What To See and Do in Glasgow, Scotland
Updated: Dec 28, 2019
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For readers new to our blog, we’re Eddie and Megan and we’re living out our crazy dream to put our careers on pause and adventure across Europe for an entire year!
We're excited to be spending month 3 in...
You may notice this will be our first non-Schengen Area country. We want to be sure to keep customs and immigration happy so we will be diligently counting the days we spend in each country.
As Scotland’s largest city, approximately 600,000 people live in Glasgow city limits and 1.8 million in the metro area, which is roughly ⅓ of entire country’s population (although it is not Scotland’s capital. Can you guess what is?). Glasgow is the 3rd or 4th largest city in the UK depending which source you check.
Glasgow is a port city located on the River Clyde in west central Scotland. It’s history is steeped in trade and shipbuilding as well as textiles, chemicals, and engineering.
People from Glasgow are referred to as Glaswegians. This is also the name of the dialect they speak, which we’ve read can be difficult to understand (even by native English speakers). We got a huge kick out of this YouTube video this YouTube video about speaking and understanding Glaswegian.
As with our other destinations, Glasgow will be our home base for the month but we fully intend to explore other nearby cities and countries. Fortunately, Glasgow has three international airports within 45 miles of the city centre:
Glasgow Airport (GLA) - 8 miles/10 km
Glasgow Prestwick Airport (PIK) - 30 miles/50 km
Edinburgh Airport (EDI) - 34 miles/ 50 km
We’ll most likely be traveling to Glasgow from Vienna. The best flight options actually have us flying from Vienna with a stop in London and landing in Edinburgh and then taking the train on to Glasgow. Whew! That should be fun. Flights are currently running around $65 per person, which is very inexpensive compared to US domestic flights but more normal for a short European flight. (We’re beginning to wonder what they’ve figured out that Americans haven’t yet…)
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Our stay in Glasgow will span from September into October. The average high temperature for both months should be between 12 and 15 degrees Celsius (54-60 F) with the low between 8 and 10 Celsius (46-51 F). Having a swing of only about 10 degrees F on a given day will certainly be something new for us (since it can swing 30 degrees or more in a single day at home!).
The weather forecast may seem a bit on the cool side, but we actually prefer it that way since one of us can get a nasty burn when just thinking about a sunny day (*cough* Eddie *cough*)... We truly like to experience every aspect of a city we are visiting which means we spend a lot of time cruising around town on nothing but our own two feet. It’s amazing what you can miss when you’re taking a taxi/bus/train everywhere. This time of year, a pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt should be juuust right. Just like the middle bowl of porridge for Goldilocks.
As with our first two locations, Airbnb listings didn’t disappoint! We found several listings that fit our budget, are located fairly close to the city centre, and appear comfortable with modern amenities.
We wound up booking a 1 bedroom apartment in the Merchant City area that has a great view, all modern amenities (even a dishwasher...in Europe...which is so rare!), and a sofa bed in the living room for when we have a visitor or two.
The host offers a 25% monthly price discount, which made the place even more appealing. At $65 per night after fees and taxes, we won’t “break the bank.”
We considered staying in the West End (north of the River Clyde and west of the city centre) as we’ve read it’s a newer, hipper part of town but didn’t want to sign up for a long commute to see other things.
We’ve also read lots of good things about the University of Glasgow (see NW corner of the map above) and the Finnieston area so we’ll check out both for sure. The University of Glasgow is even rumored to have been the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts (Expecto Patronum)! Glasgow University Library started in the 15th century and is one of the oldest and largest libraries in Europe.
We visited the Trinity College library in Dublin last year and go to see the Book of Kells, which is one of the world’s oldest and most famous books, and it was quite amazing. We are thoroughly looking forward to being able to visit the Glasgow University Library while we are in town.
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Initially, we were on the fence about choosing between Glasgow and Belfast... Glasgow reigned supreme in the end due to a few specific reasons:
It’s proximity to another large city, Edinburgh (<1 hour train ride one way)
We’ve already traveled to Ireland together, but not yet to Scotland.
We may or may not have a different Irish location on the list for later in the year (but you’ll have to keep following to find out).
Our Twitter poll had Glasgow winning handily (although the sample size could’ve been larger, so go follow us and help us out next time ;)).
It was somewhat difficult to find recent, unbiased comparisons of Glasgow and Belfast so we’ll add that to our To Do list on our trip. (You mean there’s a topic that other travel bloggers haven’t covered yet??)
The currency in Scotland is the same as the entire UK...the British pound sterling. This is, of course, different from most of Europe which is on the euro. As of the end of March 2019, 1 USD will exchange for .77 pounds sterling. One year ago it was .71 and five years ago it was .59 so we’re grateful for the increase. It should make it at least a little bit easier to stay within our budget.
It will be very interesting to see what (if any) impact Brexit has on our visit to Glasgow and surrounding cities. Our bet is that it will be too soon to have any noticeable difference, but we shall see! Keep an eye out for a future post on this topic.
While we are avid Airbnb listing hosts and guests, we haven’t booked an Airbnb Experience, but there were a few we found in Glasgow that sounded intriguing:
Join the Dark Side of Magical Nature - described as a nature walk but taking place at night and seems a little on the spookier side
Elated Shades of Glaswegian Nightlife - effectively a “fancy” bar crawl
Guided Running Tour of Glasgow - because, ya know, we’ll otherwise be ‘experiencing’ Glasgow’s finest eateries. It’s all about balance! (as Eddie frantically digs around in his pack trying to find room for his running shoes…)
Over the past decade or so, Glasgow has become known for its culinary scene. Most lists of the top restaurants rave about the menu at The Gannet. Another Glasgow restaurant, Ox and Finch, recently earned a Michelin Star Bib Gourmand, which is intended for restaurants with high-quality fare at more moderate prices (in other words...our favorite combo). We were able to experience a Bib restaurant last time we were in Galway, Ireland and it was an amazing experience. Michelin quality food while wearing jeans and a t-shirt!
Whiskey is known as Scotland’s national drink and the Clydeside distillery seems to be the consensus on the best place to try some. Their chocolate and whisky tour allows visitors to savor five carefully selected single malt whiskies each expertly paired with freshly-made artisan chocolate. Now that’s our kind of tour!
Judging by the photos, there is some amazing street art in Glasgow city centre, which includes larger-than-life murals of astronauts, athletes, animals, and much more. We will likely follow the Mural Trail to make sure we don’t miss anything!
We don’t only like hiking around towns that we’re in…we also enjoy taking a stroll through the countryside or a forest as often as we can. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park are high on our list, located just an hour and a half outside the city by bus. It would be really nice to get away from the city for a hike once or twice.
If you’ve visited Galway and have specific recommendations for us, please post them below in the comments.
Eddie & Megan
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