Visiting the City of Glasgow, Scotland
by David Wheater of Tours of Edinburgh
I may have been born and brought up in Edinburgh - but Glasgow holds an equal place in my heart. I truly believe it to be the finest Victorian city in the UK.
It truly is a special city with, in my opinion, some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet anywhere in the world. From the moment you step off the train in Glasgow, you immediately sense the positive vibe and upbeat optimism of a city on the up. This is a confident city that really rewards visitors.
Glasgow is a stylish, cosmopolitan and confident city that offers its citizens a high quality of life. Please put aside any preconceptions you may have about Glasgow. After years of industrial decline, it has reinvented itself to become an exciting European city with enormous potential. With five excellent universities and many well regarded colleges, Glasgow has a large pool of talent that is being tapped into by enterprising companies, fuelling an impressive economic resurgence.
Glasgow as a city very much reflects its people. Through booms and busts Glaswegians have always shown enormous resilience and an enterprising spirit to turns things around. Their great sense of humour and kindliness are undoubtedly the qualities that keep this city flourishing. The city’s latest slogan is true: people really do make Glasgow.
Glasgow surprises. From over 100 beautiful parks, to some, if not the finest, Victorian architecture in the world, there’s something of interest around every corner. Always look up in Glasgow. The architectural detail and adornments found on the top of some buildings are quite breathtaking and an enduring clue to its wealthy past. Also, don’t forget to venture out of the city. Within an hours drive is some of the loveliest scenery in Scotland. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park contains stunning mountains, glens and lochs that can’t fail to lift your spirits and restore any bruised mojo.
If you’ve never been to Glasgow before, we strongly recommend visiting the Glasgow Information Centre at 170 Buchanan Street in the city centre. To get properly orientated with the city, there’s no better way than to hop on a bus tour of the city. We recommend City Sightseeing Glasgow which runs regular tours from George Square in the city centre, throughout the year - www.citysightseeingglasgow.co.uk.
Another essential first step in getting a feel for this fabulous city is to follow ‘The Mackintosh Trail’ - visit www.glasgowmackintosh.com for more information.
Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde, in the West of Scotland, and has a population of around 596,550, making it the largest city in Scotland. Glasgow’s position on the west coast and the effects of the Gulf Stream give it a slightly milder climate than other Scottish cities.
Glasgow was heavily reliant on the industries of ship building and heavy engineering which have now declined, but it still remains the centre of the UK’s ship building industry, albeit at a much smaller scale. Glasgow has a rich cultural heritage and some very impressive Victorian architecture, the Glasgow City Chambers and the truly majestic University of Glasgow being some notable examples.
The city was home to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a famous architect and arts & crafts designer born in 1868, whose distinctive style can still be seen today in architecture all around the city. The Glasgow School of Art in Renfrew Street is regarded as one of his greatest architectural achievements. In recognition of its fine architectural heritage, Glasgow was awarded the title “European City of Culture” in 1990 and designated “UK City of Architecture and Design” in 1999.
The City of Glasgow is now one of the most exciting and culturally vibrant cities in Europe. Glasgow has re-invented itself from post-industrial decline to a city full of some of the best museums, galleries and places to eat in the UK – and the shopping is fantastic! You only need to take a walk around its magnificent streets, lined with beautiful, ornate Victorian buildings, or to enjoy a coffee in one of its stylish West End bars and cafes to feel the confidence and optimism that exudes from this wonderful Scottish city.
Glasgow is also world renowned for the warmth and humour of its citizens, whose banter will have you chuckling from the moment you get there! With Glasgow now attracting huge events, like the Commonwealth Games in 2014, its status as a world class city is attracting more and more people to visit. There is so much to see and do in Glasgow that it can be difficult to fit it all in. Whether you want to visit the Riverside Transport Museum or the Burrell Collection, go shopping along trendy Byres Road, or have dinner in one of the elegant restaurants of the Merchant City – you’ll be amazed at what Glasgow has to offer.
Glasgow is now one of the most visited cities in the UK and offers its lucky residents a wealth of cultural heritage, visitor attractions, sporting activities, live music venues, fabulous places to eat and, of course, fabulous shopping along the “style mile”. The city still produces some great buildings today including, amongst others, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the Glasgow Science Centre, the SSE Hydro arena and the ever popular concert venue The Clyde Auditorium, also affectionately known as “the Armadillo” - visit and you'll see why.
Glasgow offers visitors and residents a number of great festivals running throughout the year, including the Glasgow Comedy Festival, Celtic Connections, the Glasgow Film Festival and the World Pipe Band Championships, to name but a few. The City is also fantastic for shopping, especially along Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street and in the shopping centres Buchanan Galleries, St Enoch Centre, Princes Square and the Italian Centre - to name but a few. There are retail fixes to suit every budget, style and designer taste and some consider Glasgow to have the best shopping in the UK after London!
Glasgow has a big student population with establishments such as the University of Glasgow, the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Glasgow School of Art giving the city a real buzzy, cosmopolitan feel.
The city is home to two very famous football clubs, Rangers F.C. and Celtic F.C. who both have a large and loyal support throughout the world. Glasgow simply loves its football.
Whatever it is that brings you to Glasgow, make an effort to fully engage with its warm hearted, humorous and kindly people. Submerge yourself in the culture and heritage of this beautiful Victorian city and you’ll be very handsomely rewarded.
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