Glasgow is a sprawling city Port on the River Clyde which has its own airport, 15 mins from the city centre and two railway stations, Queen street and Central station. It is a fantastic city to explore, steeped in history from Victorian Tall ships to the National Piping centre to Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Glasgow is fondly known as ‘Glesga’ by the locals and you will find that they are indeed the friendliest people you will come across. Many people ask me whether they should visit Edinburgh or Glasgow on their UK tours and I say, “Do both”. Today I am concentrating on the fabulous places to visit in Glasgow.
Glasgow has the most spectacular Cathedral also known as St Mungo. It stands proudly beside the Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery in Glasgow which has attracted lots of attention with the filming of the New Batman movie. The Cathedral is a must see and has a lower level which includes the Crypt. The interior is spectacular and I can’t decide if it perhaps just beats St Giles in Edinburgh for awesomeness. The Cathedral can be found at Castle street and entry is free but donations are welcome to Historic Environment Scotland. There is a mass at 11am on Sunday mornings and a choral evensong on Sunday in the Nave at 4pm. This is a 15 min walk from Queen street station and beside the tenants Brewery which is a great tour, also has some fabulous cookery classes, worth booking.
Arriving at Glasgow Queen street station from Edinburgh, (45) mins, our first stop was to check into the Radisson Red on the River Clyde. Radisson Red is currently the only hotel in Glasgow with a roof top bar and it has cracking views down the famous River Clyde.
Radisson Red, uber trendy aimed at the Millennials, is ideally situated near the Scottish Exhibition Centre and is close to many Riverside attractions. The check in desks are computer terminals that offer guests a minimal fuss check in.
Our bedroom was small and compact with a really comfortable bed and fun wall art. We didn’t linger long in the hotel as we had so much to see and headed out for lunch to the famous alley known as Ashton Lane. This is a cobbled backstreet in Glasgow West End, beside the Glasgow subway stop, Hillhead which has restaurants, pubs and a licensed cinema.
Biel, famous for its Moules and Fondue nights caught our eye, and it catered for coeliacs. (The other great restaurant in Glasgow for gluten and Coeliac is Cote Brasserie. One for my favourite places.)
There are plenty of places to eat in Ashton Lane including traditional pubs such as Jinty McGuinty’s and the famous Ubiquitous Chip, fondly known as the ‘Chip”. I would recommend pre booking the ‘Chip’ as it is a Glasgow favourite and very popular all year round. Gardeners, Grosvenor Cafe, the Lane Vinyl Bar are other eating venues.
Did you know the famous chef Gordon Ramsay is a Glaswegian as well as Billy Connelly, Sharleen Spiteri, Deacon Blue, John Barrowman and a long list of musicians and sportsmen?
Recharged and refreshed after lunch, we headed off to walk to Kelvingrove Museum to see the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition lent by Her Majesty the Queen. The complete tour of drawings around the UK, (144) scattered over several cities are a rare opportunity to see. Full details of the locations and drawings can be found on the Royal Collection trust, http://www.rct.uk.
The exhibition is in Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow until May. Further exhibits will be available in Edinburgh in November 2019. Kelvingrove is an amazing treasure trove of paintings, artefact and exhibitions, some from the Burrell Collection. More details on firstname.lastname@example.org. I would allocate a minimum of 2 hours here. There is a cafe and restaurant onsite. Favourites include Christ St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali, the Mark 21 Spitfire that flew with the 602 squadron over Glasgow and now hangs suspended from the ceiling, and the many stunning paintings including Constable, Lawrence Steven Lowry and Rembrandt, ‘A Man in Armour’.
A short walk from Kelvingrove will bring you to Glasgow University, and its famous Cloisters which are rumoured to have inspired JK Rowling… the University, itself a stunning building and home to the Hunterian museum is Scotlands oldest public museum and is free.
The Cloisters below have featured in Outlander and Cloud Atlas. Self guided tours and available around the University or you can book a guided tour on gla.ac.uk. We were happy to wander around the grounds and admire the stunning architecture.
Glasgwegians or Weegies, are famous for their sense of humour and there are plenty of opportunities to watch a stand up comedy show. The Glasgow comedy festival runs through March and our next destination was the State Bar. Glasgow Comedy Nights can be found on websites like Chortle.co.uk/glasgow or http://www.rotundacomedy.club. For the comedy club dates 2020 check out Glasgowcomedyfestival.com
The bar we were looking for was pretty close to another famous Glasgow Institution. Miss Cranston Tearooms, fully restored to their former glory and now called, ‘Mackintosh by the Willows’. On the corner of Hope street and Bath street, the newly refurbished tearooms have an exhibition centre and tours are available to book or enjoy the delights from the all day food menu. Breakfast, lunch, Afternoon tea or High tea. http://www.Glasgowmackintosh.com.
For fans of Rennie Mackintosh there is an exhibition in Kelvingrove Museum and in House for An Art Lover in Dumbreck Road and of course the famous Lighthouse in Mitchell Lane. If you are travelling to Bellahouston Park to see the Mackintosh exhibition and rooms for an Art lover, it opens at 10am and the park also has sculptures and garden art. (For full details of tearooms see end of post).
