The name Glasgow is said to derive from Gaelic for “dear green place” … perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when we talk of a city famous for its locomotive and shipbuilding industries, and which still seems perversely proud of its somewhat gritty, working-class reputation.
Yet Glasgow claims more green space per capita than any other city in Europe, and in the past 25 years has grown enormously in attractiveness to locals and visitors. Glasgow is home to some of the world’s friendliest and funniest people, and I’ve been visiting since 1990, the year it was named European Capital of Culture.
But a recent short-break was the first opportunity I’ve had to really experience it as a tourist – to take the red double decker Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, stay in a hotel and plan a site-seeing itinerary.
Apparently Aussies are Glasgow’s fourth largest visitor group, and I can understand why … apart from its history, architecture, museums and galleries, shopping and Bohemian West End, it’s the perfect starting point for a tour of Scotland’s stunning scenery (you can be on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond in just 30 minutes).
Here are a few of my favourite things in this dear green place.
Where better to stay in Britain than a castle? And this red sandstone baronial home on the quieter south side of the city – with turrets, sweeping central staircase, gorgeous lead lights and beautiful garden – ticks all the boxes, including the best kippers for breakfast! Book a turret room for extra atmosphere.
This wonderfully quirky venue down a cobbled West End mews, has been serving superb Scottish produce since 1971 (when most of it was still being exported). With friendly service, a great wine and whisky list and an enchanting jumble of spaces to eat and drink, ‘The Chip’ is a must-do Glasgow experience.
Coffee is one of my greatest travelling dilemmas. So I was delighted to stumble across this cosy café-bakery, downstairs in an inner city back lane, serving excellent coffee. Mouth-watering doesn’t begin to describe their huge array of cakes and slices – and breakfasts, salads and sandwiches look pretty appealing too!
The Pot Still
With over 300 whiskies on offer, this antique watering-hole sees locals and visitors side by side at the long wooden bar. The largest collection of single malts from all over Scotland, plus blends and whiskies from around the globe, means even die-hard whisky-heads will find something they’ve never tried before.
Museums in this egalitarian city are all free of charge, with something for every age and taste, including locomotives and other transportation at the interactive Riverside Museum, social history at the People’s Palace, Kelvingrove Art Gallery’s impressive collection and the Charles Rennie Macintosh-designed Scotland Street School.
For more information see People Make Glasgow.
Emirates fly one-stop direct to Glasgow via Dubai.
* Roberta Muir runs the Sydney Seafood School at the Sydney Fish Market and publishes the website Food Wine Travel, where she shares her favourite food, wine and travel discoveries. You can sign up here to receive her regular email of her top 5 favourite things.
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