Glasgow

For other places with the same name, see Glasgow (disambiguation).

Glasgow (Gaelic: Glaschu) is the biggest city in Scotland, with a population of about 600,000 in the city itself and over 2 million if the surrounding towns of the Clydeside conurbation are taken into account. Located at the west end of Scotland's Central Belt on the banks of the River Clyde, Glasgow's historical importance as Scotland's main industrial centre has been challenged by decades of change and various regeneration efforts. Today the third largest city in the entire United Kingdom by population, it remains one of the nation's key economic centres outside London.

In recent years, Glasgow has been awarded the European titles of City of Culture (1990), City of Architecture and Design (1999) and Capital of Sport (2003). In 2008, Glasgow became the second Scottish city to join the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative when it was named as a UNESCO City of Music. In preparing its bid, Glasgow counted an average of 130 music events a week ranging from pop and rock to Celtic music and opera. The city has transformed itself from being the once mighty industrial powerhouse of Britain to a centre for commerce, tourism, and culture. Glasgow was the host city for the successful Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Glasgow has become one of the most visited cities in the British Isles, and visitors will find a revitalised city centre, the best shopping outside London without a doubt, excellent parks and museums (most of which are free), and easy access to the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Understand

Orientation

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 6 7 9 12 16 18 20 19 16 13 9 7
Nightly lows (°C) 2 2 3 4 7 10 12 12 9 7 4 2
Precipitation (mm) 142 99 110 60 63 63 68 84 116 132 131 138

See the 5 day forecast for Glasgow at the Met Office

For the visitor, central Glasgow can be divided into two main areas, the City Centre, which contains the majority of tourist sights and much of the city's shopping and entertainment, as well as its commercial heart, and the West End, the bohemian area of cafés, restaurants and bars surrounding the University of Glasgow and Kelvingrove Museum. The best way to get good vistas of the city is to climb the many "drumlins" (hills) upon which the central area is built.

Outside of central Glasgow, the East End lies east of the City Centre centred along Gallowgate and London Road. The South Side contains the neighbourhoods that lie to the south of the River Clyde, while the North Side is the area north of central Glasgow. Along the banks of the River Clyde west of the City Centre is an old industrial area which is in the process of regeneration and contains many new and impressive structures, such as the Clyde Auditorium, the Science Centre and the Riverside Museum.

City Centre

Sir Walter Scott Monument in George Square

The City Centre (known as "town" or "the toon" to locals) is bounded by the M8 motorway to the north and west, High Street to the east, and the River Clyde to the south. This is the area where most visitors will start, and the most notable elements are the grid plan of streets and the lavish Victorian and Edwardian buildings and civic squares which give the area much of its character. The main arteries of the City Centre are Argyle Street and Sauchiehall Street which both run on an east-west axis. They are linked by Buchanan Street which runs north-south. Together, these three streets form the main shopping thoroughfares.

The eastern side of the City Centre is a sub-district known as Merchant City, which contains Glasgow's original medieval core, centred around the Glasgow Cross (the junction of Trongate, Saltmarket, High Street, Gallowgate and London Road). Merchant City extends up to George Square, with many ornate buildings that date back to Glasgow's emergence as an industrial city. High Street north of the Glasgow Cross is the main artery of Old Glasgow and leads uphill to the Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis cemetery.

The western area of the City Centre contains the city's core commercial and business district and is dominated by Blythswood Hill, which is centred around Blythswood Square. Running parallel to Sauchiehall Street, Bath Street is the main route into the neighbourhood and has a rich mix of independent shops and bars, as well as distinctive Georgian town house style architecture. South of Blythswood Hill is the city's financial district, with many modern glass and steel office buildings which stand alongside their classical counterparts. Further south, on the north bank of the River Clyde is the district of Anderston, formerly a dockland area, badly scarred by the city's industrial decline and the urban regeneration schemes of the 1960s but now being redeveloped as a residential and commercial area.

West End

To the west of the City Centre, no official definition of where the West End boundary line exists, but it can roughly be defined as being bounded by the M8 motorway to the east, Great Western Road to the north, the River Clyde to the South and Crow Road to the west. The nucleus of the area is undoubtedly the neo-Gothic University of Glasgow, which acts as the anchor for this bohemian district, with its lovely architecture, tree lined streets and quaint shopping areas.

The primary east-west artery is Argyle Street/Dumbarton Road, while Byres Road is the main north-south artery and contains a number of independent shops, bars and restaurants. Ashton Lane connects Byres Road to the University campus and is a cobbled backstreet with distinctive whitewashed buildings, holding an eclectic mix of bars and eateries that make it a tourist hotspot (be careful as the Lane can be a bit of a tourist trap during the summer months when the students of the university are not there to keep the bar prices reasonable). To the east of the university campus and just downhill is Kelvingrove Park, with the tree-lined Kelvin Way as the main avenue through the park, which connects with Argyle Street near the Kelvingrove Museum.

