Are you visiting Glasgow, Scotland? Whether it be for work or pleasure, there are many things to see and do in this beautiful city. This guide will help you plan your next visit by telling you where to stay, what to see, where to eat while being a responsible tourist.
I have to be honest with you. Glasgow was never on my list of places to visit but I am so glad that I did and wish I had longer to explore and see all that it had to offer. It's the perfect place to get lost, this city has something unique and interesting on every street corner! From enchanting street art pieces that will capture anyone's heart (and soul) with their beauty; sophisticated modern buildings such as glasgow city chambers which boasts having more marble than Vatican City– I bet these hours won't feel like enough when they're over already.
Glasgow is a bustling, cosmopolitan city that prides itself on being green. Not only does it have the nickname “the Green City,” but there are many eco-friendly things to see, eat and sleep in Glasgow.
How to Be a Responsible Tourist
As travel restrictions are being lifted and you are preparing to travel the globe be mindful of the digital footprint that you leave behind. Here are five simple ways you can be more environmentally conscious when traveling.
- Reduce waste
- Walk or use public transportation
- Eat locally sourced
- Avoid high touristy spots during peak times
- Don't waste water
This travel guide to Glasgow is in collaboration with in collaboration with Visit Britain, Impact Travel Alliance, and Fora. I was invited to attend this trip as part of their mission and goal to show the importance of sustainable travel.
What to See
Glasgow is one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in Europe. The city has a long history that can be seen throughout its many monuments and buildings along with rich culture that you will only find in Glasgow. I was pleasant surprise to learn that Black History in Glasgow is a long and rich one. From the early days of the slave trade, to the present day, Glaswegians of African descent have made their mark on the city.
In a city so vibrant and eclectic, it is no wonder that street art is popular. It’s a great way to get an idea of what people were feeling at different points in history as well as seeing how artist have interpreted their own thoughts into pieces that can be admired by all who pass by.
These invited works of art change often so it’s a great idea to take pictures along the way. Securing a guided tour with “walking tours in Scotland” is a good option as the expert tour guide will share stories about each work, while pointing out things you might have missed on your own. Caron, my tour guide definitely opened our eye to things that would have been missed especially the hidden gems in several of the murals.
Glasgow is a historic city, so it's no surprise that there are plenty of historical buildings to see. The most famous example is the Glasgow Cathedral which is said to be one of Scotland’s finest examples of Gothic architecture. But with over 400 years of architectural history Glasglow has lots more to offer by way of attractions related to its building heritage.
George Square, located in the city center is a short walk from the gallery of modern art, is great for people watching. You might expect to find King George amongst the other statues but that idea was dropped after America declared independence from Britain in 1776, and Glasgow's tobacco trade was lost. You will however see Sir Walter Scott, one of the highly influential poet and novelist in Scottish history
Sonny from Invisible Cities Tours met us at the entrance of Glasgow Green and took us on a walking tour to hear stories of Glasgow's past and present. The history of the iconic statues and some of the traditions observed was very interesting.
The traffic cones on the iconic statue of Duke Wellington started out as a prank. City drinkers would climb the statue and replace the cone every time it was removed and ultimately city council decided it was costing them an excessive amount of money to continue removing it.
Homeless Jesus sculpture at St. George’s Tron, Church of Scotland
The Homeless Man Sculpture is an artwork created by artist Timothy Schmalz. There are a total of 100 around the world. The interpretation that this work conveys to passersby lies in its portrayal on the common person who has lost everything they once had including their dignity or self-worth – but it also highlights those individuals' homelessness as being nothing more than a temporary state until help comes along so we should not lose hope either way because there are people out here making efforts every single day towards solving these problems.
This was a fitting end to the tour with Invisible Cities as they are an award-winning social enterprise that trains people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city. Guides are supported in creating and delivering their own tours, highlighting monuments, people and places they have chosen themselves.
One of the most famous shopping streets in all Glasgow, Buchanan Street is home to some magnificent Victorian and Edwardian architecture with department stores. A pedestrian-only road closed off from traffic by way of an iron gate at each end often has street performing musicians or people just sitting as they watch shoppers go past. Sitting here is where I encountered lots of friendly people and was invited to high tea.
University of Glasglow
Founded in 1451, it’s the fourth-oldest English speaking university of its kind. With iconic towers and cloisters that were used as filming locations for television show Outlander, the self guided walking tour will take you around the campus, highlighting key buildings and places of interest.
The best way to experience a new culture is through the arts. Visiting museums will not only give you insight into that particular region's history, but also provide an immersive environment for visitors. It’s a great place to learn what life might have been like during different periods of time to help you connect further with the culture.
The Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) – Arguably one of Glasgow's most popular attractions is The Burrell Collection on Pollokshaws Road in Southside. This extensive collection of art and curios was donated to Glasgow by shipping magnate William Burrell more than 100 years ago with an endowment for it to be displayed within a purpose built gallery on its current site.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum – Home to over 8000 different pieces of artwork. There are paintings here from some great Scottish artists as well as works from other countries around Europe.
