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Glasgow Guide. Leisure Guides.

 

Glasgow has the complete package. Classy, welcoming and primed to set Scotland alight during the 2014 Commonwealth Games, this cracking destination is a UNESCO City of Music, an artistic innovator, and a dream for shopaholics and pub-crawlers.

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Getting around


It’s easy to explore central Glasgow on foot, but you’ll need to use public transport to visit some of the key sights. Glasgow’s ‘clockwork orange’ is the world’s third-oldest subway system. The circular track passes through the city centre and West End; single, return, one-day, seven-day, 10-journey and 20-journey tickets are available. Smart cards are being introduced in 2013 and the entire system is undergoing a £300 million upgrade.
 
First operates most of Glasgow’s extensive bus network; you can buy single, return and one-day tickets from the driver or flexi-10 carnets and weekly tickets from local shops displaying a PayPoint sign. Smaller operator McColl’s runs the handy Riversider 100 bus to the Riverside Museum. There’s also a summer ferry to this museum.
 
Most Glasgow taxis are traditional black hackney cabs. There are several taxi ranks in the city centre or you can hail a cab on the street. Alternatively, you can call one in advance.
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Getting here

Getting here could not be any easier. We offer many frequent flights from London City Airport and plenty hotel packages. To book flights and hotels please click here.

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Hotels


Glasgow radiates style like nobody’s business and its hotels are no exception, whether elegantly converted boutique townhouses or sleek, glass-fronted affairs. An upmarket option is Blythswood Square (11 Blythswood Square) in the luxuriously restored former headquarters of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club. As well as 100 sumptuously decorated rooms and an ultra swanky penthouse suite, there’s a sublime spa and smashing private cinema. Out of town alongside Loch Lomond is magnificent Cameron House with a ‘monarch of the glen’ feel to it; think plush tartan carpets, rich velvet armchairs, four-poster beds and private butlers. 
 
More moderately priced and right in the centre of Glasgow is funky Hotel Indigo (75 Waterloo Street). Also good value and well located is the renovated Grand Central Hotel (99 Gordon Street) – save time for afternoon tea or a flute of fizz in the Champagne Bar, winner of City Hotel Bar of the Year at the 2012 Scottish Hotel Awards.
 
To book a hotel click here
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Nightlife


Glaswegians don’t do things by half and a night out is likely to involve more than a quiet drink by the fireside. For local brews, try WEST (Glasgow Green), an inventive microbrewery in the former Templeton Carpet Factory. Find great craic, foot-tapping live folk music and over 100 malt whiskies at The Ben Nevis (1147 Argyle Street). Or chill out to jazz piano over fabulous cocktails at Blue Dog (151 West George Street).
 
Multi-level, multi-faceted clubs are all the rage in Glasgow. One such glitzy venue is The Corinthian Club (191 Ingram Street), a maze of decadently designed spaces featuring cocktail and piano bars, whisky rooms, restaurants, a casino and basement club. 
 
Stumble across up-and-coming music acts, avant-garde theatre and thumping club nights at The Arches (253 Argyle Street). Quench your cultural thirst and catch contemporary Scottish drama at the Citizens Theatre (119 Gorbal Street).
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Restaurants


Glasgow’s varied cuisine reflects both Scottish traditions and the city’s cosmopolitan population. Among Glasgow’s best fine-dining restaurants is Bistro du Vin (Hotel du Vin, One Devonshire Gardens); go all out with the seven-course tasting menu. In Restaurant at Blythswood Square (11 Blythswood Square), tuck into Isle of Lewis mussel casserole or phenomenal cuts of Scottish beef.
 
Cobbled Ashton Lane in the West End is a great wee spot for dinner and drinks. The Ubiquitous Chip at number 12 cooks up terrific Scottish seafood and game, while the popularity of Ashoka at number 19, part of a local group of curry houses, speaks for itself.
 
In the centre, new to Buchanan Street and said to be Europe’s largest Thai restaurant is Chaopraya (The Townhouse, Nelson Mandela Place). Also new is Cup Tea Lounge (71 Renfield Street); indulge in cakes, to-die-for desserts and an extraordinary tea selection amid opulent surroundings. Tempting cocktails (kilted martini anyone?) entice you to stick around.
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Shopping


When it comes to fashion, Glaswegians have their eye on the ball and Glasgow’s shops clearly suit their insatiable appetite for new styles. Buchanan Street, Argyle Street and Sauchiehall Street are lined with well-known brands, while the Merchant City is chock full of independent and quirky boutiques. Find big-name labels at Cruise (180 Ingram Street).
 
Should the Scottish weather send you running for cover, Buchanan Galleries is home to over 90 shops, while historic Argyll Arcade is the place to buy your bling. Back outdoors, head to the West End and rummage for vintage clothing at Circavintage (37 Ruthven Lane). At the weekend, the Barras Market (between Gallowgate and London Road) is a Glasgow institution.
 
For local products, try Timorous Beasties (384 Great Western Road) for funky fabrics and wallpaper or Arran Aromatics (Princes Square) for sensational smellies and candles. Slanj (80 St Vincent Street) kits you out in tartan with a modern twist.
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Top 10 sights

Top 5 sights for first-timers

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Housing a whopping 8,000 exhibits across 22 galleries, Glasgow’s grandiose showpiece museum displays a tremendous collection of Glaswegian and international art, arms and armour and natural history objects. Highlights include a real Spitfire suspended from the ceiling and much-loved Roger the Asian elephant.

