Many people consider Edinburgh as the first port of call when visiting Scotland, however, Glasgow can more than give Auld Reekie a run for it’s money. It is a city with so much to offer and is suitable for hen and stag parties, weekend breaks or romantic getaways.
Sweeney’s On the Park – South Side
Glasgow’s south side of the city is host to attractions like the Burrell Collection, Pollok Park, House for an Art Lover, Hampden Park ( the National Stadium), the Citizens Theatre, the Tramway Theatre and the Science Centre. There are also plenty of great venues to stop off for a drink and enjoy live music.
Sweeney’s is another hidden gem on the southside of the city. Located minutes from the bustle of Shawlands Cross, opposite Queens Park, visitors can relax in the recently refurbished lounge or bar. The pub’s strength lies in the wealth of live music on show. With regular offerings of traditional Scottish And Irish music, folk, blues, jazz and country and western acts playing in the lounge. Website: www.sweeneysonthepark.com
The Ben Nevis Bar – West End
If you like whisky and blazing fiddles then The Ben Nevis Bar on Argyle Street is well worth a visit. With the friendliest staff in the city and a wall of the finest ‘uisge beatha’ (whiskey) to choose from The Ben Nevis has the ingredients for a great night .
The pub runs live jam sessions on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 9pm (all musicians are welcome). The place comes alive with fiddles, accordions, guitars and bodrans to provide a memorable Scottish music experience. This a very cosy bar with a modern take on traditional style. Website: www.thebennevis.co.uk.. There is a good selection of accommodation available nearby which can be viewed here.
The Horse Shoe Bar – City Centre
If you want to experience a more traditional Glasgow pub then head for Drury Street and the famous Horse Shoe Bar. The Horses Shoe is renowned for it’s enormous Victorian Bar. The bar is over 104 feet long and is reputedly the longest in Europe. The pub has retained almost all of the original detailing, ceramic murals and cornicing.
The equine theme runs through the downstairs bar even being shown in the horseshoe shaped fireplace. The entire building has been listed by Glasgow City Council and Historic Scotland have awarded the building Category A status such is the importance of the building. It is the perfect venue to escape the rigours of a Glasgow centre shopping trip. The pub is also well known for the quality of its Karaoke night in the upstairs lounge (Garry Mullen, who won the Stars in their Eyes TV talent show as Freddie Mercury in 2000 was a regular visitor). The Horseshoe Bar was also where Glasgow band Travis practised before hitting the big time. Website: www.thehorseshoebarglasgow.co.uk
BrewDog Glasgow – West End
We are not sure what links craft beers and beautiful buildings but BrewDog Glasgow sits across from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Real ale fans can partake in a pint while looking out onto one of Glasgow’s most spectacular buildings.
The pub has 7 core beers ( Like Hardcore IPA and 5am Saint) available with guest ales and special batches appearing throughout the year. BrewDog infamously created a 55% alcohol strength lager and sold a beer that was bottled inside a stuffed squirrel. The bar opened in 2011 and continues to offer an alternative to chain pubs.
Sloan’s Bar – City Centre
A few minutes walk from the Horseshoe hidden in a lane off of bustling Buchanan Street is Sloans. It can realistically claim to be Glasgow’s oldest bar and restaurant. Originally built in 1797 as a Coffee House this beautifully decorated establishment is set over three levels.
It has a bar and bistro, private dining and a grand ballroom on the top floor. The ballroom hosts Ceilidh’s most Fridays and these raucous dancing are great for the novice and expert alike. On Sundays the Ballroom is host to high teas for those who prefer a more genteel get together. If cinema is more your thing then Tuesday’s film night should work. Please note that it is wise to book these events in advance. Website: www.sloansglasgow.com
King Tuts Wah Wah Hut – City Centre
King Tuts for short is a world renowned music venue and bar that spawned Brit pop brethren Oasis in 1993. It began in 1990 to ensure a 7 night a week live music venue in the city centre.
Acts such as Beck, Biffy Clyro, The Verve, Paramore, Travis, Fran Ferdinand, Coldplay. The Strokes and Blur have also all graced the stage here, to name a few.
King Tuts has been proclaimed as “Quite possibly the finest small venue in the world” by the NME. Come to King Tuts for a drink and you may find yourself watching the next big thing. Website: www.kingtuts.co.uk
West Brewery – East
West Brewery is to be found in the east of the city centre. Housed in the beautiful Templeton Building this micro brewery is perfect for those who like to mix their drinking with architecture. The building is modelled on the Doge’s Palace in Venice and is truly spectacular.
The product that is manufactured at West Brewery adheres to German Purity Laws when creating their artisan lagers and wheat beers. Currently 8 main beers are on offer (with one created in homage to the aforementioned King Tuts). Drinkers can sup their preferred brew from steins whilst enjoying food off the German influenced menu. The sun trap beer garden looks out onto The People’s Palace Museum, another architectural gem set in Glasgow’s oldest pubic park. West welcomes families with children until the early evening. Website: www.westbeer.com/west
The Butterfly and the Pig – City Centre
The Butterfly and the Pig is another multitasking venue. It offers a kitschy restaurant, relaxed bar and a tea room. The food at the B & P is a big draw and be sure to bring a big appetite as the portions are huge.
The menu is written to amuse (although you may need a Glaswegian to translate for you) and is part of the pubs quirky charm. When dining expect mismatched vintage crockery and cutlery. The relaxed atmosphere of this bar is a revelation so close to the city centre. The adjoining Tea Rooms offer High Tea for those who prefer tea (although Champagne high teas are available). It may be worth noting that a sister branch has opened at Partick Cross in the west end. Website: www.thebutterflyandthepig.com
Oran Mor – West End
At Glasgow’s West End, on Byres Road, is the Oran Mor. Previously known as Kelvinside Parish Church, an impressive refurbishment has created a bar, two restaurants, a nightclub and a theatre in one.
Local literary heavyweight Alasdair Gray was commissioned to create breathtaking frescoes which are well worth seeing. Oran Mor is a perfect location for dining, drinking or dancing. As mentioned they operate a lunchtime theatre which provides ‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint’. Live music is a regular occurrence either in the upstairs auditorium or The Venue. Acts such as Lana Del Ray, Tom Vek, Patrick Wolf and Gruff Rhys have all played here. For those looking for a really late night Oran Mor has it’s own night club in the basement. There is also a small beer garden to the front where you can watch the good people of the West End wander by. Website: www.oran-mor.co.uk
Clockwork Orange Pub Crawl
Glasgow must be one of the few cities that can boast a pub crawl based on a mass transit system. The Clockwork Orange Pub Crawl involves having a drink at the pub whick is the nearest to each underground station on the system. That means a total of 15 drinks (there are 15 subway stations in the underground loop) over a 6.5 mile journey. Website: www.spt.co.uk/subway
See also: Pubs in Edinburgh
Do you have any recommendations, tips or stories about Glasgow pubs? Contributions Welcome.