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Glasgow, Scotland. It began as an industrial city on the River Clyde and transitioned into the cultural center of Scotland. While Edinburgh is the country’s capital, Glasgow is known for its Victorian and art nouveau architecture, and a rich legacy due to trade and shipbuilding.
Glasgow is home to the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and National Theatre of Scotland. Additionally the grand old city boasts acclaimed museums and a thriving music industry.
While Edinburgh feels like home to me, I’d consider Glasgow the high energy weekend getaway city. Glasgow possesses a larger nightlife, with more night clubs, bars and pubs.
When planning a trip to Scotland, check out this exciting city and these top ten places to visit in Glasgow.
A Few Things to Know Before You Go
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the fourth largest in the UK. The people of Glasgow are Glaswegians. And don’t get off on the wrong foot by mispronouncing the city’s name. Glasgow is pronounced glaz – go. The word means “green hollow”.
Glasgow is a big sports city, with two major league football (soccer) clubs and a rugby club.
Add these top ten places to visit in Glasgow to your list of must see sites.
This 12th century cathedral is also called St. Mungo Cathedral and the High Kirk (church) of Glasgow. It is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow.
The cathedral has never been unroofed and the medieval structure has continuously offered services within its walls for more than 800 years. The cathedral contains the finest collection of stained glass windows in Britain.
Beneath the cathedral lies the crypt, which predates the structure above it. The crypt houses the tomb of Saint Mungo, buried there in the 7th century.
Near the Cathedral is the Necropolis, a gothic Victorian cemetery that covers 37 acres. It is nicknamed the “city of the dead”. More than 50,000 Glaswegians are buried here, in the cemetery based on the famous Paris Pere Lachaise cemetery.
Burials began in 1832. There are 3,500 memorial stones and structures in the cemetery and also sculptures and buildings. It is an atmospheric place to walk among the monuments, with beautiful views of the Cathedral and the city.
This square lies at the heart of the city. It features 12 statues of famous people associated with Glasgow, including Robbie Burns, Walter Scott and Queen Victoria. Town Hall dominates the east end of the square, with it 230 foot tower.
Just south of George Square lies the merchant district, a trendy area offering a host of unique cafes, restaurants and boutique shops.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
In Glasgow’s West End lies a neighborhood of cafes, restaurants, high end shops, beautiful hotels…and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Since its opening in 1901, Kelvingrove offers fine collections of paintings including Van Gogh’s portrait of Glaswegian art collector Alexander Reid.
Other exhibits include Scottish archeological finds such as Bronze Age tools and jewelry, weapons from the 15th and 16th centuries and Flemish tapestries.
Glasgow Science Centre
The Science Centre, located near the Riverside Museum, is a popular place for families to gather. This hands-on centre, housed in a modern looking titanium clad structure, contains many exhibits and stations where kids…and adults…can learn.
The Science Centre also offers a planetarium, Imax theater and a science theater, where talks and lectures are regularly presented. And finally, check out the Glasgow Tower, the tallest freely rotating tower in the world.
Riverside Museum and Tall Ship
This award winning museum includes exhibits from the city’s former Transport Museum. Exhibits include model ships, trams, locomotives, vintage cars and horse drawn carriages, most of which were Glasgow built.
The Tall Ship, docked outside, gives visitors a chance to explore the Glenlee, a restored three mast ship, also built in Glasgow.
Buchanan Street is one of the main shopping thoroughfares in Glasgow. It forms the core of Glasgow’s famous shopping district with its upscale shops. Buchanan Galleries, what we in the US would call a mall, houses 80 retail stores. There are also many cafes and restaurants available along Buchanan Street, when shoppers need a break.
The street is named after a famous Glaswegian merchant, Andrew Buchanan, a successful tobacco plantation owner.
Kibble Palace and Glasgow Botanical Gardens
Kibble Palace, built in 1873, is one of the largest glasshouses in the UK. It houses rare orchids, tree ferns from Australia and New Zealand, and plants from Africa, the Americas and the Far East.
The glass palace is part of the Glasgow Botanical Gardens, where visitors explore extensive grounds and greenhouses and appreciate Victorian sculptures. There is also a garden tearoom to enjoy.
Gallery of Modern Art
Also called GoMA, this Romanesque building offers a changing roster of exhibits featuring local and international artists. Workshops and lectures take place here too.
Look for a traffic cone on the head of the equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington in front of the gallery. It’s a playfully irreverent Glaswegian attitude on display. Local authorities don’t even attempt to remove the cone anymore.
Glasgow Green and the People’s Palace
Established in 1662, Glasgow Green is the oldest park in the city. It’s an easy walk to the park, from George Square.
One of the park’s main attractions is the People’s Palace, a museum built in 1898 that tells Glasgow’s story, from 1750 to the 20th century.
In the Winter Garden, a large conservatory located at the back of the palace, find a collection of tropical and subtropical plants. And the Doulton Fountain is the world’s largest terracotta fountain. Built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the fountain is 46 feet high and 70 feet across.
I love the lively spirit that pervades Glasgow. The people are friendly and very willing to talk about their love for their city. Although I didn’t make it to Glasgow on my most recent trip to Scotland, I’ve visited the city twice. As with Edinburgh, there is always more that I want to do and see when I visit. That just means I need to make more trips to Scotland!
One last bonus attraction awaits, for lovers of the British television series Doctor Who. If you are a fan, this spot, located near the Glasgow Cathedral, needs no explanation. I’ve taken a photo here twice. My last visit is documented below.
Which of these top ten places to visit in Glasgow are on your travel list? Or if you’ve visited this magical city, which ones did you see?
Fun Glasgow Finds from Amazon:
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