Places to see and to visit on your first day in Glasgow
January 1, 1970
by Alexander Bohn
The perfect first day in Glasgow
Why go to Glasgow?
Glasgow is the biggest city in Scotland, though it is not its capital. It is also a modern place with two universities, museums and countless bars and pubs. Even if the capital, Edinburgh, is said by many to be the prettier and historically more interesting city, you should not think that Glasgow has less to offer.
I went to Scotland for half a year to stay abroad and worked and lived only a 20 minutes train ride away from the centre of Glasgow. Now, the city feels a bit like home. It is big, but not too much. There is a lot to see, there are friendly people and you can go shopping in one, two, three, or more of the many shops. The reason I love to go to Glasgow is that it has so many different faces: a modern one, a historical one, an artistical one, one for bad weather, one for good weather.
Therefore I will show you in this article what there is to find and see in Glasgow on a tour from Central Station to the Necropolis.
How to get into Glasgow – by car or with public traffic?
You can get to Glasgow by different ways. Of course, you could drive there by car, but if you do not have one, that will not be a problem at all. Glasgow has two big train stations: Glasgow Central and Glasgow Queen Street. The first one connects the city mainly with the south of the country, while the second one is being used frequently by people to get to Edinburgh or to the north of Scotland, into the Highlands, for example to Inverness or Fort William.
If you come from the airport, you can either get a cab or take the bus with the number 500. You can get out at different places in the city. Its final stop is Buchanan Bus Station, which is close to Queen Street Station.
I entered Glasgow for the first time by train, because I came from Paisley, a town that is close to the airport and that has its own train station. So, I got out at Glasgow Central, where my first day in Glasgow began. It left an everlasting impression.
Central Station – the first impression
When getting out of the train I was already amazed by Central Station itself. The construction of this place showed me at once that this was a building from Victorian time. The ceiling constructed of steel and glass was vouching for the industrialization and I immediately recognized the style from several stations in London, where I had been twice before. The highlight of this station for me was and still is the Central Hotel, which faces the outside and inside of the station. People were sitting in there and enjoying the view over the station while having their cup of tea. On the outside, the station did not have to hide either. A majestic stone front welcomes every traveller, who enters through the main entrance, or bids him or her goodbye when leaving.
From Central Street to Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street
When exiting the station, I just followed the flow of the masses of people, who took a turn to the right after leaving the station and brought me to Buchanan Street. Fancy shops and nice-looking buildings were waiting there for me. So, I walked up the street, and down again, and up again. Shops for clothes, shops for presents, for chocolate and soap were standing next to each other, while in front of them some street musicians entertained the passing crowd (Don’t worry they don’t all play bagpipes). At the upper end of Buchanan Street, there is the Buchanan Galleries Shopping Centre. Here, the street makes a turn to the left and becomes Sauchiehall Street. This long Street is full of shops, pubs, coffee shops and restaurants of all types.
Restaurants and pubs in the city centre of Glasgow
If you are hungry and need a place to eat, do not be afraid. There is a variety of Restaurants so that everyone can find something for himself. Many of them can be found in and around Renfield Streets which leads you directly from Central Station to Sauchiehall Street. You just have to look for the big tower of Cineworld. In this area, all you have to do is walk up and down the streets that go parallel or that cross yours and you will find all kinds restaurants and pubs. That is what I did on my many following visits to Glasgow and I always ended up someplace that made great food and made me happy.
George Square and City Chambers – The central spot of the city
Walking up Buchanan Street towards the Shopping Centre I took a right a right at St George´s-Tron Parish Church (The one where you can walk around, you cannot unsee it) and spotted Waxy O´Connors Pub and had a look at its menu (I do not loathe the idea of having a pint and there are many places in Glasgow to have one) and walked until I ended up on a big square with a gigantic monument in the middle. That was famous George Square and standing on the edge of his pillar was Sir Walter Scott, famous poet and writer of Scotland. Many more statues of famous people have their place around the square. At the far end of it, I spotted a memorial for the fallen soldiers and behind that the impressive building of the City Chambers. The other parts of George Square were filled with lawn, benches, people, and pigeons.
Feeling hungry after this day’s first discoveries, the Fish and Chips-shop that was on the corner next to the above-mentioned pub seemed to be perfect for getting my lunch. Enjoying the sunshine and the mild temperatures, I took my food to one of those benches on George Square, and there I ate while watching the traffic, people, and pigeons around me. It was a place where I immediately felt comfortable.
St Mungo’s Cathedral – an impressive place of faith and history
After my delicious meal, my route led me to St Mungo’s Cathedral. I must admit that I looked up where I had to go, but I did not even have to. All I had to do was to follow the road passing George Square on the left side coming from Buchanan Station and turn left again after a mile or less. There was a sign that showed me where I had to go. So, I walked up a wee (Scottish for small) hill, crossed the road again (one of the few where people waited for the lights to turn green) and there I was. I had spotted the cathedral’s tower before, but now I was standing in front of the gothic church, which just looked massive. I entered it and found myself in a building that was as impressive from the inside as from the outside. The high ceiling and especially the beautiful and colourful windows caught my attention. I paced through the church going to the front and looking all around me. It was all in all a rather gloomy and grey old building, but the colours of the high window made sure that there was enough light. There also was a crypt under the sanctum. In there the history of the cathedral was displayed.
The Necropolis – enjoying the view with the dead
After I left the church I walked towards the hill behind it. That was the Glasgow Necropolis, a cemetery from Victorian time. As a history enthusiast, this was just the right place for me. Countless graves and monuments can be found there, and you can walk up and down the hill and between those historic graves. You can also enjoy the view from the top, which I naturally did. From there I could admire St. Mungo’s Cathedral from above and I could see the City Chambers in the distance and so much of the great city of Glasgow.
Résumé – why Glasgow is wonderful
The Necropolis was my last station on that day. There is so much more to see and explore in Glasgow. For the first day or the first few hours, I can recommend visiting the places I went to. It will give you an insight and an overview of Glasgow and it will certainly make you want to see and experience more of the city. You get to know that it is a modern city that has a lot to offer: beautiful architecture, countless shopping opportunities, amazing pub and restaurants, and an exciting history.