Glasgow is the very heart of Scotland. Through its astonishing culture, fabulous architecture and intricate history, it offers something for absolutely everyone who comes to the city. But don’t think this is just one big history lesson. No, this lively city has plenty of places where you can have some serious fun too, all with the help of the friendly and boisterous Glaswegians. And let’s not forget about the food, either. No matter how you look at it and what you want to do, your one day in Glasgow will be a memorable one. Here’s how to plan it all out.
What’s the best time to visit Glasgow?
Due to the climate, summer (primarily July and August) would probably be the best time to visit Glasgow. It’s not very hot during this period, and there is plenty to see and enjoy. What’s more important, all Glasgow attractions stay open longer, so you have more time to check everything out. If you want a unique cultural experience, you can also visit the piping festival, which usually takes place somewhere around the middle of August. Just remember that the sun sets really late here during summer, so some adjustments may be necessary – the night can fall as late as 11 pm.
A few facts about Glasgow
Glasgow is the biggest city in Scotland and third in the United Kingdom. About one third (1,8 million people) of Scotland’s population lives in the city’s metropolitan area. Settlements have existed in this area for thousands of years, and the Antonine Wall, the northernmost border of the Roman Empire, was built here. However, what is today the Glasgow we know was founded in the 6th century and was initially a Christian religious centre. The clash of the local football clubs, Celtic FC and Glasgow Rangers, is one of the most famous football matches in the world. Celtic represents Catholics, while the Rangers are a protestant club.
One Day in Glasgow Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Glasgow.
Start your tour in the Botanic gardens
So, what to see in Glasgow? Well, Glasgow Botanic Gardens are an excellent way to start your visit to this city. They are a beautiful way to relax and get ready for the day ahead of you, plus you can even grab a cup of coffee and enjoy it surrounded by greenery. The unique glasshouse is actually a landmark of the city, and there are all sorts of exotic plants inside to see. You don’t have to pay anything to enter, so visiting this place is definitely one of the best things to do for free in Glasgow.
Visit the University of Glasgow
Just southwest of the botanical gardens lies the University of Glasgow, which is one of the main things to see in this city. This huge campus contains a whole lot of stunning architecture, with more than one hundred buildings, and the university itself is more than 550 years old. You can get a guided tour here (about one hour), plus there are a lot of things you can visit – a museum, a gallery, cafes, restaurants and even a souvenir shop. An obligatory stop for your one day in Glasgow.
Head to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Once again, you don’t have to go too far to visit this next Glasgow attraction. Kelvingrove Park is just south of the university and this is where probably the most popular tourist place in the city is located. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is another place you can visit for free in Glasgow, and people from all over the world come here to marvel at more than 8000 objects across 22 differently themed galleries. Art lovers certainly do not want to miss this incredible place, but even if you’re not into art you might very well find something interesting. It’s simply that impressive.
Check out the Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel
If you have the time after Kelvingrove and are still not too hungry, the Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel should be your next step. It is not too far to the west, right next to the Clyde River. With thousands of pieces and loads of interactive displays, there is something both for kids and for adults here. No matter what mode of transportation you can think of, it’ll be in this building. Especially impressive are the examples of old public transportation, plus you can even visit the famous Tall Ship next to the museum.
Have lunch at Buchanan Street
By now, it will probably be time for lunch, so head to Buchanan Street at the very center of the city. You can feel the pulse of Glasgow course through you and enjoy yourself in one of the numerous cafes and restaurants here. Zizzi, right next to the street on the Princes Square is a great choice for some tasty Italian cuisine, Miller & Carter is a great steakhouse, and The Chippy Doon The Lane is for those of you who just want some good old fish’n’chips. Of course, there are plenty more places to choose from.
Numerous street performers also deserve some of your time because many of them are quite talented, but what Buchanan Street is particularly famous for are all the shops. Yes, this is also the best shopping area in Glasgow. You can get there by taking bus lines 77, 17 or 3 from the Kelvingrove Galleries station or hop on the subway if you fancy a trip around town.
Enter the City of the Dead
After lunch (and potentially shopping), head west. Your target should be the Necropolis, a huge Victorian cemetery. Yes, it does sound spooky at first, but there is quite a lot to see here because this is a genuine city of the dead. There are even park rangers here making sure that everyone behaves properly, and there are maps showing you the resting places of this city’s most illustrious citizens. Some consider this one of the most important cemeteries in Europe due to its design, which certainly fits the bill.
