The hottest neighborhood in Glasgow right now is Finnieston. This once-neglected area along the banks of the River Clyde is now home to a vibrant mix of restaurants, pop-up bars, and art venues. The first hipster venue to lay stakes here was arguably the seafood restaurant Crabshakk in 2009, and its reputation was cemented with the opening of the Zaha Hadid–designed Riverside Museum as well as the SSE Hydro Arena (pictured), which has hosted the MTV Europe Music Awards as well as events from the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Most of the action in Finnieston is centered along a short stretch of Argyle Street. Although Finnieston itself does not have any hotels, citizenM is about a 20-minute walk away. Keep in mind that many shops and restaurants are closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly when you visit.
This Zaha Hadid-designed museum was named the 2013 Museum of the Year by the European Museum Forum. The focus of the Riverside Museum is travel and transport, and the interior looks (and feels) like an airport hangar, albeit one with a pistachio-green, swooping ceiling. Everything from 1969 Fords, old chopper bicycles, and steam trains are on display, but it’s also a hands-on museum. Highlights include a replica of a Victorian Main Street where visitors can pop into shops and a pub, as well as models of the QE2 and Queen Mary, which were built in Glasgow. Ewan McGregor’s bike used in the documentary Long Way Down is also here.
The Tall Ship
Don’t miss The Tall Ship, which is located just behind the Riverside Museum. The Glenlee was built in 1896 on the River Clyde, and is one of only five Clyde-built sailing ships that are still afloat today. Visitors can tour the crew’s snug bunks and officer’s more salubrious quarters, and displays that highlight Glasgow’s maritime history. The lower level of the boat has been transformed into a café and gift shop full of pirate-themed toys.
Hidden Lane Tea Rooms
Tucked down a lane off Argyle Street, the Hidden Lane Tea Room has a quaint, shabby-chic décor thanks to its mismatched china and floral tablecloths. This is a great spot for afternoon tea, or you could just order a cloudy apple juice and tuck into a fig-and-amaretto cookie, or pecan-and-apple cake.
This gourmet sandwich shop looks like it was transplanted from New York City thanks to its subway tiles and industrial metal stools. Pull up a seat at the wooden bar and order a tea (the mugs are the size of soup bowls) or locally roasted coffee while you decide on your sandwich. Choices at Piece include banh mi, the “Fatboy” which includes hand-cut ham, egg mayo, and cheddar; or tuna harrisa. Wash it all down with an apple-and-rhubarb juice from Cawston Press.
Soul Barber Room
In need of a trim, but want to do it in old-school style? Then head to Soul Barber Room (1013 Argyle Street, 44 141 221 2208), where clients can enjoy a beer, rum, or mango juice while waiting and listening to soul music. Fittingly, the walls are decorated with Motown photos.
Housed in a small building sandwiched between two larger properties, the Finnieston has the look and feel of a captain’s house. Interiors have a slightly nautical theme, with highly varnished wooden tables, and an old stone fireplace. The menu is seafood heavy. Go for the kedgeree, an Anglo-Indian dish featuring curried rice and smoked mackerel. Traditional fish and chips is served with a tiny jar of pickles.
Veneer Art Gallery
This petite new art gallery showcases contemporary art. Its most recent exhibit highlighted the works of Scottish pop artist Dominic Currie, whose work is inspired by Roy Lichtenstein. Currie’s exhibit took a humorous look at the Scottish referendum debate, while an upcoming exhibit will showcase works from the Glasgow School of Art graduates.
The Shop of Interest
This art gallery and boutique is an ideal spot to pick up a gift or creative souvenir. The Shop of Interest sells original and limited edition prints, tote bags, and jewelry.
It’s worth a stop at Lebowskis just to see its creative menu. This restaurant is inspired by the Coen brothers’ film, and its cocktails are named after some of the best quotes from the film, such as “The Toe” and “The Creedence” (the menu includes the corresponding quote). “The Dude” aside, the burgers and beer are top-notch.
Christina Valhouli writes about travel, beauty and lifestyle trends. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Post and Departures.com. Follow her on Twitter: @cvalhouli.