Everyone talks about Edinburgh as being the place to be in Scotland. While they aren’t wrong about the many things to do there, majority of people over look the busy city of Glasgow.
Besides the cultural aspect of Glasgow, the city boasts some of the best and liveliest bars and clubs of the country. There are a variety of places for different moods; from casual to glam clubbing.
Below is a list of some of the many places to visit for a night out based on different moods and vibes.
Sloan’s is considered to be one of the oldest pubs in the city. It’s hidden along Argyle St in between some shops, but it’s a definite place to be Thurs-Saturday nights for the locals. Inside is a traditional pub that looks like it hasn’t changed since it’s opening in 1782, while the outside is decorated to fit the modern chic vibes of Glasgow with their outdoor tables.
Gin71 is a more Instaworthy place to be, and perfect for date/girls night! They are known for their flights of gin (hence the name) but they do serve cocktails without gin if that’s not your thing. I definitely recommend this place for anyone visiting Glasgow as it perfectly encompasses the vibes of Glasgow.
If you visit Glasgow and do not visit Oran Mor during your trip, what are you doing?! One of the many churches turned pubs, Oran Mor is a popular local destination. You will find this place packed almost every night, and more so Thursday-Saturday.
Despite the name, Hillhead Book Club has nothing to do with books (I learned this the hard way lol). A popular night out destination for those between 20-32, this place is filled with character and a fun environment. The bar has a ping pong table, a couple of arcade games and plenty of tables and booths for those in large groups or on a date.
Hummingbird is very much a place you go for cute pics! They have an amazing interior design, filled with swinging chairs, neon lights with cute sayings and an even cooler top floor for private events.
Tip: Most clubs require a £5 cash entry fee so make sure that you have plenty of cash on you (some places even require a minimum amount to put on a card, so if you order a £3 shot and the minimum is £5 then you might as well order another shot). Also, if you do attend school in the UK – or possibly the EU even – you can get a discount on the entry fee (depends on the place), so make sure to keep your Student ID on you!
Kokomo is where all the newly 18 year olds and other Uni students go for a night out. There are 3 different rooms each with a different music theme (Current Pop, 2000s/Pop Rock, and Rap). The DJs are alright. I found that they changed the music too quickly for my taste so it never felt like a blended well into another song.
Bamboo is right next door to Kokomo and is owned by the same people. They have a similar theme and layout as Kokomo, but basically has better DJs. Same 3 different rooms/music, and is typically packed with the same crowd as Kokomo. If given the choice, choose Bamboo and go at 11:30 before the line gets too long.
Lola’s is below Hummingbird, but is another nice club that has good music and a pretty nice environment. This is another place that is popular for the recently legal people, so it can get out of hand fairly quickly. I would mostly recommend this place for those who are 18-24 and enjoy the latest pop and rap music.
Mango is an interesting blend of casual club vibes but glam people. This is definitely for those who want to dance and not be surrounded by a bunch of young Uni students. The basement has two dance floors; Latin music and Pop Rock, while the main floor has Current Pop/Rap. The DJs are usually pretty good, so you can never go wrong with Mango. They usually get pretty busy by 11:45pm, so try to arrive at least 15 minutes earlier.
Garage has a more edgy vibe and they have 3 different rooms (Current Pop/Rap, Rock, and 2000s Pop), but the main dance floor is much bigger than you’ll find at any other club in Glasgow. Still has a very young crowd (17-20) but you can actually move around without bumping into a bunch of people everywhere you go. Drinks are relatively cheap, and they have promos all the time.
Oran Mor Club – This is on the side of the Oran Mor building facing Great Western Rd. The club has one main dance floor and plays mostly 2000s Pop Rock with some new music. It generally doesn’t get too crowded so you have a little more leniency on when you want to go, and is great for those with old school music taste and those who enjoy a relaxing dance club.
Buff Club is hidden down an alley on Bath Lane (behind The Butterfly and The Pig) and typically composes of people from different generations. The main pub on the ground level is very casual and usually is best for just chilling with a pint of beer and chatting with friends. The upstairs level plays a variety of music, from the 70s to current songs, and even has some booths to sit in on above the dance floor (so the 3rd level for Americans, and the 2nd level for others).
