20 Things Glasgow is Known and Famous For

The city of Glasgow is best known for its grit, edge, and down-to-earth people, but what else? What sets it apart from other Scottish gems like Edinburgh and the Highlands? You may not have heard of Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow, but keep reading and you’ll never forget it!

Glasgow is famous for being one of the friendliest cities in the world and a UNESCO City of Music. A cultural hub with a vibrant nightlife, Glasgow is home to a dynamic arts scene, 19th-century Victorian architecture, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Scotland’s most famous architect of all time.

1. UNESCO’s City of Music

Music performer in Glasgow
Glasgow’s music scene has blossomed and thrived for decades, earning it the title ‘City of Music’ from UNESCO. Editorial credit: Tim J Gray / Shutterstock.com

Glasgow is known for birthing great bands like Franz Ferdinand and the Fratellis, but did you know its music scene is considered legendary? Named a ‘City of Music by UNESCO, Glasgow has an official stamp of achievement to mark its musical excellence.

Musicians of all genres and walks of life are encouraged to collaborate and perform. Unlike in many other parts of the world, their art does not go unappreciated, and better yet, they are much rarely underpaid.

There are reportedly 130+ live music shows held weekly in the city, so everyone is assured to find a live gig that suits their musical tastes. Visit the Barrowland Ballroom, Mono, and the 13th Note to experience some of Glasgow’s best music venues.

2. Friendly Glaswegians

People make Glasgow sign
‘People Make Glasgow’ is Glasgow’s slogan, and it’s on many billboards and signs across the city.

Locals in Glasgow are called Glaswegians, and boy, are they one of a kind. A strong community spirit, a down-to-earth demeanor, and a welcoming attitude towards outsiders are some of the many qualities that make Glaswegians special.

Although they can sometimes come across as overly direct, this is usually in good spirit as Glaswegians love to banter and make fun of each other. Get used to strangers striking up conversations with you at the bus stop or at the supermarket; no matter where you’re from, they’ll treat you like you’re one of their own.

In 2021, a public survey on Twitter and Facebook saw Glasgow take the gold crown for ‘the friendliest city in the world,’ beating other big destinations like Melbourne and Vancouver. With the city slogan ‘People make Glasgow,’ it’s no wonder that Glaswegians are so unique.

3. Distinct Accents

Girl from Glasgow
Glaswegian accents are very different from other Scottish dialects and may take some getting used to.

As lovely as the people are, it may take time for some newbies to get used to their accents! The Glaswegian accent, also called the Glasgow Patter, is distinct and much stronger than other Scottish dialects.

One of the reasons behind this is that Glasgow used to be a major port city. Due to a high influx of immigration over the last couple of centuries, the local dialect has been greatly shaped by many foreign accents.

Believe it or not, the Glaswegian accent is so fascinating that academics have even studied it. It remains a mystery: accents are known to become diluted over time, so why is the Glasgow Patter still extremely strong? One thing’s for sure: you’ll definitely remember it!

4. Architecture

Glasgow University
The University of Glasgow is popular with visitors due to its Hogwarts-esque atmosphere and stunning Gothic Revival architecture.

You don’t need to be an architect to appreciate Glasgow’s remarkable architecture. Walking through Glasgow is like taking a trip through different time periods.

Historic structures are interspersed among the modern landscape, thanks to the city’s conscious effort to preserve its old buildings.

From Gothic Revival and Art Nouveau to more modern architectural styles, you’ll see a little bit of everything in this eclectic city.

5. Scotland’s Most Renowned Architect

A street mural in Glasgow depicting Charles Rennie Mackintosh
A street mural in Glasgow depicting Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a Glaswegian icon. Credit: Thomas Nugent

The artistic genius behind much of Glasgow’s striking architecture is Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Even today, Mackintosh is widely regarded as Scotland’s best architect and designer of all time.

A native Glaswegian, he attended the Glasgow School of Art, a university that is still open and in fact, one of the highest-ranking art institutions in the whole world.

See some of his best work at the Queen’s Cross Church, the Glasgow School of Art, and the Mackintosh House. Glasgow is the only place where you can experience the full range of Mackintosh’s artistic styles.

6. Movie Appearances

Batman's scene in The Flash.
Glasgow makes frequent appearances in DC Universe movies, as seen here in Batman’s scene in The Flash. Editorial credit: Fraser Miller / Shutterstock.com

Glasgow’s atmosphere manages to be moody and beautiful all at the same time, thanks to its unique architecture and landscape. For that reason, it’s often featured as the urban backdrop in action films like World War Z and Avengers: End Game.

Due to its strong resemblance to the artistic visions of Gotham, Glasgow is a popular filming location for movies and shows that take place in the Batman universe. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll spot Glasgow in both upcoming Batman and Batgirl movies!

