City Guide: Student Life in Glasgow

Are you considering living in Glasgow as a student? Read our guide on where to live, what to do, and tips for student life in Glasgow.

What is it like to live in Glasgow?

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland. A port city packed with culture and arts, Glasgow is perfect for people who want to spend time discovering what the city has to offer. Home to the world’s oldest swimming club and Europe’s busiest bridge, the city is full of history at every turn. Regarded as a friendly city, you can certainly make your home away from home here and enjoy student life in Glasgow.

Getting around

Glasgow is a compactly-sized city, meaning it’s fairly easy to get around, especially in the city centre. There’s a great cycle hire scheme, as well as a good bus network. If you’re travelling in the city centre or the West End, the subway is super convenient. One of only three cities in the UK to have a metro network, getting around Glasgow is fast and convenient.

Finnieston Crane and the Clyde Arc in Glasgow
Old and new come together in Glasgow.

Things to do in Glasgow

Glasgow is an exciting city with lots of cool things to do. A port city on the River Clyde, it used to be an important centre for shipbuilding and grew rapidly during the Industrial Revolution. As a result, today Glasgow is especially known for its Victorian art and architecture. These days the city is a cultural hub where you can enjoy opera, ballet and theatre. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll also have lots to experience in Glasgow, most notably the Old Firm between Celtic and Rangers, one of the most famous rivalries in football.

Climb up The Lighthouse

Want your design fix but fancy it in a different setting? The Lighthouse is Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture. You can check out the latest exhibitions and climb up the steps for a view over the city. The Lighthouse is tucked away just off Buchanan Street and is popular with the creative crowds. There’s a sixth floor viewing platform which has amazing views. If you don’t want the challenge of climbing up the steps, there’s also a lift.

Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow
The Gallery of Modern Art is a neoclassical building in the Glasgow city centre.

Scottish Football Museum

Perfect for those who enjoy learning about the long history of the beautiful game, the Scottish Football Museum is located at Scotland’s national stadium, Hampden Park. The museum holds the oldest national trophy in the world that still exists, the Scottish cup, which was made in 1873. You can also see artefacts such as a match ticket from the first ever international game, played between Scotland and England in 1872 at the West of Scotland cricket ground in Glasgow.

Hampden Park, Scotland's national football stadium
The Scottish Football Museum is located at Hampden Park.

Glasgow Film Theatre

View the city via the big screen at the Cinema Film Theatre. This place is ideal for those who are into indie films. Did you know that Glasgow used to be one of Britain’s greatest cinema cities, boasting 114 cinemas? When you’ve finished marvelling in the delights of the big screen, you can take in the design of the building itself which is also pretty impressive.

Universities in Glasgow

Being the biggest city in Scotland, it’s no surprise that Glasgow is home to several good universities. In all, there’s more than a dozen universities and colleges in Glasgow, but especially three of them are well-known all over the world.

University of Glasgow main building
The University of Glasgow is one of the oldest universities in the UK.

University of Glasgow

Founded way back in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth-oldest university in the United Kingdom. Today it has more than 40,000 students and was ranked as the 81st best university in the world by the QS World University Rankings in 2023. It’s also ranked a 5-star university by QS.

University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde was founded in 1796 as the Andersonian Institute. It gained university status in 1964 and today it has a student population of about 25,000. It was ranked as the 325th best university in the world in 2023 by QS. The main campus is located in Townhead, immediately north-east of the city centre.

Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow Caledonian University was founded in 1993 by the merger of two existing colleges. QS ranks it as one of the 1,200 best universities in the world in 2023. The main campus has an excellent location right in the Glasgow city centre.

Living in Glasgow as a student

What’s it like to live in Glasgow? Here are some of the best student accommodation options in Glasgow if you are looking to study in the city

Thurso Street

A student bedroom in Thurso Street, Glasgow

Thurso Street gives you the best of both worlds. Walk to class through Kelvingrove Park. It’s so peaceful, you’ll forget you’re in the middle of a bustling city. Be inspired by the world-famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Gaze at paintings by the Old Masters and Salvador Dali.

Five minutes in the opposite direction and you’re on lively Byres Road. Stop off at Kember & Jones for coffee and cake, or meet friends for cocktails at Bar Soba. Afterwards you can head home to hang out in the spacious common room. You’ll be just across the road from the University of Glasgow. Glasgow Caledonian University and Strathclyde University are both within walking distance. It’s quick and easy to get around the city with Kelvinhall underground station and Partick train station being nearby.

Vita Student Glasgow West End

A beautifully decorated student room in Vita Student Glasgow

At Vita Student Glasgow, you’re a short walk from the University of Glasgow, and closer still to some of the West End’s greatest landmarks. Pick up a free grab-and-go breakfast before you head out the door. Discover everything from Spitfire planes to iconic Salvador Dali artworks at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, before meeting your friends for pizza and espresso at local favourite The Little Café.

Spend the afternoon exploring Kelvingrove Park’s beautiful riverbank pathways, and the evening listening to cool tunes whilst sipping cocktails at the trendy Dukes Bar. When you’re not in class, exploring the rest of the city is easy. Rent a bike from the free cycle hire to pedal around town, cross the road to Partick train station, or take a one-minute stroll to your nearest bus stop.

Nido St James

A student room with a view at Nido St James in Glasgow

Start your day with a cappuccino and a freshly-baked pastry at Riverhill Coffee Bar, before hitting the shops along Buchanan Street. Jump on the subway and head to Byres Road to explore some of the city’s best vintage shops, including Starry Starry Night.

If you’re in the mood for something a little more cultured, pay a visit to the Gallery of Modern Art, or catch the latest exhibition at The Lighthouse, which is Scotland’s centre for design and architecture. Head back to your student accommodation to change, before crossing the street to meet friends for pizza and beer at The Lee.