Visit Glasgow Cathedral
Right across the street from the cemetery is Glasgow Cathedral. This fascinating piece of medieval architecture is inextricably linked to the history of this city and the story of its foundation. You see, the cathedral was erected at the place where Saint Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow, first built his church. The building of Mungo’s church is considered to mark the birth of the city, and the saint’s tomb can be found withing the cathedral. You can actually go down to the lower crypt and check it out.
Top things to do in Glasgow at night
After all that sightseeing, it’s time to have some real fun. Fortunately, Glasgow is a vibrant and modern metropolis, perfect for a great night out. If you can, do visit The Horseshoe Bar because it has been around since 1884 and has the longest bar in the country which spans over 100 feet long! Òran Mór is another very interesting place to go because it used to be a church back in the days, and it offers a wide variety of different programs.
When it comes to things to do in Glasgow at night, however, alcohol accompanies pretty much all of them. You will see that the clubs and pubs offer a huge number of whiskies, along with an impressive choice of beers. To get the best taste of that, you should head on over to Bon Accord where there are quite literally hundreds of drinks to choose from.
Where to stay in Glasgow?
11 Blythswood Square, Central Glasgow, Glasgow
If you really want to live it up in luxury while in Glasgow, pick Blythswood Square as your place to stay. The hotel has five stars and dates back all the way to 1823, so you know you’re in for something very special. Marble bathroom in every room, on-site spa which has a mud room in its offer and a big park just outside all provide an exquisite experience. To top it all off, the hotel is on an excellent location very close to the city centre.
60 Renfrew Street (corner of Hope Street), Central Glasgow
Another hotel in the city centre, citizenM Glasgow is a modern and excellently designed establishment with everything a traveler needs to feel comfortable. Big and luxurious beds and huge windows stretching from wall to wall are the main features, but you can also adjust the room to your liking by using the iPod mini in to adjust room color, blinds, smart TV, air conditioning etc. A cafeteria is at your disposal 24 hours a day, and you can also check out the cocktail bar.
Hampton by Hilton Glasgow Central
140 West Campbell Street , Central Glasgow
Hampton by Hilton Glasgow Central is a cozy hotel with a great location right in the city centre. Its bright rooms all have air-conditioning and a safe for your laptop, while the front desk is open non-stop. But the best part of staying here is the hot breakfast, and the restaurant serves some pretty good dishes all day long. But if you’re in a hurry, you can also grab something to eat at the bar or even arrange for a breakfast to go!
Glasgow Youth Hostel
8 Park Terrace, North West, Glasgow
Are you a young traveler? Want to hang out with others who share your interest? Or perhaps you’re simply running on a tight budget. In any case, Glasgow Youth Hostel is the place for you! Well furnished rooms can be en-suite and shared, but there is also an apartment for up to six people at your disposal. Close to many Glasgow attractions, the hostel provides 24/7 reception services and is equipped with all necessary facilities, so you can be sure you’ll enjoy your stay.
Glasgow day trips
If you have the time, Glasgow day trips are especially recommended if you want to get to know Scotland a little bit better. You can explore fascinating nature, from the country’s windy but beautiful coast to its emerald forests. There are plenty of amazing castles to visit and loads of history to learn. But perhaps best of all are the small towns and villages scattered across the highlands. They are truly gems worth visiting, with most of them offering a glimpse into the Victorian age. Visiting one of these is a great way to enjoy some rest and relaxation and to recharge your batteries. To find out which places are the best choices for Glasgow day trips, simply click here.
Extra tips for visiting Glasgow
Weather is quite unpredictable all year round, so be prepared
If you’re taking local buses, it would be wise to prepare change in advance. The drivers sometimes simply can’t return you anything, so don’t end up overpaying for the ticket.
To really blend into the way of life around here, order fish and chips with a side of vinegar. That’s how Glaswegians eat it, while people in Edinburgh prefer salt and their brown sauce. A fierce rivalry has developed between the cities over this, so if you want to show the locals you care, you know what to do.
The Old Firm is the most tense football match in Scotland and one of the most tense ones in the world. It is played between Celtic F.C. and Glasgow Rangers. The fans are very passionate and the clubs represent much more than just football, so you may want to avoid supporting one team over the other if you want to stay on good terms with the locals.
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