If you want a city experience that's truly vibrant and varied, Glasgow is the place for you. Edinburgh may be the first thought of tourists looking for a slice of Scottish history, but it's the mighty city just over an hour to the west that gives you a taste of Scotland as it is today; while staying true to its rich and intriguing heritage.
The list of attractions is never-ending, with a host of museums and galleries (many of them free), serious nightlife, amazing food and shopping on a scale you may never have seen before. Self-discipline may be required.
Add some artistic flair, stunning architecture and a surprising amount of beautiful open space and you’ve got a destination locals are justly proud of, and visitors are charmed by.
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Culture & Heritage
Looking to explore Glasgow's past, take in a show or get the lowdown on its thriving contemporary art scene? You'll be spoilt for choice because this city has culture in every direction.
Glasgow goes big on art. You'll find it in venues across the city, including Tramway, The Lighthouse and the famed Glasgow School of Art, which also arranges city walking tours at weekends.
Among countless free attractions, Scotland's oldest public museum, The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow, combines art with science, zoology and anatomy across four campus bases. On Glasgow Green, the People's Palace traces local history from the 18th to the 20th century. And with Scottish Opera, the National Theatre of Scotland and Scottish Ballet all based in the city, there's always something new to entertain you.
So Many Free Things
With so many of Glasgow’s top attractions to explore for free, it would be a shame not to add at least some of these names to your itinerary.
Why not start with the medieval marvel which is Glasgow Cathedral? Originally built by St Mungo - the founder and patron saint of the city itself - parts of the cathedral, as it is today, date back to the 1200s.
Culture lovers will want to check out the Centre for Contemporary Arts on Sauchiehall Street, a creative hub offering film screenings, musical performances, literary talks, DJ sets and more at little or no cost.
Also, don't miss the landmark Gallery of Modern Art on Royal Exchange Square. Right in the heart of the city, this iconic building is an attraction in itself, and the elegant spaces within play host to a regularly changing line up of impressive exhibitions.
To discover more about Glasgow's history, there's no better place to head than the Mitchell Library on North Street, another imposing building just moments away from Sauchiehall Street. Its collection of photographs, maps and archives tell a fascinating tale of the city's cultural and social journey.
Rather get out in the fresh air? You'll be pleased to see Glasgow is packed with lots of rather attractive green bits. One of the most popular is Kelvingrove Park in the West End, a beautiful Victorian park where you can feed the ducks or catch an outdoor gig at the restored park bandstand. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is there too, with wide-ranging exhibitions showcasing anything from Egyptian archaeology to Dutch Old Masters and a real Spitfire plane.
Elsewhere, the Botanic Gardens, Bellahouston and the huge Pollok Country Park are also worth checking out. Home to the Burrell Collection (that's more free art to enjoy), Pollok has been voted the best park in Europe and is a stunning place to lose yourself in, just south of the Clyde.
A Diverse Array of Attractions
Glasgow can't be accused of not offering something for everyone. To get a flavour of its diversity, you could plan a visit to the Glasgow Science Centre on the city's regenerated waterfront, home to a planetarium, an IMAX cinema screen (the biggest in Scotland) and the incredible Glasgow Tower. At 127 metres high, this record-breaking rotating structure offers jaw-dropping panoramic views of the city - a real must-visit.
If you prefer being on the water than in the air, you could take a cruise along the Clyde on the famous Waverley paddle steamer. This pleasure is restricted to the warmer months, so if you want to go sailing, be sure to book your bus to Glasgow during the summer.
Football fans will want to get the Hampden Experience at the Scottish Football Museum, a 5-star attraction with thousands of pieces of memorabilia. You can even soak up the atmosphere of the old Hampden Park dressing room. Back in the city centre, you can be guided around Wellpark Brewery, where you'll hear the story of more than 450 years of Scottish beer-making and enjoy one afterwards.
Still the beating political heart of Glasgow, free tours of the prestigious City Chambers on George Square will give you a glimpse of the building's ornate banqueting hall and huge marble staircase. It's such an impressive sight it's been featured in various movies, even doubling as the Vatican.
A Shopping Paradise
With more than 1500 retail outlets waiting for you, Glasgow is the UK's second-largest shopping capital. This is a city where the big stores sit alongside intriguing independents, and new names rub shoulders with well-established Glasgow icons. Whatever you seek, you get the best of both worlds here.
Centred around Buchanan Street, Argyle Street and elegant Merchant City, Glasgow's 'Style Mile' is sure to be on your list for fashion, accessories, hair and make-up. This part of town alone boasts more than 200 stores. From high street to high-end, you name it, it's there - along with plenty of places to stop for a coffee and admire your purchases.
If vintage is more your style, you’ll want to make a beeline for Glasgow’s West End. In addition to retro fashion boutiques, you’ll also find bespoke furniture design, cute delis and second-hand bookshops in this characterful quarter.
Jewellery hunters will find nirvana in Argyll Arcade, while Merchant City's lanes boast a satisfyingly eclectic mix of specialist shops, filled with everything from records to comics, baby clothes to bridal gowns. If pottering around is your thing, this is one Glasgow district not to miss.
Food for Thought
Hungry? You won't be for long. Glasgow boasts more exciting eateries than you could shake a deep-fried Mars bar at. The choice is immense, with every taste and budget catered for. In Glasgow, everything from gorgeous street food to exquisite gastronomy is on the menu.
If you're looking for somewhere vegetarian or vegan, you won't need to search for long; Glasgow was voted the UK's most vegan-friendly city. Look out for names including The Project Café, Ranjit's Kitchen and the award-winning Mono, which also serves up live music and has its own independent record store.
Low prices don’t have to mean low quality, as you’ll find out when you grab a gourmet sandwich at Piece or The Hyndland Fox, or an authentic pizza at Little Italy. For something more exotic, try Babu Bombay Street Kitchen or sushi at Ichiban.
There's good value food to be had at Bier Halle, which you can enjoy with one of more than 100 ales from around the globe. And for a little bit of Glasgow history with your Earl Grey, pop into the Willow Tea Rooms, designed by the city's most celebrated architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
A Buzzing Nightlife
Few people know how to have a good time like the Glaswegians, so you can have a great night every night and make each one different.
The city's music venues attract headline acts and introduce new ones, with the legendary King Tut's, the o2 Academy, Barrowlands and the SSE Hydro found alongside the Royal Concert Hall and Old Fruitmarket. A near-continuous line-up of festivals, including jazz, film and summer's Pride, means there's always something going on.
The Stand and Jongleurs are just two of the comedy clubs worth a visit, and there's more naughtiness to be found at the Riding Room or Wild Cabaret. Glasgow also boasts the world's tallest cinema, numerous theatres and a lively and innovative club scene pumping everything from funk and disco to house, techno and dubstep.
And if all that sounds like too much, there’s no shortage of bars around to enjoy a drink and a chat with Glasgow’s famously friendly locals.
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