10 Things I Love About Living in Glasgow, Scotland
About a year after we first moved to Glasgow (from Australia), we shared some of our likes and dislikes about living in Glasgow. We recently celebrated our 5-year anniversary in the city. So, focusing on the positive, this is our latest list of 10 things we love about living in Glasgow.
I was born in Australia and moved to the UK in my middle years. I’m still blown away by the ancient ruins and historical buildings scattered all over the UK. I have written a longer post about the History of Glasgow, starting in 500AD, including battles, bridges and Billy Connolly.
In contrast, one of the most significant events in Australia’s history was back on 26 January 1788, when Captain Arthur Phillip guided a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales. For over 200 years, Australia was known as the six colonies – New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia – governed like six rival countries with little communication between them. Following a People’s Referendum in 1900, the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed on 1 January 1901.
Road trips from Glasgow
Glasgow is the perfect home base if you love day trips, weekends away and staycations. Drive an hour or three to explore the Scottish Highlands or beaches. Edinburgh and Stirling are about an hour away. You can drive to St Andrews, Perth, Inverness and even the Isle of Skye by lunchtime.
We’ve enjoyed driving our version of the North Coast 500 around the coast of Scotland twice now. If you are planning to visit the top-end of Scotland or its west coast, read our North Coast 500 series.
Gateway to the Scottish Highlands
You can be in the Scottish Highlands within 1-2 hours from Glasgow. Add about 1 hour to that if you are fighting traffic to leave Edinburgh. The main reason we chose to live in Glasgow was to escape suburbia and be walking, swimming, kayaking, riding or camping in the Scottish Highlands within 1-2 hours from our home. You have the best of both worlds. Glasgow is the largest Scottish City and the third biggest in the UK after London and Birmingham. It is closer to the Highlands, West Coast of Scotland, Isle of Skye, Loch Lomond and Loch Ness than Edinburgh (yes, there is a little rivalry between the cities).
Parks, waterfalls and views
There are green spaces and parks all over Glasgow. Within a 15-minute walk from my front door, I can be relaxing by a large waterfall in one of Glasgow’s prettiest parks. In Winter, I can go snow sledging (tobogganing or sledding in Australia) in this same park. Within a 20-minute drive, I can be on the top of a mountain looking down at Glasgow City with the Scottish Highlands in the north, walking to see horses grazing in fields of flowers. If I want to watch Hairy Coos grazing (Hairy Highland Cows), I can ride or take a short drive to Pollok Country Park.
Glasgow has over 90 parks and gardens, which is probably why it is known as Dear Green Place. Some of these parks are out of this world during the Cherry Blossom season in February-March.
My favourite parks and gardens:
- Pollock Country Park – the largest park in Glasgow, home to Pollok House country manor and the best place in Glasgow to see Highland cattle.
- Linn Park – the second largest park in Glasgow, see the remains of Cathcart Castle and the grand architectural style of Holmwood House (National Trust for Scotland property).
- Rouken Glen Park – a walled garden, swans, waterfalls, woodland paths, playground and garden centre.
- Cathkin Braes Country Park – Sitting 200m above sea level, it has some of the best views of Glasgow city and the Scottish Highlands, and you can still ride the extensive mountain bike trails used during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
- Glasgow Green – is the city’s oldest park, with the largest terracotta water fountain in the world (Doulton Fountain).
- The Necropolis – Victorian garden cemetery, best for a view of Glasgow Cathedral and awesome sunsets, was also used during the recent Batman movie filming.
- Kelvingrove Park – near the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the University of Glasgow with its famous Harry Potter feel vaulted arches and onsite Hunterian Museum.
- Glasgow Botanic Gardens – near Kelvingrove Park, walk the Kelvin Walkway along the River Kelvin and under Kelvinbridge.
The 21 bridges over the Clyde River
You’re never far from the Clyde River as it’s only a short 5-minute walk from most parts of Glasgow City. The usually still and reflective waters of the river are beautiful by day and night, accented by the lights of 21 bridges and a mix of historical and futuristic architecture. Some of the bridges are dedicated to pedestrians (on foot and bicycle), some are only for vehicles, and others are only for trains. The River Clyde can be treacherous in bad weather and has strong currents and unseen snags, so please be careful. If you see someone go in, throw them a life ring on the railings in various spots around the river.
My favourite bridges:
- Clyde Arc Bridge – photographic night lights, makes a good flip-point for a loop walk around the Clyde.
- 1st and 2nd Caledonian Railway Bridges – walk underneath and around them to experience the changing tides, art murals, and in-scripted stone pillars.
- South Portland Street Suspension Bridge – enjoy the bright red lights in winter, just before sunrise or when shrouded in fog.
