Glasgow is not just the largest city in Scotland. It is an interesting history, unique architecture, stunning nature, culture, and traditions that are fascinating and never cease to amaze. Glasgow is often called the most important center of art, as it is here that the best collections of paintings are gathered, which fine art experts from all over the world come to admire. Glasgow is a universal city for tourists, as you can find attractions and entertainment for every taste. Regardless of the preferences, all travelers agree on one thing: you should definitely come here for at least a few days, or better yet for a week!
Districts of Glasgow
Based on the official administrative division, Glasgow consists of 21 districts. Each of them has its own borders and names, but this division will not be informative for tourists. It is much simpler and more convenient to divide Glasgow into seven main districts:
- Center. It is the oldest historical part of Glasgow, so its main feature is marvelous architecture and a special atmosphere of antiquity. There is a pedestrian zone not accessible to cars, a large number of cafes and restaurants, galleries, museums, theatres, and shops of different kinds. But the cost of accommodation in the center is higher than in other parts of Glasgow.
- Merchant City. In the past, it was one of Glasgow's wealthiest and most prestigious districts, inhabited mainly by traders who made a fortune on selling tobacco, sugar, and other goods. Merchant City's architectural appearance is shaped by neo-classical mansions and former warehouses. Today, most buildings host restaurants, cafes, and shops.
- Business district. The financial heart of Glasgow, an area where the offices of the largest companies are concentrated and the most important deals are made. This part of the city is often called the Wall Street on the Clyde. Glasgow's large-scale Business District development project was launched in 2001, and already in 2005, it was recognized as the most successful project in the UK.
- The West End. Probably the most bustling and lively district in Glasgow, with a large number of hotels and private apartments waiting for tourists. It is famous for its attractions, excellent restaurants and clubs, buzzing parties, and expensive shops. It is in this part of town that exhibitions and conferences are most often held, as well as festivals and various celebrations.
- The East End is another old district in Glasgow, with St. Mungo's Cathedral as its main attraction. It's quite a chamber-like, quiet, and cozy neighborhood that is pleasant to walk around on foot. There aren't many hotels, but they are all within walking distance from the attractions.
- Northern quarters. The district is the least attractive for tourists, as poor and disadvantaged families predominantly populate it. There are practically no landmarks in this part of Glasgow, and the choice of good hotels is unlikely to please either. However, at the moment, the city has launched programs to develop the district, so it is possible that in the near future, the North will earn a new reputation.
- Southern quarters. The coziest and greenest part of the city, which is literally buried in numerous parks and green areas. In the South of Glasgow, you can not only relax in the shade of trees but also visit the most interesting museums of the city, among which it is worth mentioning the Football Museum — one of the best (among similar) in the world!
An important feature of Glasgow is that there is no single district in the city where all the main attractions are concentrated. The most fascinating and iconic places are literally "scattered" on the city map. That's why, when choosing an area to live in, you should not focus on the sights. It is enough to decide on the budget and personal preferences.
One of the important features of Glasgow is that it is easy to find sights to suit all interests and wishes of tourists. If you enjoy architecture, take a walk around the city, explore the temples and churches, or take a look at the historic center. If you are into art, you should explore the collections of local museums, compare and choose the best display. If you want to admire nature, stroll through the city's parks and enjoy the tranquility of a bustling city center. Do you love extraordinary sights? Glasgow will surprise you. The main thing is that you should have enough time to get to know all the interesting places in this amazing city.
The settlement gradually grew, developed, and soon became the most important center of religious life. In the period from 1175 to 1178 (the exact figures are not known) as a gift from King William the Lion, Glasgow received the status of a self-administered city. Gradually trade relations were established, and an annual fair was held. The town continued to expand and increase its population.
Since 1560, when the Parliament decided to adopt Protestantism, the city's ecclesiastical power lost its position. At the beginning of the XVI century, Glasgow was considered to be a provincial city, where trade was practically not developing. Everything changed in 1603 when after the unification of England and Scotland, a serious economic growth began. In 1611, Glasgow received a new gift: James I gave it the status of the royal city. Glasgow managed to stay away from the religious conflicts that shook Scotland between 1639 and 1647. The city continues to develop trade, and already in 1670, it was the second-largest city in terms of volumes of sales, giving in only to the capital of Scotland. In the late XVIII — early XIX centuries, Glasgow was called the industrial center and the fastest-growing city in Britain.
In 1832, Parliament reformed the electoral system, and two representatives were first delegated from Glasgow. Economic growth continued, and the city took the second position after London in the middle of the XIX century. In 1878, the unexpected happened: the Bank of Glasgow and the economy collapsed. The decline particularly affected the shipbuilding industry.
