When I tell friends from uni that I live in the East End, the first response is usually: ‘I’ve never been there’. In Glasgow we have a word for this: the Glasgow West End Bubble. If you are a student at the University of Glasgow like myself, and unless you pay a visit to the shops or clubs on Sauchiehall, Buchanan or Argyle Street, or visit the theatre or cinema in the city centre, there really is no need to leave the neighbourhood.
The West End has everything you need, which is why many students don’t branch out very much, and end up leaving Glasgow with a degree, but no deeper knowledge of the city. I did not want to meet the same fate.
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In the 3-and-a-bit years I’ve lived in Glasgow I’ve stayed in the swanky West End neighbourhood of Kelvindale, housed in a tiny ground floor flat in the trendy Finnieston area, moved to the other end of town to live it up in Dennistoun and got a good idea of the Southside by staying with my partner in Govanhill. You could say I’ve lived around.
And while that is not something special in and of itself, it gave me the opportunity to escape the Glasgow West End Bubble and find out what Glasgow has to offer beyond the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Here are ten of my favourite secrets.
1) Queen’s Park
While I love the glasshouses in the Botanic Gardens, Queen’s Park in the Southside of Glasgow and its greenhouses outplay its West End equivalents in size and features. Queen’s Park is not just bigger, it also has a pond, a bandstand and a flagpole up on the hill from where you get a great view over the city and the hills in the north. The Glad Cafe even hosts regular free foraging walks around the park!
The glasshouses in Queen’s Park are just as impressive and lush as the ones in the West End, but they have the great benefit of having a cafe inside, so you can sit in the hot and humid air and enjoy a piece of cake.
How to get here: Hop on the Cathcart train from the Glasgow Central and get off at Queen’s Park station. From the West End take bus 4 which lets you off just a few steps away from the glasshouses.
2) A pub crawl on Pollokshaws Road
It is time to leave the pubs and bars of the Glasgow West End Bubble behind and explore what drinking holes lie south of the river Clyde. One road you will not want to miss is Pollokshaws Road.
Begin with Caribbean food and a rum of the week at The Rum Shack, sometimes they even have live music and in summer you have to check out their beer garden.
Visit the neighbourhood award-winning Allison Arms pub just across the road and help yourself to one of the many German beers from the fridge – don’t forget to pay at the bar.
How to get here: Either take the Cathcart train to Queen’s Park, or hop on bus 3 from right outside Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
3) Govanhill Baths
The Govanhill Baths are run by a local community organisation that hosts wellbeing and health activities and courses for the neighbourhood.
There are regular cookery courses as well as knitting clubs, but the Baths also host events such as film screenings, discussions, theatre, poetry or live music. It’s a great venue outside the city centre and worth bookmarking on Facebook!
How to get here: From the West End take busses 4 or 6.
Glasgow is a festival city, there is no way to deny that. But did you know the Southside has it’s own range of festivals going on year-round?
The Southside Film Festival brings cinema back to the Southside of Glasgow after the last cinema in the neighbourhood closed its doors in 2001. Therefore it is not located in a cinema, but rather pops up screens wherever it can!
5) A Day in Dennistoun
Of course the Southside isn’t the only place to escape the Glasgow West End Bubble to. Dennistoun is a great place for a wee day trip filled with bargain hunting at The Barras or in charity shops, a visit to the museum at the People’s Palace or an afternoon at Glasgow Women’s Library.
Read up on how to spend a day in the East End of Glasgow!
How to get here: Hop on the train from Partick to Bridgeton, or change in the city centre and get off at Bellgrove or Duke Street.
6) Explore the East End Food Scene
If you are a foodie, forget about the trendy restaurants on Argyle Street or the cafes on Great Western Road – explore the foodie scene of Glasgow’s East End instead! This is where you can dine at the original Celino’s restaurant, taste beers and bug grub at the WEST brewery or Drygate and devour gorgeous vegan bagels at Kind Crusts.
How to get here: Take the train from Queen Street to Alexandra Parade and make your way back West through Dennistoun.
7) Seven Lochs Wetland Park
You don’t have to go far from Glasgow to find yourself surrounded by beautiful nature. Instead of spending the day lounging in Kelvingrove Park, why don’t you head east to the Seven Lochs Wetland Park?
How to get here: Take the train from Queen Street to Blairhill Station.
8) Cathcart Circle Crawl
Have you ever heard of the infamous Subcrawl? If you’re a student in Glasgow, you probably have – but just in case: a Subcrawl is a pubcrawl where you hit up a different pub on each stop of Glasgow’s subway system. There is only one line which consists of 15 stations – that’s quite a lot of drinks!
For a change of scenery, try and do a Cathcart Circle Crawl with eleven stops. Pubs might not always be as easy to find as during a Subcrawl, but at least you get to see new parts of the Southside which you hadn’t explored yet!
9) Markets at Drygate
Glasgow is not the greatest city for weekly markets – having a reasonably priced farmer’s market on my door step is probably one of the things I miss the most from my days in Berlin and Vienna. But Glasgow has a strength in other kinds of markets – design and craft markets.
My favourite market venue might just be the Drygate craft brewery at the foot of the Necropolis. Every 1st and 3rd Sunday they host the Urban Market, usually with a different theme every time, such as interior, kitchen or fashion and design. Make sure to follow them on FB for updates!
How to get here: Drygate is in easy walking distance from the city centre!
10) Pollok Country Park
And finally, another great way to escape the Glasgow West End Bubble and find some peace and solitude in nature is a visit to Pollck Country Park. It is the city’s largest park, and architecture and art fans will fall in love with Pollok House and the Burrell Collection. The park has extensive woodlands as well as beautifully crafted gardens. There is a miniature skiing hill, and the best news is that this is probably your best chance to see Highland Coos without having to leave the city!
I know, it is easy to surrender into routine and not making the effort to move beyond one’s own comfort zone. The West End of Glasgow is a great neighbourhood, but if I’ve learnt one thing from moving around Glasgow, then that it has plenty of other cool areas with plenty of things to to try and do. Just give it a shot and escape the Glasgow West End Bubble every once in a while!
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