The Out About Scotland complete guide to a weekend in Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland both in size and population, with around 600,000 people living in this cosmopolitan city situated on the banks of the River Clyde. Once famous for its shipbuilding industry, the city is now more famous for its bustling shopping areas and world-class variety of theatres, museums and galleries. Second only to Edinburgh for the amount of green space per acre, Glasgow also boats some of the finest parklands of any city in Britain, and a wide range of traditional and modern music events can usually be found playing somewhere in the busy metropolis.
The heart of Glasgow is the River Clyde and it was here where the first rural settlements began in pre-Roman times, with the river eventually proving to be an ideal location for Roman outposts. The city was officially founded 600 years later by St. Mungo with the establishment of a church at the site where Glasgow Cathedral now stands, and with each passing century the population expanded until the city became one of the great industrial areas and sea-ports of Great Britain.
Medieval buildings and architecture can still be seen in many districts such as the Trongate and Saltmarket, and some of Glasgow’s best gothic architecture and sculptures can be seen up close and personal in the 37-acre Victorian Necropolis. Nearby you will find the 18th century Merchant City, which was once an important trading place for the shipping of goods to the Americas and the Caribbean, while the River Clyde plays host to a number of museums celebrating Glasgow’s rich cultural heritage, including the Transport Museum and the sailing ship Glenlee.
There are also some of the finest museums in Scotland to be found here, with Kelvingrove Museum often regarded as one of the best in the country, while the Glasgow residents proud heritage is celebrated in the wonderful People’s Palace. All of these sites can be easily visited thanks not only to the excellent road network but also thanks to the subway system, which is actually the third oldest underground transport system in the world.
There’s surely too much to see and do in Glasgow to fit it all into one weekend, but I’ve put together some highlights which will give you a flavour of the very best that the city has to offer. So join me now on an adventure into this magnificent city with my Glasgow weekend itinerary. Happy exploring!
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
No visit to Glasgow can be complete without a visit to the ever-popular Botanic Gardens in the city’s west end. This peaceful oasis of plant-life is the perfect antidote to the hectic buzz of the city centre and is a place where you will find not only an astounding variety of plants but also quiet woodland copses and relaxing walks alongside the River Kelvin. The grounds also feature several giant glasshouses that will transport you from the cool climate of the west of Scotland into the balmy heat of tropical rainforests.
The grounds of the Botanics have been a popular leisure site in Glasgow for over a hundred and seventy years, with the land on which they now sit once used as a major venue for concerts. The biggest addition to the modern Botanics was made in 1873, when the largest greenhouse on the site, the ‘Kibble Palace’, was moved from its previous home at Coulport on Loch Long to its current location. This impressive 2137 square metre greenhouse houses the national collection of tree ferns, as well as some spectacular specimens from tropical rainforests across the globe.
The wrought iron and glass Victorian glasshouses feature enough plants to keep visitors entertained for a good few hours and the collections of orchids, carnivorous plants and tree ferns serve as a relaxing alternative attraction to the industrial-themed venues that the rest of the city is famous for.
- Grounds: 7am – dusk (all year)
- Glasshouses: 10am – 6pm (all year except winter), 10am – 4.15pm (winter)
- Winter Oct-Mar. Summer Apr-Sep
Entry to the gardens is free.
Address: 730 Great Western Rd, Glasgow, G12 0UE
Telephone: 0141 276 1614
email: [email protected]
This Victorian cemetery residing on a hillside to the east of Glasgow Cathedral is the final resting place of over 50,000 individuals, of which 3500 are buried under a collection of ornate monuments and gravestones. The graveyard officially opened in 1832 although there were other monuments there before this date, most notably that of the 16th-century Scottish reformer John Knox who can be seen sitting on a column at the top of the hill.
A walk through the Necropolis will reveal many monuments to Scotland’s most prominent historical figures, including Charles Rennie Mackintosh (actually buried in London), and William Miller, the man responsible for the children’s nursery rhyme Wee Willie Winkie! One of the reasons that this graveyard has become so popular as a tourist attraction is that there are so many different faiths interred there, with Catholics, Protestants, Quakers, and Jews laid to rest under some of the most beautiful sculptures to be found in any resting place in Britain. In fact, the very first person to be buried at the Necropolis was jeweller Joseph Levi, who came from Jewish descent.
As more and more Glasgow residents were buried at the Necropolis, several extensions had to be added in the late 19th-century, and today the entire site covers a remarkable 37 acres. A network of paths meander all the way through the graveyard which provide an interesting walk through Glasgow’s history that is quite unlike any other in the city.
Open from 7.00am till 4:30pm daily.
Entry to The Necropolis is free.
Address: Castle St, Glasgow, G4 0UZ
email: [email protected]
House for an Art Lover
The House for an Art Lover is based on a 1901 design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, although it was actually constructed between 1989 and 1996. Situated on land in Bellahouston Park in central Glasgow, the building has become a focal point for displaying art exhibitions by some of Glasgow’s leading talent as well as encouraging an interest in art, design and architecture for visitors. In addition to the galleries, there are regular workshops and artist conferences held at the site, while a cafe and shops cater for tourists.
Bellahouston is one of Glasgow’s oldest and finest public parks and become famous nationwide for hosting the 1938 British Empire Exhibition which was visited by over 12.5 million people. Today the 169-acre site is mainly used as a recreational area for walks and summer picnics, with the House for an Art Lover taking pride of place in the centre.
Visitors to the site can wander around a Victorian walled garden in the house’s studio pavilion, while the Art Park includes an educational Glasgow heritage centre built inside a former stable and dovecote. There is also an exhibition dedicated to one of the city’s most famous sons, and designer of this building, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Both the Art Lover’s Café and the Art Lover’s Shop are open daily from 10am to 5pm.
The Mackintosh Exhibition opening times vary. Contact the venue for details.
The Heritage Centre is open daily from 10am to 4pm
|Children / Concessions / Students||£4.50|
|Children Under 10 (Must be accompanied by an adult)||Free|
|Family (2 Adults + 2 Children)||£16.00|
|Groups (10+ Adults)||£5.50 per person|
Address: Bellahouston Park, 10 Dumbreck Rd, Glasgow, G41 5BW
Telephone: 0141 353 4770
email: [email protected]
You can also check out my Glasgow weekend tour day one.