Glasgow regularly appears among the top 10 "must-visit" tourist destinations and with good reason: Scotland's largest city has plenty to offer and will put a smile on everyone's face.
The summer months can be a particularly inviting time to visit; perfect for exploring beautiful open spaces like Kelvingrove Park and the Botanic Gardens.
Catch a show at the Armadillo or walk across the Squiggly Bridge; everything seems to have an alternative local name in Glasgow, including the iconic Sir Norman Foster-designed Clyde Auditorium (the former) and the Tradeston Pedestrian Bridge (the latter).
Glasgow is a great choice for couples, families, and everyone in between thanks to its dozens of don't-miss events and attractions.
Glasgow is second only to London for shopping in the UK. The famous 'Style Mile' around Merchant City, Argyle Street, and Buchanan Street has all your favorite high street and designer brands while the West End is a treasure trove of quirky boutiques and one-of-a-kind outlets.
The former European City of Culture is home to a host of notable galleries and museums such as Trongate 103, the Gallery of Modern Art, and the world-famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. If you like to wander off the beaten track, try independent galleries like The Hidden Lane Gallery, Compass Gallery, and Merchant Gate Gallery, or take a leisurely stroll along the City Centre Mural Trail and Public Art Trail.
Glasgow was the UK City of Architecture and Design in 1999 and modern structures complement medieval and Victorian buildings in the city center. The icing on the cake is the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and some of the best examples are the Glasgow School of Art, the Willow Tearooms, and the Lighthouse.
There are around 130 music events each week ranging from classical, jazz, Celtic, and opera at the Royal Concert Hall and the Old Fruitmarket to top bands at the O2 Academy and the SSE Hydro. Catch new rock acts at Nice'N'Sleazy and King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, or see leading DJs at famous Glasgow clubs like the Arches, the Tunnel, and the Sub Club.
Pacific Quay on the River Clyde is home to Glasgow Science Centre, three floors of fascinating interactive exhibits that will keep children busy all day. Fantastic street scene replicas offer kids a unique look at the past within the Riverside Museum or, step outside and climb aboard the Tall Ship where costumed guides will show you the way to the mini maritime cinema, the cargo hold play area, and the mouse hunt.
Peak season from June to August is considered the best time to visit Glasgow. The Christmas and New Year period is also busy and visitors come for Christmas shopping sprees and seasonal events like the Glasgow Santa Dash and the New Year celebrations. Plan a stay in spring (March to May) or fall (September to October) and you'll be rewarded with low season rates and fewer crowds.
Many tourists fly to Glasgow Airport (GLA), which is eight miles from the city center. You can take the First Airport Express (500) bus from Stance 1 to the city center and a single ticket is £7.50. Glasgow Airport is the only Scottish airport with direct motorway access so it's an easy 10-minute drive along the M8 if you're renting a car.
If you travel by rail, you'll arrive at either Glasgow Central or Queen Street Station. Both stations are in the city center and well connected to the rest of the city by bus and underground.
The M6 motorway runs from southern and western England to the Scottish border where you can connect with the M74 for Glasgow. From the east coast of England, follow the A1 (M) or take the M90 or A9 if you're driving from the north or northeast of Scotland.
Bus is an affordable alternative to plane or rail travel and Megabus, Scottish Citylink, and National Express all run regular services from various UK cities. Buses arrive at Buchanan Street Bus Station in the heart of the city.
Try a luxury boutique hotel like Malmaison or splash out on a stay at Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens, an exclusive hotel that is popular with visiting stars and celebrities. Other upmarket hotels include Hilton, Radisson Blu, Marriott, and the Grand Central Hotel while Ibis, Jurys Inn and the Victorian House are good mid-range options. Those on a budget might choose hostel accommodation like EuroHostel or Blue Sky or a bed and breakfast hotel like 1883 or Amadeus. Accommodation ranges from £150 per night in luxury hotels to £45 for mid-range chains.
City Center - the heart of the city lies north of the River Clyde and encompasses George Square and the Style Mile. Highlights include the Tron Theatre, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), and the world's tallest cinema, the 18-screen Cineworld on Renfrew Street.
Merchant City - home to many of the city's wealth traders in the 18th century, the district is defined by landmarks like the Tolbooth Steeple and Glasgow Cathedral.
The West End - an area of peaceful green spaces and popular bars and restaurants. Notable sights include Kelvingrove Park, the Botanic Gardens, and the SECC, Scotland's largest exhibition center.
The East End - stretching from Glasgow Cross to Lanarkshire and one of the only areas where you can still see original sandstone tenement buildings. Visit the famous Barrowland market, known locally as 'the barras' or see Celtic Park, home to one of the city's well-known soccer teams.
Glasgow has an extensive public transport network; the Glasgow subway system covers the city center and is the only fully underground service in the UK. The city also has the largest suburban rail network in the country after London and buses can take you to any area until late in the evening. Tourists are best served by the SPT ZoneCard, which can be used on buses, suburban trains, and the underground. Prices start at £18.50 for two zones for one week and depend on the number of zones covered and length of time.
Traditional black taxis can be hailed from the roadside if the yellow 'taxi' sign is illuminated. The city's fleet is run by Glasgow Taxis and there are taxi ranks at George Square as well as outside rail and bus stations. A trip to the West End from the city center should cost £5-6 while a trip to a suburban destination is £10-12. Minicab offices can be found on most main streets and cars can also be booked in advance by telephone.
A vehicle of your own is a real advantage, particularly if you'd like to visit Edinburgh or nearby beauty spots like the Trossachs and Loch Lomond. All the major car rental companies have outlets at the airport and in the city and prices start at around £10 per day. Metered parking spaces are available on many streets and city center car parks can be found at Concert Square, Mitchell Street, and Cambridge Street.
To say you'll be spoiled for choice in Glasgow's famous Style Mile is an understatement. As well as upscale brands like Hobbs, Fat Buddha, Thomas Pink, Monsoon, and Coast, style-conscious shoppers can explore unique outlets like Wish Boutique or leading department stores like Fraser's in Buchanan Street. Head to the West End for vintage boutiques like Retro or Vintage Guru, or pop into West End institution Charles Clinkard where stylish Glaswegians have been buying shoes for over 90 years. Be sure to spend some time at the city's famous Barrowland market where traders sell everything from art and antiques to clothing and electronics.
Supermarket chains like Morrison's, Sainsbury's, and Tesco are well represented and you can expect to pay £0.98 for a quart of full milk or £2.70 for a dozen large eggs. Visit West End delicatessens like Delizique, Bernard Corrigan, and George Mewes for quality fresh produce and pick up toiletries and cosmetics in pharmacy chains like Boots and Superdrug.
Contrary to popular belief, you're unlikely to find deep-fried Mars bars in the city's famous chip shops. However, the Ubiquitous Chip in Kelvinside serves excellent fries and dishes with a traditional slant. Their signature starter of venison haggis with champit tatties and their oatmeal ice cream are delicious. Seafood fans should make a reservation at the Finnieston on Argyle Street where West Kilbride oysters and blue shell Shetland mussels are often on the menu. There are also excellent curry houses all over the city. Splash out at Koolba or tuck into chicken tikka masala at Asmaan. Dinner for two can range from £20 in moderately priced restaurants to £80 in the city's finest establishments.