Talk

Common phrases heard in Glasgow

  • "Wean" (pronounced "wayne") - child (Derived from wee-one, meaning small one)
  • "Wee" - small
  • "Aye" - yes
  • "Bam" or "bampot" or "bamstick" - an impolite term for a silly or annoying person
  • "Eejit" - an impolite term for a person who has done an incredibly stupid thing- an idiot
  • "Tumshie" - a silly and/or fat person
  • "Pure (brilliant)" - Very
  • "Minging" - bad smelling or bad tasting; similarly a "minger" refers to an ugly person. Can also be used to denote drunkenness; "Ah wis well mingin' on Friday."
  • "Midden" - an old Scots word for a waste dump, but commonly used to described anything that is untidy or unkempt.
  • "Haw" - roughly equivalent to "Hey" and used to attract someone's attention
  • "(to give) pelters" - to humiliate someone
  • "Ned" - Nicely described by popular backronym "non-educated delinquent". Typically teenage youths who can be spotted sporting tracksuits, drinking cheap alcohol and wearing "bling" jewellery, as well as bright white trainers (sneakers), soccer socks (kneesocks) scrunched down, and a baseball cap, usually from the brand Burberry. Many neds are aggressive. You'll do well to avoid them.
  • "Buckie" - Real name is Buckfast, a "tonic wine" (this indicates its fortified alcohol content and not any medicinal value.) It is relatively cheap and purple in colour.
  • "Glaikit" - Means someone is dim or have a blank expression on their face. "When I asked him what 13 divided by 11,212.189 was he looked pure glaikit."
  • "Teuchter" - Slang word for a Highlander, or anyone from the North of Scotland - often used in a derogatory context. Pronounced like chookter.
  • "Gallus" - Means someone is cocky, cheeky or self-confident
  • "Bolt" - go away, as in "leave me alone" - kind of means "run" so tends to be used in a slightly aggressive context
  • "Besom" - a cheeky or 'bold' woman. Sometime pronounced like "bism"
  • "Manky" - unclean, filthy
  • "Baltic" - Really cold as in 'The Baltic Sea'
  • "Mental" - Pretty much a synonym for crazy.
  • "Pished" - drunk or intoxicated.

The speed of the conversation tends to be quite quick in Glasgow. If necessary, ask people to repeat (even slowly!) what they are saying, Glaswegians are generally very friendly and able to communicate in far more formal English than that which is commonly used if it is required. Standing on a city centre street corner with a map in the daytime is usually a cue for passing Glaswegians to offer help in finding your way.

Dialect

As with all areas of Scotland, regional dialects are present in Glasgow. The Glaswegian dialect of Scots or "the patter" as it is known, has evolved over the history of the city. As each wave of migration takes place, new words and phrases are added. There is a slight Celtic language connection due to the influences of Highland Gaelic and Irish Gaelic.

Glasgow slang is also peppered with various more or less meaningless phrases such as 'by the way', 'man' or 'dead' (very, as an adjective) that can give the answers to simple questions an almost baroque complexity. So "Did you enjoy the concert last night?" might be answered "Aye it was pure dead brilliant man" which means, essentially, "Yes, it was good".

One common misunderstanding between Scots and foreigners is that when the question "How are you?" is asked, you should not answer by telling them if you are not fine, and then go on to elaborate by describing what has happened to make you unhappy. This will annoy the average Scot, whose tolerance level for this will be quite low. The usual and accepted response is "Fine, you?"

Get in

By plane

Glasgow is served by two main airports close to the city: Glasgow (International) Airport and Glasgow Prestwick Airport. Edinburgh Airport is approximately 35mi/60km east of Glasgow.

Glasgow (International) Airport

  Glasgow Airport (IATA: GLA) is 8mi/13km west of the centre of Glasgow near the towns of Paisley and Renfrew, this is the city's principal airport, and the main direct long haul and transatlantic entry airport into Scotland. There are regular scheduled UK and European destinations, holiday charters, and the airport is the hub for the Scottish island network operated by Loganair. United Airlines operate a daily service from New York (Newark), while Emirates operate 2 daily flights to Dubai. If you are entering the United Kingdom via London, British Airways operates frequent shuttle flights to Glasgow Airport throughout the day from both Heathrow and Gatwick. British Airways also operates a regular business shuttle from London City airport, although it can be considerably more expensive than flying from Heathrow or Gatwick -but cheap fares are sometimes available if you book via a price comparison site, rather than going to BA direct. Alternatively, KLM flies regularly to Glasgow from Amsterdam-Schiphol which connects with a wide range of international destinations. EasyJet flies from Luton, Stansted and Gatwick.

The Glasgow Shuttle service 500 departs frequent from outside the terminal building at stance 1 to the city centre, dropping off near both main railway stations Glasgow Queen Street and Glasgow Central) and the bus terminal Buchanan St Bus Station. The service runs 24 hours and up to every 10 minutes. Tickets cost £7.00 single, £9.50 open return (within 28 days) and can be paid in cash or by card or booked online in advance. Group discounts (2 or more) are possible. WiFi is available.

The First buses service 747 which leaves at stance 6 is slower, less frequent, but cheaper. Tickets cost £4 single, £5 return.

The local McGill's bus 66 is the slowest, but cheapest option, operated as often as every 10 min to Paisley Gilmour Street train station, where regular trains run to Glasgow Central in as little as 10 min. It leaves from stance 7. Travelling to the airport you can buy an inclusive train and bus ticket from any train station: just ask for Glasgow Airport and show the bus driver your train ticket. Travelling from the airport buy a coupon for £1.50 from the SPT Travel Information counter beside domestic arrivals, show it to the driver and then and use it for £1.50 of credit towards onward train travel from Paisley Gilmour Street station. A single from Glasgow Central to/from the airport costs £3.20, or £1.80 with a National Rail railcard.

Glasgow International Airport has 2 terminals. All passengers arrive in the first terminal arrivals hall. The first terminal is used for Thomson, Emirates, Jet2, Iberia and many more. Terminal 2 is only used for check in for Thomas Cook, Aer Lingus, Canadian Affair and Virgin. Glasgow Airport also has 2 prayer rooms: One in the 2nd set of departure gates and the other in the arrivals hall.

There are 3 customs "channels." The blue channel is for those arriving directly from EEA countries (EU, plus Norway, Luxembourg, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. If you're coming from any other country (including the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Canary Islands), you should choose either the green channel or, if you are not sure or have something to declare, the red channel. The airport's usually not too crowded but there can sometimes be a crush at check-in and security.

A number of hotels serve Glasgow International Airport. The closest is Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport, which is directly across from the terminals. A number of other hotels are close by, but require shuttles to and from the terminal, or a further walk.

Parking information:

It is possible to ride your bicyle to the airport.

