If Edinburgh is Scotland’s golden jewel than Glasgow is its diamond in the rough. Whereas Edinburgh has a bit of a fairy tale feel to it, Glasgow feels gothic, moody and medieval in many ways. As I walked through the streets of this city whose historical roots date much further back than those of the nation’s sister city, I couldn’t help but feel like Glasgow was like a miniature New York City. I felt like this must be what New York looked like a hundred of years ago. The city’s architecture is as impressive as any city in the United Kingdom and the artsy feel of the city makes it a very interesting destination for any traveller.
Perhaps it was the quickly moving clouds, or the fact that they hung so low to the ground, but whatever it was I couldn’t help but feel a powerful mood to Glasgow that I have not felt in any city thus far in Europe. I had cut a day off of my stay in Glasgow due to the recommendations of some friends. However, at the end of the day I wish I would have added a day instead.
Time Needed: 3-4 days
Backpacker’s Budget: $45-50 (30-35 pounds) a day
Things to Do in Glasgow
- Churches: Although there are obviously a wide variety of churches Glasgow Cathedral is by far the most impressive. However, Townhead Cathedral – found in the city center – is the oldest and dates back as far as the 6th century.
- Museums: For such an old city Glasgow doesn’t exactly blow you away with an array of museums. Glasgow Science Center is a lot of fun because if gives you a good hands on experience and the setting along the river is also quite beautiful. Although not exactly a museum, I also found the Kelvingrove Art Gallery to be a nice stop.
- Sights: For such an old city there are certainly a lot of new sights to see. The riverfront has the Science Center, Clyde Auditorium, as well as the Clyde Arc Bridge. If you’re looking for a seriously moody sight head to the very old Necropolis near Glasgow Cathedral at sunset.
- Shopping: Somehow Glasgow has carved out a niche as a massive shopping city. There are a number of smaller shopping areas but the Commercial Center in the center of town is by far the biggest.
- Westend: Westend has a very “college” feel to it. It is a beautiful place to go and wander around and if you’re looking for a great view of the city you can head up to Woodlands Hill.
How to Eat on the Cheap
Of all the places I have been so far in the UK it has been Glasgow that’s been the easiest to eat on a budget in. In fact, where this is the point in the guide where I tell you all the tricks to eating without destroying your wallet I will tell you that you don’t need to stress nearly as much here in Glasgow. In fact, I even splurge a bit while in town which was a nice change.
- Crabshakk: I found this place wandering around the Westend. This is a seafood joint, as the name implies, the food is really good and very reasonably priced.
- Wee Curry Shot: If you have a craving for Indian food ask for this place in the Commercial Center. It is cheap and it is very good!
- Two Fat Ladies: This was my splurge, and I still didn’t spend all too much considering what I got. I stumbled upon this place on my way home from the waterfront where I had been taking pictures. The smell outside was what drove me in, and I was not disappointed. My bill, for a full course and a glass of wine, came to just under 12 pounds.
Where to Stay in Glasgow
As a part of my sponsorship I was meant to be put up in Hotel called Charing Cross Guest House. However, when I showed up my booking wasn’t in their system. They did remedy the situation by putting me up in their hotel right down the street called the Victoria House Hotel. The Victoria was quite nice, and I’m glad that I was moved because, to be honest, the Charing Cross didn’t look all too inviting. For many backpackers the Victoria House Hotel might be slightly out of budget, but it’s a good option for couples looking for a little bit of alone time. The location is perfect. I will be reviewing the property in the next couple days.
If you’re looking for a hostel in Glasgow there are a couple of options, but the only one I had time to check out was the Glasgow Hostel which seemed quite nice. To check out all the budget accomodation in Glasgow click here.
Getting Out of Town
If you’re watching your budget then the bus is the way to go. If you book your bus with megabus online you’ll get the price of your ticket nearly half off. If you’re heading to Edinburgh there are buses every 10 minutes or so. If you’re crossing the waters to Belfast, Northern Ireland you will want to book your bus beforehand to ensure a spot on the bus. Bus tickets cover the ferry crossing as well.