It is amazing what you can pack into one day in Glasgow. The shops close at 6pm on a Saturday so there was just enough time to pop into Buchanan Street Galleries, a famous shopping complex with over 80 stores. This is open until 7pm and closes at 6pm on a Sunday.
Our evening meal was a new restaurant in Glasgow called the Lychee Oriental. Tucked away behind Mitchell Lane, this Chinese restaurant was a welcome break from the walking. Popular Glasgow street artists murals are on display next to the restaurant and if you would like to see more street art there is a fabulous trail on Glasgow with a map of all of the locations, http://www.citycentremural trail.co.uk. Some of my favourites include ‘Fellow Glasgow residents’ and ‘Honey I shrunk the kids’.
Back at our hotel we decided to explore the rooftop cocktail bar only to discover that tables must be pre booked. Bookings are not accepted after 10pm. Good to know for next time as the Radisson Red rooftop bar is also open to the public and if there is an event on at the SEC, you can bet this place will be busy.
Up bright and early to discover a damp and grey city, we decided to try and stay dry as much as possible. Our wonderful plans to walk the Riverside were restricted by the downpours but at around 10 am we took a chance and headed out to the Clydeside Distillery, a 10 min walk from our hotel.
This new visitor centre and Distillery is amazing, it has a fabulous 2 min film set in the Glasgow docklands that give you a real feel for the city and the challenges facing the dockside workers. The distillery tour is different to other distilleries as it has a purpose built visitor centre and a cafe. The tours include the Clydeside tour, the Managers tour and my favourite , the Chocolate and Whisky tour. A great souvenir, create your own personalised hand written Whisky label for the whisky of your choice or surprise a loved one with a fabulous Scottish gift. Thanks to Mr Darroch for our wonderful tour.
We eventually had to head back out into the rain and toyed with the idea of downloading the cycle app and taking one of the bikes to our next location, The Transport Museum now called the Riverside Museum. We decided to walk as it was not far enough to justify hiring the bike for an hour. The app is nextbike, and you can hire a bike for the day or hourly. When dry it would be a great way to see the River Clyde.
The Riverside Museum was pretty stunning inside. It has over 3000 objects on display and these include full size trams, boats, buses, trains, cars, bikes, skateboards, its amazing inside. Kids will love it and there is a vintage street with shops that people can go inside and see how they looked in bygone days. Spent a couple of hours in here and then headed back into the rain to check out of The Radisson Red.
We couldn’t leave Glasgow without enjoying a roof top cocktail and the sharing cheese board, very tasty. Gave us a chance to dry out too. Expect changeable weather in Glasgow, pack an umbrella or cagoule in your bag, you just never know when its going to rain!
Finally it would be impossible to leave Glasgow without having a quick look at the Lighthouse Museum. Hidden away in Mitchell lane, it is easy to miss. If you find Princes street square then you are minutes away. This is Scotlands centre for design and architecture. I had the best intention of climbing to the top for the amazing 360 degree views over Glasgow city centre but alas my dodgy knee was having none of it. Another time. To view my Glasgow video of all the attractions click here:
Anyone visiting Glasgow in July don’t forget the Merchant City Festival. July 25th – Sunday July 28th 2019.
The other major festival is a 4 day piping celebration cumulating in the final day competition with highlands games, highland dancing and drum majors.
The fabulous World Pipe band Championships are on Glasgow Green on Friday 16th and 17th August 2019.click here to experience a few hours at the Worlds.
I hope that you have been inspired to spend some of your holiday time in Glasgow. There is plenty more to see including the Botanical Gardens, The famous Glasgow Cathedral, the City chambers, Pollock House and of course Glasgow Necropolis. A Victorian cemetery to the East of Glasgow Cathedral.
If you fancy trying something completely different book yourself into a cookery class at Tennents Training Academy, it is a great venue and plenty of free cider and beer. Up to 40 different classes on offer. Book a tour of the brewery for £12.50 and enjoy a free pint. http://www.tennentstrainingacademy.co.uk
My other favourite is Chaopyra Masterclass taught by Thai chefs and cooked by yourself, enjoy a tasty 3 course Thai meal. Details on 0141 332 0041 or try the cocktail masterclass. Chaophyra.co.uk/experience.
If you are a fan of Charles Rennie Mackintosh there are two tearooms, Mackintosh at the Willows is stunning inside and worth pre booking for afternoon tea. The address is 217 Sauchiehall Street. Tel:44 (0)141 204 1903. Email: email@example.com
The other tearoom is smaller and is accessed from a flight of stairs, this can be found at 97, Buchanan street. Tel: 44 0 141-204-5242.
Opening hours -Mon to Sat 9am-6.30pm,
Thanks for reading, all of my photo are available to buy on Shutterstock just click on this link for my portfolio. louarmor@shutterstock
I hope you enjoy exploring out scottish cities. Video of my travels are available on youtube