Our city guide to Glasgow

Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow is a thriving urban centre home to the hallmarks of a rugged history of trade and industry whilst remaining at the fore-front of modern Scottish culture. Awarded European City of Culture in 1990 the accolade is testament to this unique city’s diverse appeal.

Straddling the banks of the river Clyde, Glasgow owes its fortunes to its waters having boomed both as a trade centre (most notably of tobacco) in the 1600 and 1700s and again later as a result of shipbuilding at the turn of the twentieth century and throughout the industrial revolution. The result is that Glasgow remains today Scotland’s most populous city and is home to a wealth of culture and contrasting architectures, including the distinct design of Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Glasgow city centre is dominated by the glorious Victorian era George Square home to a procession of opulent statues and flanked on the East side by the glorious facade of the city chambers.

The city does hold some older history however, exemplified in the Cathedral quarter where the 12th century St Mungoes Cathedral and St Mungoes Museum of Religious Life both offer intriguing visits. The labyrinth of alleys winding up the hill through the eerie Necrolpolis behind the cathedral will take you to a stunning vantage point from where to appreciate views over the city on a clear day.

The more affluent West End of Glasgow is an absolute “must” for visitors to the city. Here the wide streets are lined by grandiose Georgian town-houses and a bustle of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants along Byres road and the alleys nearby. The area is home to Glasgow’s Victorian botanical gardens but centres around the glorious architecture of Glasgow University whose gothic tower overlooks the greens and pathways of Kelvingrove Park. The renowned Kelvingrove Museum itself plays host a stunning array of artefacts and artworks from all over the world alongside a range of exhibitions.

The Clyde has always played an important role in Glasgow life and continues to do so today, home as it is to a number of cultural highlights from the traditional People’s Palace in the East to the ultra modern developments at the Glasgow Science Centre and The Riverside Museum: Museum of Travel and Transport which is now also home to The Tall Ship which sits on the waters.

Glasgow is Scotland’s primary commercial centre and Britain’s second largest outside of London and therefore offers a galaxy of shopping options from international brands along Sauchiehall Street and Buchanan Street and in the larger shopping centres to a clutch of independent boutiques housed in the old trading buildings in the up-and-coming Merchant City area which is also home to cafes, restaurants and bars.

On the outskirts of the city you continue to find cultural gems; learn how Whisky is made at the Auchentoshan distillery (or Glengoyne distillery just north of the city) and experience a world class museum and exhibitions at the Burrell Collection to the south. Around 40mins south in the depths of the Clyde Valley, you’ll find the World Heritage Site at New Lanark.

Offering the best shopping and nightlife in Scotland as well as modern exhibitions and development along the banks of the Clyde, Glasgow is also home to traditional and unique architecture, world renowned museums and some Scottish icons.

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