For the best information on arranging a weekend in Glasgow, who better to ask than a born and bred Glaswegian? This article was written by Ross Fraser, who runs his own travel blog about his experiences travelling and exploring Europe, EuropeTraveler. He now lives in Edinburgh but grew up in Glasgow.
A Weekend Break in Glasgow
Coming from Glasgow, I am slightly biased about the city. In fact, I would go as far as to say I love it. I live in Edinburgh now and often find myself pining for Glasgow at the weekend, there is just something about the city that anyone from Glasgow will tell you, you can’t find in any other city in the world. I can’t quite pinpoint it, but if you do visit if for a weekend break you will see what I mean.
For most tourists, I guess it is normal to immediately think of Edinburgh as the place to visit when you come to Scotland, it is our capital city after all, and with architecture and history that will take your breath away, I can see why! In actual fact, letting you into a secret, you really want to go to Glasgow or be greedy and visit both. But travelling can become expensive, so this is my insider’s guide to visiting Glasgow on the cheap.
An Insider’s Guide to Glasgow on the Cheap
Weekend Accommodation in Glasgow
Accommodation – Glasgow is fast becoming the business centre of Scotland and with this brings demand for cheap accommodation. You don’t need to stay in youth hostels to get a cheap night’s sleep, there are plenty of great value hotel chains right in the heart of the city. Premier Inn, Travel Lodge and Ibis all operate in the city centre and offer great value hotel rooms close to everything you need. If there are more than two of you and you want to keep accommodation costs at an absolute minimum, then Euro hostel, which is by the riverside, offers clean low cost accommodation two minutes walk from Central Station.
Weekend Travel in Glasgow
– Glasgow has a very efficient public transport system. The cheapest way to get around the city is by bus. An all day bus ticket for First Bus costs around £3.50 and will take you to all parts of the city. Buses are frequent and quick (although it’s worth noting that there is more than one bus company and tickets are not interchangeable)
Underground – The city also has an underground system, which will take you to some parts of Glasgow. It is ideal for taking you quickly to the west end and the start of the south side of Glasgow. Again you can buy a low cost all day ticket for this which is under £3.00
Train – There is also a good rail network that will take you to most suburban areas of Glasgow (It is worth noting that the train is more expensive than the bus, and the bus will take you to everywhere the train does). If you are coming on a day trip from Edinburgh and there are more than 4 of you, make sure you ask for a ‘group ticket’. You cannot buy this at the ticket machines in the train station, however it gives you 4 tickets for the prices of 2 on the Glasgow – Edinburgh line, which is quite a big saving.
Walking – One of the best ways to see Glasgow though is to use your feet. There are some parts that are quite hilly, but overall it is easy to walk around and the city centre is built in a grid of streets so you will struggle to get lost.
Weekend Things To Do in Glasgow
Weekend Museums in Glasgow
Unlike many major cities, all the council run museums and galleries are free to enter in Glasgow. Glasgow has a huge number of free places to visit and you can easily spend a weekend going around them alone. Tourist hot spots include – The Gallery of Modern Art, Kelvingrove, Scotland Street School and the Burrell Collection, but there are many, many more. Find a full list here.
Weekend Theatre in Glasgow
Glasgow also has a good theatre scene, with shows on most nights at the Theatre Royal, Citizens theatre, Tron Theare and Kings theatre. The best way to find out whats on when is to buy yourself a copy of The List magazine, which includes everything that is on in Glasgow and Edinburgh. You can buy it in most newsagents and it costs around £2.00. The Theatre Royal normally offers heavily discounted tickets if you show up at the box office prior to the start of a show, so it is worth chancing it.
Architecture in Glasgow
One of the great things about Glasgow is the architecture. Really it is a stunning city, built on the profits of previous, extremely wealthy generations. One of the best things to do in Glasgow is to walk around and look up and you will see some of the best examples of Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian architecture the country has to offer.
Most people visit the city to see the Charles Rennie Mackintosh architecture. Some of his most famous building are also free to enter as well, such as The Lighthouse, The Art School and The Huntarien. There are a number of others than you can pay to enter if you want a Mackintosh overload.
Parks in Glasgow
If you have picked a nice weekend to come, then either head along to the Botanical Gardens or Kelvingrove Park, (both of which are in the west end.) Other parks include Glasgow Green in the east end, near the People’s Palace (another free gallery), and Queen’s park on the south side.
September in Glasgow
If you are coming to the city in September, try to make it the Doors Open Weekend. This gives you free access to lots and lots of normally closed buildings and makes for a fascinating trip to the city.
Highlights include the Panoptican, Royal Hall of Physicians, The City Chambers and the Arches, (It is worth noting that the City Chambers offer a free daily tour, and this really should not be missed. This outstanding building on George Square is incredible inside)
Weekend Markets in Glasgow
Another not to be missed thing to do is to visit the Barrowlands market on a Sunday. Glasgow’s infamous market sells everything and anything!
Eating Out in Glasgow
Glasgow also has plenty of bars and restaurants, so you will be spoilt for choice. You will find lots of cheap places to eat just by wandering around. Most places offer a ‘pre-theatre’ menu if you eat between set times in the evening. If you are in to anything in particular, then The List magazine has a section on eating out which will give you some ideas.
Vegetarian in Glasgow
And if you are vegetarian like me, then there are a few excellent veggie restaurants, but virtually every restaurant has a great selection of vegetarian food anyway, so you don’t need to worry.
An Insider Secret to a Weekend in Glasgow
However a little insider secret to getting an ultra low cost meal is to check out this website before you head out http://www.5pm.co.uk/ . Here you can book meals at really low prices, so it is worth a look before you head directly to a restaurant.