Glasgow Prestwick Airport

  Glasgow Prestwick Airport (IATA: PIK) is south west of Glasgow (about 32mi/51km) on the Ayrshire coast. Famously fog free and with a long runway. This was the city's secondary airport and a major hub for Ryanair (see Discount airlines in Europe) and several other low cost carriers before routes went into steep decline in 2013. Now only Ryanair operates 16 scheduled routes, flying into Prestwick predominantly from Ireland, Italy and Spain with some useful routes from various destinations in Eastern Europe. Ryanair also run various seasonal services to Mediterranean resorts. This is the list for Summer 2015: Alicante (ALC), Barcelona (BCN), Carcassonne (CCF), Corfu (CFU), Crete (Chania) (CHQ), Derry (LDY), Dublin (DUB), Faro (FAO), Fuerteventura (FUE), Ibiza (IBZ), Knock (NOC) in Ireland, Lanzarote (ACE), Las Palmas (LPA), Malta (MLA), Malaga (AGP), Murcia (MJV), Palma Mallorca (PMI), Pisa (PSA), Reus (Barcelona) (REU), Riga (RIX), Rome (Ciampino) (CIA), Tenerife South (TFS), Warsaw (WMI) and Wroclaw (WRO).

Some holiday charter flights fly into Prestwick rather than Glasgow's main airport.

The A77/M77 roads run directly from Prestwick into the centre of Glasgow if you intend to drive.

The airport has its own railway station (PRA), with three (Mon-Sat) or two (Sun) trains per hour to Glasgow Central (show your flight paperwork to get a £3.55 half price ticket; the journey takes around 50 minutes). All trains to Ayr and Stranraer call at the airport. There are also a few direct trains to Edinburgh (via Glasgow Central) which take about 2h15min. If you show your flight confirmation and ID when purchasing a train ticket to/from the airport within Scotland, you only pay 50% of the standard fare.

The Stagecoach West bus X77 also runs from Buchanan Bus Station to the airport throughout the day, and crucially covers the times (early morning and late evening) when the trains are not running. Travellers wishing to use the X77 bus must book their ticket on-line via the Prestwick Airport website at least 12 hours prior to departure, in order to guarantee a place on the bus. The bus takes about 50min.

Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Airport (IATA: EDI) is easily accessible from Glasgow since it is on the western edge of Edinburgh, approximately 35mi/60km away and about an hours drive via the M8 motorway or by train.

Useful as both Ryanair and EasyJet have a number of European routes that are not available from either Glasgow International or the rapidly declining Prestwick.

This airport can also easily be reached from Haymarket railway station (all trains from Glasgow call there) via tram or dedicated bus - see the Edinburgh article for more details.

By train

Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom
Glasgow Central Station. Hielanman's Umbrella (standard English: Highlander's Umbrella) where, in the 19th century, immigrants from the Scottish Highlands kept in touch with each other.

Glasgow has two main line railway stations. Trains from the south of Scotland, the city's southern suburbs and all long distance trains from England arrive at   Central Station (GLC) (officially known as Glasgow Central), while shuttle trains from Edinburgh and anywhere north of Glasgow arrive at   Queen Street Station (GLQ). Both Central and Queen Street stations have left luggage lockers. The stations are an easy ten minute walk apart and the route is well signposted, or there's a frequent shuttle bus between them, which is free if you are holding a through railway ticket otherwise a fare of 50p is charged if you don't.

The tunnel at the entrance to Glasgow Queen Street will be closed for upgrading from 20 March to 8 August 2016. This will result in delays to trains serving Queen Street, as they will all use the two low level platforms (normally only used by local services) and some trains will use Central station instead. Check times online before travelling.

Most trains within Scotland are run by ScotRail.

From Edinburgh

Confusingly, there are four rail routes between the capital and Glasgow's two main line terminals. An off-peak return is around £11.50, regardless which route you use, a peak return is around £20. In summary the four routes are as follows - all depart from both Waverley and Haymarket stations:

Some services via Shotts run limited stop every hour with journey times of approx 65min.

From London and the South

Glasgow can be reached from London by either the West Coast or East Coast main lines. The quality and reliability of the rail services has improved a lot over the years, and it can be cheaper and almost as fast as flying once the time spent travelling to airports with their associated security hassles is taken into account.

The Caledonian Sleeper is an overnight sleeper train that runs every night except Saturday to/from London Euston The journey takes approximately 8 hours, although is deliberately scheduled for a late departure and a reasonable arrival time. Tickets can be booked in the usual manner at any main line railway station in Britain or on-line: the cost of a return journey to Glasgow from London varies from around £100 for two one-way "Advance" tickets rising to the full open return fare of £165 (being the basic fare plus the cost of the sleeping berth in a compartment with either one or two beds). Note that solo travellers may have to share the sleeping compartment with a stranger of the same gender. You can also travel in a seated carriage for around £23 one-way or £95 return (full fare). Certain BritRail passes can be used to buy tickets on the Sleeper trains, but supplements are payable for the berth: check before leaving your home country.

Within Scotland

Apart from the Edinburgh shuttles, the key inter-city rail routes to Glasgow from elsewhere in Scotland are as follows:

Other Rail Services

All national inter-city routes operate into Central (High Level).

Virgin Trains operate direct services to/from Birmingham New Street.

First Transpennine Express operate a direct service to Glasgow from Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.

CrossCountry operate a handful of early morning and late evening trains to/from the South West of England via Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, Sheffield, Birmingham New Street and Bristol.

By car

The main approaches to Glasgow are the following:

Note - in 2011 the M74 Extension was completed, now allowing an alternative route into the city centre via the South Side. As of November 2011, many GPS services still do not recognise the new route, and therefore bear this in mind if using sat-nav to navigate your way into the city

All routes converge on the M8, which carves through the city centre. Glasgow has no credible park-and-ride system, but some of the subway and suburban railway stations do have small car parks. There is also the Shields Road Park and Ride site, which services the city centre. A bus park-and-ride is due to open shortly near Hampden Park which allows easy access from junction 1A of the M74.

