A guide to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games venues

A guide to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games venues

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By Helen Ochyra
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For too many years Glasgow has laboured under a negative – and unfair – reputation. Scotland’s second city suffered greatly in the twentieth century from industrial decline, but in the twenty-first it has gained a new lease of life. The Clyde has been cleaned up, the inner city regenerated and the hotel and restaurant scene greatly improved.

The prize is the Commonwealth Games, to be hosted by Glasgow this summer. From July 23 to August 3 the Games will bring the eyes of the world to the city – not to mention thousands of athletes, officials and spectators. New venues have been built, existing ones extended and a whole host of brand new bars and restaurants have opened up. So, where to start? If you’re visiting Glasgow for the Games, it’s time to get organized. Here’s our guide to getting the best out of this once in a lifetime event, venue by venue.

The SECC

Events: gymnastics, boxing, judo, netball, wrestling and weightlifting
The SECC complex includes the exhibition halls, Clyde Auditorium and SSE Hydro sitting on the site of the old Queen’s Dock beside the river Clyde. Located just over one mile to the west of the city centre, you can walk here from Glasgow Central station in about 25 minutes.
Where to eat/drink:
From the SECC it’s a short walk up to Finnieston, one of Glasgow’s most vibrant communities. Head to Crabshakk for delicious Scottish seafood (try the shellfish platter) or The Finnieston for expertly mixed cocktails.
Things to do:
A short walk along the water’s edge is the Riverside Museum, Scotland’s museum of transport and travel. Exhibits range from skateboards to locomotives and you can also explore the Clyde-built Tall Ship moored alongside.

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Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre

Event: lawn bowls
In the shadow of the well-known, eponymous art gallery, the Bowls Centre is about one and a half miles west of Glasgow Central station and roughly a 35-minute walk along Argyle Street.
Where to eat/drink:
Almost directly opposite, on Sauchiehall Street, Butchershop serves high quality cuts of meat. Try a T-bone or settle in for the limited edition Tomahawk – a bone-in steak that can weigh in at up to two kilograms. For drinks, call in to Brewdog for craft beers and innovative ales.
Things to do:
Don’t miss the Kelvingrove itself, one of the UK’s leading art galleries. There are 22 themed galleries here, including one dedicated to Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style. Look out also for Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross, numerous important Scottish archaeological finds and a genuine Spitfire.

Ibrox Stadium

Event: rugby sevens
Home to Rangers football club, this long-standing stadium dates back to 1899. It’s more than a two-mile walk from Glasgow Central, across the Clyde and along Paisley Road, so allow an hour for a relaxing stroll.
Where to eat/drink:
For a few post-event drinks, try The Louden, beloved of Rangers fans for its extensive memorabilia and lively atmosphere, or head to the Balcony Café in the Glasgow Climbing Centre, which serves sandwiches and cakes in the rafters of this converted church.
Things to do:
In nearby Bellahouston Park you’ll find House For An Art Lover, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece. The perfectly proportioned rooms of this elegant house are awash with with unmistakably-Mackintosh detailing and the parkland surroundings are the perfect place for a stroll.

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Scotstoun Sports Campus

Events: squash and table tennis
This sports campus includes Glasgow Club Scotstoun, the National Badminton Academy, a squash centre and the Scotstoun Stadium. It’s located about 4.5 miles west of the city centre: trains run from Glasgow Central and Queen Street to Scotstounhill station, a 15-minute walk from the venue itself.
Where to eat/drink:
A 10-minute walk down to South Street brings you to La Bodega tapas bar, Spanish-run and known for its relaxed atmosphere and tasty tapas.
Things to do:
In nearby Victoria Park is Glasgow’s oldest tourist attraction, the Fossil Grove. The fossilized trees discovered here in 1887 are the remains of a forest some 330 million years old.

Glasgow National Hockey Centre

Event: hockey
The National Hockey Centre is located in Glasgow’s oldest public park, Glasgow Green and was built specifically for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It is about 1.5 miles east of Glasgow Central station can be reached by a 30-minute walk, largely through the park itself.
Where to eat/drink:
“Glaswegian heart, German head” is the ethos at West Brewery on Glasgow Green. Tuck in to traditional German cuisine made with Scottish ingredients, washed down with a pint of premium lager in the Templeton building, an ex carpet factory modeled on Doge’s Palace in Venice.
Things to do:
The park is also home to the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, a local social history museum that gives visitors an insight into the lives of Glaswegians over the centuries.

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Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome

Events: badminton and cycling
This brand new venue in Glasgow’s East End is a 45-minute walk from the city centre (about 2 miles). You could shorten the walk to the Velodrome to less than 15 minutes by taking the train from Glasgow Central to Dalmarnock station.
Where to eat/drink:
Either eat at the venue itself or head back into the city. Close to Glasgow Central station you’ll find dozens of places to eat. Try Rogano for Scottish seafood in art deco surrounds or the Victorian Horseshoe Bar for cask ales and simple pub grub.
Things to do:
Treat yourself to a few hours relaxation at the Refresh spa, part of the Emirates Arena complex. There’s a sauna, steam room and hydrotherapy pool plus facials and massages.

Celtic Park

Event: the opening ceremony
Located across London Road from the Emirates Arena, Celtic Park (home of Celtic football club) is also a 45-minute walk from the city centre (about 2 miles). Shorten this to less than 15 minutes by taking the train from Glasgow Central to Bridgeton station and walking along London Road.
Where to eat/drink:
You’re better off heading back towards the city centre than eating in this area. Travel one stop back to Argyle Street and head into the Merchant City where you’ll find Café Gandolfi which serves quality Scottish fare including haggis, salmon and scallops.
Things to do:
Just north of the stadium is the Glasgow Necropolis, a cemetery with several notable graves and monuments, including 18 Commonwealth war graves.

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Tollcross International Swimming Centre

Event: swimming
You could walk the almost four miles east from Glasgow Central to this extensively refurbished venue but it’s far better to take the train from Glasgow Queen Street to Carntyne, a 15-minute walk away through Tollcross Park.
Where to eat/drink:
There are a few simple cafes and takeaways along Shettleston Road but you’re better off eating before getting on the train at Queen Street station, or on your return to the city centre. Try Café Andaluz on St Vincent Place or Elia Greek restaurant on George Square, both within five minutes of the station.
Things to do:
Pay a visit to Tollcross Park where you’ll find a children’s zoo, impressive rose garden and numerous nature walks. Look out for the secret garden, a sensory garden hidden somewhere in the park.

Hampden Park

Events: athletics and the closing ceremony
Scotland’s national football stadium was once the largest stadium in the world and is located 2.5 miles south of the city centre. It’s a 10-minute train journey from Glasgow Central to Mount Florida station (a 10-minute walk from the stadium).
Where to eat/drink:
Battlefield Restaurant is a 10-minute walk away along Battlefield Road and serves a menu of inventive Italian dishes. Across the road, Beanscene has coffee, sandwiches and occasional live music.
Things to do:
Nearby Queen’s Park, designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, is a lovely place for a walk and offers expansive city views from the flagpole at the top of Camp Hill – you can even see Ben Lomond on a clear day.

Getting around

Glasgow 2014 is a keen exponent of so-called “active travel” – walking or cycling. It’s a fairly compact city and most venues are within easy walking distance of the centre so plan to travel on foot wherever possible. When you receive your tickets there will be transport information related to the specific venue included. Find out more at glasgow2014.com/games/transport.

Explore more of Glasgow with the Rough Guides Snapshot to GlasgowBook hostels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.