Julia’s Glasgow

Julia Forrest is from Scotland’s largest metropolis and has been blogging about places you won’t find in the regular tourist guides for Spotted by Locals Glasgow since 2012. “The shopping, nightlife, and the beautiful walkways make this city a great place to live in,” she says. “I couldn’t see myself happier anywhere else!” Here are a few of Julia’s favorite things about Glasgow. Add your own two cents by leaving a comment.

Glasgow Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is the vibrant West End area. With large sprawling parks, international eateries, boutiques, and museums, there’s something for everyone.

Summer is the best time to visit my city because even though you’ll likely experience all four seasons in one day, it stays light until almost midnight.

You can see my city best from the viewing deck at the lighthouse. On a clear day it’s worth braving the spiral staircase for a spectacular, panoramic view of Glasgow.

Locals know to skip the tourist-trap Willow Tea Rooms and check out the Hidden Lane Tearoom instead. Tucked down a cobbled street in Finnieston, which serves the best High Tea in Glasgow.

If you are looking for a good bottle of whisky to take back home, The Good Spirits Co. is the place to buy the best Scotland has to offer.

In the past, notable people such as Gerard Butler, James McAvoy, and Gordon Ramsay have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, which hosts a large collection of Charles Rennie Mackintosh work. It’s one of the smallest and most low-key of Glasgow’s 20 museums, but it’s packed full of archaeological finds, art, and some freaky specimens in the anatomy wing.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s the Glasgow Underground. Handy if you are wanting to get around quickly and ideal for a trip from town to the West End. Turn the journey into a drinking game, or a “sub crawl,” by stopping at one pub at each of the 15 stops. Not for the faint of heart!

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city (when the sun is out) is the beer gardens. Us pale Glaswegians love nothing more than grabbing a pint and heading outdoors. From Jinty McGinty’s in Ashton Lane to West Brewery at Glasgow Green, everyone wants to be out during these short spells. Taps aff!

My city really knows how to celebrate Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) because the party always ends up lasting two days!

You can tell if someone is from Glasgow if they call you “pal” regardless of whether you’re a friend, stranger, lover, mother, or boss!

For a fancy night out, I have a delicious dinner at Chardon d’Or, followed by some cocktails at Blythswood Hotel. If I wanted to keep the night going, I’ll  hop in a cab to the Corinthian Club for more drinks, dancing, and a flutter at the casino.

Just outside my city, you can visit Scotland’s west coast to spend time at the beach or head north to reach the Arrochar Alps.

My city is known for being dangerous and rough but it’s really transformed over the past 10 years. The second best shopping street in the U.K. after London, the West End is the place to go for unique shopping and restaurants — and Merchant City has some of the best nightlife in the U.K. There’s a huge amount of diversity, drawn from the international population who call Glasgow home.

The best outdoor market in my city is the bi-monthly farmers market in Mansfield Park for yummy food. But if you’re a flea-market junkie, head east to the Barras weekend market. You might just find a bargain.

Trans-Europe Cafe, Cafezique, Brookyln Cafe, and the Left Bank are my favorite places to grab breakfast, and Little Italy is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and weekends, read The Skinny and The List.

My city’s biggest sports event is the Old Firm derby. Watch it at the Ibrox or Celtic Park stadiums. Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and new arenas such as the Velodrome will be the place to watch all the action.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I wander down to Dumbarton Road to find some bargains in the many charity shops.

To escape the crowds, I head to Tchai Ovna, a tiny tea and shisha (hookah) house tucked above the River Kelvin off Gibson Street. A cozy place to while away a lazy afternoon playing Scrabble, chatting with friends, or listening to music on weeknights.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be the Big Yin, Billy Connolly, because it has a great sense of humor.

The dish that represents my city best is curry (Indian food is an essential part of the Glaswegian diet) and the fizzy orange juice called Irn-Bru is my city’s signature drink.

The Mitchell Library is my favorite building in town because it’s the most beautiful in Glasgow and looks stunning when lit up at night.

The most random thing about my city is that anything and everything can happen.

King Tut’s Wah-Wah Hut and the Barrowland Ballroom are the best places to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Boteco de Brasil for authentic Brazilian dancing.

A spontaneous sing-along in the taxi queue could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should hire a bicycle from the Bike Station and cycle along the River Kelvin up to the Botanic Gardens.

In the summer you should get dancing at the Mardi Gras parade in June.

In the fall you should head to one of Glasgow’s many parks — such as Kelvingrove Park, Queen’s Park, and Pollok Country Park — to see the stunning range of autumn colors on display. Afterwards, head indoors for some tea and a slice of cake.

In the winter you should check out a gig at the Celtic Connections annual festival in January.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Science Centre. It has plenty of interactive exhibits for kids to enjoy and an IMAX.

The best book about my city is Lanark by Alasdair Gray.

In 140 characters of less, the world should heart my city because it’s friendly, funny, warm, cosmopolitan, exciting, irreverent, and unique.

Love where you live? Fill out our I Heart My City questionnaire for a chance to share your insider intel with the Intelligent Travel community.