For a change of pace, stop by the Britannia Panopticon, the world's oldest surviving music hall. Recently restored it features silent films, comedy club, Drag, Burlesque, variety, sing-a-longs and even a traditional old time music hall shows.
Glasgow is a haven for nature enthusiasts, with nearly 100 parks and gardens in the area. Glasgow Green is one of the largest parks in Europe. It’s a great place for a walk, a run or to cycle around. There are also several playgrounds, two football pitches and a bandstand. You can find statues of famous Glaswegians here like poet Robert Burns and civil rights leader John Maclean.
Another spot that should not be missed during your visit to Glasgow is The Pollok Country Park – home of cycle tracks alongside heritage trails as well Highland Cows! They aren't easy to find but luckily someone set up a google pin. Be ready for a lengthy walk from the main entrance but their cute faces are worth it.
Pollok Country Park is one of the most picturesque parks in all Scotland, with a hidden treasure trove with gardens that span from wild flower meadows to meticulous vegetable patches. Keep an eye out for the adorable Hobbit houses.
You will never forget your first walk in a park like this. The sights were breathtaking, as you continue walking down path towards Pollok House-a grand country estate owned by The Maxwell Family for six centuries-, it's hard not stop every so often just be delighted at what catches my eye: gorgeous trees lined up side-by-side as far back into nature can see.
Find one-of-a kind plant life at Botanic Garden's extensive collection. With an education focus on the importance of saving our world through protecting them across all corners of this globe–especially since they're at risk due climate change which has been destroying plant life everywhere!
Make sure to take a walk or cycle along the River Clyde – it’s a beautiful area and perfect for getting some fresh air. And take a look around as you might see some street art.
Where to Eat
Glasgow is the UK’s top destination for vegan food and while you I am not vegan or vegetarian, I appreciate locally sourced good food.
Gamba is a sustainable seafood restaurant that has been open since 1998. Serving the best of Scottish, locally sourced fish and shellfish in an expertly prepared variety to better suit your taste buds! With Gamba you are sure to find something new every time as their menu changes every six weeks so it's always fresh while still being delicious with all those amazing flavors from around the beautiful country. The staff go above-and-beyond during service making each visit feel personal which is one of the reasons that they receive the Michelin seal of approval.
The Ubiquitous Chip is a Glasgow institution. Since opening their doors in 1971, this family-owned restaurant has proudly served Scottish cuisine with local ingredients for all of its 45 years! From the beginning they were way ahead of everyone else by championing these dishes and sourcing more locally than anyone before them – making it one very iconic name on West End street food style today.
Glaschu offers an architecture and food experience like no other. This hidden gem is located in the historic building that was once Western Club, off Royal Exchange Square.
111 by Modou is a restaurant that features an eclectic, five course tasting menu led by Head Chef Modou Diagne. You can choose one of two main ingredients for each meal and the rest will be totally surprising! Whether you're looking to indulge in fine dining or explore new tastes with ease – 111 has got it covered from start-to-finish.
Soul Food Kitchen is 100% vegan and puts health and wellbeing at the heart of everything that they do. Rarely will I eat a “burger” at vegan restaurants but I enjoyed the way this was prepared and there was no after taste. They have an array of deserts that unfortunately sell out fast.
Stack and Still is not your ordinary pancake place, you can pretty much create any combination. They have vegan and gluten free options as well.
Where to Stay
The Maldron Hotel is an excellent choice for travelers looking to stay in the heart of Glasgow. This 4-star hotel offers a great location as it is close to many of Glasgow’s finest attractions such as George’s Square, The Royal Concert Hall and Buchannan Galleries, the hotel provides the perfect base for exploring Glasgow. I loved that it was a short walk to Glasgow Queen Street Station and Central Rail Station and is easily accessible by bus from Glasgow Airport.
The Maldron has complimentary Wi-Fi and ample workspace space while traveling or working from your room with all amenities one could need at home!
The rooms are spacious, clean and modern. The hotel staff is friendly and helpful! They also have an innovative Living Green initiative where they aim to reduce their environmental footprint through reducing energy consumption as well as waste water use. And then there was a hearty breakfast, bar and sitting area to chat with friends outside the room.
Traveling to Glasgow
Glasgow is easily reached by road, rail and air. The Green City is big fans of public transport so you will find it easy to get around the city using buses or the subway.
The airport has good connections with many UK cities but flying into London's Heathrow Airport is often more convenient if you're starting your trip from continental Europe. There are frequent trains between London and Glasgow which take about four hours on average making this an attractive option.
Rail travel is an accessible and environmentally-friendly way for travellers to explore, embracing ‘slow travel’ in order to discover new destinations. The Caledonian Sleeper offers overnight rail service from London to several cities in Scotland including Edinburgh and Glasgow. It was a smooth ride as I felt gently rocked and the optional morning tea/coffee was a welcomed perk.
Glasgow is one of the most underrated cities in the UK, but it shouldn’t be. This city has so much to offer and I hope this guide helps you plan your visit. If there are any questions left unanswered or if you want help planning a trip to Scotland, just let me know when you plan on visiting!