Glasgow

People make Glasgow – so the saying goes. And it͛s true, you'll struggle to find a warmer welcome.

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But Glasgow is also home to exquisite architecture, fascinating museums and a pulsating nightlife. With a live music and festival scene to rival any in the UK and the country's great wilderness on its doorstep, Glasgow has serious character.

Arriving at Glasgow Airport

Step off the plane and within 20 minutes you could be settling down to a pie and pint in one of Glasgow’s many city centre pubs.

Glasgow Airport is around eight miles (13km) from town. Take First Glasgow’s Express 500 bus to the busy Buchanan Bus Station where there are connections to dozens of onward routes. Buy your tickets in advance, use the First Bus mTickets app, or pay on the bus using contactless, cash or card.

If you're off to the Hebrides, you can travel over the sea to Skye direct from the terminal; the Citylink 915 bus goes all the way to Uig on Skye. Look out for the Stagecoach Express JET service if you want to head east to Fife.

The nearest train station is in nearby Paisley, around 10 minutes by bus. Take McGills’ 757 bus from the terminal bus stance.

Taxis line up right outside the terminal. Beware if you’re heading into town – traffic can be busy at peak times.

Heading off under your own steam? Book your car with LCY before your trip, and arrive stress-free, ready to roll.

Itineraries

Half-day

Glasgow manages to cram a lot into its city centre streets.

Kick off at George Square, the city’s main civic square, and take in the impressive architecture of the surrounding buildings. Dating from 1781, it’s dominated by a tall column topped by a statue of Sir Walter Scott (one of 13 statues in the square, including the Cenotaph) and the City Chambers.

Take a stroll around the Merchant City and nip into Merchant Square, a lively spot with cafes and bars lining its central courtyard. Next visit the Gallery of Modern Art, guarded by the infamous Duke of Wellington statue, sitting proudly on his horse at the entrance, traffic cone on his head. Inside there are works by David Hockney, Andy Warhol and John Bellany.

Buchanan Street’s shops are around the corner, where buskers and street artists keep the good vibes going. Remember to look all around – lots of little lanes stretch off the main route.

Stop for a cup of tea at the Willow Tea Rooms, which celebrate the distinctive style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

From there it’s just a short walk down to the banks of the Clyde, once the life source for the city’s industry.
Cross the ‘squinty bridge’ to the Southside to visit Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s showpiece Scotland Street School Museum, or head for Glasgow Green to the People’s Museum to discover just what makes Glaswegians tick.

After that, you’ll be ready for a pie and pint at the Scotia (Stockwell Street), one of Glasgow’s oldest bars.

Weekend

Day One

Clear the decks to take in some of the city’s free museums. The Riverside Museum is a good starting point; the ultra-modern façade gives way to one of the world’s best transport collections.

Stroll down an old Glasgow street, hop on a tram, check out the skateboards, old bikes, buses and cars.

Outside the Tall Ship is a real treasure and one of just five remaining Clyde-built vessels still afloat. Go below decks to the Captain’s cabin, the ship’s hospital and the cargo hold.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is around 10 minutes’ walk away in the leafy West End. There are 12 galleries to explore, lots of interactive exhibits and diverse collection that ranges from Ancient Egypt through to Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Nip down Byres Road to refuel at The Curlers Rest, established in 1858, it holds its own alongside the trendy bars and cosmopolitan restaurants.

If the weather is kind, stroll through the beautiful Glasgow Botanic Gardens, and if it’s ‘dreich’, warm up in the Kibble Palace, the massive Victorian glasshouse.

Evenings are for Ashton Lane, the West End’s lively cobbled street that bounces with bars and restaurants.

Day Two

Time to embrace your inner goth. The Trongate and Saltmarket areas aren’t far from George Square, and boast some of the city’s finest gothic buildings.

Take in the Tron Kirk Steeple, the Tollbooth Steeple and, for added history, Provand’s Lordship at Cathedral Precinct, a medieval house next to St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art.

The Necropolis rises from street level, a 37-acre Victorian garden cemetery, with thousands of sculptures echoing the lives of its dead. Not necessarily eerie, definitely fascinating.

It’s not far to the Merchant City, where 18th-century Glasgow traders dealt in goods that flowed to the city from across the Atlantic and beyond, fuelling the construction of the city’s grandest buildings.

Look up; it’s easy to walk past the Britannia Panopticon, the world’s oldest surviving music hall.

Round it all up by dropping into Rogano (Exchange Square) to slurp fresh oysters and savour the art deco interior.

Full week

A week in Glasgow throws up endless opportunities – the city is the gateway to the rest of Scotland, after all.

Once you’ve ticked off Glasgow’s excellent museums – don’t forget the oldest museum in Scotland, the Hunterian – there’s still lots to see and discover.

Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson is Glasgow’s other favourite architectural son, and his Holmwood House (Netherlee Road) on the city’s Southside is a fascinating place to visit.

Towering columns, impressive cupolas, a cartoon-style frieze that depicts Homer’s Iliad and charming grounds, it’s regarded as among his finest work.

Scotland means whisky: clear some time to visit Glengoyne Distillery, one of Scotland’s prettiest and just 14 miles north of the city with Loch Lomond’s mountains in the distance. Take your hiking boots and set off on the West Highland Way from Milngavie – the distillery is around eight miles into the well-trod path.

The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond are famous – and what better way to absorb their beauty than from on high? You can take a sea plane tour of the loch, or a boat trip. Either way the scenery is worth taking the high road for.

Go east

Glasgow is only 50 minutes by train from Edinburgh. Arrive in the morning, explore the Castle, Arthur’s Seat and the Georgian New Town, and even fit in a trip to the lively port of Leith and a tour around the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Take in a show or a ceilidh at night and grab the last train back to Glasgow. Don’t be surprised if there’s a singsong on the way.

Burns country

Robert Burns is a national hero, even if he may have been a bit of a lad.

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway is around 40 minutes’ drive from Glasgow – catch a bus to Ayr and then a local bus to the front door.

More than just a touching tribute to the genius behind Auld Lang Syne, it’s a fascinating glimpse into a humble farmer’s life in 18th-century Scotland.

Alloway Old Kirk provided the setting for Tam o’ Shanter, and Rabbie fans will wallow in the romance of Brig o’ Doon, a 15th-century cobblestone bridge over the River Doon.

Round off by visiting Ayr, with its sweeping sandy beach, 16th-century racecourse, and plenty of traditional bars that celebrate the life of the Bard.

Royal trail

Hop on the train at Queen Street and head for Stirling, which boasts a castle to rival Edinburgh’s.

Stroll up cobbled streets to the esplanade for views of the city below, the Ochil Hills with the National Wallace Monument at their foot, and the fascinating Old Town Kirkyard below with, of all things, Scotland’s largest pyramid.

The castle was childhood home to a young James VI of Scotland, who ordered construction of its distinctive gold hall, visible for miles around.

Head out of Stirling to Bannockburn, scene of the famous 1314 battle, or take the train onwards to Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.

Need more time to explore? Book a hotel with your flight and enjoy a little longer.