Sub Club is near St. Enoch’s Mall and Argyle Street. It primarily plays more EDM/techno music, and there is a £15 entrance fee. This is by far the most expensive entrance fee I’ve ever experience, and the reason why I try to avoid going there. Overall, I’ve heard good things about it from my friends who like that music (Unfortunately I am not one of those people :/). The environment is pretty casual, diverse groups of people, drinks are good, and you’ll likely have a lot of fun!
Tip: Most people do not show up to the clubs until close to 12am, so if you don’t want to be stuck in a long line then I recommend arriving around 11:30pm if not a little earlier. Most places close by 2 or 3am, so I recommend having a back-up or two of places you want to go if your first choice doesn’t work out.
There are obviously other great pubs and clubs in Glasgow, these are the ones that I went to and found to be some of the best personally. The experience may change depending on the environment on the night, but usually you can never go wrong with a Saturday night arriving around 11:30pm.
If you want more ideas on where to go out in Glasgow, check out designmynight.com for all things Glasgow (and the rest of the UK & Ireland)! They identify different places based on mood and price, along with type of environment. This is an essential resource if you plan on going out anywhere in the UK and Ireland, so make sure to check it out!
During the summer I went to Dublin twice; the first time alone and the second time with my flatmate. The first time was great as I could experience a new city as I pleased, and really take my time exploring because I didn’t have to worry about entertaining a travel partner as well and trying to fill my day to the last second. One of my favorite things to do is get lost in a city and just explore the different side streets, or stop by a tourist shop and see the different tours and museums to visit. The second trip with my friend was also enjoyable as we got to experience and make so many memories together while in a (relatively) new place! We visited some museums that’s our mutual friends recommended and other new areas that we stumbled upon.
Before you start planning your trip to Dublin, you need to know that Ireland, and Dublin in particular, are EXPENSIVE! This is something that my friends had not warned me about and I really wish they had told me before I went. While I greatly enjoyed Ireland and its lovely people and even lovelier scenery, the cost to stay there was just astounding. I learned that the cost of a pint of beer increases steadily throughout the night, especially in Temple Bar (the area, not just the tourist-trap bar itself).
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Museums, Tours and Sites to See
Book of Kells and Trinity College: If you visit Dublin you MUST visit Trinity College and see the Book of Kells! The price to see only the Book of Kells is €14, but for €15 there is an additional 30-minute tour of the campus which is really lovely. They offer this tour in 4 different languages; English, German, French and Italian. At the end of the tour you can stand in line to go into the Kells exhibit. The amount of time it takes to enter the exhibit depends on the time of day you go, but typically it is quicker from 12:30-2pm. There is a lot to see in the exhibit but if you don’t like to read a lot of signs then I recommend heading directly towards the Book of Kells. It is important to note that the Book of Kells is made up of 4 manuscripts, aka 4 separate books which comprise the Books of Kells. From what I could tell there were 2 manuscripts on the first floor of the exhibit, and one more on the second level which is also the old library! I definitely recommend staying for about 1-1.5 hours if possible. During summer time the exhibit does get very busy and congested, so try to plan accordingly and ensure to see the things you want to see in the building. There is a gift shop at the end which does have a book with all of the information mentioned in the exhibit that you can purchase.
EPIC Museum: The EPIC museum is by far my favorite museum that I have ever been to! It depicts the struggles and stories of Irish migrants through amazing technological imagery and interactive games. The exhibit itself flows similarly to an IKEA store, so you have to go through several rooms which tell a fascinating overall story. If you claim any Irish heritage then I highly recommend going to this museum (even if you don’t, it is really cool to see!). The tickets cost €16.50 Adults/€15 students and you can purchase tickets here. *Note: If you plan on going to other paying museums (e.g. Whiskey Museum), then you might want to purchase a package of both tickets to reduce the cost. This can be done at any Tourist store or with Sandeman’s during a tour.
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology: I am a huge history nerd so when I found out that there was a history museum nearby, I made a beeline to it! What is nice about this museum is that it focuses primarily on the Neolithic up to the Medieval time period of Ireland, meaning that you can see what life was like in the early civilization era of Ireland to the more modern times that we associate with Ireland. If you are interested in Vikings and Medieval society, then this is the place to visit (Also, if you’re a fan of the Vikings series on History channel then you have to visit NMI). One thing that was really interesting and yet totally unnerving to see was the bog bodies. If you are very squeamish then I highly recommend NOT going into this area. The museum was FREE – which was perfect for my student budget – and is located next several other free museums if you are interested. More information about the museum can be found here.
