As world leaders meet in the Scottish city for the UN’S 26th Climate Change Conference, here's Vogue Scandinavia's guide to a stylish trip in Europe's greenest destination
In collaboration with Visit Britain
This November, Glasgow is hosting the UN’S 26th Climate Change Conference (or COP26). As one of the greenest cities in Europe, it’s a fitting choice. Eco-tourism is booming in Scotland - and Glasgow is one of the best examples.. Figures don't lie, and proof of the fact that Glasgow has a green spirit -which becomes greener every day– is that 22 per cent of the city (18,000 hectares) has been designed to protect nature and biodiversity.
You’ll find a range of sustainable restaurants and hotels and it’s a fantastic destination for a city break. No wonder earlier this year Condé Nast Traveller crowned it the UK’s best for a weekend away. Edinburgh may take top billing when it comes to finance, politics and tourism, but Glasgow is the cultural capital of modern Scotland.
Glasgow’s culinary scene has experienced a boom in the last few years. Cail Bruich, in the heart of the leafy west end, is Glasgow’s only Michelin-starred restaurant. It serves Scottish cuisine at its finest, using high-quality seasonal ingredients. If you’d like a more experimental take on the local cuisine, nearby Stravaigin offers a menu which is playful and eclectic. Ubiquitous Chip is a Glasgow institution, much beloved for its high-end Scottish cuisine and stylish, plant-filled interior. As well as being committed to using sustainable ingredients, it boasts a fantastic location in Ashton Lane, a picturesque area notable for its cobbled streets, fairy lights, and abundance of bars and restaurants.
The Gannet, also in the west end, offers a high quality Scottish fine dining experience, and an excellent wine list to match. In the city centre, you’ll find Gamba, a seafood restaurant which uses only ethically caught fish and locally sourced produce, and which was awarded the UK’s Best Seafood Restaurant in 2015.
From raucous to laid-back, Glasgow’s nightlife caters to every mood. The Old Toll Bar might look quaint, but the atmosphere is deceptively vibrant: on the weekends, you can expect live music and DJ sets. Tabac has a brilliant cocktail list and the kind of moody lighting that’s perfect for sultry conversations. For whiskey lovers, the Ben Nevis has a superlative selection.
Warehouse venue SGW3 offers a clubbing experience with a sustainable twist: it’s trialing a renewable energy system which powers the building by harnessing the body heat of people dancing. Now, that’s green energy Glaswegians can get behind. As for accomodation, Brunswick Hotel is a great choice if you're looking for somewhere affordable but chic. For old-world glamour, voco Glasgow Central is housed within one of the UK’s most jaw-droppingly grand Victorian buildings.
In terms of sheer variety, Glasgow offers more culture than any other destination in the UK. No individual has shaped the aesthetic of the city more than Art Nouveau architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and you can explore his legacy at the Mackintosh at the Willow tea-room. House for an Art Lover, also designed by Mackintosh, is an art gallery set amid a resplendent park. The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery is Scotland’s oldest public museum and showcases everything from Scottish history to modern art. The Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) is running a series of stand-alone events related to COP26, as well as a major exhibition.
While resolutely urban in character, Glasgow is not short of opportunities to embrace the outdoors. Glasgow Bike Tours offer a great way to take in all the major sights, all the while keeping your carbon footprint to zero. If walking is more your thing, follow the City Centre Mural Trail to see some of Glasgow’s excellent street art, much of which is characteristically tongue-in-cheek.
The west end’s Kelvingrove Park, with its wrought-iron gates and views towards the University, is an impossibly romantic place to take a stroll, while the easily accessible Loch Lomond by public transport only one hour far, offers some of Europe’s most gorgeous scenery. Overlooking the water, you’ll find one of the UK’s best hotels: the sumptuous Cameron House, which is looking all the grander after a recent restoration.
It’s also easy to travel further into the Highlands: the Isle of Arran is just a short journey away, and its stark, ethereal beauty makes it well worth the trip. Translated from Gaelic, Glasgow’s name means ‘Dear green place'. As this innovative and forward-thinking city continues to embrace sustainability, the moniker is more fitting now than ever.