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Glasgow - deciding how much time to spend there

I am sketching out our itinerary for our 2016 trip. We need to get from Brussels to Islay.

I am committed to taking the Eurostar from Brussels to London - non-negotiable so don't you try to talk me out of it! :)

For London to Islay I'm noodling over the following options:

  1. Arrive London noon-ish, stay overnight, spend the 1st half of the next day in London then take an afternoon TRAIN or PLANE to Glasgow. Arrive Glasgow in the early evening, spend the night, fly to Islay the next day, either in the afternoon or early evening.

  2. Arrive London noon-ish, stay overnight, immediately get on an afternoon TRAIN or PLANE to Glasgow. Arrive Glasgow in the evening, spend two nights and the intervening day in Glasgow, fly to Islay the third day, either in the afternoon or early evening.

I know nothing about Glasgow yet because I've been thinking of it as just a transfer point on the way to Islay. I have the Rick Steve's Great Britain and Snapshot Scotland books, so I will read up on what he has to say about Glasgow, I just haven't done so yet.

Maybe I can hear others' thoughts on a couple of matters?
- Plane vs train from London to Glasgow. The train takes 5 hours but I assume it deposits us centrally. A flight is only 90 minutes but we'd have to add in checkin time and travel time to/from the airports at both ends. We find train travel more relaxing than plane travel.
- Is a day and a morning in Glasgow too much or too little? Time spent in Glasgow would be at the expense of time spent in London, but we've been to London lots of times so we have nothing particular we need to do there on this trip. On the other hand we love London and always enjoy a stay, even a really short one. Stopping in at our favorite pub and market are sufficient to make us happy.

Posted by
1293 posts

Your time would only give a quick glance over Glasgow, but it is still worth visiting. There are plenty of free museums and a good public transport system to get around.

Just don't expect Glasgow to be pretty. It isn't. Edinburgh is pretty, Glasgow works for a living. ;-)

Transport wise, my choice would be train. Glasgow is on a direct route, when you add in the faff around flying it is not much quicker and you will see more of the countryside. The main operator is Virgin Trains, worth checking them out for timetables and prices.

Trains come from London Euston or London King's Cross on a normal basis.

Posted by
351 posts

I don't need pretty. Just interesting. And beer. :-D

Sounds like the extra time in Glasgow will give us a quick taste for a future trip. We've spent very little time in Scotland so far but really want to spend more time (thus the week on Islay)

Any thoughts on neighborhoods? I prefer to stay central to sights and trains, and while I wouldn't say "money is no object" we don't object to paying extra for the right location.

Posted by
1293 posts

For areas of the city, the City Centre or the West End are the ones to look at. There are plenty of hotes that fit that and fit most budgets,

As for beer, you are in luck. This is Glasgow we are talking about!

Posted by
9363 posts

You're right, the train brings you right into town. The train from the airport takes about 30 minutes, so you don't save much, if anything. I have done the train trip, and it was very comfortable. There is WiFi available onboard, too, for a small fee.
I would give Glasgow a bit more time than just a day and a half. There is a lot to see. I was there for two full days and part of another, and I didn't get to do everything I had hoped.

Posted by
2487 posts

Lately I spent a long weekend in Glasgow, and I loved it. It has not the elegant beauty of Edinburgh. Instead you get the architecture of a - mainly nineteenth-century - confident and successful commercial industrial city with clearly some money to burn. Can easily keep you busy for two full days. Don't forget the Kelvingrove Museum and the cathedral with the Necropolis on the hill behind.

Posted by
1293 posts

Another advantage of the train into Glasgow from London is it brings you into Glasgow Central.

Glasgow Central is a proper old fashioned but modernised terminus station, complete with 4* hotel.

Posted by
244 posts

We just returned from Scotland. We spent 2 nights in Glasgow and wished we had more time! We absolutely loved it! We didn't have enough time to visit museums. We did take the RS walking tour and the HOHO bus. The architecture is creative and interesting. The city has an artistic vibe. "People Make Glasgow" is the moto promoted around the city. It surely is true! We met wonderful locals. It was such a surprise to us how much we enjoyed the city! We will be back!

Posted by
1293 posts

pfresh, I've got one of the badges with that on it 'People Make Glasgow'.

Glasgow surprises a lot of people because of its history has left it a certain reputation. What it always does is leave an impression, and we've had visitors who've been wary of Glasgow's reputation, come and visit and then ask as they are leaving 'when can we come back?'

If you are a Doctor Who fan, Glasgow has more Police Boxes than any other UK city, or at least it feels like it.

Motorgirl, if you are then going over to Islay, try to cross over to Jura if you can. Wild and beautiful, and home of my favourite whisky.

Posted by
5563 posts

I've enjoyed my visits to Glasgow. The first time I went I stayed in the west end and took the subway quite a bit. The Transport Museum was there at the time, but Kelvingrove and the Botanic Gardens still are in the west end. And if you want to hear some music, I think that the west end is the place to be. In the city centre you have more museums. I really enjoyed the Tenement Museum which is up the hill near the Art School. The Cathedral is good too. (As an aside Pat McIntosh has written some wonderful historical mysteries that take place in Scotland just as the university was founding and center around the Cathedral.) On my next trip my top place to visit will be the new transportation museum which is now on the Clyde and looks very, very impressive!

