Galavant your way through Glasgow

Glasgow skyline
Glasgow skyline

Galavant your way through Glasgow

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Known for the spectacular Scottish Highlands in the north and the regal nobility of Edinburgh on the southeastern coast, there is no shortage of places to experience Scottish hospitality. Located right in the center of the country is the beating heart of Glasgow. Often voted one of Europe’s friendliest cities, this lively and unconventional place is sure to sweep you off your feet.

A tale of two cities

Glasgow has transformed itself so much that it may as well have been two different cities. Centuries ago, the banks of the River Clyde provided a way of life for the sleepy fishing village. However, during the 1700s, an industrial revolution was born, and a new city emerged. While not a vital trading spot previously, a new port was constructed around the same time the British colonies were established in the Americas. The tobacco industry flourished, and Glasgow became the primary hub for imports and exports of American goods. When the American Revolution put the kibosh on the tobacco trade, the crafty Glaswegians had established themselves as traders in other goods.

Cotton and weaving became synonymous with Glasgow. As coal-powered machinery became more accessible, local mineral deposits bestowed their good fortune on the city. Shipbuilding and heavy metalworks became the lifeblood of the town. However, after suffering catastrophic losses during World War II and the fallout of deindustrialization due to budding technology, Glasgow fell into economic hardship and decline. As luck would have it, over the past 40 years, the city has turned itself around and become a financial and cultural hub once again.

What to do

Glasgow Cathedral

Built on the original place where St. Kentigern (Mungo) founded his church in 612 AD, the Glasgow Cathedral is the oldest building in the city and the oldest cathedral in Scotland. Construction began in 1136 and has stood the test of strife, war and time. Much of the original architecture remains. Visitors can tour the cathedral and view the ornate detailing and stunning stained glass. Admission is free.

Riverside Museum

Perched on the River Clyde, the Riverside Museum is full of hands-on and interactive displays detailing transportation history. Covering everything from the local shipyards to automobiles, it makes for a fascinating and educational visit. If you have time, you can step back in history aboard the Tall Ship Glenlee next to the museum.  

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

This museum strikes many for its eccentric vibes. Exhibits include natural history dioramas, impeccable first edition books dating back centuries, priceless works of art, and others (including a neon Elvis Presley sign) that might make you scratch your head. Admission to this museum is free.

Hidden Lane

If you’re looking to shop and buy local, you’ll want to stop by Hidden Lane. Hiding behind bustling Argyle Street, this small area is home to more than 100 local vendors, shops, and businesses. Talented artists, jewelers, tattoo studios, and all sorts of wonderful bric-a-brac can be found.

Glasgow is a shining diamond in the rough. Although not the most popular destination in Scotland, it’s definitely worth a visit and makes for an easy day trip from Edinburgh (approximately 90 minutes by train). If you find yourself in George Square, be sure to look for the Duke of Wellington statue — he’s famously outfitted with an orange traffic cone on his head.

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