During the First World War, Glasgow specialized in the production of ammunition. In the post-war period, there was a decline in the economy again, and a decrease in population. It was probably the most challenging period in the history of the city, which was overcome only in 1990. It was this year that Glasgow was awarded the status of European Capital of Culture. In 1999, it became the British Center for Architecture and Design, and in 2003, it became the sports capital of Europe.
Before the trip, you should calculate the approximate budget that you will require for the travel:
The best time to visit Glasgow
The situation changes with the arrival of autumn. The air temperature drops to +12°С during the daytime, and the precipitation increases.
In winter, it won't be too pleasant to walk around Glasgow. The average air temperature is +6°C, but it's very damp and cloudy outside, and it often rains.
If you plan a trip to Glasgow during the holidays, you should be ready for high prices and a massive flow of other tourists. The most popular times are January to February (the Celtic Collections music event), March (Comedy Festival), mid-May (creative Southside Fringe Festival), June (the TRNSMT rock festival and parade at the West End Festival).
Glasgow's public transport system is reasonably well-developed. If you plan to travel around the city a lot, it makes sense to buy a special All-Day ticket, which allows you to ride on the roundabout line all day without restrictions. For travelers with children, there is another card, the Daytripper, which allows you to use not only the subway but also buses and ferries.
Glasgow is a city where they pay particular attention to cleanliness. Streets, parks, and other public places are maintained in an exceptional order, which should not be damaged. What's more, tourists risk getting a pretty high fine for throwing trash past the trash can. The same applies to smokers, for whom there are specially designated areas with corresponding signs in the city.
Many restaurants in Glasgow have a special lunch menu at a fantastic price. In addition, establishments often hold various discounts, which will be a real gift for the thrifty tourist. A six-course trial menu is literally a penny, while oysters cost 1 pound apiece. You can track such offers at 5pm.co.uk and itison.com.
What should a tourist do in Glasgow?
A trip to Glasgow is a whole range of bright impressions and unforgettable emotions. The city is unlike any other. You want to walk around it. You want to explore it and leave it in your heart forever. It's enough to take a few days to love Glasgow and walk through our list:
- Visit St. Mungo's Cathedral. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Glasgow and one of the few that survived the Reformation. The cathedral is beautiful both inside and out. Stunning towers and stained-glass windows, the museum and monument of St. Mungo, the Necropolis, and an incredible view of the city — it is no coincidence that a visit to this place is part of any sightseeing tour of Glasgow.
- Admire the best art collections. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Contemporary Art Gallery, and the Burrell Collection are three major art museums with some of the best works by world-famous artists. They all offer visitors completely different collections of paintings, so each of them deserves the attention of people coming to Glasgow.
- Get to the rainforest. It sounds fantastic, but visitors to Glasgow have this opportunity. All you have to do is go to the People's Palace. It's a sort of proletariat museum, which has a rich collection of exhibits about the lives of ordinary working people. The highlight of the museum is the winter garden, which displays unique exotic plants.
- Dive into the world of science at the Glasgow Science Center. This is a modern interactive museum, where you can spend the whole day without getting bored. Its exposition includes more than 400 different items and devices. There is also a digital planetarium, a "Digital Show" theatre, and a café where visitors can grab a snack.
- See a performance at the Royal Theatre, one of the most beautiful and popular in Scotland, which was built in 1904. An incredibly beautiful Baroque building, a luxurious lobby, ancient staircases with decorations, a four-story audience hall — you can get a lot of vivid emotions before the performance. The best actors perform on the stage of the theatre, which hosts concerts, festivals, and dance performances.
- "Teleport" to Hogwarts. The University of Glasgow has a fabulous and slightly magical atmosphere. Old buildings, arches, and spiral staircases, a small chapel and museum of arts, a beautiful park with tame squirrels — it's better to come here in the afternoon so as not to be distracted by the crowds of students rushing from one building to another.
- Take a stroll along the waterfront. It's better to start this walk from the National Palace, heading west. For several hours, you can watch Glasgow changing its face from one district to another, visit the exhibition center, walk under bridges with incredibly low arches and get to the Riverside Museum. Please note: if you plan to visit the museum, it's better to have at least half a day of free time.
- Head off in search of incredible street art. Glasgow is a city of unique street art, many of which look too realistic. Even if you're not into street art, seeing these murals and drawings on the fences is definitely worth it. You can find addresses in advance, or do not make an exact route, but just walk around the city, carefully inspecting each house.
- Spend all your money on Buchanan Street. Glasgow's main trading street is a real paradise for shopaholics, where the largest shopping malls, brand shops of famous companies are concentrated and where you can buy almost everything. In addition, the street received the Great Street Award for architectural beauty in 2008.