Glasgow Travel Guide

Scotland  #18 in Best Spring Vacations
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Glasgow Area Map

Neighborhoods

Nearly 70 square miles in area, Glasgow is broken into several large districts – the City Centre, which encompasses 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 Debenhams. When it rains (and it will), head indoors for more shopping at Buchanan Galleries, St. Enoch 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.

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 fifth 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.

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. Barras is a must-see, but guard your wallets against pickpockets.

Also in this less impressive eastern side of the city is the Tron Theatre, a 16th-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, named for George III, is generally considered the geographic, as well as the figurative center of Glasgow. Despite its namesake, the square's most notable festure is an 80-foot column topped by the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott.

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. Secondhand 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 Riverside Museum 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 among 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 (temporary closed for renovation but slated to reopen in 2021) produces performances of everything from Shakespeare to contemporary plays; the Tramway hosts contemporary dance performances, visual art installations and more ; 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. Visitors should avoid potentially volatile Orange marches, which relate to the centuries-old hostility between Protestants and Catholics.

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