7. Haggis

Scottish haggis
A trip to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without a taste of Haggis, the country’s national food.

Scotland’s national food, Haggis, is made of sheep organs (usually the heart, lungs, and liver) mixed with onions, oatmeal, suet, and spices. Trust me, it’s far more delicious than it sounds!

While it’s traditionally cooked in a sheep’s stomach, you’ll be relieved to know that today, an artificial casing is used instead.

Eat Haggis with a side of neeps and tatties (that’s mashed potatoes and turnips to the Scots!) or enjoy it on a burger.

If you’re wondering where to find haggis, don’t fret; you’ll find it nearly everywhere. For the best haggis in Glasgow, visit Ubiquitous Chip in the West End, or for something different, try the haggis pakora at the Record Factory.

8. It’s Never Boring

A scottish street performer
Glasgow is a vibrant melting pot of culture and art, often described as a “smaller and wetter London.” Credit: Lucrezia Carnelos / Unsplash

There’s a saying that lives on throughout the United Kingdom: you’ll have more fun at a funeral in Glasgow than at a wedding in Edinburgh. That might just be a jab at its rival city, but comparisons aside, most people who’ve lived here can agree that Glasgow is never, ever boring.

Compared to other cities of its size, Glasgow is bursting with fun activities and interesting events. Whether it’s a social event, a show, or a workshop, there’s something to suit nearly every interest and hobby.

Of all cities in Scotland, Glasgow continues to be the most popular place to live for younger folks due to its colorful nightlife and jam-packed schedule.

9. Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis

The Glasgow Cathedral
The Glasgow Cathedral is the city’s oldest building and the resting place of St. Mungo.

In the East End, the Glasgow Cathedral is a marvel of sprawling Gothic architecture. Not only is it the oldest building in Glasgow, but it’s also the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland. Most cathedrals in the country did not survive the Scottish Reformation era, but Glasgow Cathedral is one of two that still remain intact.

The medieval cathedral is dedicated to the city’s patron saint, St. Mungo, whose tomb lies deep within the crypt.

On a hill nearby, you’ll also find the Glasgow Necropolis, a sacred burial ground that’s truly beautiful for a cemetery. Over fifty-thousand people were buried here, and it’s even been referred to as a ‘city of the dead.’

10. The First Official International Football Match

A football match in Glasgow
As recognized by FIFA, the first official football match fought between different nations happened in Glasgow. Credit: Daniel

Long before the World Cup was even an idea, the first international football match occurred right here in Glasgow.

At a local cricket club in 1872, teams representing Scotland and England fought well and hard on a pitch damp from three days of rain. The game was watched by over 4000 people. Although both teams tied, it was reportedly an exhilarating match.

Today, the city’s love of football is still alive and well, and as passionate as ever.

11. The Old Firm

Jerseys belonging to the Celtic and Rangers football clubs, Scotland's most popular teams.
Jerseys belonging to the Celtic and Rangers football clubs, Scotland’s most popular teams. Editorial credit: ninopavisic / Shutterstock.com

The Celtic and Rangers football clubs are two of Scotland’s biggest football teams. Collectively, they’re referred to as the Old Firm and they’re both based in Glasgow.

The rivalry between the two teams runs so deep that it’s considered a part of Scottish culture. In Glasgow, these fanbases are particularly passionate, and during game nights, the city center is chock-a-block with football fans.

12. Street Art

Mural in Glasgow
Glasgow’s mural of a modern-day St. Mungo is one of the UK’s most Instagrammed murals.

Glasgow is famous for being a creative hub; walk through the city streets and you’ll see for yourself. Over the years, many talented Glaswegian artists have brightened up the streets with colorful murals. Pictured above is Glasgow’s most famous mural, depicting a modern-day St. Mungo, the patron saint and founder of Glasgow.

Follow the mural trail through the city center and get ready to snap endless photos of these stunning displays.

13. Oldest Surviving Music Hall

A juggler performs at the Britannia Panopticon
A juggler performs at the Britannia Panopticon, a Victorian theater and music hall that still runs today. Credit: Stuart Crawford

Glasgow’s love of the arts and entertainment stretches far back into history. In the Victorian era, music halls used to be small rooms in the back of pubs where working-class folk could be entertained. However, when Glasgow’s population began to boom, the city required a bigger, grander space.

Cue the rise of the Britannia Panopticon, which went on to host freak shows, carnivals, plays, musical concerts – you name it! Shows are still held in this historic venue, including fun events such as sing-a-longs, comedy performances, and burlesque shows.

Many people believe this old theatre is haunted and every Halloween, it hosts ‘haunted sleepovers’ in its atmospheric auditorium.

