“The part of ‘Outlander’ that I love the most is the history: the clan culture, the folklore and back stories (and consequences) of the Jacobite Rising,” said Sam Heughan, 42, who has played the heartthrob Highland warrior Jamie Fraser in the time-travel series since 2014.
The Scottish actor Sam Heughan has portrayed Jamie Fraser in the time-travel series “Outlander” since 2014. Credit…Charlie Gray
This love of history feeds his passion for the ancient city of Glasgow. A typical day for Mr. Heughan involves meandering past medieval cathedrals, Victorian cobbled lanes, Georgian architecture constructed when the city was a major tobacco and sugar hub, and 19th-century tenements built during the Industrial Revolution, when steel and ships were mass-produced here. “Glasgow has got beautiful parts and grit. The combination, plus incredibly good-natured people, are the city’s charm,” he said.
Beyond the long-running series, Mr. Heughan just completed shooting a television show called “The Couple Next Door” for Starz and Britain’s Channel 4, and is launching a “wild Scottish” gin under the Sassenach label, a whisky-focused spirits brand that he founded in 2020. (The name means “a foreigner” in Gaelic, and is also Jamie Fraser’s term of endearment for Claire, his wife, played by Caitríona Mary Balfe.)
When he does have free time, Mr. Heughan is out and about. “I love walking and running along the River Clyde to Glasgow Green with a possible stop at the microbrewery Drygate for a beer,” he said. Hiking is another pastime (Mr. Heughan’s recent memoir, “Waypoints: My Scottish Journey,” chronicles his experience tackling the 96-mile West Highland Way hike). “A wee walk, or stravaigin in old Scots speak, is good for mental health,” he said.
He is also a fan of Citizens Theatre in the working-class Gorbals area, which puts on avant-garde productions and is involved in community engagement. “I came here as a child, performed here as a student and did my first professional show here called ‘Outlying Islands.’ It holds a lot of memories,” he said. (The theater is currently closed for refurbishment. )
On the topic of the kilt, yes, Mr. Heughan does sport one in real life. “Kilts are about a feeling. They make you stand taller, and walk stronger. Scots wear them for any excuse. If you go to a pub in one, you’ll be getting a free drink at some point in the evening.”
Here are five of his favorite places in Glasgow.
1. The Ben Nevis Bar
A tiny whisky bar tucked into the Finnieston area, a hipster pocket of the West End, is deemed “a Glasgow institution” by Mr. Heughan. “I went there as a student” — he studied drama at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland — “and I go there now. People speak Gaelic, and there is live traditional Scottish music, sometimes planned, sometimes impromptu. It’s a special place.”
2. Kelvingrove Park
In the West End, bisected by the River Kelvin, this 85-acre park dappled with Victorian fountains, grand stairwells and an arched stone bridge with carved balustrades is where locals come to hang out during the warmer months.
“You can have a picnic, walk under the bridges and visit both Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, as well as the University of Glasgow, which is just up the hill,” Mr. Heughan said. For a craft ale pick-me-up nearby, he recommends a “secret” bar called Inn Deep just under the Kelvingrove Bridge.
3. The Dakota Hotel
He may not stay overnight, but Mr. Heughan dines at the restaurant inside this modernist, Scottish-founded hotel in the city center close to the West End. The Dakota Grill specializes in grass-fed Scotch beef simply grilled over coals, and is also known for ethically sourced seafood and contemporary takes on venison and lamb. “The interior is dark and sexy, and I like their cocktail menu (whisky sour, naturally) and simply grilled Scottish steak.”
4. I.J. Mellis
This old-world style shop on Great Western Road is Mr. Heughan’s go-to for locally sourced cheeses and accompaniments (quince paste, cornichons, olives, chutneys, oatcakes). “I’m not a dessert guy, but at the end of a meal, I can damage a cheese board, especially one with Orkney and Isle of Mull Cheddars,” he said. The shop also offers tastings led by cheese mongers on Thursday evenings.
5. Crabshakk Finnieston
Since 2009, this hot spot in Finnieston been serving up stellar seafood in a buzzy atmosphere. Mr. Heughan sits at the counter facing the open kitchen and orders the seafood platter with langoustines and scallops and some champagne. “The food tastes like a celebration of Scotland, which has the best seafood in the world,” he said.
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