WITH MORE THAN 700 to choose from, it’s almost a criminal act to visit Glasgow without sampling its pubs. And as the U.K.’s music capital and Britain’s only UNESCO City of Music, the options for after-work entertainment are staggering.
Glasgow’s nightlife pulses throughout its grid of city center streets, blending eastward into the Merchant City neighborhood. For early evening drinks with colleagues choose The Salon, the smartly serene lounge above the lobby of Blythswood Square Hotel. The Restaurant at Blythswood Square is a good place to wind up the day’s business, with discrete private booths and a menu based on fresh local ingredients. Only a short walk from Royal Glasgow Concert Hall, it’s also a good choice if evening plans include the theater. In the next block, try one of Glasgow’s best seafood restaurants, Two Fat Ladies, known for straightforward treatment of fresh Scottish seafood and Highland game.
Pubs often serve traditional foods to fortify “punters” as they sample local ales. One of Glasgow’s favorites, Blackfriars in Merchant City, features cider-steamed mussels, steak and ale pie and beer-battered haddock with hand-cut chips. The Horseshoe Bar on Drury Street, whose Edwardian interior has barely changed since its 1884 opening, claims the U.K.’s longest bar, at 100 feet. Glasgow’s most famous malt whiskey pub, The Pot Still on Hope Street, opened in 1867 and serves more than 300 varieties.
A prolonged pub crawl doesn’t mean missing Glasgow’s other after-hours specialty: its music scene. Mix pub vibe, a wide choice of whiskeys and craft beers and live Scottish music at The Ben Nevis on Argyle Street. The laidback pub Admiral Bar on Waterloo offers club nights in its basement. Scotia Bar — Glasgow’s oldest pub, dating from 1792 — remains one of the best live venues for folk music.
The various rooms at The Garage, on Sauchiehall Street, host live bands and dance parties, and the tonier Shimmy Club on Royal Exchange Square plays electro and house. Many of Glasgow’s LGBTQ clubs and bars are in Merchant City: The Polo Lounge on Wilson Street has a good dance floor, although Bennets on Glassford Street is the best known. The Waterloo on Argyle Street is a gay pub.
Between pubs there’s a handy place for shopping. Open until 7 p.m. (8 p.m. on Thursday), House of Fraser on Buchanan Street is where to find a Harris Tweed cap, a Lyle & Scott golf sweater and other Scottish brands.
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