Parking

On-street parking in the both the City Centre and West End is limited and expensive, metered bays are available at the side of the road and you pay at an adjacent machine and display a ticket in your windscreen or dashboard. The prices are typically 30-40p (depending on location) for every 12 minutes. In general, parking charges are levied Monday to Saturday (this INCLUDES public holidays) and free after 18:30 and all day Sundays. But always check what the controlled hours are - these are shown on the ticket machines themselves and on adjacent signs. If attempting to park on the free periods - get there as early as possible before the locals do. Some parking areas are for residents only: DON'T be tempted to use them as you run the risk of being towed away!

There are many multi-storey car parks in the city centre; they are clearly signposted into "East", "West", "North" and "South" zones on all the approaches into the central area with an electronic display showing how many spaces are left in each. They don't, however, differentiate between the expensive NCP ones and the cheaper ones inside shopping malls or run by the council.

A cheaper way of parking is to make use of the parking facilities at Subway stations located on the outskirts of the city (Shields Road station has the largest car park - 800 spaces). £5.00 buys you parking all day and a return journey into the city centre.

In general, driving in Glasgow's central area should be avoided if you are not a confident driver, as there are one way systems, bus lanes and pedestrian precincts. Glaswegians are not the most patient drivers in the world, and they particularly dislike hesitancy (taxi drivers being the worst culprits). Parking restrictions are strictly enforced, and vehicles parked illegally or in an obstructive manner may be towed away and the owner of the vehicle would be liable for a £150 release charge to recover it.

As of May 2012, the city has introduced licence plate recognition cameras and extra manned patrols on the bus lanes within the city centre, getting caught will incur a £30 fixed penalty!

If, however, you are confident enough to hire a car or require it to save money on your travel, all the major rental companies and some lesser ones are at the airport. You should book your car rental in advance to avoid disappointment and can do so from price comparison companies such as Glasgow Airport Car Hire. Visitors from the United States and Canada should note that car rental companies will allocate you a manual transmission car by default, unless you specifically ask for an automatic.

By bus

Long-distance bus services arrive at   Buchanan Bus Station (in the city centre, very close to Buchanan Street/Queen Street train stations). The main operator is Scottish Citylink, but Stagecoach also runs a budget inter-city bus service called Megabus. Somewhat confusingly, however, the two operators often combine and merge services, so you may be put on a Citylink bus when you hold a Megabus reservation and vice versa. There are even buses to Poland, setting off from Glasgow around midnight every Monday, Friday and Sunday.

By boat

From Ireland, car and foot passengers have a number of convenient ports close to Glasgow. For those travelling with a car, the nearest ferry ports are Troon and Cairnryan for multiple daily P&O Irish Sea ferries from Larne in Northern Ireland. Alternatively, Stena Line operate ferries and the faster Stena HSS several times a day between the Port of Belfast and Stranraer.

Through train tickets are available from any railway station in the UK to any railway station in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland via Stranraer, where the train station is adjacent to the ferry terminal. Fares start at £30 one way (£18.90 with a railcard) for Belfast to Glasgow (available on the day of travel from most railway stations) taking about five hours. Similarly, Scottish Citylink sell inclusive coach and ferry tickets between Belfast and Glasgow and Edinburgh.

From Belgium, Scotland's only ferry connection to mainland Europe is from Zeebrugge which serves Rosyth (near Edinburgh), about an hour's drive from Glasgow. You can also take DFDS Seaways ferry from Holland to Newcastle and drive. This takes 3 hours from Newcastle to Glasgow city centre.

Get around

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is the local agency which operates the subway, a few specialist bus services and allegedly co-ordinates public transport in the Greater Glasgow area. However, for three successive years now it has been unable to produce a local public transport map showing the routes of the many different operators. Look on the bright side: you'll have to ask the helpful locals how to get somewhere and, in the city centre, which stance to catch your bus from - the stances (bus stops) keep changing!

In June 2013, the largest local bus operator, FirstGlasgow, printed a "Glasgow Bus map and guide" which also showed the routes and numbers of some other bus operators besides their own. The bad news is that by July 2013 they had become as rare as hen's teeth; however, even this rarity still does not show the positions of all the various bus companies' different stances in the city centre.

Nevertheless, Glasgow's public transport system is one of the most extensive in the UK outside of London.

On foot

The centre of Glasgow is very pedestrian-friendly with major shopping streets given over to foot traffic. As you move out of the city centre, all areas have proper pavements, and most major junctions have pedestrian crossings. The River Clyde also has several foot bridge crossings. The main difficulty with walking out of the centre of town is finding where the crossings over/under the M8 are. As you head west, some roads appear to go over Charing Cross only for the pavement to disappear. As you head north, the underpasses at Cowcaddens can sometimes feel unwelcoming.

On 7 Jul 2013 the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" over the 9 lane M8 Motorway became a bridge to somewhere after being boarded up for more than 40 years. Built in the 1970s to link Anderston with a shopping centre that was never built, this pedestrian and cycle bridge now links Central Station (via Argyle St) with the Forth and Clyde Canals (via Kelvingrove Park) or the new developments at Pacific Quay (via Bell's Bridge).

The climate in Glasgow means the road network is plagued by potholes. As such, during heavy rain walkers should be aware and careful of road potholes filled with rainwater which passing traffic (especially buses!) can and will travel through, soaking unwary nearby walkers.

Glasgow walking directions can be planned on-line with the walkit.com walking route planner.

By subway

Glasgow Subway map

Glasgow's subway runs in a double circle around the Glasgow city centre and some inner suburbs. It's the third oldest subway system in the world after the London Underground and the Budapest Metro and is in the midst of a major facelift. Locals will never refer to the subway as "the clockwork orange" and will likely wince if you do so.

The Subway runs from the city centre through to the West End (around Glasgow University), then runs south of the Clyde through Ibrox Stadium and back into the city. Direct interchanges with surface trains are at Buchanan Street and Partick stations; Argyle Street interchanges with Central station through a short walk on street level.

