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  • Writer's pictureDiogo Machado

Best of Glasgow

Updated: May 9, 2023

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the third largest in the United Kingdom, located on the banks of the mighty River Clyde. Contemporary Glasgow is a very diverse and vibrant city with many acclaimed museums and galleries, great restaurants and bars, unique, eclectic architecture, and many Victorian buildings with typical red roofs. After all, Victorian architecture here is one of the major draws for visitors worldwide.

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What not to miss?

George Square

George Square is the city's main square and the heart of Glasgow. This pedestrian square in the city center was named after King George III. You can admire beautiful statues of historical figures, have a coffee, stroll around, or relax on a bench or on the grass. Glasgow City Hall (Glasgow City Chambers) is also located on George Square and is known for its Renaissance architecture. As you can see, both the exterior and interior of the buildings are spectacular! George Square is one of Glasgow's most popular tourist attractions, and it's a great place to start exploring the city.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

This lovely garden, close to the university, will allow you to spend a few hours strolling among the flowers or visiting the magnificent Victorian-inspired tropical greenhouses. It's especially soothing to visit the covered and heated greenhouses during cold or rainy weather!

Pollok Park and Pollok House

Pollok Park, at 146 hectares, is Glasgow's most significant green space. It is conveniently located south of the city center and is easily accessible by train from Queen Street station. It's an ideal location for peace in the Scottish countryside, just minutes from the city. You can take leisurely strolls through the meadows, undergrowth, and flower-filled gardens there. You can also visit Pollok House, the former owners' family home in the park. Visitors who enjoy classic English novels will enjoy staying at this picturesque house and its various living areas. Inside, don't miss the Burrel Collection, which houses over 8000 works of art from around the world.

The City Chambers

The City Chambers, one of the city's most iconic and imposing buildings, is the focal point of George Square. Its magnificence tells the story of the Second City of the Empire's wealth and industrial prosperity. It is one of the most beautiful civic buildings in the UK and a popular destination for locals and tourists.

The Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral, located on a hill in the East End district, is the city's most famous landmark. This sizeable Gothic Cathedral, also known as St Mungo's Cathedral or the High Kirk of Glasgow, was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and will impress you! Inside (free admission), you can admire the beautiful stained glass windows and visit the crypt, which houses the tomb of St Mungo, the city's patron saint.

What else to visit?

The People's Palace

The People's Palace and Winter Gardens can be found in Glasgow Green Park. This free museum will teach you more about Glasgow's inhabitants and their living conditions over the centuries. The People's Palaces Museum is housed within a stunning structure, in front of which stands the Doulton Fountain. This magnificent terracotta fountain depicting former British colonies such as South Africa and Australia is the world's largest of its kind. Don't miss the former carpet factory next to the museum as you leave the palace: its multi-colored facade is charming on a sunny day!

Provand's Lordship

Provand's Lordship is one of Glasgow's two oldest houses and a sadly rare survivor of the many old buildings that once surrounded and extended beyond Glasgow's High Street, some of which formed the Glasgow Cathedral precinct. Today, it looks across a busy street to the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, a magnificent castle-like structure built in 1993.

Kelvingrove Park & Kelvingrove Art Museum

Kelvingrove Park, a wooded park crisscrossed by the Kelvin River, is an ideal spot for a stroll with a spectacular university view. Children can also have fun in the playgrounds set up for this purpose. To get to Glasgow Botanic Garden, walk along the river on the "Kelvin Walkway" from the park.

If you only have time to visit one museum in Glasgow, make it Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of Scotland's most important. It's in Kelvingrove Park, and admission is free. This museum houses an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, Art Nouveau items, and furniture. There are 22 thematic galleries ranging from natural history to medieval weapons. Something for everyone! Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is exceptionally well-done and educational, making it an excellent choice for a family outing if you're visiting Glasgow with children.

The GoMA, the modern art gallery

The GoMA is Glasgow's modern art museum, located on Buchanan Street. A must-see if you enjoy cultural tourism! Since 1996, the museum has been housed in a building that has served as a residence, a library, and a museum. There are many works by local and international artists to be found there. Admission is free, as it is at most of Glasgow's museums. Outside, just in front of the GoMA entrance, look for the Duke of Wellington statue topped with a traffic cone. For the record, this cone was placed there by pranksters who replaced it whenever the municipality removed it. The city then decided to abandon it.

