Glasgow insider tips
How to save money plus other advice on Glasgow
Glaswegians have a notorious reputation around the world for having short arms and deep pockets. Adam Smith, founder of modern economic theory, studied at the University of Glasgow and the city has studiously managed their accounts ever since. Read my advice as to how you can live like the locals do and save some money in the process.
Eating and drinking
Fixed price lunches and pre-theatre menus are scratched on restaurant blackboards across the city and offer excellent value for money. Standard prices are around £10 for two courses and £15 for three courses, generally from Sunday to Thursday, and are an unbeatable way to eat like a prince or princess while spending like a pauper. It’s also worth bearing in mind that even the city’s top eateries participate in similar promotions – Brian Maule at Chardon d'Or charges £16.50 for two courses or £19.50 for three, while Michael Caines’ Amazing Grace menu at ABode Hotel (129 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 2SZ; 0141 221 6789; www.michaelcaines.com/restaurants/glasgow) offers three courses for £12.95.
Another cracking bargain basement choice – in both senses – is the cavernous underground Republic Bier Halle (9 Gordon Street, Glasgow, G1 3PL; 0141 204 0706; www.republicbierhalle.com), which offers sumptuous 2 for 1 pizzas around the clock for around £8.
Food bargains can be rustled up a plenty at the bi-monthly farmers' market on the second and fourth Saturday of each month at Mansfield Park, on the corner of Dumbarton Road and Hyndland Street in Partick (www.scottishfarmersmarkets.co.uk/calendar/#gla).
The cheapest way to eat on the streets of Glasgow is to get a takeaway sausage roll or Scotch pie from Gregg’s (www.greggs.co.uk), a chain of ubiquitous Tyneside bakers, for well under £1. Its numerous branches are easy to spot as, come lunchtime, queues of Glaswegians snake outside their doors onto the pavements. Ludicrously unhealthy, but still mightily tasty when covered in brown sauce, the saving is in your wallet, not on your waistline. The urban legend goes that if you simply close your eyes and dream of a hot Scotch pie, a Gregg's will miraculously appear on the next street corner.
If you want to avoid high drink prices, then it’s perhaps best to avoid the fashionable Ashton Lane and Merchant City bars, as the average drink and cocktail prices are higher than they are in standard city centre and back street pubs. However, these areas are the most popular so you may decide it prudent to splurge an extra £10 over the course of a night.
After hours on Sauchiehall Street, teenagers and hard-up students pass out flyers for free entry to clubs and sometimes even free drink offers, which is normally a great way to guarantee entry if you are part of a large group.
The cheapest way to see the city by train is to buy a Discovery Ticket on the Glasgow Subway (www.spt.co.uk/tickets/discovery.aspx). Costing only £3.50, the ticket offers a day's unlimited travel and is available all day, every day of the week. It’s the cheapskate’s way to see as much of the city as possible.
The most cost-effective way to get in from the airport is either local bus or on the Glasgow Flyer express bus (www.glasgowflyer.com), which goes straight to Glasgow Central Station and Buchanan Bus Station. First’s 747 Airlink, is cheaper but the journey is longer. Read more on my Glasgow flights page.
Sights and attractions
Free? Did you say free? Though it may have its detractors, Glasgow City Council (www.spt.co.uk/tickets/discovery.aspx) has done a fantastic job of ensuring that the city’s flagship museums are as accessible as possible. So be it the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), The Burrell Collection, The People's Palace, Glasgow Cathedral or the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, they’re all free. Hallelujah for that.
Glasgow’s Leading Attraction is a collective of some of city’s best sights and tours. It encourages partner organisations to offer discounts on its website, so it’s worth checking out as downloadable vouchers are nearly always available online (www.glasgowsleadingattractions.com/offers). Two for one offers and 20 per cent off discounts are the ones to look out for.
One of the best views in the city – but only on a clear day – is from the top of the hill in Queen's Park in the city's south side. When the sun shines, it’s possible to see the gothic spires of the University of Glasgow, the Clyde Arc bridge, the Finnieston Crane, and the roofs of Glasgow tenements.
Other useful tips
The Glasgow Visitor Information Centre (11 George Square, www.seeglasgow.com) is a fantastic resource and has a wealth of information and maps to hand out.
As Glasgow is a football mad city – some would say it has a Neanderthal approach to the Beautiful Game – it's best advised not to wear a Rangers or Celtic football shirt in certain areas of the city (Rangers is in the west, Celtic in the east), especially on Old Firm weekends, when the team’s notorious rivalry grips the entire city.