- Millennium Bridge – a metal, slightly bouncy bridge near the BBC Studios and Glasgow Science centre.
- The Tradeston (‘Squinty’) Suspension Bridge – is great for people watching, looking up and down the river and taking photos of sunrise and sunset.
Overseas holidays from Scotland
- No need to spend extra time and money making your way to London or another English airport. You can drive and park, catch an Airport bus, or hire an Uber to International Airports in Glasgow or Edinburgh. Sometimes flights are direct to overseas hubs, and sometimes they are via London. Flights from Scotland can be cheaper, the same price, or a little bit extra. Either way, it’s often a lot easier than spending a day getting to London and possibly having to pay for accommodation the night before you fly out. Sometimes, you can get a cheaper flight from Inverness (a simple train ride from Glasgow).
Winter in Glasgow
Yes, this is something I love. I lived in Australia for many years, and Christmas time is very different Down Under. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia’s Winter is in June, and Christmas is at the peak of Summer. Christmas lunch is usually a BBQ, swatting flies, and drinking cold beer. You then retreat indoors into air-conditioning (if you’re lucky). Few candles are harmed in the making of an Australian Christmas celebration. It is daylight until after 9 pm, and the mercury is usually 35C+ (still, at 9 pm). You might have candles on the dinner table, but you have to draw the curtains shut to pretend it’s dark enough to use them (yes, I’ve done this).
Compare this to Christmas in Glasgow, Scotland. In 2021, Glasgow was named the most ‘Christmassy’ place in Scotland. London came third. Festive lights are everywhere you look in Glasgow. I first wore a Christmas jumper in Glasgow (a very special memory). Every clothing store in the city has a range of Christmas jumpers (71% probability). Christmas lunch has candles because it’s dark at 3:30 pm. There is often snow in the week/s before and after Christmas, and sometimes it doesn’t thaw before Christmas day. I still get a buzz looking out the window and seeing snow!
My favourite day and time of the year to walk around Glasgow City: the morning on New Year’s Day (1 January). Public transport doesn’t operate until later in the day. Most peeps are still in bed with a sore head. Very few people are on the streets. It’s a photographer’s dream. Here are my photos on Flickr from 1 January 2019.
Autumn in Glasgow
Autumn leaves on a backdrop of mountains, green grass and the sound of running water. Sunny days with refreshing temperatures. Walking through the city, kicking up large maple leaves. Enjoying crisp sunrises and clear, starry skies beyond illuminated grand architecture.
Entertainment in Glasgow
There are always affordable or free shows/events in Glasgow. What’s on Glasgow, Glasgow Live, Eventbrite, and local Facebook Groups are the best places to search for what’s on. Some of my favourite experiences:
- Bill Bailey (our fourth performance).
- The Little Shop of Horrors theatre production.
- Watching Scotland play Australia in rugby at Murrayfield Stadium.
- The RockyHorror Picture Show at the King’s Theatre.
- GlasGLOW at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens – 2021 was a light extravaganza with a quirky Gotham crime mystery theme.
- Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of the Worlds in the SEC Arena. Lasers, pyrotechnics, a Liam Neeson 3D hologram, and a 30-foot metal alien spaceship.
- The Bat Signal lit up Glasgow City Chambers on the evening of Batman Day in September 2021.
- The annual Glasgow Open Doors event, lets you visit places for free that you wouldn’t usually have access to. Recently, we visited the Panopticon, Arlington Baths, and Glasgow Trades Hall.
- Lidl’s in the dark, sensory wine tasting (4 whites and 4 reds) in the Arches under Central Station.
- Intimate to massive concerts and events, at indoor and outdoor venues (e.g., Glasgow Green, Oran Mor, Hampden Park, SEC, OVO Hydro, O2 Academy, Barrowland Ballroom, Pavilion Theatre, Theatre Royal, King’s Theatre, and the Royal Concert Hall).
- Celebrating World Whisky Day in May in Scotland. There are often free/affordable tasting events around Glasgow – check out Eventbrite closer to the time.
- National Trust for Scotland and events at historic castles, grand estates and ancient ruins. For a small monthly subscription, we can visit places like Stirling or Edinburgh Castle and hundreds of other sites and locations as often as we like with nothing more to pay and get free car parking.
Glasgow Street Art and The Mural Trail
There are always new additions to the Glasgow City Mural Trail. Many of my favourite works are by Australian-born artist Smug, including the mural of St. Mungo (Glasgow’s Patron Saint) on High Street, and the wildlife mural (animals and a man in a kilt picking mushrooms) on Ingram Street. They are always larger and more impressive in person.
What do you love (or dislike) about Glasgow?
- Please share what you love about Glasgow in the comments below.
- If you want to share your dislikes, please add your comments to our Pros and Cons about living in Glasgow post.