Glasgow & Side Trips in 1 Week
Glasgow is a fairly big city with lots to offer, but one of its additional attractions is the ease with which you can escape the metropolis, finding fresh air and memorable scenery. Each day of the side trips involves driving, but for no more than an hour or so out of the city.
Day 1: Central Glasgow
Start off in the heart of Glasgow. The bustling city center offers a host of monumental Victorian buildings and a couple of landmarks designed by the great Charles Rennie Mackintosh, such as his Glasgow School of Art. The city also boasts another great 19th-century design genius, Alexander "Greek" Thomson. Have a gander at his St. Vincent Street Church with its exotic mix of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean influences. Just east of the city's commercial center is Merchant City, with its trendy bars, good restaurants, art galleries - such as the Glasgow Print Studio - and performance spaces such as the City Halls. This is the historic core of the city, but alas most of its historic buildings are long gone. The strongest-surviving remnant of Glasgow's rich medieval history is Glasgow Cathedral.
Day 2: The West End
Glasgow's West End is the most prosperous and attractive district in the city. Not only is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum a fine piece of Victorian architecture, it also has an expansive collection of paintings and artifacts - one of the best held by any city in Europe. Take a stroll through adjacent Kelvingrove Park and then stop at the University of Glasgow, where you can see the complete interiors of the home where Mackintosh lived at the Hunterian Art Gallery. The West End's "Main Street" is Byres Road, with bars, restaurants, shops, and more. Detour onto cobbled Ashton Lane, or, on fine days, take in the city's Botanic Gardens at the top of Byres Road.
Day 3: The Southside
Glasgow is bisected by the River Clyde, and the city's Southside is considered, by some, to be the real Glasgow. A highlight of the area is the Burrell Collection, a custom-made museum holding the vast collection of art and artifacts amassed by an industrialist who bequeathed the entire wonderful lot to the city. If you find that "Greek" Thomson intrigues you, then definitely go to Holmwood House; it's the best example of his sumptuous and timeless villas. Families will enjoy the Science Centre on the southern banks of the Clyde.
Day 4: Clyde Coast, Burns Country & Culzean
Set out for the Clyde coast, which opens up rather spectacularly into the Irish Sea. Ayrshire is the principal county and so start with the town of Ayr, on the coast southwest of Glasgow. This is the beginning of your tour of Burns Country - the historic stomping ground of Scotland's most famous "ploughman poet." In nearby Alloway, you'll find the bard's birthplace, the Burns Cottage, which has been recently restored, and the Burns Museum, which was undergoing major improvements in 2010. Depending on your time and interest, you can also visit other landmarks, such as Souter Johnnie's Cottage in Kirkoswald. But leave time for Culzean Castle and its magnificent Country Park, with acres and acres to explore from sandy beachhead to a walled garden with exotic plants. If you fancy golf, however, you might prefer seeing world-famous Troon and Turnberry.
Day 5: Stirling, the Trossachs & Loch Lomond
About a 35-45-minute drive northwest of Glasgow, Stirling has played a key part in Scottish history and was the one-time home to royalty. The Old Town has the impressive Stirling Castle, where the buildings are currently being restored in keeping with their historic appearance. Children will enjoy nearby Stirling Jail, but history buffs should try to visit Bannockburn on the southern outskirts of Stirling, where the Scots defeated English invaders in the 14th century. Stirling also has the towering monument to William Wallace. Head west and see the well-preserved ruins of Doune Castle before hitting the rolling hills and small mountains of the Trossachs and then lovely Loch Lomond in the shadows of the southern Highlands.
Day 6: The West Coast
This tour may take 2 days, depending on your ambitions, and whether you're knocked sideways by the scenery of the Clyde coast. Here are just some of the highlights. Head-clearing ferry rides take passengers to the isles of either Arran or Bute. You can visit the stately mansions of Brodick Castle or Mount Stuart, or walk on quiet beaches. From either island, you can head farther west to the Argyll peninsulas of Cowal and Kintyre, both remote and sparsely settled. Tighnabruaich and Tarbert are two picturesque harbor villages worth stopping in. Finally, you might wish to really leave it all behind and go to the small island of Gigha. Owned by a community trust, it is the southern-most of Scotland's Inner Hebrides. Closer to Glasgow, on the north shores of the Clyde as it widens to the sea, is Helensburgh and the superlative Hill House, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Day 7: Glasgow's Other Attractions
Unless you're still absorbing the refreshing air of the west coast and haven't made it back to Glasgow, pick up where you left off in the city. Revisit the West End for lunch and a bit of shopping, or stay in the city center and see any museums missed earlier, such as the Gallery of Modern Art or the more contemporary offerings at the CCA. If the weather's fine and dry, hike up to the Central Necropolis, near Glasgow Cathedral, or stroll through Glasgow Green, along the River Clyde.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.