How to get around Glasgow
Getting around Glasgow - my advice
Glasgow is an easy city to explore and everything is easily reached by foot or by bus. Spoilt for choice with transportation options, Glasgow is the transport hub of the country with more trains, bus routes and taxis than anywhere else so embrace the fresh air and explore to your heart’s content.
The majority of the city’s bus routes are provided by First (www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/glasgow) and its 24-hour network is comprehensive and easy enough to use to take a visitor anywhere they want to go. Single fares start from £1 for a short journey. For those in need of a helping hand or short on time, City Sightseeing Glasgow (www.citysightseeingglasgow.co.uk) offers a series of non-stop hop on, hop off buses, which criss-cross the city taking in everything from Glasgow Cathedral on the fringes of the Merchant City to the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in the West End. A ticket valid for two consecutive days costs £11 or £10 online.
To explore further afield, trains from Queen Street Station whisk visitors to Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and the Highlands, while Central Station serves Ayrshire, Motherwell, Kilmarnock and the south. Both are connected by a free bus service, but it’s much quicker – and more scenic – to walk the 400 or so metres between the two along a section of pedestrian shopping mile Buchanan Street. The most popular detour is to Edinburgh, which costs around £11 for a cheap day return journey
Low-level trains also run from both stations to commuter destinations in all directions and are the quickest way to get from the city centre to the West End and Southside. In particular, the SECC and Mount Florida stations provide a vital lifeline for concert goers and Partick and Hyndland in the West End. A single journey to Partick costs from £1.60. For timings and ticket prices, Strathclyde Passenger Transport (www.spt.co.uk) and the Glasgow Tourist Information Centre (11 George Square, Glasgow G2 1DY; +44 141 566 4064; www.seeglasgow.com) are both exceptionally helpful. The latter is worth visiting regardless of whether you know where you’re going or not.
No trip to Glasgow would be complete, however, without a ride on the Clockwork Orange, Glasgow’s infamous underground system. The Glasgow Subway (www.spt.co.uk/subway) is an underground metro line with two lines, which run both clockwise and anti-clockwise. Connecting Buchanan Street and St Enoch in the city centre with the Kelvin Hall, Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Partick and Ibrox Stadium, it has a reassuringly nostalgic appeal to Glaswegians and a recurrent damp odour, which is a cross between a tramp’s armpit and a wet dog. As the third oldest underground systems in the world, it’s also the one of the most antiquated, but that’s all part of its charm. Furthermore, hardened Glasgow party groups and stag weekends regularly take up the Subcrawl challenge and commit to sinking a pint of beer at every one of its 15 stations. If tempted, make sure you pack an iron stomach. An adult single costs from £1.20 and a Discovery day ticket offers unlimited travel for just £3.50.
Back above ground, Glasgow’s River Link Ferry (www.clydecruises.com/scheduled-services/river-link.aspx) makes for an idyllic way to see the city in summertime. The timetable may be limited to a wet run from May to September but it’s a scenic and alternative way to see the city with popular stops at the Glasgow Science Centre, the BBC and Braehead shopping centre on the city’s outskirts. A return trip from the Broomielaw to the Braehead Shopping Centre costs from £6. The shorter trip across the River Clyde to the Science Museum is only £3 return.
For something different, Loch Lomond Seaplanes (50 Pacific Quay, Glasgow, G51 1EA; 0870 242 1457; www.lochlomondseaplanes.com) operates scenic 40-minute round-trip flights between Glasgow and Loch Lomond, which cross the Arrochar Alps with the Isles of Arran and Rothesay in the distance. Famous Scottish crooner Susan Boyle is a celebrity advocate should you need any more convincing to take a spin. Trips start from £99 per person.
And one final piece of advice: don’t bother with a map either – it’s much more fun to ask a local for directions. If you’re on your way to a café, bar or on a night out, a local may end up showing you the way, buying you a drink and becoming a life-long friend. I’ve done it often enough – it’s not called the Friendly City for nothing.