Byres Road: Glasgow West End

Ashton Lane, Glasgow West End

Byres Road is often described as the “the main artery flowing through the heart of the area” – let’s just say that here the heart beats strongest. It is not the most beautiful part of the West End but it’s busy, vibrant and holds many attractions.

People come here with a purpose – to work and play, to shop, to meet friends for coffee, a drink or to catch a bite or celebrate in one of the many restaurants.

There are plenty of places where you can enjoy a wander, including the Lanes and the University with its Hunterian Gallery and Museum. Glasgow’s beautiful Botanic Gardens, which sits at the top of Byres Road, is another popular destination.

vinicombe-street_trees-chairs. wmud

Willie Miller of WMUD has created an outdoor space at Vinicombe Street as part of upgrading.

Christmas Market Vinicombe St

Pat at Christmas Market Vinicombe Street



Byres Road and surrounding lanes attract shoppers who prefer to escape the busy city centre department stores and the high street chains. It’s a great place to shop with many independently owned shops  Don’t miss: Starry, Starry NightThe Nancy Smillie Shop, Janet and John, Scottish Handmade Crafts,  and Stevenson Jewellers – stockists of Sheila Fleet Jewellery.  Papyrus and Oliver Bonas are other favourites and you’ll get great specs and service at Currie and Quirk, Opticians.


oxfam book shop

Oxfam Bookshop – which raises more money than any of their other shops in the UK.  Waterstones, Bookshop, to the delight of locals, opened in Autumn, 2015. More about bookshops in Glasgow West End.

N.B. Both Hyndland Bookshop and Waterstones Byres Road stock our book and complementary CD Ten Writers Telling Lies

Always worthwhile checking out Hillhead Library, 348 Byres Rd, Glasgow G12 8AP, where you can often find interesting exhibitions and events.

oxfam music shop


You can also enjoy an excellent browse in Oxfam Book Shop, 171 Byres Road.

One of my favourite shops is George Mewes, the cheese shop, so I wrote a little story about it. A Winter Wander on Byres Road. George Mewes and The Chip.

Pubs and cafes

Curlers Pub, Byres Road

Byres Road’s pubs and cafes are popular with locals and visitors to the West End and staff and students of the nearby University of Glasgow bring a lot of custom.  The University Cafe still remains a favourite, Patisserie Francoise is another well established cafe and you’ll also enjoy a cappuccino or chai latte at Tinderbox at the corner of Highburgh Road – what is the silver Vespa doing in the window?


Popular pubs include The Aragon, Tennents and Curlers (the oldest pub in the area). I also like  The Parlour in Vinicombe Street.  Oranmor, is the fabulous venue, which emerged out of the derelict church at the top of Byres Road. Now firmly established it’s popular with young people enjoying a night out and also the local literati. OranMor draws a large following to its lunchtime theatre – a Play, a Pie and a Pint

Byres Road restaurants and places to eat


The Ubiquitous Chip has gained iconic status and remains a firm favourite (See more under ‘Ashton Lane’. The eclectic selection of eateries is never ending. OranMor is a popular place to eat with a great choice of bar food plus their classy Brasserie Restaurant.  There’s a great choice of restaurants on Byres Road including Old Salty’s and Pizza Express – for fans of Italian cuisine you will enjoy, the ever popular, Little Italy  a perfect place for people watching, where you may see writers such as Denise Mina, Bernard MacLaverty  or actor, musician, Dave Allan stroll by.  At the bottom of Byres Road both Tony Macaroni and No 16 Byres Road, are popular eating destinations. Zizzi’s in Cresswell Lane is bright and spacious and has a super Italian menu.  If you prefer tapas then, also in the lane, you’ll find Cafe Andaluz.

West End Festival Parade


The Lanes

ashton lane g12

Ashton Lane

You’ll find Ashton Lane just off Byres Road, behind Hillhead Subway Station. It’s the busiest of the lanes and  the cobbled street is thronged, rain, hail or snow, with hardy revellers enjoying the bonhomie in and around Jinty McGinty’s bar, voted Scottish Bar of the Year in 2015.

