‘People make Glasgow’ – the slogan that is now synonymous with the city itself. Having lived here for almost two years, I am firmly of the opinion that Glaswegians are indeed deserving of this accolade. Whether you are brunching in the West End, shopping in the city centre or attending a gig over on the Southside, a friendly smile and some witty banter are never in short supply. As a result, I owe much of my seamless transition into the Glasgow way of life to the people who reside here and ensure the city is as welcoming as the reputation that precedes it.
Nonetheless, faced with all this hype about the inhabitants, it is important not to forget the other pillar that has cemented Glasgow’s position as the most vibrant city in Scotland. Our impressive range of attractions draws almost 800,000 international visitors every year, putting us firmly on the map as a melting pot of culture and commerce.
Given just one day to scout out some of Glasgow’s highlights, I gladly accepted the challenge of documenting my 24 hours trip around this cracking city I call home.
9:30 AM – The morning began by hopping on the first City Sightseeing open-top bus departing from George Square. Leaving every 15 minutes, I was assured there was no need to stick to a strict schedule which allowed me the freedom to follow my own route around the 21 stops. With Neil Oliver’s celebrated voice providing historical commentary through the onboard headset, I did as I was instructed and duly took in the sights of the Merchant City and the People’s Palace before getting off and grabbing a coffee at the Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street. Far from stuck in the past, the shop’s impressive interior which was designed by the national treasure, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, made for a unique setting to enjoy my morning cuppa. Had the clock not been ticking, I would certainly have stayed and sampled some of the Instagram- worthy cakes on offer, however, midday was fast approaching and it was onwards to the first single malt distillery in Glasgow for over 100 years.
11:00 AM- For the price of two drinks elsewhere, visitors to the Clydeside Distillery receive a tour, three sampling drams and keepsake glass to take home after their trip. The warm and attentive staff provided a fascinating insight into the age-old process of whisky making whilst the incredible lunch platter, served in the modern surroundings of the cafe, was certainly the envy of other diners. Featuring the best of Scottish fayre, it was topped off by a whisky glazed doughnut and one last dram for the road. With my belly suitably warmed, I walked a mere ten minutes before arriving at the Riverside Museum which is home to over 3,000 historic transport objects. Both free to enter and easy to navigate, the iconic building conveniently faces out onto the river and the fourth attraction of the day – The Tallship. Known as the Glenlee, this vessel is one of only 5 surviving boats that were built on the Clyde and, as such, is well worth a visit not just for the amazing photo opportunities, but also the chance to explore a pivotal piece of Glasgow’s merchant history. However, with a short jaunt down Kelvin way, I was whisked 66 million years further back in time and brought face to face with two relics that originated from an era long before that of the Tallship.
4 pm- Trix in Kelvin Hall and Dippy in the Kelvingrove Museum are a duo of dinosaurs that are well deserving of the attention they have commanded from all four corners of Scotland. These famous skeletons of a T-Rex and a Diplodocus have certainly inspired the imaginations of youngsters who have arrived in droves since the temporary exhibitions were erected, but I secretly reckon it is the adults on whom these massive installations have left the greatest impression. Regardless of age or interest, Glasgow’s Museums have no shortage of diverse exhibitions with fascinating zoological offerings at the Hunterian; stunning film collectives at GoMA; and Dali, Da Vinci and Dippy all under one roof in the grand surroundings of Kelvingrove. Indeed, there are enough paintings, artefacts and sculptures to keep you intrigued for a lifetime never mind 24 hours. As a result, the city definitely warrants a return visit on the merits of its cultural collections alone.
7 pm: Squeezing Scotland’s largest settlement into one day is no mean feat and for all those who succeed there are plenty of opportunities to treat yourself at the end of a tiring day. Arriving in Princes Square, I was genuinely spoiled for choice with luxurious restaurants, bars and shops spread over the five floors of Glasgow’s premier shopping centre. For those in pursuit of a contemporary touch, there is a top floor bar serving delicious cocktails in a trendy setting. Alternatively, if you fancy a glass of vino while watching the newest cinematic offering there is a boutique filmhouse where the waiters can bring pizza to your seat whilst you watch. The money you might have saved on free entry to some of the aforementioned attractions is likely to get splurged at this location, but there is no shame in that – you deserve it.
So there it is, some of Glasgow’s Leading Attractions in a nutshell. Whilst by no means an exhaustive list, it certainly provides a starting point to get better acquainted with the best artistic, culinary, and educational establishments within walking distance of the city centre.
If you are heading North, I thoroughly recommend the natural surroundings of the Glengoyne Distillery where two newly installed beehives are adding to the impressive ecosystem in which the business is nestled. Looking over the river, the Glasgow Science Centre holds the World Record for the tallest fully rotating free-standing tower, or if you venture further afield, the five-star hospitality from the team at Sweeney’s Cruises will ensure a stellar day out on Loch Lomond. Whatever your choice of itinerary, nobody knows the city better than Glasgow Taxis and its 800 strong fleet of drivers who can be relied upon to reach even the most obscure destinations. Alternatively, for a cheap and sustainable service, it is worth riding the Subway which is about to be kitted out with 3rd Generation state of the art trains.
Whether a local, newcomer or visitor to this city: rest assured knowing that our winning combination of world-class attractions and unapologetically authentic locals work together to create a unique experience that is unrivalled in terms of originality and gallusness.