Sandeman’s New Dublin Tour: I have taken several Sandeman’s tours before and I will swear by them until I get a bad tour (so far all have been great!). This tour company offers 2.5 – 3 hour walking tours around Dublin, and is FREE! Yes, you read right. Now the way that this program goes is that the tour is free, but the tour guide requests a tip at the end. You determine the tip amount based on how well you enjoyed it. I always go for €5/person if it is decent, and then max €10 if I thought the guide was GREAT! I went on this tour twice (once on both trips), and had Ciaran as my tour guide. He was great and so entertaining; I would definitely go on another tour with him. He was very resourceful in terms of the overall history of the city and where to eat or visit while you are in town. All in all, I highly recommend taking this tour and any of the other ones they offer. If you’re interested in this, you can register for a tour here.
Sandeman’s Dublin Pub Crawl: I know I just mentioned Sandeman’s but I have to also note their Pub Crawls. Unlike the walking tour, this is one that you do have to pay for. It costs €12 for a wristband, but you can use it every night that you are in Dublin for up to a year! The tour starts at 7:30pm at Bad Bobs and then takes you to three other bars and ending at a club. Each location has their own discount drinks for the tour and offers a free shot to the group. The first time I went was when I was solo traveling, meaning that I was really pushing myself out of the comfort zone as I had never gone to a bar alone not knowing anyone. I was extremely fortunate to meet two extroverts from California who made me feel comfortable and got to know as the night went on. Since they are so friendly, our group slowly increased with two girls from Brazil! The pub crawl was a great way for everyone to meet people from different countries and learn new things which I don’t think I would have been able to if I hadn’t taken that leap to try something new and out of my comfort zone. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, you can sign up here.
One of the best things to do in Dublin (let alone Ireland) if you are there for only a few days is to go on a day tour! This is one of the easiest (and funnest IMO) ways to see Ireland, as you can just sit on a bus and hear stories about Ireland’s history or their mythology until you reach your destination and can explore on your own.
Wild Rover – Cliffs of Moher: This tour was recommended to me by the hostel I was staying at, and they did not let me down. I really enjoyed the tour itself, along with the guide. He was amazing as he told stories about Ireland and the mythology that the people still skeptically believe. The tour started really early (I had to be there at 6:50am), but I didn’t feel bored or too tired as the guide kept the group entertained which was greatly appreciated. Besides the Cliffs, we also stopped at Galway which was so cool to see! I’m such a huge fan of Ed Sheeran’s Divide album, and especially the “Galway Girl” song. Of course, I had to stop by the pub O’Connell’s Bar where they filmed most of the music video and had a pint, which felt awkward for me since I went on the tour alone and so I was at the pub alone having a pint. The pub has a large beer garden that looked lovely, but was busy when I was there as it was sunny in Galway at the time. The stay at Galway was very short, about 1.5 hours max. It was nice to see the city as it was very colorful and charming. If you want to go on this tour, you can sign up here. It is €55 adult/€45 student.
Ireland Day Tours – Cliffs of Moher: My friend found this tour when we went to Dublin together. It also required getting up early at 6am and walking to the Molly Malone statue to meet with the tour company. The meeting point for this company was much closer to my hostel than the Wild Rover tour company, which I greatly appreciated (because I’m lazy and it was chilly lol). This was also a good tour, but I did prefer having a tour guide that was not the bus driver as they had with Wild Rover. The guide for this tour was good, but there were long silent periods of time where both my friend and I fell asleep. I really enjoy being constantly engaged with during a tour (if we’re not walking around) because I will get tired and will fall asleep. The guide did sing several lovely Irish folk songs that I think really encapsulates the Irish culture and their history. The nice thing about this tour was that they offered a stop at a restaurant. An issue arose when my friend looked at the menu and realized that only one item was within her price range since she was on a strict budget. If you are trying to stay within a budget then I DO NOT recommend this tour company. Honestly, this tour guide was almost identical with the other, but you can grab food at a McDonald’s or a local cafe in Galway if you get hungry or at a gas station whenever the bus stops during the other tour. The prices are roughly the same, €50 adult/€45 student. If this tour sounds interesting to you then you can book here.