Argyle Street
www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums

Riverside Museum

In an eye-catching, glistening 21st-century Zaha Hadid-designed building on the banks of the Clyde, Glasgow’s transport museum celebrates the city’s industrial heritage through a dynamic assortment of vehicles. Explore a recreated Glasgow street and gaze at the restored South African locomotive, built in Glasgow in 1944-45. Outside, step aboard the Tall Ship Glenlee.

100 Pointhouse Place
www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums

Gallery of Modern Art

Bang in the heart of Glasgow, yet originally a country house, GoMA’s graceful building is home to a wonderful selection of contemporary art, along with a superb library. The gallery’s varied programme includes regularly changing exhibitions, artists’ talks and workshops.

Royal Exchange Square
www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums

Glasgow Science Centre

This waterfront titanium-and-glass complex is crammed with three floors of thrilling hands-on exhibits and captivating live science shows, plus a planetarium and IMAX cinema. The new Bodyworks exhibit lets you boogie in a DNA disco, run in a giant hamster wheel and perform a virtual autopsy.

50 Pacific Quay
www.glasgowsciencecentre.org

Burrell Collection

Set amid Pollok Country Park’s picturesque woodland, the Burrell Collection comprises a staggering 8,000 artworks bequeathed to the city by shipping magnate Sir William Burrell. Exhibits include medieval European art, Oriental ceramics, tapestries, Greek and Roman sculptures, and works by Rodin and Cézanne.

Pollok Country Park, 2060 Pollokshaws Road
www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums


Top 5 sights for old hands

Glasgow School of Art

Renowned as one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s greatest creations, the Glasgow School of Art is a striking example of pioneering, turn-of-the-20th-century architecture. The building is still a working art school, but you can join a student-led guided tour or learn about Glasgow style and contemporary art on a summer city walking tour.

167 Renfrew Street
www.gsa.ac.uk 

The Lighthouse

Scotland’s hub for architecture and design is housed in the Mackintosh-designed former Glasgow Herald building and incorporates FOUNDATION Glasgow (a history of the city), the Mackintosh Interpretation Centre, a digital design gallery, and regularly changing exhibitions. The views from the top are fantastic.

11 Mitchell Lane
www.thelighthouse.co.uk

House for an Art Lover

Built in the 1990s based on a Mackintosh competition entry of 1901, this exquisite house in beautiful Bellahouston Park is just 10 minutes from the city centre. Intricately designed features showcase the architect’s painstaking attention to detail and remarkable innovation.

Bellahouston Park, 10 Dumbreck Road
www.houseforanartlover.co.uk

Trongate 103

One of several artist-run enterprises to hit Glasgow’s cultural scene recently, this creative hub houses art, print and photography studios along with a kinetic theatre and Russian café. Visitors can check out exhibitions, talks and installations or sign up to woodcutting and printmaking workshops.

Trongate 103
www.trongate103.com

Provand’s Lordship

Constructed in 1471, the oldest house in Glasgow is one of only four medieval buildings remaining in the city. The house itself has been extensively restored and contains a collection of 17th-century furniture donated by Sir William Burrell. In adjacent St Nicholas Garden, spot the Tontine Heads, a curious collection of carved stone faces.

3 Castle Street
www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums


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Top 5 activities


Powerboating on the Clyde

Whizz off on a thrilling 20-minute aquatic tour of the city centre or journey further afield to volcanic Dumbarton Rock or the pretty coastal village of Kilcreggan. Spot seabirds, seals and porpoises and be prepared to get wet.
 
Golfing
 
Where better to tee off than Scotland, the home of golf. Whether you fancy a country house resort, a locals’ favourite or a world-class links course such as Turnberry or Royal Troon, there’s no shortage of outstanding venues near Glasgow.
 
Hillwalking
 
You don’t have to travel far to bag a Munro (mountains over 914 metres). Less than an hour from Glasgow is Ben Lomond, the most southerly Munro. Or walk a section of the Scottish National Trail, which opened in 2012 and passes through Glasgow.
 
Xscape Glasgow
 
For adventurers, the biggest attractions of this enormous indoor leisure complex are undoubtedly Climbzone and Snow Factor. Brave the heights of a challenging aerial course, take a 15-metre free-fall plunge, and slide down real snow on a 200-metre slope.
 
Track cycling
 
Sir Chris Hoy plans to see out his astounding career during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow’s state-of-the-art new velodrome. Try and match his speeds (or just stay on the bike) on an introductory course.
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Top 5 events


Celtic Connections

This boot-stomping celebration of folk, roots and world music attracts a line-up of over 2,000 musicians, lighting up Glasgow’s winter with a swinging selection of concerts, ceilidhs, workshops and instrumental lessons.
 
Date: January/February
Venue: Various
 
Glasgow International Comedy Festival
 
From the city that gave us Billy Connolly and Frankie Boyle comes an exciting programme of over 300 performances across 40 venues. Expect to see famous faces and up-and-coming Scottish comics.
 
Date: March/April
Venue: Various
 
Aye Write!

Glasgow’s acclaimed book festival celebrates Scottish and international literature through a dynamic programme of talks, events and appearances by leading authors.
 
Date: April
Venue: Mitchell Theatre
 
West End Festival

Blooming from a small community celebration and now claiming to be Glasgow’s biggest cultural event, this festival encompasses hundreds of arts performances, the highlight being Festival Sunday with its vibrant Mardi Gras parade.
 
Date: June
Venue: Various venues in Glasgow’s West End
 
Glasgow Loves Christmas
 
This winter extravaganza includes glittering lights and open-air ice skating in George Square, a colourful Christmas market at St Enoch Square, plus Highland dancing and pipe bands for Hogmanay.
 
Date: November-January
Venue: Various

Written by World Travel Guide

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