Jinty’s often has live music. In Ashton Lane you will also find the much loved ‘Chip” the pub and wine bar attached to the beautiful Ubiquitous Chip restaurant,  the public’s favourite restaurant in Scotland – I worked there as a part time waitress back in the 70s). The restaurant is great for a special treat and the bar offers an excellent choice of wine and beers to its faithful clientele of local Westenders. This is where you are likely to find members of the media, academics and literary types hanging out. Other popular eateries include Brel and The Ashoka,  In Ashton Lane you will also find the local cinema The Grosvenor.

Ashton Lane Christmas

Cresswell Lane

cresswell lane winter

This is a great  place to shop and here you will find the fabulous  Nancy Smillie Shop,  perfect place for browsing and buying with an amazing selection of glassware, art, jewellery, accessories and furniture. De Courcy’s Arcade houses a variety of interesting shops including  Janet and John, Scottish Handmade Crafts 

The Cup and Saucer Vintage Tea Room takes you back to the fifties and you’ll love the quirky setting and home baked delicacies from an earlier era.  There are tea rooms, galleries and restaurants and Cresswell Lane particularly popular with al fresco diners, when the weather is clement.Watch out for Zizzi’s  and Cafe´Andaluz.  There’s always a bit of life about the lane  but it’s quiet enough to read your book or paper.

 Ruthven Lane


On the other side of Byres Road directly across from Hillhead Underground,  you will find Ruthven Lane – a good choice if you’re a fan of quirky shops, retro and  vintage.  Starry Starry Night, could be your perfect destination – supplier to Downton Abbey no less.  Fans of antiquities, bargain hunters and collectors love Ruthven Lane, where you will find an Antique Arcade, with lots of little shops including the fabulous The Studio. Relics is another favourite.   Di Maggio’s restaurant is a long standing favourite and the Hanoi Bike Shop, near the entrance to the lane, is also a great choice.


Byres Road is a great place for people watching, here you can bump into neighbours and friends and spot the odd celebrity. When you fancy escaping the bustle, the beautiful Botanic Gardens is situated at the top of Byres Road just across Great Western Road. It is huge and varied – with leafy walks by the River Kelvin, the famous Orchid House, pleasant gardens and the fantastic Kibble Palace

kibble palace jim byrne

Kibble Palace photograph Jim Byrne

Nearby you will also find the University of Glasgow, where Sir Gilbert Scott created the finest example of Gothic architecture in the city.  You will enjoy a wander in the cloisters, a visit to the fabulous Hunterian Galleries and the Hunterian Museum.

There are plans in place for a vast and exciting expansion of the University commencing April 2016 –  Plans for a World Changing Campus

Jim Byrne’s Daddy’s Car – Driving Down Byres Road


Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy “I See A Darkness” First video from the Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy EP “Now Here’s My Plan”.



This section: Guide, Pat's Home Page Blog, Travel

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Avatar of JimByrne West End based web Developer, writer, songwriter and musician. And the person who takes lots of photos for the Glasgow West End website.

4 responses to “Byres Road: Glasgow West End”

  1. I SO enjoyed reading this! As a former Westender it gave me a bit of a jolt into nostalgia for all the great places in Byres Road. We were regulars at the Chip and have also fond memories of the jazz sessions at Brel’s.Even an ex pat like me now , I still miss the buzz!

  2. Julie McTavish says:

    I love a day out in the West End. Great recommendations.

  3. Michaela Foster says:

    Great stuff Pat! x

  4. John Carlin says:

    I have returned to live in Glasgow after residing in Aberdeen for past 36 years…..I originally stayed in Drumchapel…..but left Glasgow in 1981… age 18 to seek work….
    I must say Glasgow has changed since those days. I am really enjoying discovering my home town all over again…..It’s nice to be back around my own folk……My own immediate family are all away from Glasgow now…..but you always have family in Glasgow when you walk into a bar in Byers Road…..or indeed anywhere in Glasgow……I am not being reminded that I’m a “Weegie” every minute of the day…..Love Glasgow…Love Weegies!
    Do I miss Aberdeen? Not at all!

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