money to spend a handful of days road-tripping the highlands, a day tour is your next best choice. This particular tour from Glasgow includes transport and does an incredible job of giving you a thorough taste of what this area is like. From the lush Glencoe valleys to the expansive Loch Lomond to seeing several castle ruins it is a highly-loved tour for a reason! It’s very affordable too at just 48 GBP!
If neither of those tours sounds like the right fit for you here is the final day’s itinerary to complete your 3 days in Glasgow.
Morning – Loch Lomond Pony Trekking
The last morning of this Glasgow itinerary will begin with a short little 30-minute excursion out of town for a 1-hour pony trekking ride around the picturesque Loch Lomond.
The company we booked with is called Loch Lomond Pony Trekking and the whole staff was so personable and fun to talk to and ride with!
Their property is so peaceful and every inch was stunning. It was lightly showering on the first half of our trek but by the time we reached the top viewpoint, we got lucky that the clouds had passed so our visibility was clear. It was a real treat to be able to clearly see the vastness of Loch Lomond nestled among the green hills. This experience even made it onto my UK bucket list!
Our ponies were obedient and gentle – mine happened to be a little old so let’s just say that he wasn’t in a rush to be in the front of the group but he did his best to keep up.
Rides for those 12 and up cost 60 GBP and the ride will last for around 50 minutes. There is an additional 10-minute safety session at the beginning and you will need to arrive at least 10 minutes before your tour starts to fill out some brief paperwork.
To book your tour you will need to contact them via phone, email, or through a contact form inquiry. You can find more details here.
Getting there: It is an easy drive from Glasgow and they have plenty of parking but if you don’t have a car you can travel by train or coach to Balloch Station. They can pick you up from there just make sure to request pick-up when you reserve your spot. On the day of your tour call them with an update on your arrival time.
Please Note: For the safety of the horses, riders must not weigh over 95 kilograms (209 pounds). This is strictly enforced.
Afternoon/ Early Evening – Hidden Lane
After getting back into town and freshening up from your horseback ride you can head out to Argyle Street again for a late lunch. I recommend Rafa’s Mexican restaurant which is actually located inside Hidden Lane, your next stop on this Glasgow itinerary.
Hidden Lane also has the Hidden Lane Cafe and a handful of other boutique shops including a stained glass shop, a jewelry store, a pottery shop, a small gift shop, and an organic brewery.
You can find Hidden Lane off an alleyway on Argyle Street in between G.G. Brothers Liquor and Flowers at Sandyford.
It is such a picturesque cobblestone corner so be sure to bring your camera!
If you decide to eat at Rafa’s it does have limited seating. If there isn’t any room and you don’t want to stand and eat then you can head elsewhere to eat and then come back to Hidden Lane afterward. Just make sure to check their varying hours as most of the shops close around 4 pm.
Evening – Pub Crawl
Hang around the area for the rest of the night and try out some of Glasgow’s best pubs! As I mentioned above, my favorite was The Ben Nevis. It had such a Scottish feel with all the wood and stone and I loved the little fireplace in the corner.
While my fiance enjoyed his whiskey I enjoyed a gin and tonic with some raspberry and rhubarb Glaswegin Gin that’s distilled right in Glasgow! It was some of the best gin I’ve had!
If you want to continue bar hopping some other excellent nearby spots include The Dirty Duchess for cocktails, the Oyster Bar above The Finnieston for a quiet place to talk, or The Park Bar for beer and Scottish music.
Where to Stay for 3 Days in Glasgow
As Scotland’s biggest city you will find plenty of hotels to choose from but here are a few of my personal favorite choices for each budget type!
Revolver $-$$ – Centrally located, this hotel has such a great concept as it offers bunks, pods, and higher-end private rooms that will fit into low to moderate budgets. Pods start at 32 GBP and a private double room with a bathroom costs 81 GBP.
We stayed in a private room and it was roomy and had modern styling and high ceilings. I thought the mattress was extremely comfortable and their breakfast menu was healthy and tasty! It is next to a pretty popular nightclub which is a pro if you want to party, otherwise this might not be a good choice for you, especially on a weekend.
Motel One $$ – I personally love the Motel One chain and most recently stayed at their Brussels and Warsaw locations. The Glasgow one is near many central attractions and right across the street from Glasgow Central Station. The rooms are priced low at 119 GBP for a double room. They are simple but modern and have everything you will need including a TV, desk, and toiletries.
You can add on breakfast for 12.50 GBP and they have a great selection of hot and cold dishes and espresso drinks. Make sure to take advantage of the free luggage storage at the front desk.
Kimpton – Blythswood Square Hotel $$$ – For all of my luxury travelers, you will want to set your sights on this magnificent 5-star hotel in central Glasgow! It was built in 1823, and was once the home of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club. Enjoy dining at the hotel restaurant and bar inside the old ballroom, have afternoon tea in The Salon, or pamper yourself at the award-winning spa. All rooms have a marble bathroom and robes and you can expect to pay around 322 GBP for a king room.
Final Word on 3 Days in Glasgow Itinerary
Thanks so much for reading this guide on how to spend 3 days in Glasgow! It is such a friendly city with a lot of history and activities to offer for a long weekend. I hope I have given you some good tips to make planning your Glasgow itinerary a lot easier.
If you are traveling more around the UK check out some of my other related guides below!