14. Museums and Art Galleries Galore

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of Glasgow’s most popular attractions – but it’s only the beginning of a long list of museums and galleries.

There’s no shortage of art and history in this abundant city. Glasgow’s most famous museum is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

You’ll find a museum or art gallery for virtually every mood or interest.

For religious art, check out St. Mungo’s Museum. For contemporary art, visit the Gallery of Modern Art, which is devoted to showcasing the city’s current talent. And for something with more history, visit the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, which is the oldest museum in Scotland and completely free to visit.

15. A Strong Drinking Culture

Beer in a bar
Glaswegian culture is heavily tied to the love of a good, boozy drink. Credit: Amie Johnson / Unsplash

Scots are famous for being big drinkers, and that’s doubly true with Glaswegians. If you love a good drink, you’ll make friends easily in Glasgow. The city is swarming with lively pubs and bars, some of which date back to the Victorian era.

Visit the historic Horse Shoe Bar to see the second-longest bar counter in the United Kingdom. Another national treasure is the Old Toll Bar in the South of Glasgow, whose elegant vintage interior is one of the finest in the country.

16. Its Sense of Humor

A cone-headed statue
This cone-headed statue is a symbol of Glasgow’s irreverent sense of humor.

We mentioned earlier that Glasgow is known for being a friendly city, but did you know Glaswegians are also incredibly funny? Take, for example, the photo above.

This iconic statue of the first Duke of Wellington is one of Glasgow’s most popular landmarks, and yet, he’s always wearing a traffic cone on his head.

No matter how many times it’s taken off, Glaswegians will always find a way to put it back on again. The type of cone and arrangement often changes too!

The Glasgow City Council considered raising the statue to prevent this prank, but tens of thousands of people united to oppose this idea. Now, this cone-headed statue is seen as a symbol of Glasgow’s sense of humor and a part of its special heritage.

Unsurprisingly, Glasgow is home to many big comedians like Billy Connolly, Kevin Bridges, and Frankie Boyle. As long as you can laugh at yourself and appreciate the absurd, you’ll have no difficulty making friends in this hilarious city.

17. Shipbuilding

The Tall Ship Glenlee
The Tall Ship Glenlee is a museum that floats on the River Clyde, allowing visitors the chance to learn about Glasgow’s shipbuilding history.

At one point in history, Scotland was home to the world’s greatest shipbuilders and the heart of the industry was in Glasglow. The city’s ships were so ubiquitous that until World War I, one-fifth of the world’s ships were built in Glasgow.

Since production centered around the River Clyde, the term ‘Clydebuilt’ was coined, indicating that a ship was built in Glasgow, and was therefore of very high quality.

For a trip through Glasgow’s maritime history, pay a visit to the Tall Ship Glenlee, a museum ship on the river. It’s one of three remaining three-masted ships still afloat on this side of the world.

18. More Marble than the Entire Vatican

Much of the Glasgow City Chambers was built with Carrara marble from Italy.
Much of the Glasgow City Chambers was built with Carrara marble from Italy.

You may think there’s no place more opulent than Vatican City, but believe it or not, one structure in Glasgow has it beat.

Just the Glasgow City Chambers alone contains more marble than the entire Vatican. This building is so ornate and lavish that it’s even featured in movies as the Vatican.

It’s open to visitors, so anyone can stop by to gaze in awe at this luxurious council building. It’s also home to Western Europe’s largest marble staircase.

19. Women’s Library

Women's Library
In this unassuming building is the Women’s Library, the only accredited museum in the UK dedicated to women’s stories. / Credit: jtweedie1976

The Women’s Library is one of few libraries in the whole world dedicated solely to women’s stories, histories, and achievements.

However, this inspiring library is not just a place to borrow books. It’s home to many important artifacts from feminist history, such as Suffragette memorabilia and old newsletters from the Women’s Liberation movements.

This powerhouse of feminist education also helps thousands of women across the country through various social programs and services. Every year, it holds hundreds of public events and activities to raise awareness and fuel dialogue on important progressive issues.

20. Unfiltered Scottish Charm

Lady with scottish flags on her face
You can’t get to know Scotland without experiencing Glasgow, the big and colorful heart of the nation.

So, what makes Glasgow different from Edinburgh? This is a question I’ve asked many Glaswegians and they never miss a beat before answering.

For the posh, polished, and tourist-oriented side of Scotland? Visit Edinburgh. For real, raw, and unfiltered Scottish charm? Glasgow is the place to be.

You’ll see the gems of Scotland’s past in Edinburgh and its bright future in Glasgow. This city has no pretenses and you’ll get to know Scottish people on a deeper level than you would anywhere else.

If you’ve ever visited Glasgow, let us know what you thought in the comments below!

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