The system operates approximately 6:30-23:15 (first and last train) on all days, except Sunday when it operates approximately 10:00-17:50 (first and last train). Trains generally run every 4-8 minutes. The Outer Circle runs clock-wise, the Inner Circle runs counter-clockwise. One complete circle takes 24 minutes.

The system uses smart card ticketing. Smartcards are free if you order them in advance to a UK address, or £3 if bought at the station for immediate use. They can be topped up with an arbitrary amount (although credit/debit card topups under £5 incur a charge). Your first journey of the day is £1.40, the second is £1.30 and subsequent journeys are free, meaning you pay £2.70 for unlimited travel. No bikes are allowed. The system was built in the 19th Century, so no stations are easily accessible to wheelchairs or pushchairs, but staff assistance is available at all stations.

Paper tickets are also available at all stations, but the tariff for these is more expensive at £1.60 for a single, £3 return, and £4 for unlimited rides that day. Tickets are issued per ride, rather than by distance, so single and return fares are the same no matter how many stations you wish to travel through. You need the ticket to exit the stations.

The PLUSBUS rail ticket add-on does not include the subway system.

By train

Suburban trains radiate from Central and Queen Street stations to the suburbs and surrounding towns. The network is the largest in the UK outside of London, although there are only two trains per hour on some routes; others are much more frequent. Central serves the dense suburban network which sprawls throughout the southern suburbs of the city, as well as outer suburban services to the Inverclyde and Ayrshire coasts. The underground lower level platforms of both Central and Queen Street stations are hubs for the east-west electric network north of the river which provide useful links to the West End (thus complementing the Subway) and further west to the northern Clyde coast towns of Dumbarton, Helensburgh and Balloch, the gateway to Loch Lomond and the Southern Highlands. More recently, the Low Level line from Queen Street has been extended eastwards to the West Lothian towns of Bathgate and Livingston and to Edinburgh.

Bikes go free, but many trains have no bike spaces. The SPT Day Tripper ticket (explained below) gives you complete freedom of the network, and the Roundabout ticket (also explained below) gives off-peak freedom of the suburban train network within the city boundary only as well as the Subway.

By bus

A double-decker First Glasgow bus

Unlike the situation in Edinburgh, Glasgow buses delight in racing past bus stops unless you clearly signal them to stop.

Buses go everywhere. First Glasgow is the main operator within the city boundary. There is a bus at least every 10 min on main routes during the day, making it easy to get into the centre of town, though getting out to a specific destination less easy. However, services on many routes are much less frequent in the evening. In the city centre, buses do not always stop at every stop on their route, so check the sign at the stop. Stops are clearly marked with the services that stop there.

First buses do not give change as the driver has no access to cash: you put your money in a slot that checks the amount and deposits it in a storage box. A single ticket costs £2, an all-day ticket that can be used on any First bus costs £4.30, a weekly ticket £15.50 (£13 for students). Some other bus operators, however, give change.

Glasgow SimpliCITY, operated by First Group, offers frequent bus service in the city centre and to some cities in the metropolitan area.

Other bus operators within the city are McGill and Stagecoach West Scotland which operate services out to the outlying towns in Renfrewshire and Ayrshire respectively: the day/weekly passes bought on First buses will not be valid on these, with the exception of SPT Day Tripper and ZoneCards (explained below).

One of the current scourges of Glasgow, however (in the opinion of locals, at least), is the myriad of private bus operators that supposedly "complement" the core services operated by First and McGill's. In reality, many merely duplicate the routes that already exist: the net result has been the city centre being clogged up with empty (and often badly maintained) buses, and for the visitor the key thing to remember is that some of these operators do not accept any of the SPT day passes. On the flip side, they keep the somewhat extortionate prices of First Glasgow in check. The situation is currently a political hot potato among locals.

Fares

SPT offers a number of different daily combined bus/rail travel tickets aimed at the visitor.

By taxi

Like most major British cities, you have two options. Your first option is the traditional London-style black cabs which can be hailed from the side of the road (look out for the yellow "Taxi" sign being illuminated). The fleet is operated by Glasgow Taxis, and can also be ordered by telephone (+44 141 429-7070). There are taxi ranks outside Central and Queen Street railway stations, adjacent to George Square and along the southern end of Queen Street itself. There is also a taxi rank located at Buchanan Bus Station. For a journey from say the centre of town to the West End expect to pay around £5-£6, from the city centre out to the suburbs around £10-£12. Be aware that some drivers will refuse to take you outside the city boundary, but some will if you offer a good price to them.

Your second option is by private hire or minicab. Unlike the black cabs, these cannot be hailed, and you must book by telephone. There is a myriad of private hire operators which are cheaper than black cabs: their phone numbers are clearly displayed on the back of the vehicles. Never use unlicenced private taxis, which can sometimes be seen touting for business outside nightclubs near closing time and near legitimate taxi ranks. Always look for the yellow Glasgow City Council licencing plate attached to the rear bumper of the vehicle if unsure. Glasgow Private Hire is one of the biggest taxi fleets in Europe and has thousands of cars, which service all areas of the city. They can be reached on a variety of different numbers (including +44 141 774-3000). Another popular alternative is Hampden Cabs, which services most of the city and surrounding area. Hampden Cabs can be contacted on +44 141 649-5050.

By boat

There is now a River Bus service, which picks up tourists from central Glasgow (Broomielaw Pontoon) and takes them to, among other sites of interest, the Glasgow Science Centre, and the Riverside Museum. There is also a ferry from Yoker on the north bank of the River Clyde to the town of Renfrew on the opposite bank which is within walking distance of Braehead shopping centre and the Xscape leisure complex.

