On the banks of the River Clyde, Scotland’s largest city grew exponentially during the industrial revolution, earning a reputation as a busy working class port town. Today it is a young and lively city known for its vibrant cultural scene, from world class restaurants to art museums to live music. Glasgow has managed to grow into one of the most friendly and welcoming cities in the world, while still maintaining a bit of its urban edge.
Glasgow has a variety of museums to please any art or history lover. The stunning Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum features beautiful Edwardian architecture and has everything from Dutch Masters to Dali to dinosaurs (and the grounds around the museum, Kelvingrove Park, are perfect for a stroll or picnic.) Head to the Mackintosh House for a glimpse of the work and private life of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, arguably Glasgow’s most famous artist. If you prefer cars and ships to paintings, the Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel is a must-see. In addition to antique cars, trains and bicycles, the highlight is the Glenlee, a fully-restored interactive barque from the 1800s. For a spookier, but no less beautiful, glimpse of history and architecture, head to the Necropolis, a Victorian era cemetery featuring elaborate mausoleums and headstones. Thanks to a Victorian glasshouse (Kibble Palace) and charming tea room, the Glasgow Botanic Gardens make for a welcoming visit rain or shine. From medieval to gothic, jaw-dropping architecture can be found throughout Glasgow but make sure to see the 12th century Glasgow Cathedral and the Victorian era City Chambers building on George Square. Glasgow is for music lovers. Savor one of the most renowned live music scenes in the world with a show at one of its many venues, from historic locations like the Old Fruitmarket and the venerable Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to intimate bars and hotspots like the famous Nice’n’Sleazy.
When you need a break from the bustling city, hit the road to Loch Lomond. This far-stretching lake is less than an hour’s drive from Glasgow and offers stunning views of the central Scotland lowlands. Located in a national park, the countryside surrounding the lake is ideal for hikes and the lake is prime for boating.
You can get to Scotland’s capital and second-largest city, Edinburgh, in about an hour, by train or by car. The dramatic beauty of Edinburgh blends dark medieval architecture with newer Georgian elegance. Visit the clifftop fortress of Edinburgh Castle or climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat for a windswept view of the Firth of Forth and the North Sea.
Glasgow is conveniently compact. For easy access to tourist destinations, like George Square, and great shopping and eating, look for accommodation near City Centre. Not far from the center, Finnieston is a former warehouse district turned riverside arts district with beloved bars, music venues, and tearooms. Not far from there, Merchant City is another warehouse district that has since been revitalized into a welcoming neighborhood with beautiful architecture and a plethora of boutiques, restaurants, bars, and galleries. Here you’ll find the Old Fruitmarket, the impressive Gallery of Modern Art, and the annual Merchant City Festival. Recently voted the best neighborhood in the UK and Ireland, Glasgow’s West End offers cobbled street character, easy access to Kelvingrove Park and the Botanic Gardens, and some of the coolest bars and restaurants in the city, like the Ubiquitous Chip and the Hanoi Bike Shop.
Glasgow’s underground subway loops around the central city, offering fast, easy transportation close in. The rest of the city is also easily accessed via frequent bus and rail routes. If you plan to hop off and on throughout the day, get a Roundabout ticket, which offers unlimited access via train and subway. The UK’s rail service also makes it convenient for longer train trips from Glasgow throughout Scotland and England.
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