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Glasgow is the smallest big city in Europe. The city centre buzzes with creative energy in its international-class museums, art galleries and shops, with friendly pubs and football clubs that are famous the world over. It’s the perfect city to spend a long weekend in – compact, but rich in colour and life.
9.30am: Britain doesn’t have many more charming museums than the free-to-enter, red-sandstone Kelvingrove, where you’ll find fine art, stuffed animals, Spitfire planes and much more. It doesn’t open until 10am, but that’s not a problem: the beautiful park that surrounds it is the perfect place for a morning stroll.
11am: Whisper it down south, but there’s one thing better than a Full English: a Full Scottish. For just £8, The Grosvenor Cafe will serve you a stomach-lining plateful that includes haggis and black pudding. Brunch here will keep you going until dinner time.
12.30pm: Take Glasgow’s famous Subway from nearby Kelvinhall, getting off at St Enoch. From here you can wander around the imposing city centre and down by the River Clyde. Keep your eyes peeled for animals, including the marvellous cenotaph lions in George Square, the huge tiger mural on the north bank of the river and Thinking of Bella, a statue featuring a man and his dog, in the courtyard of The Italian Centre.
3pm: It’s kick-off time, so head for the city’s oddest football ground. Cathkin Park was the home of Third Lanark until 1967, when the club went bust. Now it’s the ghostliest park in Britain, with a huge, overgrown, curving terrace that hasn’t been filled for half a century.
4pm: Saturday afternoons at Babbity Bowster, a restored 18th-century pub in the city centre, are set aside for traditional music sessions. It’s more a jam session than a performance, and all the more enjoyable for it.
6pm: Head back to Hotel Indigo Glasgow to freshen up before dinner and relax with a drink at the cocktail bar.
7.30 pm: Ox and Finch is perhaps Glasgow’s most fashionable restaurant right now, so best to book. The menu, which has earned a Bib Gourmand from Michelin, shows influences from around the world: there’s everything from slow roast pork belly with sambal, choi sum and galangal to skate wing with brown butter and samphire.
10pm: Too early for bed? Enjoy a nightcap at The Pot Still, Glasgow’s most famous whisky pub. There are 750 different whiskies to choose from.
9am: If you want to head out of the hotel for breakfast, there are few smarter choices than Kember & Jones, a bright, modern spot on Byers Road. Expect good coffee, bread and croissants.
11am: The Barras is a Glasgow institution – and like other Glasgow institutions it’s not for the faint-hearted. This is a flea market par excellence, where the lack of finesse is made up by lots of character and low prices.
1pm: Finnieston has recently become Glasgow’s most fashionable neighbourhood, and The Gannet can take plenty of the credit/blame. Boasting excellent modern Scottish cuisine, it’s a perfect spot for lunch,
2.30pm: Founded in the early 19th-century, Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens are a fantastic place for a postprandial stroll. The highlight is Kibble Palace, a magnificent 19th-century domed glasshouse that contains the national fern collection.
4pm: Head down to the river for a free taste of Glasgow’s social history. The dramatically designed Riverside Museum opened in 2011 to provide a new home for the city’s transport collection of over 3,000 different exhibits, from a wall of cars to a huge locomotive train, Loco 3007, which did 40 years service in South Africa before returning to the city in which it was built.
6pm: Refurbished in 2013, the elegant Kelvingrove Cafe is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. Try a ‘Bonty & Clyde’, made with Takilsker 10, Benedictine, Capertif, Lemon, Sugar and Oatmeal.
8pm: Few restaurants in Glasgow are as well loved as Mother India, which has been serving up excellent Punjabi cuisine since 1996. The menu features dishes like ginger and green chilli fish pakora and smoked lamb with mushrooms and fennel; this is no ordinary Indian restaurant.