- Nouveau richness
- City life
- Hard man, soft centre
If character and personality won prizes, Glasgow would be rightfully awarded the attention normally showered on the more obviously beautiful Edinburgh.
Glasgow's unique sandstone façades are the legacy of a rich architectural and design heritage, and local boy Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s art nouveau influence is visible everywhere from the imposing Glasgow School of Art building to the elegant decor of the Willow Tea Rooms. But it’s the people that give this most Scottish of cities its heart of gold: shipbuilding bred them tough, generating an underlying black humour and an anarchic energy that still fuels the brilliant music and comedy scenes. Warm-hearted and welcoming, Glaswegians may have a reputation for hard drinking, hard living, and deep-fried indulgence – but that’s only because this fun, energetic town, with its stony face and steely soul, just doesn’t believe in doing things by half measures.
Part of the Glasgow Science Centre (www.glasgowsciencecentre.org), the Glasgow Tower is the tallest building in Scotland and the only building in the world capable of turning 360 degrees from the ground up. It offers by far the finest views of the region, stretching as far as the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond.
- The city is well served by black cabs; Glasgow Taxis is on +44 (0)141 332 7070. If you’re going out late on a Friday or Saturday, it’s worth booking to avoid the queues at ranks.
- Tipping culture
- 10–15 per cent is standard in restaurants; round taxi fares up to the nearest pound or so.
- Packing tips
- Glasgow isn’t afflicted by the icy east-coast wind that scours Edinburgh, but it’s noticeably wetter. Hats, brollies and waterproof jackets are indispensable. It can be surprisingly bright on some days though, so bring your shades, too.
- Recommended reads
- Chew your nails to the quick with The Cutting Room, Louise Welsh’s murder mystery. Brush up on the dialect with How Late It Was, How Late, James Kelman’s Booker-winner. Relive the demolition of the Gorbals in Jeff Torrington’s Swing Hammer Swing!
- Regional specialities
- Tradition would have you try a haggis supper and a pint of heavy, but your heart will thank you for something lighter. Glasgow’s restaurants are well situated for plundering the Caledonian larder, so expect to find Loch Fyne oysters, Islay pastrami and Stornoway white pudding on menus. Lanark Blue – a creamier version of Stilton – is the local cheese. Tunnock’s Tea Cakes are the chocolate biscuit of choice, though the cognoscenti prefer the caramel wafer. Go into a café at breakfast and order a roll and square (or Lorne) sausage: slightly spicy, and delicious.
- Pound sterling.
- Time zone
- Dialling codes
- Country code for the UK: +44. Glasgow: 0141.
- Do go/don't go
- Don’t come for Hogmanay unless you can cope with hard, boisterous, over-the-top partying everywhere you look.
Don't go home without...
… admiring the statue of Wellington, outside the neoclassical Gallery of Modern Art on Royal Exchange Square. The officially approved traffic cone he permanently sports on his head symbolises the city’s subversive sense of humour; it was placed there so often by merry pranksters that repeated attempts to remove it were eventually abandoned.