Relaxed and trendy, lively and culturally diverse, the West End area offers some of the best things to do and see in Glasgow. Its Victorian architecture and cobblestone alleyways keep with tradition, while its many boutique shops, coffee shops, and Bohemian cafes present the modern side of the city. While vintage and antique shops keep the past alive, the student scene of the nearby, world renowned University of Glasgow keeps things current. Other don’t-miss sights include the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, the Botanic Gardens, and the famous Grosvenor Cinema.
A variety of parks, galleries and museums provide dozens of options for an afternoon. A stroll in the streets or along the river — or an evening in one of the many bookstores, tea rooms, pubs, or unique restaurants — is also an option. Each summer the area is home to the famous West End Festival.
Known as “Scotland’s answer to Downton Abbey,” the Pollok House gives a taste of 1930s upstairs/downstairs life. Upstairs, visitors will find period furniture and furnishings, as well as one of the finest collections of Spanish art in the United Kingdom, with Goyas, Murillos and El Grecos all on show. William Blake paintings are also part of the collection. And downstairs is home to the huge servants’ quarters.
Set in Pollok Country Park and said to be one of Scotland’s finest Edwardian country houses, Pollok House was the ancestral home of the Maxwell and Jardine families. The site is a popular spot for a stroll, and visitors can look out for the rhododendrons; there are over 1,000 kinds in the park.
Set among four hectares of Ayrshire countryside in the village of Alloway, the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is a celebration of the life and work of Scotland’s most famous wordsmith.
The extensive museum contains a collection of over 5,000 artifacts relating to the Bard’s life, work and legacy. Visit Burns Cottage, where the poet was born, see the grand monument dedicated to him, and wander the commemorative gardens created in honor of the great “Rabbie” Burns. From the lawn, you can also see the famous Brig o’Doon, a 15th-century bridge immortalized in the Burns’ poem Tam o’ Shanter.
Peeking out from the rocky seashore of Ayr Bay, the dramatically situated Dunure Castle was once the seat of the Kennedys of Carrick and the notorious site where the last abbot of Crossraguel was roasted on a spit.
Today, the castle’s bloody legacy is all that remains and the once-mighty stronghold lies in ruins, but it’s none-the-less an enchanting spot, with elements of the stone-brick 13th-century castle still clearly visible. It’s none-the-less an enchanting spot, especially at sunset, with the crumbling guard-tower framed by rugged coastal cliffs and the crashing waves of the Atlantic.
A typical country estate garden with a burn winding through its woodland glen toward the River Clyde, Geilston Garden was landscaped over two centuries ago and it’s typical of small country estates of the time.
Geilston has its own walled garden that’s become known for its 100-foot Wellingtonia tree in the middle of the lawn, and come springtime, its azaleas and heathers. There’s also a kitchen garden which comes alive every April with the first sowings of carrots, parsnips and beetroot. In season, you can buy the garden’s produce — fruits, flowers, and vegetables from a small stand near the entrance to the garden. Geilston House, thought to have been built in 1766, is currently not open to visitors.
Glasgow’s David Livingstone Centre is devoted to the famous Scottish explorer and missionary who opened up interior Africa over 150 years ago. A biographical museum dedicated to his life and work, the center is housed in Shuttle Row where Livingstone was born and raised in poverty with 23 other families back in the early 19th century.
At the museum you’ll see many items related to Livingstone’s Africa explorations, including journals, letters, navigational equipment, and dioramas of significant moments in his travels. The David Livingstone Centre is set in 20 acres of parkland overlooking the River Clyde, so after a visit to the museum it’s popular to take a walk through the woods along the Clyde Walkway and along to Bothwell Castle.