Thank you to my guest writer, Glasgow local Caroline McCaw, for her insight into some of the best things to do in Glasgow’s buzzing Southside area. Now that I’m based in Seoul, I don’t have much time to explore or write about my bonnie homeland, so it’s great to have someone to do it for me! Thanks again for such a great article!
Visitors to Glasgow are often drawn to the West End of the city. Home to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the University of Glasgow, the West End is a top spot for tourists. Take a trip to Byres Road and you’ll find a hedonistic paradise of boutique shops, trendy bars and quaint cafes – it’s no wonder people are drawn here!
But over the last few years, the Southside has fast become one of the most intriguing parts of the city. There is a buzz in the Southside and a community spirit unlike anywhere else in Glasgow. The area is home to people of all walks of life and this eclectic mix of cultures has created a vibrant (and sometimes quirky!) community.
Things to do in Glasgow’s Southside
The Bungo Bar & Kitchen
Before you embark on your Southside adventure, fill up on a hearty breakfast at The Bungo! Located in the area of Strathbungo, voted one of the best places to live in the UK, The Bungo is a local favorite. Their breakfast and brunch menu is available until 4:30 pm so treat yourself to a long lie before popping in for a tasty breakfast. There are veggie options available, its doggy-friendly and you can even have a cocktail with your breakfast – what more could you ask for!
Take a First Bus (3,38,57) from the city center and get off at Queen’s Park on Pollokshaws Road. Breakfast ranges from £4-£8.50. ,www.thebungo.co.uk,
The Govanhill Baths are close to the heart of every Govanhill-ian. The building was originally a public bathhouse in the early 1900’s and later became a popular swimming spot for the residents of Govanhill. When the council tried to close the building in 2001, locals occupied the building for almost five months in protest and there was a picket line outside the building for a year after it closed.
A few years ago, it reopened as a community hub offering free health and wellbeing workshops, yoga classes and even film screenings. The building itself is beautiful and it’s a true testament to the community who fought to protect it!
Take a First Bus (4,5,6,7) from the city center and get off at Victoria Road. Admission is free but some classes/events have a small fee. (www.govanhillbaths.com)
At the very heart of the Southside is Queens Park, loved by locals and tourists alike. You could easily spend a few hours here feeding ducks in the pond, walking through the poet’s garden. Don’t miss The Glasshouse which houses a café, botanical garden, pond with koi fish and – if you’re feeling brave – a hot house with snakes, spiders and reptiles. Take a wander to the flagpole at the very top of the park and you’ll enjoy one of the best views of the city.
Take a First Bus (3,38,57) from the city center and get off at Queen’s Park on Pollokshaws Road. Admission to the park and The Glasshouse is free. (http://www.friendsofqueensparkglasgow.org.uk)
For a laidback lunch, check out Coffescene in Battlefield. This café has a relaxed vibe and a great menu. They do a lunch deal – any sandwich/toastie/panini, a packet of crisps/piece of fruit and a coffee for £6! Try and grab yourself a spot on one of the comfy leather sofas, enjoy the free wi-fi and relax to the sounds of Marvin Gaye and The Drifters.
Take a First Bus (4,5) from the city center and get off after the New Victoria Hospital. You’ll find it on the corner opposite the Battlefield Rest restaurant. Coffeescene is open til 9:00pm during the week, 8:00pm on Saturdays and 6:00pm on a Sunday.
Tramway and The Hidden Gardens
Tramway is a real hidden gem and well worth a visit! It might not look like much from the outside but this aircraft hangar like building houses a trendy café and various exhibition and performance spaces. Check ahead and plan your visit – there’s always exhibitions, stand-up comedy and performing arts on. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend trying to catch Ballet Black! Don’t forget to visit The Hidden Gardens out back too.
Take a First Bus (3,38,57) from the city center and get off at the McDonalds on Pollokshaws Road. Admission to Tramway and The Hidden Gardens is free but special events may incur a fee and advance booking is recommended. (www.tramway.org; www.thehiddengardens.org.uk)
The Rum Shack Bar & Canteen
If you’re looking for a fun night out, get yourself down to The Rum Shack on Pollokshaws Road. This Caribbean bar and canteen has a great selection of traditional Caribbean food (I’d recommend the jerk chicken with jasmine rice or the goat curry!) and an impressive drinks menu. They have live music and DJs from 9pm at the weekend, and if you fancy a dance then you can head downstairs to The Dancehall which opens at 11 pm at the weekend.
The Dancehall is a pretty laidback club, entry is only £3, the dress code is pretty casual and it’s a mixed crowd of 20- and 30- somethings just out for a good time. Join in the fun with a glass of the house ‘rum punch’, don’t be fooled by its refreshing and fruity taste – this cocktail is serious stuff! A hearty breakfast at Bungo the following morning may be required!
Take a First Bus (3,38,57) and get off just after The Rum Shack on Pollokshaws Road. Meals range from about £8 – £12 but check the Facebook page for weekly deals and student discounts. (www.rumshackglasgow.com)
The Allison Arms
The Allison Arms is the pub everyone wishes was their ‘local’. Drinks are well priced, the music is good, the bar staff always have a smile and the atmosphere is warm and friendly. If you’re looking for a taste of Glaswegian hospitality then look no further than The Allison Arms! Most nights, it’s packed with locals but new faces are always welcome and you’re sure to make friends here.
It closes at 12 pm but it’s just across the road from The Dancehall so you can always head over there for a dance afterwards. End your night with chips n’ cheese from the takeaway beside The Allison Arms and you can consider yourself a true Southsider!
Take a First Bus (3,38,57) and get off just after The Rum Shack on Pollokshaws Road. The Allison Arms. Meals range from about £8 – £12 but check the Facebook page for weekly deals and student discounts. (www.rumshackglasgow.com)
The Scotland Street School Museum
The Scotland Street School was designed for the Glasgow School Board by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the early 1900s. The school is now a museum showing how education has changed in Scotland over the last 100 years. The building is beautiful and fans of Charles Rennie Mackintosh will not be disappointed by its striking design. The museum itself is great fun and really interactive – once inside you can wander freely around the school, sit in reconstructed classrooms, play with chalkboards or old school toys and even dress up like a pupil!
Take the subway to Shields Road, the school is just a minutes walk down Scotland Street. Admission is free and the school is open Tues to Sun. (https://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/ venues/scotland-street-school-museum)
Some Great Reward and the Oxfam Music & Book Store
There are a growing number of independent stores and boutiques opening in the Southside. Victoria Road is a great place for a browse around the shops. Vinyl fans should check out Some Great Reward.
This little vinyl store and café is a great stop for coffee and cake and a browse through their impressive record collection. The records are at the back of the café and there’s even a record player and headphones on hand so you can have a listen before you make your final purchase. They sell high quality and brand new records so you won’t find a second-hand bargain here but you will find a few rarities that are worth every penny!
If you’re looking for second-hand vinyl then the Oxfam Music and Books store further up Victoria Road is a great place to pick up records from the 80s and 90s at a great price. Rare finds don’t stay on the shelves long so be sure to check out the new releases section and snap some records up quick.
Take a First Bus (4,5,6) from the city center and get off at Victoria Road just before Queen’s Park. (www.somegreatreward.scot)
I hope that this guide has inspired you to visit this lesser known part of Glasgow on your next trip to the city! Glasgow has so much to see and should be on the UK tourist map just as much as London or Edinburgh.
Are you going to add this cosmopolitan city to your Scotland Itinerary?