See

Architecture

Glasgow Cathedral

As befits a city that was at its richest through the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th, the centre of Glasgow has a fine legacy of Victorian and Edwardian buildings with their lavish interiors and spectacular carved stonework. Outside of the central area the main streets are lined with the legendary tenements - the city's trademark 2 or 3 story residential buildings built from red or blonde sandstone which positively glow during the summer. The decline of Glasgow's economy during the mid to late 20th Century led to the mass construction of high-rise tower blocks and concrete housing estates during the 1960s and 1970s. The dramatic and striking Red Road Flats form the tallest residential property in Europe. Many 1970s office buildings in the centre have been cleared away by state-of-the-art glass structures as Glasgow's burgeoning financial services industry continues to grow. For more information on Glasgow's architecture, try and get hold of a copy of Central Glasgow: An Illustrated Architectural Guide, by Charles McKean and others.

Glasgow was also the home of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, one of the "Glasgow Four," a group of leading proponents of art nouveau architecture. Indeed, during his lifetime, Mackintosh was probably better regarded abroad than he was in his native Glasgow, even apparently inspiring Frank Lloyd Wright. However, he was recently resurrected as one of the cities most beloved sons. You will notice, along with quite a few of his buildings to see in the city, including his magnum opus, the Glasgow School of Art, many other knock-offs and impersonations exist. However, despite the 'cult' of Mackintosh, Glasgow produced many other fine architects, the best known of whom is probably Alexander 'Greek' Thomson.

The following list is a selection of significant buildings in Glasgow, roughly arranged starting in the City Centre and moving west and south:

The City Chambers
Tradeston Pedestrian Bridge, the "Squiggly Bridge"

In Search of Raintown

Fans of the Glasgow band Deacon Blue have often made the pilgrimage to the top of the Granite Staircase to recreate the cover photograph of their famous 1987 album Raintown. Sadly, neither of the two cover photos from the album is now possible to reconstruct. Two decades have seen Kelvingrove Park's trees grow to obscure the view of the Clyde and the Finnieston Crane from the top of the Granite Staircase. Equally, the rear cover shot of the M8 motorway approach onto the Kingston Bridge (adjacent to the Mitchell Library) was taken from a disused bridge upon which an office building has now been constructed.

Museums and art galleries

Glasgow Science Centre

The Victorians also left Glasgow with a wonderful legacy of museums and art galleries, which the city has dutifully built upon. The following list is only a selection. The city council alone runs several museums and galleries. Visitors should be aware that most of the galleries appear to be closed on Sundays, and that - to the understandable annoyance of many visitors to Glasgow - most of the museums shut their doors at 5PM. The majority of museums are free with boxes for you to give a donation (most have a recommended donation of £3). This is entirely voluntary though, so don't be put off if you can't afford this!

The Spitfire in the Kelvingrove Museum

Parks

If you should fall in

Glasgow Green is the home of the Glasgow Humane Society. The Society was founded in 1790 and is the world's oldest practical life-saving body. Until June 2005 the society volunteers were responsible for rescuing those unfortunate to fall into the River Clyde. Unfortunately modern heath and safety regulations require two life boat men on duty and a lack of volunteers has forced the sole lifeboat man, George Parsonage, to stand down the service after 215 years. The rescue service is now performed by the Strathclyde Fire Brigade.

For a large city, Glasgow has a surprising number of parks and green spaces; there is more parkland here than in any other British city.

Other

Do

There are many nightclubs, concerts and festivals in Glasgow.

Music

Glasgow's been famous for its music scene(s) for at least 20 years, with some top acts literally queuing to play at venues such as the Barrowlands or King Tut's. There's plenty of venues where you're likely to see a good band (and lots of bad bands too); on any day of the week there should be at least several shows to choose from throughout the city, with the number increasing to an even greater variety on Thursday, Friday & Saturday. In no particular order, here follows some pop/indie/rock-orientated venues:

Arts and theatrical venues

Comedy

There are two main venues for stand-up comedy in Glasgow:

Although other pubs and clubs frequently hold comedy events: see the listings magazine The List for details.

Cinema

The most interesting films in Glasgow are shown at:

Football

Glasgow also has the 3 biggest football stadia in Scotland. The major events in the football season are the clashes between the two Premier League clubs; Celtic and Rangers. Known as the "Old Firm", with their sectarian undertones, these 90 minute matches produce a profound effect on the city, occasionally, but less frequently in recent times; resulting in violent clashes during or after the game. The Old Firm Derby is generally considered to be one of the best derby matches in the world, in terms of passion and atmosphere generated by both sets of fans, and is considered by many neutrals to be the most intense rivalry in all of Britain. The match itself is always highly anticipated and much talked about before and after. Cup (non-league) ties between these two giants are quite frequent, raising the tensions further. Be aware that getting tickets for "Old Firm" games can be difficult and cup ties near impossible. If you do go to one of these matches it is advised that you do not wear team colours (blue/red/white or orange for Rangers, green/white for Celtic) after the match.

Annual Events

Consult the listings magazine The List for further details.

Other

Learn

The University of Glasgow

Glasgow has three universities:

Work

Jobs in Glasgow can be found through the government-run JobCentres. Be aware that you will need a National Insurance number and, if you are not a citizen of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, the correct type of work visa to work legally in the UK. Your employer should require this to ensure you pay the correct rates of income tax. However if you ask around you'll find a lot of bars and nightclubs offer work cash-in-hand. Some of the many temp agencies in the city centre aren't too fussy about immigration niceties either. With the city's growing financial services industry, there are quite a lot of opportunities for office temps, though this has changed with the global economic downturn of the last few years.

Buy

Glasgow can be a surprisingly upmarket retail destination. The shopping is the some of the best in Scotland, and generally accepted as the number two shopping experience in Britain after London. Buchanan Street is the seventh most expensive place for retail space in the world, which means that there's an increasing number of designer clothes shops in areas like the Merchant City. Alongside this, the City Council is putting pressure on more traditional shopping centres like the Barras Market where you can get remarkably similar-looking clothes for a more sensible price.

