6 Things you Must do in Glasgow :
Is Glasgow on your travel bucket list? If it isn’t then it should be. Glasgow has a working class charm and beauty unrivalled by any city you will visit. Its grand Victorian buildings invariably marked by “To Let” signs sit above a vibrant and complicated city.
Truly, the fantastic shopping, busy restaurants and happening music scene make Glasgow an exciting stop for any traveler. Glasgow definitely has an edgy, urban vibe that is infused with world class friendliness.
Perhaps Glasgow’s vibe relates to the fact that 11% of Glasgow’s population is enrolled in post-secondary education. 67,000 students, wow! As these students graduate and remain in Glasgow, the city’s cultural and urban sophistication only grows. Glasgow is clearly moving on from its shipbuilding days.
So when you’re in Glasgow and not enjoying the fine dining, shopping and nightlife, these are the attractions that you just have to do!
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum opened in 1901 as part the International Exhibition in Kelvingrove Park. Kelvingrove features red stonework and contains numerous display galleries. Its primary features include natural history, archeological and historical collections, as well as paintings from Scottish and European masters like Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh, amongst others. And it’s free!
And while this is one of the more visited museums in Scotland, it is much less crowded than similar museums in Edinburgh and London. You can even take a guided tour. For a guided tour just check with the Information Desk.
There is a lift on the left side of the main steps leading up to the main entrance which you can use if you have challenges with stairs or are pushing a big stroller. It’s actually not well marked and difficult to spot. Once inside there are elevators to the various floors which will help you get around.
How to get there: Kelvingrove is a quick walk from Kelvinhall subway station. Also nice is the 15 minute stroll through Kelvingrove Park on the way to Kelvingrove and to do that you jump off at the Kelvinbridge subway stop (plan for about 15 min)
Glasgow Cathedral is one of Scotland’s most significant medieval buildings and the only mainland cathedral to survive the reformation of 1560 with its roof!
It is built on the site where St Kentigern, or Mungo, is believed to have been buried in the year 612 so many consider this spot the birthplace of Glasgow. The building itself dates from the 13th – 15th centuries.
If you visit Glasgow Cathedral during the day, it is well worth a wander through the necropolis which is accessible by foot path located beside the church.
As well, the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art is located on Cathedral Square and contains a rich collection of artefacts and art that tell the story of religion in the lives of people over time. Make sure you stop by here as well.
How to get there: Glasgow Cathedral is located in the city centre, and is a short walk from Buchanan Street and Argyle Street. Glasgow Cathedral is a stop on the City Sightseeing bus tour or you can use buses 19, 19A, 38, 57 and 57A which all have a stop near the Cathedral.
Shopping on Buchanan Street
Buchanan Street is a fine pedestrian boulevard that stretches from Sauchiehall Street to St Enoch Square. It’s lined with Victorian architecture and amazing shopping, dining and coffee spots.
If you’re a fan of the big departments stores, then visit the House of Fraser with its amazing atrium and wide selection of luxury boutiques for Hermes, Gucci, Prada, Mui Mui and Anya Hindmarsh . If you are more interested in the smaller fashion stores on the street, then check out All Saints, Urban Outfitters, Diesel, Jack Wills, New Look and Zara.
Maybe you are heading into the highlands to do some walking. There are a number of outdoors stores, including a North Face store.
And if want to walk around, have a drink or a tea and enjoy the buskers playing the bagpipes on the street, then Buchanan is your best bet. You can pick up a kilt after at one of the many fine kilt shops.
How to get there: If you aren’t staying within walking distance, Buchanan Street has two subway stops, the Buchanan Street stop and the St. Enoch stop. Both are good as they are located at opposite ends of the street.
University of Glasgow
It’s funny that universities in the UK seem to be tourist attractions as much as educational institutions. Glasgow University is no different. In addition to being one of the top Universities in Scotland, its grand buildings attract many tourists and photographers. The cloisters between the quadrangles in the main building are particularly popular with architecture or travel photographers, as well as fans of the TV series Outlander, amongst others.
If you are visiting the University of Glasgow, you should also stop at the Hunterian Museum. The Hunterian is Scotland’s oldest public museum and, aside from the national museums, contains one of the most extensive collections of artifacts in Scotland.
How to get there: The closest subway stop to the University is Hillhead station, and if you can walk past all the great spots without stopping it should only take between 5 and 10 minutes. If your traveling from Glasgow’s centre by bus, then you will need the 4 and 4A.
Doon the Watter with Clyde Cruises
When you visit Glasgow you might surprised to learn that Glasgow exists because of the River Clyde. In fact, the River Clyde seems disconnected to the centre of the city despite some of the newer attractions and event facilities being built along the river.
Certainly, the River Clyde is not as central to the city or as integral to tourism as the Thames is to London or the Seine is to Paris. There is really no major attraction along River in the very central part of the city and little reason to go there if you’re a tourist.
But you need to see the River Clyde and get a chance to experience its fantastic history. One of the best ways to do this is to take a River Clyde Cruise. We did the Doon the Watter cruise which starts at the Riverside Museum and travels along the river to the historical Dumbarton Rock and its famous castle.
You will travel down the river, past shipyards and industrial sites in Glasgow and then cruise past rural scenery as you move further from Glasgow. The cruise turns around at Dumbarton Castle. The rock on which Dumbarton Castle sits has the longest history of any stronghold in Scotland. It’s so old and steeped in history and myth that even Merlin of Arthurian fame is said to have stayed here.
The tour is guided and a truly enjoyable experience and look into the history of Glasgow.
How to get there: The cruise starts on the River Clyde right at the Riverside Museum. The nearest subway stationn for trains is Patrick Station, then it’s around a 10 minutes’ walk to Riverside Museum.
Riverside Museum is one of those places you’re going to love. It’s all about transportation but it’s really not boring. In fact, it’s downright fun. The museum covers Glasgow’s distant past as a centre of shipping and takes you up to general developments in transportation on land into the 20th Century. Its collection includes everything from rare bicycles, cars and trains, to skateboards and all other manner of transportation.
This is a place the kids will absolutely love after seeing too many old castles, churches and art galleries.
How to get there: The nearest subway station for trains is Patrick Station, then it’s around a 10 minutes’ walk to Riverside Museum.
Photographs created using the incredible Olympus OM-D system.