Dating is hard at the best of times, but it’s even harder when you want to avoid all the same tired spots without eating into next month’s rent. Here’s the low down of the top date ideas in Glasgow that are sure to impress on a student budget.
A trip to the museum is ideal for anyone wanting to show off their cultural side, and in Glasgow, there’s no better place to do it than one of the most famous museums in the country. Situated in a spectacular building on the banks of the River Kelvin, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is home to dozens of historical exhibits, scientific wonders, and stand-out art exhibitions that you can spend the whole day exploring. Entry is free, though due to COVID-19 restrictions you need to book tickets in advance, which you can do on their website.
For the best views over the Glasgow skyline, there’s no place better than The Lighthouse at the Mackintosh Centre. You can climb the spiral staircase to the viewing platform – or, for those chillier months, take the lift to level six and enjoy the vista from an indoor viewing area. With free entry and regular exhibitions throughout the year, this gem in Scotland’s creative industry is a must for any romantic adventurer.
Nothing says the West End like Paesano: a student favourite, this Neapolitan restaurant brings authenticity without breaking the budget. Prices start from just £4.00 per pizza, and they’re made to order with quality Italian ingredients. The cosy atmosphere on Great Western Road is the perfect place to enjoy a cheap date night – and some quality pizza!
You might think the cinema is a well-worn date idea, but the Grosvenor is not your ordinary cinema. This beautiful independent theatre is at the heart of the West End’s trendy Ashton Lane and shows a regular mix of new releases, cult classics, and seasonal favourites, so there’s no worry about finding something that you’ll both enjoy. The cinema is also connected to a sister café, so why not grab a couple of drinks or a bite to eat before your film?
An emerald paradise in the summer and an atmospheric wonderland in the winter, Kelvingrove Park is by far the best place in Glasgow for a romantic stroll through the trees. The classic Victorian Park surrounds the river Kelvin – home to many species of duck, swan, and heron, and the steady ascent up to Park Circus offers stunning views of the city and the University of Glasgow. When the weather’s nice, it’s also the perfect place for a couple’s picnic out in the sun.
The Stand Comedy Club in Glasgow that offers improv and stand-up comedy nights at affordable prices, and is a great alternative to the usual evening spent with a date. Being such a small venue, and often hosting established comics like Kevin Bridges testing out new material, tickets sell out fast – so this is one for a date you can plan in advance! Prices vary by the act, but The Stand commits to providing affordable events to keep comedy accessible, and also offer a student discount.
If you’re out on a date around the end of October until mid-November, GlasGlow is a captivating light show like no other. Hosted yearly in the Botanic Gardens, this immersive experience includes a street food market, laser shows, and plenty of insta-worthy backdrops. Tickets for adults are £16 peak (Thurs-Sun) and £12 off-peak (Mon-Wed).
Inn Deep is another student favourite venue: with its cheap food and drink, great riverside location, and modern dive-bar-style aesthetic, you’ll never fail to impress when taking your date here. The bar is open day and night with indoor and outdoor seating, and entrance either from the Kelvin Walkway by the river or at street level on Great Western Road. It is also renowned for being dog-friendly, with free water and biscuits on offer, so you could both bring yours along if you really wanted to go full-101 Dalmatians – or just bond over a spot of dog-watching.
With its amazing street-style food and expertly-crafted cocktails, Bar Soba is one of Glasgow’s favourite bars with not one, but three venues to choose from Merchant City, Mitchell Lane, and Byres Road. They offer a great range of Asian and European cuisines from Thai to Japanese to Scottish, and if you’re a student you can enjoy 50% off food and 25% off drinks Thursday to Sunday with a discount card – which you can order online in the restaurant and have set up in time for your bill!
10. Find your new favourite in Glasgow’s second-hand bookshops
If there’s one thing Glasgow does well, it’s bookshops. Exploring the vintage titles in these quaint little venues is a great way to get to know your date – and pick up some new reading material! Caledonia Books on Great Western Road and Voltaire & Rousseau on Otago Lane have a wide range of fiction, classics, poetry, biography, and more on offer, so there is something for everyone.
