Visiting Glasgow - What to See and Do
(Glasgow Prestwick Airport PIK, Scotland)
They may only be separated by just over 50 miles / 80 km, but Scotland's twin cities of Edinburgh
couldn't be more different. Whereas Edinburgh has all the fairytale castles and medieval attractions, this popular city has placed its bets firmly on the future by creating Scotland's modern urban centre.
Without a single medieval castle or palace to show off, the city relies on its cultural prowess to impress visitors. It boasts a very lively art and music scene, rivalled only by the gastronomic rise of its restaurants. In many people's view, Glasgow is more energetic than Edinburgh, but luckily visitors can have their cake and eat it too, since both cities are just an hour apart.
In Glasgow there are wonderful public parks, a handful of very impressive art museums and more than a few ways to spend an evening on the town. Its shopping scene is second-only to London
, while the city's historic harbour is as charming as ever with its Clyde-built tall ship bobbing in the water.
Ten things you must do in Glasgow
- One of the city's wealthiest men, Sir William Burrell, spent most of his fortune amassing a collection of art and artefacts rivalling that of many great museums. There are more than 9,000 pieces in the collection, many of which are on display at the Burrell Collection, one of Britain's top museum attractions. The collection is as eclectic as the man, ranging from stained-glass windows to tapestries and silverwork.
- Holmwood House is one of Scotland's most impressive Victorian mansions. It was designed and built by the famous Alexander 'Greek' Thomson in 1858, and today has been restored to its original splendour right down to the wallpaper and fixtures. The National Trust for Scotland manages the property, which is open in its entirety to the public, along with its 5-acre / 2-hectare grounds.
- Glasgow's historic harbour is a lovely component of the city, and moored here is one of the last remaining Clyde-built ships on the planet. The SV Glenlee was built in 1896 and restored to perfection in 1999. It is one of only five sailing ships of its kind still afloat. Visitors can board and explore her. Afterwards, check out the interesting exhibition that details her role in trade during the 15 times that she rounded Cape Horn.
- Scotland's only remaining intact medieval cathedral is Glasgow Cathedral. It anchors the city's core and was built in the 13th century atop the site where St. Mungo brought Christianity to the region in the 6th century AD. He is reportedly buried in the crypt under the church.
- Only London has a better shopping scene than Glasgow in Great Britain. There are all kinds of ways to spend your money here, from the enticing flea market atmosphere of the weekend Barras Market to the unique boutiques of West End and Merchant City. The heart of local shopping is the Z-shaped pedestrian area formed by the Buchanan, Argyle and Sauchiehall streets right in the centre of the city.
- The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is another of the city's major cultural attractions. Having undergone a recent renovation, the venue is now Scotland's most visited museum, with a great collection of artwork that spans the spectrum from Dali to French Impressionists. The building is equally impressive, constructed in 1901 for the Glasgow International Exhibition.
- There are some lovely public parks in the city, especially the Glasgow Green that runs for miles along the side of the River Clyde, right through the city centre. This is the city's oldest park, likely dating back to the medieval period. The Green is home to a number of landmark monuments and fountains, and there is a great walking path along the riverside.
- A fun way to explore the city and its main attractions is on a City Sightseeing Glasgow bus. These colourful open-top buses run a set route that stops at 22 of the city's most important sites, like the Glasgow Green and the Royal Concert Hall. Passengers get a useful commentary the whole way, and can hop off and back on the bus at any stop. The pass is valid for two days, making this a great deal for a combination of transportation and sightseeing.
- The famous Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh is something of a local legend. His designs can be seen all over the city, and the Glasgow School of Art that he founded is still churning out talented artists today. Visitors with an interest in Mackintosh's work can enjoy a guided tour of the school that takes you to every nook and cranny.
- The city's pubs are arguably among the best in the UK, and the city centre is simply filled with them. Fans of Scottish whisky will want to seek out the Pot Still and work through the hundreds of different single malts on the menu. Historic Palace Pubs are another great type of pub to spend an evening in. The Horseshoe, located in the Commercial Centre of town, is well-known as one of the finest.