I'm in the process of planning a trip for next year. We will start in Edinburgh - was there many years ago and want to go back. Never been to Glasgow, and I'm wondering if it's worth spending a few days there? My husband and I just love being in the UK and this year made our 26th trip there. We like anything historical, art and just being there. We want this trip to be relaxing, with a base for several days and just easily getting around to see the sights. Is Glasgow a good place to do this? Thanks.
Thanks, Tom. I don't have any Scottish connections - just an interest in the history. My roots go to England, Sweden and Ireland.
Thanks Briwire - your suggestions sound like just the sort of things we would like!
There are some great things to do in Glasgow. I can't see what you have already heard about, but my suggestions are:
- Riverside Museum--it's on my list for my next trip to Scotland. I visited its predecessor, The Transportation Museum, quite a few years ago. This looks to be even better.
- Glasgow Cathedral--I enjoyed visiting the Cathedral. If you like a good historical mystery check out Pat McIntosh's series set in Medieval Glasgow.
- Kelvingrove--I personally think that Kelvingrove is worth visiting for the building alone let alone the exhibits and the organ.
- The Burrell Collection--this an amazing museum and the grounds are interesting as well.
- The Tenement House--I love this museum. Since visiting it, I've visited the Tenement Museum in NYC as well. Both are amazing.
There are lots of other places to visit as well. I stayed at the West End one time and enjoyed the music and restaurants. I've also stayed downtown. I tend to go to Edinburgh first, but Glasgow is an amazing place and well worth visiting and exploring.
The Burrell Collection has been closed since 2018 and will reportedly not reopen until spring 2021.
The People's Palace has reopened following repairs, but the adjoining Winter Gardens will be closed for the foreseeable future. The glass structure requires costly repairs.
I assume current guidebooks reflect the fact that the School of Design was virtually totally destroyed in a mid-2018 fire.
Personal opinion: I enjoyed Glasgow more than Edinburgh.
To add to the visit list above and in no particular order:
Glasgow is absolutely full of Victorian architecture, so take a tour of
Glasgow City chambers, 19 century opulence, completed 1888.
Glasgow police museum.
Scotland street school museum (for the inside, a Victorian & 1960s classroom )
Provands Lordship house
Take a ride on the Glasgow subway, a loop, inner circle and outer circle, first opened 1896 now 1970s retro.
Walking around, notice there are a few Dr Who police boxes.
Central Glasgow has a North American grid road system, so navigating is easy.
Shame the giant conservatory/winter gardens attached to the People's Palace is closed, there was a good cafe inside.
Many buildings are illuminated at night, the Mitchell library lit at night reminds me of the older US east coast government/colonial buildings.
Check opening days/times of all museums.
Thank you, Denise. Everyone's comments make Glasgow sound like a very good idea to visit. Thanks so much.
I was underwhelmed by the architecture of the School Museum; it's understated compared to much of Mackintosh's work (the fine hand of bureaucrats at work, probably). It may well be of interest to educators, but folks going primarily because of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh connection would probably be happier with other choices, of which there are quite a few in the city--more than the typical tourist will have time for. As already mentioned, just walking down the street will bring you face-to-face with a lot of interesting buildings.
The Princes Square Shopping Center (not designed my Mackintosh, I don't believe) has a gorgeous Art Nouveau interior. I don't know how old it is, but it is drool-worthy if you're interested in that style.
There are Mackintosh-related exhibits at the Hunterian and the Kelvingrove.
That sad to hear about the Burrell Collection. is it just museum or is the whole park closed?
I can't say for sure, because I didn't go to Pollok Country Park, but I believe it's just the building. I think they're expanding the gallery. I was really sorry to miss it, but I knew it was closed well before my trip, so it didn't come as a surprise. I seem to have worse luck than average with major museums being closed when I'm in town. All is usually revealed when you do your pre-trip checking of operating hours.
I don't know whether you enjoy photography, but there is an excellent retrospective of Linda McCartney's photography at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Most of the photographs are of musicians, but there are others besides.
The exhibit opened in July, and was the international premiere. It's expected to remain at the Kelvingrove for at least a year.
If you're an Outlander fan, the interior scenes are filmed at a huge studio in Cumbernauld, which is just outside Glasgow. Tours are available, albeit expensive.