The University of Glasgow

It's a must-see during your stay because it's considered one of the world's most beautiful and prestigious universities. Its stunning Gothic architecture inspired JK Rowling to design the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Guaranteed Harry Potter atmosphere! This university is a true architectural masterpiece, with neo-gothic buildings that transport us back several centuries. Some facilities, inner courtyards, and a few small museums are open to the public (Hunterian Museum, Hunterian Art Gallery, Mackintosh House, and Hunterian Zoology Museum).

How to travel there?

Glasgow is located in west-central Scotland. Scotland's largest city is easily accessible by train, sea, road, and air from the rest of the UK and abroad.

Glasgow has two main train stations that connect it to the rest of the UK. Glasgow Central Station connects Glasgow to the south, while Glasgow Queen Street Station primarily serves Edinburgh and the north.

Ferries run from Northern Ireland's major ports of Belfast and Larne to Scotland. Ferries dock at Cairnryan in southwest Scotland, and a bus takes passengers to the city center in 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Scotland has an extensive highway network. Glasgow is connected to Edinburgh, England, Stirling, and the west coast of Scotland.

Three international airports serve Glasgow with connections throughout the UK and the world: Glasgow Airport is the nearest to the city center. Glasgow Prestwick Airport is 32 miles (51 kilometers) from the city center. It is easily accessible by train and bus to the city center. Glasgow International Airport is 39 miles (63 kilometers) away. The airport has a direct bus service to Glasgow's Buchanan Bus Station that takes about an hour.

When to travel there?

Glasgow is best visited between March and August, when temperatures are at their highest and daylight hours are at their longest. Winters, however, are marked by bitter cold and short days. Budget airlines flying from London Heathrow (LHR) or other significant hubs have made year-round travel to Glasgow relatively affordable. However, plan your trip for the weekend after business travelers have returned home to find the best hotel rates. You'll need an umbrella and a rain jacket no matter what time of year you visit, as precipitation is typical all year.

Average costs

While Scotland might definitely be a more expensive destination compared to other European destinations, it certainly doesn’t have to break the bank to visit. You can expect an average trip to Scotland cost for travelers that want to vacation in Scotland to be €78 to €139 per person per day. This can, however, be reduced if you plan on spending some nights camping, not doing many paid activities, and cooking most of your own meals.

A one-day trip costs €79 for a budget traveler, €112 for a standard traveler, and €247 for a luxury traveler. If you want to stay for a little longer, say three days, a budget traveler will pay €238; a standard traveler will pay around €337, and a luxury traveler will pay about €741.

Where to eat?

We bring you the top three restaurants in Glasgow. Alchemilla is the first tip. Alchemilla is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds, with its abundance of pale wood and whitewashed stripped stone walls. Plates are available in small to medium sizes for sharing and are served as they become available. The Mediterranean-inspired menu changes seasonally based on what's fresh and open, and a small but well-curated wine list encourages pairing with large pours.

Julie's Kopitiam is another excellent restaurant recommendation. Julie's Kopitiam, a tiny Malaysian restaurant owned by a bright young 'MasterChef' contestant whose mother taught the art of cooking, has been widely hailed as one of Glasgow's best restaurants since opening in 2017. It's small but perfectly formed, located on a juicy chunk of Pollokshaws Road, where bars, cafés, and boutiques compete for space. Service is quick and friendly, and tables are quickly turned over, especially since no alcohol is served (nor even offer BYOB).

Ox and Finch is the final restaurant we recommend. Ox and Finch, which opened in 2014 and quickly became one of the city's most exciting new restaurants, is a rare thing on Glasgow's generally casual dining scene: one of those places you need to book well in advance. Its location on Sauchiehall Street, slightly removed from the increasingly restaurant-heavy Argyle Street Finnieston'strip,' provides a useful geographical analogy for how confidently it sits apart from the crowd. It appears trendy without being overly so. The imaginative small-plates menu, primarily of Scottish origin, packs a punch and never disappoints.


Celtic Connections

Celtic Connections music festival, the best-attended annual festival in Glasgow and the largest of its kind in the world, covers Gaelic, folk, roots, alt-country, Americana, and more. Every January marks the beginning of the year. The Royal Concert Hall, which hosts the event, is the primary venue for performances.

Glasgow International Jazz Festival

This annual event brings a few top jazz acts to Glasgow, usually from the last week of June to the first days of July. The festival has recently featured saxophonist David Murray, singer/songwriter Van Morrison, and more locally based talents such as Carol Kidd and Tommy Smith.

We've reached the end of the article about Glasgow. We believe you will visit this amazing city. In the meantime, you can read other articles on our blog. How about London, Manchester, or Edinburgh? Do not forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be always updated on the new releases.

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