Situated on the River Clyde, it is the largest city in Scotland, with a population of about 600,000, over 1 million in the Greater Glasgow urban area.
It became one of the largest seaports in Britain and was once one of the world’s leading shipbuilding centres. Its post-industrial image of unemployment and gangs has now turned into one of fine museums and galleries, with the best nightlife in the country and a lively arts scene.
‘People Make Glasgow’ is the city’s motto. It can be seen virtually everywhere. Glaswegians are incredibly proud of their city and that became even more evident when they hosted the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
It is definitely worth a visit though you have to be ready to cope with the weather, which can be cold wet and windy even in mid summer. Two huge train stations – Central and Queen St – are conveniently located within a couple of blocks of both George Sq, the city’s main public space, and Buchanan St, always bustling with shoppers and buskers.
You should not miss the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It is easy to get there from the city centre and admission is free. Either get on a bus or try the really fast subway, a one-line loop underground train, arguably one of the noisiest in the world.
It is a vast building with 22 themed galleries including anything from dinosaurs to a stuffed elephant, from paintings by Dutch old masters and French impressionists to Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross, from arms and armour to Egyptian objects and much more. There is also a gallery dedicated to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, one of Glasgow’s most famous sons, and the Glasgow Style, which was the UK’s contribution to Art Nouveau.
There are plenty of places to choose from when you think of having fun, eating tasty food or enjoying a drink. If you’re looking for something special to buy, or even if you just want to have a look, Argyll Arcade, situated in the heart of the city, offers an impressive selection of diamond jewellery.
No visit would be complete without a stroll along the banks of the river. That will let you admire some of the newly built bridges. And don’t forget the Lighthouse, a multipurpose visitor centre. There you can find the Mackintosh Interpretation Centre along with other exhibition spaces over six floors. It’s a hub for the creative industries and design businesses, but you’ll also find a fine restaurant and an impressive panoramic terrace.
And last but not least, I recommend Glasgow’s necropolis. Looming on a hill above the cathedral, it is an atmospheric place like no other cemetery in Scotland, while providing amazing views of the city.
Whether you’re staying in Edinburgh (less than one hour away by train) or you’re planning to see nearby Loch Lomond or heading to the Highlands or the Isle of Arran, Glasgow is well worth a stop.