Glasgow is a city of beauty. The former industrial centre has now turned into a cultural centre of Scotland. Gemma and Campbell have provided a perfect Glasgow Travel Guide to spend a perfect day in this Scottish city.
As Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow is famous throughout the world for its fascinating modern history, as well as its reputation for food and nightlife. Glasgow prides itself on its multicultural heritage and celebrates this with its wide range of culinary delights across the city.
Glasgow is a city that is quite often overlooked by a lot of visitors, who instead choose to spend their time in the historical capital of Edinburgh. However, it is arguable that no trip to Scotland is complete with experiencing the fantastic Glaswegian nightlife, food, sights, and famous hospitality.
Before you leave on your trip to Glasgow, there are a number of lessons to be learned that I (as a local) have picked up through the years. Get your trip to Scotland’s cultural capital off to a flying start with this guide to the most important things to know before you go to Glasgow.
Glasgow Travel Guide | How to Get Around Glasgow
The city of Glasgow is actually a pretty small place to explore. It will take you no more than an hour to walk from the city centre to the West End and a lot less if you are staying in either of these places.
Given the temperamental Scottish climate, however, walking is not a very popular way of getting around the city. Luckily, there are a few different options for getting around and between all the different parts of the city.
Glasgow’s underground is one of the main connections between the centre, west, and south of the city. There are two tracks that run in one giant circle, one running clockwise and the other anti-clockwise. Very simple!
Tickets can be purchased at the underground stations in the city, from either the ticket office or the unmanned ticket machines. The standard subway paper ticket options include a single (£1.75), return (£3.30) or all-day ticket (£4.20).
You can also sign up for a Smart Card, which not only gives you massively discounted rates but also means you can top-up online and skip the queue. Unfortunately, this option is only viable for long-term visitors as the card takes 2-weeks to be delivered.
There is also the option to buy a Roundabout ticket or a Daytripper ticket, which gives access to more stations and services. This will be discussed in the Special Tickets section below.
Scotland’s rail network is the fastest way to get between different suburbs or further afield to other parts of the country. If you are interested in taking a day trip to cities such as Edinburgh or Stirling then this is the best way to do so.
The trains in the UK are the cheapest option to get around, with a return from Glasgow to Edinburgh costing roughly £13. Tickets can either be purchased online and collected at a station from the self-service machines, or purchased in person at the ticket booth.
Always be sure to purchase your ticket at a ticket office when possible, rather than from the conductor on the train itself. If you buy your ticket on the train, you will automatically be charged the price of a PEAK ticket, even if you are travelling OFF-PEAK.
Once again, there are other ticket options that will be discussed in the Special Tickets Section.
Another way of getting around the suburbs and city centre of Glasgow, as well as travelling intercity and to the countryside, is by bus. In the city of Glasgow, First Bus is the main operator, with its terminus sitting in the Buchannan Bus Station.
The First Bus group operate over 100 different routes around the city centre and Greater Glasgow, meaning you can tour the beautiful and historical city with ease. Tickets can be purchased on the bus either using exact change for cash or by contactless payment by card.
If you wish to go further afield then CityLink buses are there to take you between major cities and other popular tourist spots. Other companies that do the same job include Megabus and National Express, with Megabus being our favourite choice for getting through to Edinburgh cheaply and quickly.
The best value tickets for touring Glasgow and the surrounding suburbs come in the form of the Daytripper and Roundabout passes.
For exploring the city centre and reaching the city from the nearby suburbs, the Roundabout Pass is the best option. This day pass allows you unlimited travel on the subway, as well as to and from 110 other stations in the Greater Glasgow area. The pass costs £7.40 and if you are heading into the city for a day of exploring, this is definitely your best option.
The Daytripper Pass allows you unlimited travel for one day on all of the Subway and Scotrail lines in the Strathclyde region, as well as most bus services and even some ferries. If you are wanting to spend a long day exploring the countryside of Glasgow then this is the best option for you.
Glasgow Travel Guide | Best Sights in the City Centre
When it comes to exploring the city centre of Glasgow there are a huge range of sights, including historical buildings, beautiful murals, and quirky bars and restaurants. Below are some of the best sights that we recommend you check out in the city centre of Glasgow.
For the most spectacular skyline view of Glasgow, head to the Lighthouse exhibition centre off Buchannan Street. Dedicated to the famous Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, this museum showcases some of the wide range of architecture in Glasgow and the influence that it has had across the world.
The area that we are interested in sits at the tallest point of the Lighthouse, which can be reached by heading to the spiralling, helical staircase in the Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibit. Climb to the top and head out onto the balcony for the best view of Glasgow in the city centre.
Glasgow Mural Trail
Spread all throughout the city centre of Glasgow are the beautiful, insightful and downright bizarre works of art of the Glasgow Mural Trail. The total number of these murals spread throughout the city has varied over the years, however, the current number sits at over 25 works of art.
You can easily spend an entire day wandering the streets of Glasgow, following the map of the murals and discovering each masterpiece for yourself.
Buchannan Street Shopping
Famous throughout Scotland for its “shop till you drop” capacity, Buchanan Street is every shopaholic’s dream location. Explore the sheltered area of the St Enoch shopping centre before heading up along Buchanan Street and finishing off in Buchanan Galleries.
Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis
Another spectacular spot for a stunning view of the city centre, the Glasgow Necropolis lies on the outskirts of the city, northeast of George Square. Just a 20-minute walk from the city centre, this historical part of Glasgow beautifully contrasts the gridded, modern metropolis of the centre.
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Glasgow Travel Guide | Where to Eat in Glasgow
If you are looking for somewhere to fill your belly after (or before) a day of exploring Glasgow’s beautiful sights, here are just some of our top recommendations across the city. Glasgow is a place of many culinary delights, a melting pot of different cultures and influences.
No matter what style of food you enjoy, you are going to find it in Glasgow. To keep things simple, all of these restaurants can be found less than a 20-minute walk from George Square.
Cafe Gandolfi sits a 10-minute walk southeast of George Square and is a fantastic spot for Breakfast and Brunch. With locally sourced food and rustic, lightwood furniture, this cafe is a warm and welcoming way to start off the day.
La Vita on George Square is without a doubt our favourite family-run Italian restaurant in Glasgow. The 3-floor restaurant is always bustling with celebrations and romantic dinners, with excellent food and friendly staff to assist you with your meal.
Warming and cosy place to end the day in Glasgow sits on Bath Street, about 15-minutes northwest of George Square, in the downstairs restaurant of Butterfly and the Pig. The miss-matched furniture and quirky decorations mix perfectly with the incredible food and drinks on offer.
There is so much more to Glasgow than meets the eye and it is all just waiting to be discovered. On your next visit to the bonnie lands of Scotland, be sure to visit the thriving metropolis of the country’s largest city. Learn the history, taste the local cuisine and remember the saying “People Make Glasgow”.
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