Food and Drinks
As I learned from my tour guide while sightseeing Dublin, Temple Bar was an area of the city long before some capitalized on it by naming a bar by the same name. This is the most expensive area to eat or drink, so if you are looking to save money then do not go to this area.
That being said, I really enjoyed a food chain called Chopped that I found all over Dublin. It is a healthy chain that focuses on salads, wraps, and smoothies and they chop (no pun intended) your food in front of you. It was on the pricier side, but I’ve found that everything is expensive in Dublin but the food was pretty filling!
Another place that I enjoyed was WOK IN Noodle Bar, which has two locations in Dublin, and was the few places where I felt the food was very filling and affordable. They have a student discount so make sure you have your student ID card if you have one! Warning: their food can be fairly spicy so if you can’t handle heat then make sure you choose an alternative or go to a different restaurant.
Traditional Irish pubs are a dime a dozen in Dublin, but O’Neill’s Pub has the additional perk of having two floors with three areas to order a pint from. They typically have classic Irish folk music and Irish dancers perform from 9pm-11pm every night, so make sure to visit then as well! Their schedule is listed here. Also, the pub does offer lunch and dinner but if you are interested in trying traditional Irish dishes then I recommend going to a restaurant for it. I was not that impressed with their food offerings, and neither was the person I was with. So, I highly recommend going for the music and dancing, but avoid the food.
A girl that I met at my hostel invited me to go to a bar at the Arlington Hotel as she heard that they have good live music on Friday nights, and I can attest that the bands they have are pretty good! The price for a pint wasn’t too bad, compared to the prices to those in the Temple Bar area. There is plenty of space, but tables and seats do fill up quickly so I recommend getting there a little earlier – probably between 6pm to 7pm. Overall, I would come back here again to listen to music and have a pint with someone.
If you prefer the more casual and younger vibe then The Grand Social is perfect for you! Downstairs they offer multiple areas where you can it and chat with friends, but offer a beer garden upstairs. The way to the beer garden looks kinda sketchy (aka creepy af) as you have to turned right into a dark painted hallway until you reach the stairs going up, and then walk up about 2 flights of stairs until there is a door on the left to the garden. I was in Dublin during the summer so it was perfect when the sun was out and it wasn’t raining (that VERY rare occasion). It was a really cool spot and I would definitely try to go visit again and recommend to all my friends.
Lastly, let’s discuss where to stay. I typically use Hostel World to book all my stays, as hostels tend to be 3-4x cheaper than an Airbnb or hotel room in Dublin. I do recommend looking at individual hostels’ websites as well since the price may be lower through their website instead of booking through Hostel World, who include a service fee.
If you’re a female traveler, and especially traveling solo, I highly recommend booking an all-female room. Usually these rooms cost a little bit more, but are definitely worthwhile if you want to meet other female travelers like yourself. In one of the hostels I stayed at, I booked an 18-person room for a few nights to save some money but that was probably the worst thing I could have done. Majority of the time I was the only girl in the room with 10-15+ guys, and sometimes it felt uneasy. Overall, it wasn’t the most comfortable experience but I did feel relatively safe. So, if you’re traveling solo and are somewhat introverted like myself, then I recommend staying in an all-female room if possible.
I stayed at two hostels near the city center and Temple Bar area, Abigail’s Hostel and Ashfield Hostel. Out of either of them, I would recommend Ashfield Hostel a hundred times more than Abigail’s. When determining which hostel to stay at, make sure you read the bad reviews as well. This is important because if something goes wrong, you want to make sure the hostel you are staying at handles it appropriately and is helpful. I experienced two different issues during my stays at each hostel. I can honestly say that Ashfield Hostel handled my issue considerably and was very kind, while Abigail’s Hostel was more along the lines of a nightmare. The only nice thing I’ll say about Abigail’s is that the one woman who helped me was very kind and helpful, but the boys were the rudest and unaccommodating even though I made several complaints about the same issue arising.
While Ashfield Hostel was much better overall, there were still some issues. Depending on how sensitive you are to noise, I wouldn’t recommend Ashfield due to its location next to a club where you can hear the music at 2am and the drunk party-goers outside.
Comment below if you have some other recommendations that I didn’t mention! I’m always looking for new things to do and see 🙂