Glasgow

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Once known as the "Second City of the British Empire,” Glasgow is a vibrant metropolis brimming with history, charm and character. Europe’s first designated City of Culture, Glasgow also has deep rooted ties to Ireland. With Flybe now flying from Shannon to Glasgow, now is the time to start planning your visit to the “dear green place.”

A good way to get an overall sense of the city is to take an open top bus ride. Taking passengers around all of Glasgow’s main sites, the open top tour is ideal on a sunny day; but even if it rains, you can seek shelter downstairs. Around £12 grants you two days hop-on, hop-off access.

For a nice day out, take a trip to the West End – a quieter, leafier part of the city filled with cosmopolitan bars and cafés. The area is also home to some of Glasgow’s best museums, the University of Glasgow and the Botanic Gardens. When day turns to night Glasgow’s 700 pubs and clubs should keep you entertained. The Merchant City district, where you can find hip bars serving fine wines, craft beers, real ales and cocktails, should be your first port of call. By day, Merchant City is also a fine place to grab a bite to eat.

Football

Glasgow’s thriving football scene is dominated by two titans of the game – fierce rivals Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers. Both teams have trophy cabinets bursting at the seams so many tourists make the trip to Glasgow just to see them play or to take tours of the famous stadiums, Parkhead (Celtic, £8.50) and Ibrox (Rangers, £8). For a more rounded history of Scotland’s love affair with football, enthusiasts should take the stadium tour at Hampden Park, the national team’s home stadium. For an entrance fee of £6, you can see more than 2,500 exhibits in 14 galleries and walk amongst Scottish football legends in the Hall of Fame.

Shopping

Considered the best shopping city in the UK outside of London, Glasgow’s main retail destinations are found on the “style mile” consisting of Sauchiehall Street to the north, Argyle Street to the south, and Buchanan Street in the middle. In particular, shopaholics should look out for the beautiful glass facades of the Buchanan Galleries and the St. Enoch Centre.

Off the Beaten Track

For something a bit different, spend an evening at the West End’s Oran Mor pub, a historic converted church and host of the cult “Play Pint and Pie” event. For a paltry £10 you’ll be treated to a short play, a typical scotch meat pie and a local beer. Another slightly leftfield attraction is the Sharmanka Theatre (£5). Packed wall to wall with kinetic animatronic sculptures from St. Petersburg in Russia, the theatre stages daily performances that the Sunday Times describes as “bizarre, hilarious, ghoulish and unmissable.”

Getting around

The 500 Glasgow Shuttle (£4.50) runs every 10 minutes and gets you from the airport to the city centre in 25 minutes. The centre of Glasgow is very pedestrian-friendly with major shopping streets given over to foot traffic and most sites within walking distance. The city is also served by a comprehensive bus service and a subway (£3.80 for an unlimited day pass) that runs in a double circle around the city centre and inner suburbs.

Five for free

  • 1 - Botanic Gardens

    Rain or shine, a visit to the Botanic Gardens is great day out. Marvel at the beautiful glass houses brimming with exotic plants – keep your eyes peeled for the cacti and carnivorous variety. The surrounding grounds also offer attractive walks by the River Kelvin.

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  • 2 - Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

    Located in the West End of the city, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is Scotland's most visited free attraction and houses one of Europe’s great civic art collections. With 22 themed galleries displaying 8,000 internationally significant objects you’ll have your work cut out to see it all in one day.

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  • 3 - Pollok House

    Surrounded by the picturesque Pollok Country Park sits Pollok House, the ancestral home of the Maxwell Clan. The stunning 18th century building is home to an award-winning Edwardian Kitchen Restaurant and a collection of works by Spanish masters like El Greco, Goya and Murillo. Best of all, entry is free to visitors from March to November.

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  • 4 - Glasgow Cathedral

    A trip to Glasgow wouldn’t be complete without viewing the Gothic majesty of Glasgow Cathedral. The only cathedral on the Scottish mainland to have emerged unscathed from the 1560 Protestant Reformation, it is built on the site where Glasgow’s patron saint and founder, St. Mungo, is thought to be buried. An inspiring 13th century shrine dedicated to St. Mungo (or St. Kentigern as he is formally known) can be found inside.

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  • 5 - The Gallery of Modern Art

    Located at the heart of Glasgow’s beautiful Royal Exchange Square, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) plays host to an extensive collection of cutting edge international works across an array of media. It’s worth visiting just to admire the Gallery’s imposing 18th century neo-classical building.

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