There are a lot of really fun shops and restaurants along Byres Road, at the West End. At the top end of of Byres Road, there is a rabbit's warren of side streets and closes, with all kinds of surprises.
If no one has already mentioned it, the Royal Botanic Gardens are at the top of Byres Road, and Glasgow University is off to the east about half way down Byres Road. Well worth a visit for the architecture, especially the Cloisters, which filled in for Harvard University during the filming of Outlander.
We’re in Glasgow right now staying at the Sandyford on Crescent. I recommend it. If you have the time see some of the city which is great with history, culture, architecture and art. I second many of the suggestions above. A small detail that threw us off temporarily is that one of our “must do” events was tea at the Willow. Turns out that there are 2 Willow Tearooms, NOT to be confused with the Macintosh at the Willows on Sauchiehall Street. Make sure you know which one you’re at if you’ve made a reservation for tea.
Thanks b.merrit326. I am getting so excited! We plan to wait until the end of October and then make our airline reservations. Thought we'd see if there's a Brexit answer by then. Does that make sense?
If you need a burger fix then, in my opinion, the best burgers in the world (my kids and I have conducted plenty of research) can be found at http://breadmeatsbread.com. It gets very busy so go early or prepare to queue.
I spent 4 nights in Glasgow in September 2016 and had a great time. If you want details of what I did, here's my trip report (just skip the Manchester and Liverpool sections): https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/uk-trip-report-glasgow-manchester-liverpool-in-september-2016
One thing I saw and loved that hasn't been mentioned is the House for an Art Lover. But there are certainly lots of things to see, and as a bonus, many of them are free or low cost. This is a nice contrast from London or even Edinburgh, where many of the worthwhile sights are either free or high cost. Another nice feature is that Glasgow is very un-touristy; even in the center or at designated "attractions" like museums, locals seem to outnumber visitors.
It's also fun to contrast Edinburgh and Glasgow. Just like Baltimore and Washington, the cities may be close in distance, but they are not any way similar! I had a great time in each, but they almost feel like different countries rather than different cities.
Getting around Glasgow is easy. In addition to the subway, buses go all over (a day ticket is currently £4.50, but note that buses require coins and do not accept notes or give change). The hop on hop off bus, as I detailed in my trip report, is also a great option; unlike in so many other places, it really works well, and the two day ticket is a great deal for £17.
My sister is going to Edinburgh and Glasgow in a few weeks, and I'm helping her plan her trip. It's bringing back very fond memories!
I agree with Harold about House for an Art Lover. And there's a 2-for-1 deal for that sight.
Hi Harold. I remember reading your trip report a couple years ago and loved it. I agree with you about visiting non-tourist sites. We were in Newcastle in May of this year, and I consider that a place that most tourists do not go. Am I correct UK residents? We had been to Edinburgh many years ago and want to go back, but never been to Glasgow, and I am anxious to go there, especially after seeing all the comments that people have sent. We were in Liverpool two years ago and loved that visit. In May of this year, we took our 26th trip to the UK - shows how much we love it. Not sure if this will be our last one? It's hard to quit!!
I would say that Newcastle is not on the list of places that many foreign tourists visit. It attracts a number of British tourists for the city itself and the surrounding area. It's a great place to visit and one which represents a good snapshot of a quintessential Northern English industrial powerhouse. The people are very friendly, prices are cheaper than in the South and there are plenty of interesting sights in the area. Give me Newcastle and Northumberland over The Cotswolds any day.
As for Glasgow, it has a different feel to Edinburgh. Both have very definite plus points and are equally worthy of a visit. Personally Edinburgh edges out over Glasgow but there's not much in it.
I'm enjoying this discussion, so thanks for starting it, Sharon!
Three years ago I flew into Glasgow to begin two weeks of exploring Britain by rail (flew home out of Gatwick).
I hadn't expected to like Glasgow, so just scheduled one night there, to catch up on sleep after my flight before heading to Edinburgh. But, whoa - I really liked Glasgow! I spent that afternoon and evening wandering, and got out early the next morning to take the HOHO bus around town before catching the train to Edinburgh in late afternoon. I hope to return to Glasgow, and spend more time there. Reading these recommendations gives me that "kid in a candy store" feeling: I want to see that, and that, and do that . . .
Sharon - I had forgotten that you saw my thread and responded to it. I hope you enjoy Glasgow as much as I did (and evidently, I'm not the only one).