I add a vote for the train.

Pam

Posted by
351 posts

A plan is forming in my head (which will, I am sure, undergo a few revisions between now and the visit).

We'll do the 2 nights & one full day in Glasgow, skipping London altogether (which will be weird!). Probably do a walking tour or HOHO bus to get a feel for the layout of the city and pick one museum to hit. Look for a casual pub/bar near our hotel for the first night and something more fancy the second night.

My goal will be to get a feel for the city. Since we want to explore Scotland more, and already know that Edinburgh & Glasgow are close enough together we can explore them both in the same future trip.

Re: Jura - I haven't been to Jura yet, but it's on our list of things we are considering while on Islay. What is MC's favorite whisky? We have a bottle of Jura Superstition in the liquor cabinet that was a gift.

Posted by
1293 posts

That is the bunny. There is only one distillery on Jura as the population is tiny. Similar to that of Iona in size but a much larger island.

Posted by
552 posts

I spent four days in Glasgow, and I think any less would not have been enough. The Kelvingrove museum is great, and even the transportation museum nearby could take up half a day. Then there is the school of art (which I hear suffered a fire) and the Willow tea rooms that are a must. Wander the pedestrian only shopping district, visit the cathedral, and then just wander the town and look up at the architecture. I would say a minimum of three days would be good.

Posted by
3109 posts

A key facet in understanding Glasgow and some of its best architecture and design at the turn of the twentieth century , is a knowledge of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his immensely talented wife , Margaret McDonald . A wonderful forty five minute documentary , " Charles Rennie Mackintosh ; A Modern Man " , made on the occasion of a 1996 retrospective of his work , at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City , will whet your desire to see Glasgow . Find it on YouTube . Since I am writing from Amsterdam on my tablet , I , unfortunately cannot hot link this . I have been to Glasgow several times , and my fondness for it ,continues to grow !

Posted by
37 posts

We were in Glasgow in August for one day and one night (definitely not enough!) and had a GREAT time. Beer . . . it seemed, in our limited time there, that there were millions of pubs and they were all full of fun, friendly people, no matter what time of day it was. The beer was good, too! We stayed at Citizen M on Renfrew Street, which was centrally located. We felt quite safe walking around at night, and you can catch the HOHO bus right across the street in front of the Conservatory. Even better, The Pot Still Bar was very close, and you will undoubtedly want to go there. We used the HOHO bus for most of our transportation needs (your ticket is good for 24 hours) along with shanks pony :)
On the west end, we loved the Kelvingrove and ate dinner at nearby Oran Mor, which had great cullen skink. History, architecture and drink aside, it is worth going to Glasgow just for its people. Enjoy!

Posted by
5563 posts

Here's a link to the Riverside Museum, formerly the Transportation Museum. Note it is NOT across from Kelvingrove anymore, but is Clydeside and most easily accessed from city centre. I for one, can hardly wait to visit it. I can't believe it's been so long since I've been to Glasgow.

Posted by
926 posts

We spent a week in Glasgow last summer when my son's soccer team was there training with Celtic. I really loved the city! Yes it not the most picturesque but everyone says Glasgow has the friendliest people and it was totally true. And there were tons of pubs that were hopping with people hanging out having a beer, day or night.

Favorite restaurants were Kama Sutra Indian on Sauchiehall, and Topolabamba (this place was seriously hopping), can't remember the street but more downtown, easy to google.

We also went lawn bowling (free!) next to the Kelvingrove and totally loved it, and the old guy who worked there who gave us a lesson!

I think it's for sure worth a day and couple of nights! Pot Still pub was great (as was Mussel Inn for dinner right near it).

Some of the dads caught a cab to the Auchentoshan distillery tour and really loved it!
Kim

Posted by
179 posts

We actually liked Glasgow as a city better than Edinburgh. Of course, you wouldn't want to pass Edinburgh in favor of Glasgow. But Glasgow is definitely less (if at all) touristy. As opposed to Rick's thought of day-tripping Glasgow from Edinburgh were we to do it again we'd make Glasgow the base and day-trip Edinburgh

Posted by
351 posts

OK - I know that over the last couple of months each of you has been anxiously wondering "What will Motorgirl decide?!"
I sincerely hope it hasn't kept you awake too many nights.

I've settled on a plan.

Arrive London noon-ish, immediately get on an afternoon TRAIN to Glasgow.
Arrive Glasgow in the evening, spend 3 nights and the intervening 2 days in Glasgow, fly to Islay on day 4 in the afternoon.

As of this writing a friend who lives in Bristol should be joining us for the Glasgow days.

I haven't settled on a hotel but our choice will be within a mile-ish of the train station so we can walk.

Actual activities will be firmed up through conversations with our Bristol friend. The only definite is beer.
This will, I'm sure, leave us with a list of things we didn't get to see, drink and eat, but that will ensure we make a return visit.

Posted by
926 posts

Ha! That cracked me up!

Glad you decided to go to Glasgow, we really had a great time. Seriously go lawn bowling if you can. :)

Kim