A Backpacking Trip to Glasgow
Glasgow can definitely be called a sort of green mini-London. Located in the British Isles, too, it’s also the largest city in Scotland. Although Scotland’s capital city is Edinburgh, you will experience more of a big city atmosphere in Glasgow. That’s why it’s not surprising that many tourists choose to explore Glasgow. We hope this article will make you want to visit Glasgow too!
The City of Glasgow
With around 635,000 inhabitants, Glasgow is the third-largest city in the United Kingdom, right after London and Birmingham. The River Clyde flows through the entire city. The climate is mild – it doesn’t get too hot in the summer, nor does it get too cold in the winter – typical for Britain!
The city has been developed and modernized a lot this past decade, which is why it earned a spot among the European Capitals of Culture. Although the city has a lot to offer and excels in architecture, art lovers will also be impressed and inspired by the many sights found around the city. We recommend visiting Glasgow even more if you enjoyed London or other British cities and the Scottish flair appeals to you. You will most likely need to get to Glasgow by plane, although it is possible to get there by bus or by train as well.
We recommend you take a bus to and from the city. On the way back, you will get a chance to let Glasgow work its magic one last time. The bus trip will be a great occasion to let all the memories of your time in Glasgow wash over you as the city and places you visited flow by once again.
But before that, let’s go over the best things to see in Glasgow.
The Top Sights in Glasgow
There are so many places to explore in Glasgow, so here’s a list of our top things to see. We will also explain why we call Glasgow “the green London” which sights are particularly worthwhile. Of course, you’ll also get some insider tips along the way. We hope this article will get you excited to travel and in the mood to start packing already!
Glasgow Central Station
We recommend traveling through the city by subway. The Glasgow subway system is the fourth oldest in the world and, thus, well-developed. That’s why the first thing to see on our list is the Glasgow Central Station – as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside.
Located under the Central Hotel, the Gordon Street entrance is worth seeing and remarkable for its Queen Anne style. Once inside the station hall, you will see a beautiful Edwardian-style ticket office. You will also find other small stores in the building. There, you’ll be able to take care of all your transportation needs for the rest of your adventure through the city.
Simply find the information booth in the middle of the station hall to get all relevant information as well as which ticket option works best for you, depending on the length of your stay.
St Mungo’s Cathedral in Glasgow
St Mungo’s Cathedral takes its name from Glasgow’s patron saint, whose tomb can be found in the cathedral’s crypt. This impressive building only bears the name of cathedral as an honorary title, as it hasn’t been the seat of any bishops for more than 300 years.
In any case, the cathedral is worth visiting, as it is imposing from the outside and impressive from the inside. Due to the specific layout of the building, the light gracefully reflects all around and adds to the magnificence of the building.
Nearby, on a large hill east of St Mungo’s Cathedral, you will find the Glasgow Necropolis. It’s nearly impossible to miss, as you can see it from far away. Here, imposing statues, columns and monoliths tower over the city. It’s usually better to visit it during the daytime as you can see more of the graves and the church, but it’s also nice later in the evening to see the church lit up from the outside.
Òran Mòr is a church that has been converted into a modern and hip pub, offering amazing food and affordable drinks. Take this chance to order a real Scotch whiskey. By the way, in Gaelic, Òran Mòr means “great melody of life”. You’ll also get to enjoy live music there, as live bands perform often.
Like every Glasgow attraction, you can get there by subway. Simply get off at Vinicombe Street and enjoy your evening at this atmospheric pub.
Not only is the River Clyde beautiful to look at, but it’s also a great tour guide: walk along the river, and you’ll come across Kelvingrove Park. You can also take a small detour and visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. If you want to move along the river faster, you can easily rent a bike as well.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a very famous art museum, where you will find one of the largest art collections in Europe. This makes for a great cultural experience, although the building itself is also a sight to see.
As is typical in Glasgow, this imposing building is made from red sandstone. While the Spanish Baroque style is already impressive from the outside, it’s even more enjoyable from the inside. Bright chandeliers and high windows create particular lighting and an exceptional atmosphere.
Of course, we can’t forget about Glasgow Green, the oldest park in the city. Here, you will find the McLennan Arch, an archway marking the northwest entrance to the park, a statue commemorating James Watt, the Doulton Fountain, as well as the Nelson Monument. This tall obelisk is a tribute to Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson. If you want to know all about Nelson, take a stroll through the park and read the inscription plate under the monument.
The People’s Palace
In Glasgow Green, you will find another wonderful attraction: the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, a museum with an attached glasshouse. The building is even more beautiful than the London People’s Palace, which it was modeled after.
First designed as a social meeting point and art gallery, the People’s Palace is now an exhibition venue to display the history of the Glasgow population. The building itself has been a Scottish national monument since 1970. Both the building and the surrounding park are beautiful and offer a place of calm in the middle of the Scottish metropolis.
Our Insider Tips
Of course, as backpackers, we still have some insider tips in store for you. Because we’ve already been to Glasgow ourselves, we came across some interesting places off the beaten path and made discoveries of our own.
That’s why we have a few more tips for you if you still have time to enjoy another cultural event, do more sightseeing, or if you’re looking to get out of the city for a day trip.
Saint Luke’s & The Winged Ox
If you’re looking to experience another cultural highlight, swing by Saint Luke’s and the Winged Ox. Not only is it a beautiful church building, but it’s also a place that offers cultural and culinary experiences. You’ll get to enjoy various interesting events, from comedy to music and theater.
The atmosphere under the church vault is quite mystical, and we know from personal experience that enjoying a concert inside the old Victorian walls is something you’ll never forget.
You’ll also get a similar vibe in the pub right next door. Enjoy a drink after the show at The Winged Ox. With its old stone walls and dripping wax candles, it will be an experience you won’t forget anytime soon!
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
The Glasgow Botanic Gardens are located slightly outside the city center, but are still easily accessible by subway or bus. The gardens are well worth it, even if you’re not a plant or garden lover.
After a relaxing stroll through the park, you’ll get to enjoy a warm drink in the peaceful silence of the tearoom. This experience is perfect for any backpacker looking for calm, or simply for anyone who wants to take a walk in paradise.
Finally, we recommend you visit Bishopbriggs. There, you’ll get to go on a magnificent stroll where you’ll meet various fairy tale characters like the big bad wolf creeping on little red riding hood, Joseph Jacob’s three little pigs building their houses, or even a dragon in a deep slumber.
The Crow Tavern is a traditional pub as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside, and you’ll notice it right away if you arrive at Bishopbriggs by bus. It’s not too far from the Bishopbriggs train station either.
Although Glasgow is far from being the most famous city among European destinations, it’s truly a hidden gem. There’s a lot to experience, from culture to ambiance, and because of its many green spots and the River Clyde, Glasgow is a real treat to enjoy.
From its buildings to the general feel of the city and its history, everything about this city is reminiscent of London – especially the typical red sandstone houses. The many rustic pubs are also on par with the ones in London, and the imposing churches and cathedrals will make for some great photos to add to your collection.
In short, Glasgow can be called a green London, and is a British city that stays true to its Scottish roots and has its share of sights to enjoy. We don’t want to keep you from packing any longer, have a great trip to Glasgow!