Travel Shorts: The Vibrant City of Glasgow

Glasgow, Unsplash
Glasgow is a dynamic, vibrant city in western Scotland. Artur Kraft/Unsplash Photo

Glasgow is a city that has been pushing its way up the tourism charts for some time. With new cultural attractions, fine hotels and welcoming, friendly locals, it’s a great jumping off point for visitors to Scotland.

WHAT TO DO

Take a Music Tour

Fiona Shepherd leads wonderful music tours of Glasgow, Scotland. Jim Byers Photo

This is a great way to learn about Glasgow’s great music culture. One great place we visited was City Halls and Old Fruitmarket, which has seen and heard musical performances from just about every type of genre. It’s a gorgeous interior space that was once, yes, a fruit market. There are wrought-iron railings, a vaulted ceiling, and spiral, metal staircases, as well as market signs. One of the bands that played here was called Johnny and the Self Abusers, which later morphed into Simple Minds.

The Brittania Panopticon is said to be the oldest original music hall in the world (1857). Stan Laurel made his standup comedy debut here. It’s seen better days, but I love its ramshackle, distressed atmosphere. If there’s a great act in town, check out the Barrowland Ballroom, where the likes of Blondie and The Clash have played.

Great Museums

The Burrell Collection in Pollok Country Park was recently refurbished and includes one of  Europe’s best collections of the works of Degas. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum features everything from Dutch masters to dinosaurs. The striking, highly Instagrammable Riverside Museum houses the city’s vast transport collection.

Other Tips

A former Victoria B.C. Tourism rep who now lives in Glasgow recommends a stroll through Kelvingrove Park, and also a visit to the cloisters at the University of Glasgow. 

WHERE TO STAY

The Kimpton Blythswood Square hotel in Glasgow, Scotland.

Top hotels in Glasgow include the Kimpton Blythswood Square, which has a nice spa, the historic Clayton Hotel Glasgow, and The Address Glasgow.

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

A fine afternoon tea dish at Glasgow's Mackintosh at the Willows. Jim Byers Photo

Mackintosh at the Willow is an old school tea place with a good story to tell. The Willow tea rooms were owned by Kate Cranston, a very well-known woman in Glasgow around the turn of the century. She took up many philanthropic causes; hiring women, homeless people and ex-prisoners to work at her shop, one of the few businesses owned by woman in a male-dominated world. I enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea in the Salon de Luxe; oat cakes with pate and salmon, savoury sausage rolls and fine desserts.

Try a dinner at Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery, which dates to 1870. It’s a bit dark but cozy. They do a very good venison with raspberry jus, as well as scallops with a peppery sauce.

The Kelvingrove Cafe is a fine pub/restaurant in the lively Finnieston area.

WHERE TO WANDER

You can catch a one-hour ferry to the Isle of Arran in Ardrossan which is only 60 minutes or so from Glasgow. Arran is like a microcosm of all the things visitors love about Scotland, featuring lovely golf courses, a fine castle, a wonderful distillery, seaside villages, great hiking and fine hotels, including Auchrannie Resort.

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