If you are taking a trip to Scotland, Glasgow should be at the top of your must-visit list. It's a city with a kind heart and electric energy.
In fact, while asking me about my trip to Scotland, a waiter intimated that Glasgow is the "friendlier" city of southern Scotland.
Without any offense meant to Edinburgh, which is wonderful and very polite, I would have to say I agree.
Glasgow truly does exude kindness. It's one of those places you remember because of how far out of their way people go to be nice to you. It's similar to parts of Ireland or southern Pennsylvania, in that way. I loved it!
I didn't schedule enough time for my trip to Glasgow. We were on a jaunt from Edinburgh to Stirling and barely left enough time to see all of the many things Glasgow has to offer.
Fortunately, thanks to Glasgow Life, we were able to take a wonderful bus tour of Glasgow with City Sightseeing. The tour functions with a hop on-hop off approach, in that you can get off at any of the route's predetermined attraction spots, look around, and get back on another City Sightseeing bus when you're all set. The buses come around at regular intervals. This is such a great way to get your bearings in a city!
Passes for City Sightseeing tours can be purchased for one day or for two. Our very helpful tour guide, Martin, told us to be sure to keep our tickets, as showing them at other City Sightseeing locations around the world could get us a discount.
Martin was an amazing guide. He was funny, knowledgeable, and really loved to tell Billy Connolly jokes. (If you were unaware, Connolly is something of a hero for Glaswegians. If you were unaware and Martin is your tour guide, you will never forget that fact!)
We drove all around Glasgow, which is a rather large city. Though walkable, I appreciated the opportunity to see the sights from the top of the open-air portion of the double-decker bus. I was able to snap a number of really great photos during the tour.
Stops on the bus route included the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, a truly fabulous museum with free entry. It is home to vast collections of art and natural history items, among others. During our visit, there were a number of school groups and families enjoying the museum. I think that every city with the means should offer its citizens a free museum like this. It was excellent.
The bus also takes tourists to the Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis, which should be high on your list of Glasgow attractions. The present Cathedral was constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries, and is the only one on the Scottish mainland to survive the Reformation. If you like history at all, you'll be in awe of the Cathedral, both beautiful and so visibly antiquated that you can't help but feel a bit reverent.
The Necropolis, literally "city of the dead," is just that--behind the Cathedral and on a hillside overlooking Glasgow, the Necropolis is home to row after row after row of monuments and headstones. The cemetery is from the Victorian era and is the final resting place of 50,000 souls. Excellent records of those interred make this a veritable time capsule of Glasgow's Victorian merchant class.
Street art is another part of Glasgow that shouldn't be overlooked. Everywhere we went, we saw some fabulous murals depicting famous Glaswegians and the things they loved.
The city's architecture is also worth a look. From the "Squinty Bridge" over the River Clyde to the SSE Hydro to the SEC Armadillo, structures around the city are varied and unique. Between the Victorian buildings and the more modern construction, Glasgow emits a vibe of post-industrial pride. It's proud of its past and excited to channel its history into a vibrant future for science and the arts. And yes, you really can get all that just from a bus tour!
I would highly recommend the City Sightseeing bus tour of Glasgow. I've never done such a tour in another city, but I will give it a try if I have the opportunity (though sadly, Martin probably won't be the tour guide elsewhere).
I can't wait to get back to Glasgow and check out some of what I missed, including the Riverside Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art.
What have you done in Glasgow that you absolutely loved? Drop your suggestions in the comments below!
My thanks go out to Barry with Glasgow Life for his excellent itinerary suggestions and his support in arranging tickets for the City Sightseeing tour for us. Thank you also to City Sightseeing for an excellent experience. As always, all opinions are my own.