Planning a solo trip to Glasgow? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The largest city in Scotland, Glasgow has a population of ~1.7 million (metro area).
- Situated on the River Clyde, the city has a long history as a commercial port city.
- Known for shipbuilding, football, music, and museums.
- Nicknames: Dear Green Place, Glesga.
- Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP).
- Spoken languages: English. A small proportion of the population may speak Gaelic, and you may signage in both languages.
- Best time to visit: from March to August, when the days are longer and the weather is warmer.
- Arriving from the airport: bus for £1.50, the First 747 (£4 single, £5 return), by train will cost £5.00 single, £7.00 day return, £7.50 open return.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers: Glasgow Youth Hostel. Located in a quiet and safe area (short walk to the city), clean rooms/beds, and friendly staff. As good as hostels get in Glasgow!
- The City Centre or the West End are the best areas to be based.
- Camping in Craigendmuir Caravan Park, located about 5 miles north of the city, costs £12.50/night for two sharing a tent.
- The city has two main line railway stations (Queen Street Station and Glasgow Central station) connecting the city to the rest of Scotland and the UK.
- Glasgow transport is primarily provided by the First Glasgow company. The prices are from £4.50/day (the city zone) to £5.50/day (the entire First Glasgow network). A weekly ticket is £14.50, or £12.50 for students.
- The Glasgow Subway connects the city centre with South Side and West End neighborhoods. The subway is simple, consisting of a single circular line. It runs every 4-8 minutes from 6:30 AM. to 11:15 PM. Single rides are £1.40, while a day pass is £3.80.
- Glasgow taxis can be reached at +44 141 429 7070. A ride from the city center to West End is around £5 – £6 (average fare to the suburbs is £10 – £12).
- Drinking age is 18.
- Nightlife in the city centre is primarily concentrated around Sauchiehall Street and Bath Street, with a large number of clubs and bars, catering for all tastes.
- The West End, and particularly Ashton Lane and Great Western Road, is a particularly popular area with students from the nearby University of Glasgow, as well as the young professional crowd, and has a number of unique and interesting bars.
- The Merchant City caters for more expensive tastes and here you can find a number of upmarket restaurants, bars and casinos, especially in Royal Exchange Square.
- Great cocktail bars: The Spiritualist ($$$), Tiki Bar & Kitsch Inn ($$), Blue Dog ($$$), Gin71 ($$$).
- For the classic pub experience: The Toby Jug ($), The Alpen Lodge ($$). Day drinking? McChuills or Malones Irish Bar.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Glasgow Cathedral, a stunning example of gothic architecture dating from medieval times.
- The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a must-see, with over 8000 objects and a variety of themed exhibits. Here you will find the original Salvador Dali piece Christ of St John of the Cross, which the museum owns. Entrance is free.
- The Glasgow Cross marks the original medieval centre of the city, dominated by the clock tower of the original City Chambers.
- Glasgow University is the fourth oldest in the UK. Free to enter. You may recognize the interior as of one of the central filming locations of the Harry Potter movies.
- Other notable museums include: Riverside Museum, Sharmanka, and Glasgow Police Museum.
- Visit the Glengoyne Distillery (a 30 minute drive from Glasgow), and take the tour for £18. Afterwards, go salmon spotting by taking a stroll around the nearby village.
- Walk along the riverside and visit the most popular attractions of the River Clyde: Winter Gardens and People’s Palace, the Titan Crane, Castle and Dumbarton rock.
- Spend a few hours strolling through Glasgow’s parks. Particularly Kelvingrove Park, which is extremely pleasant on a summers day. Make sure you walk down the nearby Kelvin Way, a beautiful tree-lined street and a good photo opportunity. Some other notable parks are Glasgow Green in the East End, Queen’s Park, in the South side, and Victoria Park in the West End.
- Day trip idea: visit the village of Luss (30 miles from Glasgow). Check out the pebble beach, right on the banks of Loch Lomond.
- All of Glasgow’s museums are free, although a small donation is recommended.
- The red concrete of George Square is coloured this way as a memorial to Glasgow’s proud socialist past.
- Local legend says that the Kevingrove Art Gallery was accidentally built backward, with the grand front entrance facing the park as opposed to the main street. See what you think when you visit!
- Great restaurants to try: Gamba ($$$ – seafood), Crabshakk ($$ – seafood), Rafa’s (the only good Mexican option), Ka Ka Lok ($$ – Chinese), Suissi Vegan Kitchen (Chinese), Antipasti ($$ – Italian), The Duke’s Umbrella (unique take on pub food – with vegan options), Brett (wine bar with food).
- Where to find good cheap eats: head to Falafel To Go (Sauchiehall), Shawarma King (King Street), or check out one of the Bread Meats Bread locations (sandwiches). Glasgow’s Star Bar offers lunches for 4 GBP. You can also try your luck at the Stalks & Stems fresh food market (tip: get the samosas!)
- Dangerous areas: despite its reputation, Glasgow City Centre is very safe and well policed. Exercise caution at night and avoid the inner city suburbs. If you encounter problems, dial 112 or 999 for emergency services.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days