Glasgow Travel Guide
Just a few decades ago, Glasgow was a gray, gritty city of dank pubs and homely slums. However, the same dogged Glaswegians that survived years of deterioration kindled a cultural rejuvenation in the '80s and '90s, fanning the flames of urban renewal throughout the city. Today, Glasgow offers a high-intensity clubbing experience; a surprisingly good art scene; a live-music scene, which has discovered the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol; and numerous places to ... continue»
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The best time to visit Glasgow is the months between March and August when temperatures reach their peak and daylight hours are long. On the flip side, the winters are characterized by bitter cold and short days. Budget airlines, flying from London Heathrow (LHR) or other major hubs, have made Glasgow travel relatively affordable year-round. But to find deals on hotels, you should book a trip over the weekend when business travelers have returned home.Best Times to Visit Glasgow»
Nearly 70 square miles in area, Glasgow is broken into several large districts -- the City Centre, which references much of the centralized area north of the River Clyde; the West End, located west of the City Centre; and Southside, located across the River Clyde from the City Centre. Note that some of these districts are further broken into smaller neighborhoods.
The City Centre is the central sweep of development just north of the River Clyde. This large neighborhood contains Glasgow's coveted shopping districts. Lining the Sauchiehall, Buchanan and Argyle pedestrian streets are a number of department stores, boutique shops, and high-end chains, including Debenham's and Jaeger. When it rains (and it will), head indoors for more shopping at Buchanan Galleries, St. Enoch's Square, Princes Square and the jewelry trove at the Argyll Arcade.
Waiting out afternoon rains at the cinema is always a good idea, and the City Centre has several venues, including the Glasgow Film Theatre, which shows indie films and the Odeon City Centre, which shows Hollywood blockbusters.
The City Centre's northeastern neighbor has been called Cathedral, Townhead and Medieval City, among other names, but visitors can easily recall it by remembering what it holds -- the Glasgow Cathedral, among other historic attractions. The site of the cathedral, which was built between the 12th and 14th centuries, had religious purposes dating back to St. Mungo in the 5th century. The adjacent Glasgow Necropolis is a Victorian cemetery set on acres of rolling green and makes for a peaceful -- even meditative -- stroll on a nice afternoon.
Trongate and East End
Located east of the City Centre and south of the Glasgow Cathedral, the Trongate and East End area is most famous for the vibrant Barras Market, which sells everything from food to furniture, and much in between. Fodor's says, "Stalls hawk antique (and not-so-antique) furniture, bric-a-brac, good and not-so-good jewelry, and textiles -- you name it, it's here." Barras is a must-see, but guard your wallets against pickpocketers.
Also in this less impressive eastern side of the city is the Tron Theatre, a 17th-century church turned contemporary-theater venue. And sidled up against the river is the Glasgow Green, one of the city's oldest public parks.
Merchant City's boundaries run from the northern George Square to Argyle and Trongate streets in the south, which is southeast of Glasgow's Cathedral area. George Square is generally considered the geographic, as well as the figurative center of Glasgow. Let's Go Scotland says, "Filled with couples, tourists, and pigeon feeders, the square is frequently the site of citywide displays and events. Although named for George III, the square's 80 ft. central column features a statue of Sir Walter Scott, Scottish novelist and poet."
Brimming with Georgian and Victorian architecture -- represented in the City Chambers building, among others -- this neighborhood is one of the few residential districts in the city. But you'll also find a healthy array of hot clubs and bars, restaurants, hotels and stores, leading many to compare this area to New York's Soho.
Anchored by the University of Glasgow, a towering example of neo-gothic architecture set atop one of Scotland's telltale emerald hills, the West End area bursts with youth and energy. Travel Channel says, "Its parkland setting and cosmopolitan vibe mix seamlessly with the fashionable, affluent feel of the surrounding area." Second-hand shops, green parks and ethnic eateries mingle with opulent homes, fine-dining establishments and high-end stores, giving the West End a refined bohemian ambience. Also located in this western neighborhood is the Museum of Transport and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, around which millionaires make their homes (in Kelvinside). The Botanic Gardens and Kibble Palace are more tourist favorites. And the restaurants congregated in this area are the best in all of Glasgow.
The Southside, located on the south side of the River Clyde, is the urban City Centre's verdant opposite. Filled with green space, from Bellahouston Park, which contains the House for an Art Lover, to Pollok Country Park, which contains the Burrell Collection, the Southside is also heavily residential. Here the Citizens Theatre shows performances of everything from Shakespeare to contemporary plays; the Tramway houses the Scottish Opera and the Scottish Ballet; and Hampden Park hosts football games, concerts and other events.
A bit grittier than Edinburgh (its eastern counterpart), Glasgow sees its fair share of crime, but most of it is inflamed by drugs or too much alcohol and amongst local Glaswegians. Lonely Planet does warn tourists against participating in any Orange marches, which relate to the centuries-old hostility between Protestants and Catholics.
The best way to get around Glasgow is by foot. Many of the best things to do are located in the city center, and the grid layout makes it very easy to navigate. But several attractions are on the outskirts, necessitating the use of the public transportation system or a car. Black taxis are also available, and you can hail these on the streets or find them in taxi ranks (or lines) throughout the city center. If you took a plane into Glasgow International Airport (GLA), you can take a train, bus, taxi or rental car the 10 miles into the city center.Getting Around Glasgow»