The nucleus of Glasgow shopping is the so-called "Golden Z", made up of the continuous pedestrianised thoroughfares of Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street. Here, virtually all of the major British big name retailers are represented. Buchanan Street is the most upmarket of the three, with prestigious names such as House of Fraser, Apple Store and Zara and other specialised designer stores. Ingram Street in the Merchant City has seen a boom in recent years and attracts exclusive, premium brands like Bose, Bang and Olufsen, Ralph Lauren and so on.

Bath Street and Hope Street run parallel to the main pedestrianised streets, and if you want to get away from "chain store hell", they have a fine selection of more quirky, local independent retailers selling everything from fine art, Scottish clothing, antiques and specialist hi-fi.

There are larger shopping malls on the city outskirts at Braehead, Silverburn and Glasgow Fort.

Eat

The city has won the title "Curry Capital of Britain" two years running and has a huge and dynamic range of restaurants, Indian or otherwise. Despite Glasgow being the home town of culinary hero Gordon Ramsay, there are no Michelin-starred fine dining establishments in the city (Glasgow's sole Michelin starred restaurant, Amaryllis - owned by Ramsay himself - embarrassingly folded in 2004), nevertheless there are scores of highly regarded eateries in the city. The restaurants below are some of the culinary highlights of Glasgow.

Scottish/Local

Takeaway/Fish & Chips

Glasgow has taken many different cultural foods and combined them into a unique dining experience. Most takeaways offer Indian dishes (pakora), pizzas and kebabs as well as the more traditional fish and chips or burgers. This has resulted in some takeaways offering a blend of dishes like chips with curry sauce, the donner kebab pizza, the battered and deep fried pizza to name but a few.

Fish & Chips (aka "Fish Supper") is a perennial favourite, and there are a healthy number of fish and chip shops around the city. As mentioned above, many will also offer Asian or Italian dishes alongside the traditional chip shop fayre. Given the Glaswegian's famous fondness for anything deep fried - "bad" establishments don't usually last long. In the centre of town, four of the best "chippies" are:

On a side note, the now infamous deep fried Mars Bar - served up in many Glasgow chip shops - did not originate in the city, contrary to popular belief. It was in fact invented in Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire.

Chinese

European

Indian

Glasgow has, arguably, the finest Indian food in the United Kingdom, and indeed many Glaswegians now joke that the Indian Curry is their "national dish". Historically, the city's finest Indian restaurants have been clustered together in the Charing Cross area, just beyond the "main" section of Sauchiehall Street, but in recent years the Merchant City has seen a boom in new establishments. Take your pick from Panjea, The Wee Curry Shop, Mother India's Cafe and more. Glasgow's top Indian restaurants include:

Chicken Tikka Masala - A Glaswegian Invention?

The Shish Mahal is widely believed to have invented Chicken Tikka Masala, recently voted the UK's favourite Indian dish. According to one Glasgow MP, the Shish responded in the 1960s to complaints from Glaswegians that traditional Indian curries were too dry by soaking the chicken and spices in tomato soup, resulting in the first incarnation of the 'wet' style of curry commonly enjoyed today. This MP is now known to be seeking formal EU recognition that Chicken Tikka Masala is a unique Glaswegian creation, and that the Shish Mahal is the origin.

There are also literally hundreds of takeaway Indian restaurants around the city on nearly every main street, although the quality of these can be very variable. Some are excellent - comparable with anything you'd find in the city centre, whilst others can be rather poor. To be on the safe side, only go on local recommendation.

Italian

Fish

As befits a port town, Glasgow excels at seafood and fish.

Vegetarian and Vegan

Glasgow was named the UK's most vegan-friendly city by PETA in 2013.

International

Glasgow is a city of immigrants and has a thriving international food scene.

Also try Cafe Argan (Moroccan), Shallal (Lebanese), Koshkemeer (Kurdish), Alla Turca (Turkish), Ichiban (Japanese) and the numerous Thai, and Malaysian and Chinese restaurants, including the Thai Siam, the Rumours and others.

Drink

Pubs are arguably the meeting rooms of Scotland’s largest city, and many a lively discussion can be heard in a Glasgow bar. There is nothing Glaswegians love more than "putting the world right" over a pint (or three), whether it’s the Old Firm, religion, weather, politics or how this year’s holidays went. You are guaranteed a warm welcome from the locals, who will soon strike up a conversation.

There are three (or arguably, four) basic drinking areas: these are also good for restaurants. First, there is the West End (the area around Byres Road and Ashton Lane), second there is the stretch of Sauchiehall Street between the end of the pedestrianised area (near Queen Street Station) and Charing Cross (and the various streets off this area). Thirdly there is the Merchant City, which is near Strathclyde University's campus. This is the most 'upmarket' area to drink and eat in, although it still has numerous student dives: start at the University of Strathclyde and wander down towards the Trongate (the West part of this part of town is the gay area). Finally, and up and coming, is the South Side (i.e. South of the Clyde). This used to be very much 'behind the times' socially speaking, but the relocation of the BBC to the South Side and the whole area generally moving 'upmarket' has improved things greatly. Try the area round Shawlands Cross for restaurants, bars, and The Shed nightclub. There are also several hidden gems in and around the Blythswood Square area and the streets between Hope Street and Charing Cross: this being the city's business district however it can feel quite deserted on evenings and weekends.

Be warned though about dress codes, particularly in some of the more upmarket establishments in the city centre and West End: sportswear and trainers (sneakers) are often banned, and some door staff are notoriously "selective" about who is allowed. If confronted with this, go elsewhere. The general "boozer" type pubs have no dress codes, but football shirts are almost universally banned in all: particularly on weekends. One rule to be aware of is that some clubs and upmarket pubs enforce an unwritten policy of not allowing all-male groups of more than about four people. For this reason, it may be advisable to split into groups of two or three. Some pubs in Glasgow are also exclusively the haunt of Old Firm football fans: again, these will be very crowded on football days, can get very rowdy, and should be avoided. Fortunately they are easy to spot; for example, a large cluster of Celtic-oriented pubs exist in the Barrowlands area, while one or two bars on or near Paisley Road West are favourite haunts of Rangers fans.