Finnieston is Glasgow’s upcoming trendy neighbourhood, and a hub of some of the city’s best bars, restaurants, and cafes. With its sultry dim lighting, Rioja on Argyle Street is a popular venue late into the night, offering a fancy but affordable selection of wine and tapas, and a wide range of cocktails to choose from. This authentic Basque restaurant is the perfect one of Finnieston’s gems to take a first date (or second, or third…).
Based at the Òran Mór in Glasgow’s West End, A Play, A Pie and A Pint has been described as the cultural bedrock of the Scottish theatre industry, providing a platform for the country’s newest writers to make their name. It’s also the perfect evening out with a date: against the backdrop of the ‘Mór’s converted church building, you can enjoy some of the best new theatre Scotland has to offer, with a drink (beer, wine, or soft drink) and a pie (or veggie quiche, or vegan sausage roll) included in your ticket price. Tickets are £15 all days except Wednesday when they’re £12.50, and production of a valid student card will also get you in for £12.50 on a Monday and Tuesday.
RYZE is Glasgow’s ultimate indoor sports centre, with over 18,000 square feet connected trampolines for you to jump, balance, and work out on. You’ll be able to test each other’s skill with trampoline basketball or let loose with jumping into the foam pits. Whatever you decide, this is certainly one for those looking for something a little different, and who aren’t afraid to have fun on a first date!
If you’re looking for somewhere a little more chilled to have your date, then Tchai-Ovna House of Tea is the perfect best-kept-secret of Otago Lane for you. Scotland’s first speciality tea house offers a wide range of over 80 loose leaf teas, which you can even buy to make at home, as well as café snacks such as cakes, toast, and sandwiches. The cosy venue also occasionally hosts gigs and poetry readings, so it’s certainly somewhere you could visit more than once with your date.
If you’re looking for somewhere a lot more chilled to have your date, then it doesn’t get much cooler than Baltic: Glasgow’s very own ice bar. Everything in this bar is made from ice – yes, even the glasses! You can choose from various packages to make your night one remember, but if you’re looking for an affordable date night, then you can buy a basic entry ticket for £9 – which includes one ice cocktail each.
Whether you’re big beer fans or not, you can’t live in Glasgow and avoid the shadow of that red T. So why not take a date down to their Caledonian brewery site to see where the magic happens? You’ll receive a tour of the heritage site, exploring the beer’s history since 1556, before moving on to the brewery itself and finally ending with a crisp pint of your own! Tours run every day of the week, and ticket prices are fixed at £12.50 per person.
The Glasgow Botanic gardens are a spectacular collection of flora from all around the world, with winding paths to stroll along with your date, and grassy open spaces perfect for picnics. The gardens are also host to a resident ice cream van if you fancy a sweet treat and two glasshouses that even more tropical wonders to explore, from exotic cacti to towering palms. One of the glasshouses also occasionally hosts a plant sale, where you can pick up some gorgeous succulents for less than £3! The grounds are open year-round from 7 am to dusk (usually around 9 pm in the summer and 7 pm in the winter), and the glasshouses from 10 am to 6 pm in the summer and 4:15 pm in the winter.
If you or your date are big fans of modern art, then this is the ideal way to spend your romantic afternoon out. If you’re not such big fans of modern art, it’s still a great way to bond over your mutual confusion and exclamations of “how is that even art!?” – so it’s a win-win either way. Situated right in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre, the Gallery of Modern Art is home to dozens of cutting edge exhibitions and spectacular sculptures that you can spend the whole day exploring. Entry is free, though due to COVID-19 restrictions you need to book tickets in advance, which you can do on their website.
The Glasgow Science centre is a great place to take your date – even if it doesn’t go so well, you can be guaranteed to have learned something by the end of it! The centre hosts loads of exciting events and exhibits year-round, plus an on-site café where you can grab a coffee and a bite during your trip. Tickets are only available in advance, not on the door, and you can book them via the GSC’s website. Entry is £12 for adults or £10 for students and is valid all day until 5 pm.
If you’re looking for somewhere fancy to impress your date, then look no further than The Spiritualist. Located in the centre of Glasgow, this enchanting bar and restaurant offers an atmospheric place to linger and chat during the day, or enjoy attractive cocktails in the evening. Its chic but unique décor makes it somewhere neither of you will ever forget – and with spirits and cocktails starting from £3.65 and £8 respectively, you get this extraordinary experience at an affordable price.