Merchant City – a guide for visiting this vibrant part of Glasgow in 2023


Edinburgh is the Scottish city which attracts the most visitors, but it's often said that Glasgow is the city where all the fun is. The Merchant City area of Glasgow is definitely part of that fun - here you'll find an interesting mix of great places to eat, fun places to go for a drink, and plenty of entertainment for shopping enthusiasts and culture vultures. We wanted to publish a guide to highlight this area for anyone planning to visit in 2023, let's get into it:

Where is Merchant City?

The Merchant City is a trendy and upscale neighborhood located in the heart of Glasgow, Scotland. It is situated just east of the city center, bounded by Trongate to the south and Ingram Street to the north. The area is known for its beautiful architecture, high-end shopping, and lively entertainment scene. Visitors to the Merchant City can explore the many trendy boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants, or take a stroll through one of the many green spaces, such as the Glasgow Green or the Victoria Gardens. With its rich history and vibrant culture, the Merchant City is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Glasgow.

Why is it called 'Merchant City'?

The area is named after the merchants who once dominated the area during the 18th and 19th centuries. During that period, Glasgow was a major center for trade and commerce, with the River Clyde serving as an important port for shipping goods to and from the city. The merchants who operated in the area were responsible for much of the city's wealth and prosperity, and their influence is still evident in the many grand buildings and warehouses that dot the neighborhood.

What is there to see and do in Merchant City?

As we mentioned in our introduction, despite the relatively small size of the area, you've got plenty to see and do in and around Merchant City. Here are some of the highlights:

Head to the shops

Whether you're looking to pick up designer fashion clothes or vintage and retro clothing, there is something for every taste in Merchant City. The popular high-end stores include big name brands such as Mulberry and Vivienne Westwood, and these obviously have their place for people who have the budget. But we think the real gems in this area are the quirky independent shops like Mr. Ben Retro Clothing and the Glasgow Vintage Company, where you'll find an eclectic mix of clothing from a range of eras.

Enjoy an excellent curry

The Indian restaurants in Glasgow's Merchant City are some of the best in the city, and are definitely worth a visit for anyone who loves Indian cuisine. It's hard to single out one of the Indian restaurants in the area as the best, because they're all good and everyone has their own favourite. This picture is from a meal we had at KoolBa, which was excellent. But other popular options include Dakhin, The Dhabba, Cafe Indian, and Green Gates. We can't pick a favourite, so you'll just have to try all of them!
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Visit the art galleries

If you're an art aficionado, Merchant City is a great area to head to as you'll find some of the best art galleries in Scotland here. The Glasgow Print Studio, the Transmission Gallery, and the Gallery of Modern Art, which features a wide range of exhibitions by both established and emerging artists.

Enjoy the nightlife

The bars in Glasgow's Merchant City are some of the most lively and entertaining in the city and are definitely worth a visit for anyone looking for a great night out. Grab a cocktail at either Bacchus, Metropolitan, or Bar Soba, or head to Gin71 for a great night of gin tasting. If you're looking for a more straightforward place to grab a drink then Cairns Bar is a good option, as is Grace's Irish Sports Bar. But if you want a more interesting place to enjoy a beer, the Brewdog in Merchant City is a great choice and is probably the coolest Brewdog bar in the whole of Glasgow.

Walk to Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow University is about 2 miles from the Merchant City, so maybe a little far for some people to walk. But Glasgow Caledonian University is under 1 mile away, and if you want to visit a vibrant university during your time in the Merchant City then GCU is easily reachable. If you're walking from Merchant City (or Glasgow Queen Street station) then this is the best walking route to follow:
  • From Merchant City, walk along Ingram St then onto Montrose St
  • Follow Montrose St for 0.2 miles until you reach Cathedral St
  • Walk along Cathedral St for 0.2 miles until you reach N Hanover St
  • Walk 300ft down Cowcaddens Rd and you'll see GCU
  • Find this route on Google Maps here

Head to the Glasgow Police Museum

The Glasgow Police Museum is a unique attraction that is well worth a visit for anyone interested in the history of law enforcement in Scotland. The museum is housed in the old police station at 30 Bell Street in the heart of the Merchant City, and features a range of fascinating exhibits that showcase the evolution of policing in Glasgow over the past two centuries. Visitors can learn about the different uniforms, equipment, and techniques used by the police throughout the years, as well as some of the most notable crimes and criminals that have shaped the city's history. Overall, the Glasgow Police Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in law enforcement, history, or Scottish culture.

How to get to Merchant City?


It's pretty straightforward to get to Merchant City, as it's right in the heart of Glasgow and just a short walk from the Queen Street station. If you're walking from Buchanan Street, head to George Square and from there it's just a short hop over.
Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to visit this brilliant area of Glasgow. As we mentioned, we have guides about other areas of UK cities including Brick Lane in London, North Laine and Rottingdean in Brighton, as well as Liverpool's Chinatown and Southsea in Portsmouth.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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