Go to Glasgow
Glasgow is a prosperous, charming and gritty historical post-industrial city with a vibrant arts, music and foodie scene that has made it one of Scotland's favourite destinations. In the nineteenth century it was one of the world's most famous shipbuilding centres. Today, Glasgow has the largest economy in Scotland and while shipbuilding remains important, this prosperous city is home to multiple industries including global financial and business services, communications, biosciences, creative arts, healthcare, higher education, retail and tourism.
After spending two days taking in the attractions, I wished I had more time and hope to return.
The city itself is a combination of beautiful architecture, exceptional shops, restaurants and pubs, a buzzing business class, a large university population and a lively arts and culture scene. You'll be charmed by the city's beautifully maintained, historic sandstone buildings that blend in seamlessly with an array of modern architecture. The West End of the city is a hotspot with its quirky outlets, bohemian shops and outdoor cafes.
As an international city, Glasgow is a foodie's paradise and there are multiple options and themes for every price range. Pubs serve local cuisine with a flair. My favourite meal was at the family owned Cathedral House Hotel's Green Room cafe-bar. They serve locally sourced produce, seafood and meats as part of their seasonal menus along with a fine selection of locally-brewed craft beers and a nice wine selection. The cod and mussel stew in a tomato and chorizo sauce was to die for, as was the date sponge with salted and vanilla ice cream.
I stayed at the ibis Styles West Hotel conveniently located in the heart of the city. The airport shuttle drops you just a block from the hotel. Ibis is a contemporary, modern and comfortable spot with WiFi and other standard amenities. It has a great bar/restaurant in the lobby that serves an exceptional European-style breakfast buffet. The hotel theme, in the lobby and rooms, is adorned with names of musical greats who've rocked the city, including Franz Ferdinand, Texas, Travis, Belle and Sebastian and Primal Scream. This place is a great spot as a home base for your stay.
Glasgow is an easy city to find your way around. Built on a grid system, it's easy to navigate, either on foot or public transport. There is a three-hour walking tour which starts at the Sir Walter Scott Monument in the centre of George Square. You'll stop at the main sites of the city and will learn about its history and culture. The tour allows you to see the growth of Glasgow, from where it began to where it is now and how the vibrant culture in the city today was born through its rich history. Glasgow offers free entrance for most of its museums. There is so much to see and do in Glasgow but here are a few recommended stops:
Glasgow's world famous Barras Market. Is home to BAaD (Barras Art and Design) a gritty vibrant and creative urban space home to various local artists, a weekend craft market and some great restaurants.
The City Chambers were opened by Queen Victoria in 1888 as the home for the local government. This iconic and stunning building in George Square is one of the most beautiful in Scotland and remains the seat of the city council.
The University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world, and it will take you at least a half day to explore the Neo-Gothic buildings and other campus attractions including the Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery and the Mackintosh House.
The Riverside Museum is a spectacular waterfront landmark that showcases displays Glasgow's rich industrial heritage and its relationship with the River Clyde. There is Tall Ship berthed alongside the museum that brings home the historical context of Glasgow and its relation to the sea.
The Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery is free and is rated the top art museum by visitors in the UK. It has 22 themed, state-of-the-art galleries displaying over astonishing 8,000 objects. You can easily spend a half of a day here and still want to go back.
Glasgow City Council has developed the Glasgow walking app which you can easily download to learn about the history of the city as you trek. There is a circular subway route around the central area of the city, which costs 1.60 GBP for a single ticket, 3 GBP for a return ticket, or 4 GBP for an all-day ticket. Bike rentals are also easily available. It is also worth taking the 90-minute City Sightseeing Bus Tour as you can hop-on and -off as often as you like at any of the stops on the route.
PHOTOS: COURTESY GLASGOW LIFE