The following is merely a selection of the many bars, pubs, wine bars and clubs throughout the city.

An increasingly popular pastime in the city is the 'Subcrawl', a pub crawl round Glasgow's underground system, getting off at each of the fifteen stops to go to the nearest pub for a drink. It is advisable to go with a local especially since in some parts on the south side the nearest pub to the underground station is not immediately obvious, but it is a good way to see the different neighbourhoods and pub cultures of the city.

Chain/Theme

Like any major British city, the central area of Glasgow has its fair share of chain and theme pubs, with establishments from the likes of Whitbread, Yates and of course the ubiquitous JD Wetherspoon:

Whisky

Glasgow has many options for whisky, though many may not be immediately be obvious for the passing tourist. Here are some good starting points:

Beers & Real Ale

Student

The city’s large student population means there are no shortage of student bars, with large concentrations around the Merchant City area (for nearby Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian universities, as well as several nearby colleges), and of course Byres Road and Ashton Lane in the West End for Glasgow University. Another cluster (near Glasgow School of Art) exists along the western reaches of Sauchiehall Street, just beyond the pedestrianised section. Some of the most popular student bars are:

Style

Bath Street has a constantly shifting array of "style bars", which become more numerous as you walk up towards the financial district on Blythswood Hill. The quality varies wildly depending on your taste and tolerance. Some of the best are:

Gastropubs

Apart from Stravaigin and Brel in the West End (see the Restaurant section above), there are a few gems in and around the city centre.

Culture and music

Traditional/Local

As the city centre and West End's bars become ever more sanitised, off-the-peg and tourist-oriented, finding a traditional “boozer” in Glasgow is getting harder. For the visitor who wants to make the effort, they can be great places to discover what many would call the “real” Glasgow, the Glasgow where Glaswegians hang out. The other advantage is that the cost of a drink is often a lot cheaper. Common sense should tell you which ones to try out, and which to avoid!

Vegetarian

Gay and lesbian

Glasgow has a lively scene which centres around the Merchant City area (the so-called "Pink Triangle" formed by Revolver, Bennets and the Polo Lounge). The city is gay-friendly, which is shown in the annual "Glasgay" celebrations in October .

Sleep

Sunset across the River Clyde viewed from Riverside Museum

Camping

Budget

Moderate

Splurge

Stay safe

Glasgow is like any other big city: it has safe areas and less safe areas, and the basic common sense rules apply. The centre of Glasgow is safe and you should not encounter any problems. All of the city centre and tourist areas are well policed. During the day, the City Centre also has many 'information officers' in red hats and jackets who should be able to assist you if needed. Despite what its local reputation may be, being a Western European city, Glasgow ranks among one of the safest cities in the world. Glasgow does indeed have some very dangerous areas - particularly in some northern and eastern suburbs - where drug related crime for instance is rife, but these are well away from the centre and you would be unlikely to venture into them unless you were making a conscious effort to do so.

Crime in the city centre is usually limited to drunken and rowdy behaviour late in the evenings - hotspots include the southern end of Hope Street next to Central Station, and under the 'Heilanman's Umbrella', the railway bridge over Argyle St adjacent to Central Station; and the western end of Sauchiehall St which have large concentrations of bars and nightclubs. There is usually a heavy police presence anyway in these areas on Friday and Saturday nights to defuse any problems. The West End fares better, but be aware that the back streets off Byres Road and around the University can quickly disorientate a stranger unfamiliar with the area in the hours of darkness.

Although you'll see it being worn everywhere by the locals, if you buy any piece of Celtic or Rangers-related clothing as a souvenir, be wary of wearing it in public as it can lead to confrontation - particularly in the evenings. Most bars and clubs in the centre of the city universally ban all football colours, regardless of team.

Whereas prostitution and other sex work is legal in Scotland, 'soliciting' (i.e. prostitutes soliciting for business in the street), 'kerb crawling' (that is 'punters' driving or walking around obviously looking for sex workers) are both illegal, so avoid driving or walking around obvious red light district. The main trouble spots in the city have historically been the Blythswood Hill and Anderston areas close to the M8 motorway - a busy office district by day, but usually otherwise deserted in the evenings and on weekends. 'Running a brothel' is also illegal, so 'massage parlours' and brothels can be and are 'busted' by the police. If you are in a brothel/'massage parlour' which is raided by the police you may be taken into custody and asked questions you don't want to answer.

For a list of police stations check the official webpage. In order to contact a local police station call 101. Police Scotland, the new Scotland-wide police force, has a "Travel Safe" guide.

Stay healthy

In a medical emergency, dial 999 or 112. These numbers are free of charge from any telephone. Scotland's National Health Service (NHS) will provide emergency treatment for anyone in Scotland, irrespective of whether they reside in Scotland or not.

For advice on non-emergency medical problems, you can ring the 24 hour NHS 24 service on 111 free of charge from landlines or mobiles.

If you should fall ill or have an accident, then the two closest hospitals to the centre of the city with an Accident & Emergency (A&E) department are as follows:

Connect

Phone

Glasgow's area code (for landline numbers) is 0141. When calling from outside the UK, drop the leading 0 and use the UK international dial code +44.

Internet

If you are travelling with a laptop then you will find broadband internet access in the rooms of most, but not all, medium to high end hotels. If this is important to you, check before booking.

There are also several places that offer web and other internet access if you are travelling without a laptop. These include:

Cope

Consulates and Deputy High Commissions

A few countries run consulates in Glasgow (Commonwealth countries call these Deputy High Commissions). Note that the services offered in Glasgow vary greatly and it would be best to phone the consulate (or embassy in London) before visiting. There are also several consulates in Edinburgh.

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