LAY OF THE LAND
Glasgow, on the River Clyde, is Scotland's largest city. At its center is George Square and the city council's headquarters. The main shopping artery, Buchanan Street, runs to the southwest of George Square, and to the east, regenerated Merchant City is full of boutiques and loft apartments. Further east of Merchant City is "Old Glasgow," the former city center. On the other side of town, the West End is a trendy, well-to-do neighborhood with a bohemian air that's home to many professionals and students of the University of Glasgow. The neighborhoods south of the Clyde are mainly residential, but the riverside itself is shaping up to play a more important role, with shiny new entertainment complexes being developed. A walk across the recently opened Clyde Arc, the first bridge to be built over the Clyde in more than 30 years, will give an impression of what is springing up.
WHEN TO GO
Climate is not Glasgow's strong suit. Cold, cold winters, rain any time of year, and uncertain summers are the rule of thumb. On the bright side, the days are up to 15 hours long in summer. At least wintertime brings the all-Scots festivities: Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) and Burns Night (Jan. 25), when the great bard Robert Burns is celebrated.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are nonstop flights to Glasgow Airport from a few American cities, including Newark (Continental now has two flights daily), Philadelphia, Orlando, and Boston. Alternatively, fly through London to catch a flight on one of the discount airlines such as EasyJet—just be aware that those flights may take off from a different airport than the one at which you land in London. There's a taxi stand outside the airport; fares are metered and will cost approximately $40, depending on traffic. There are usually a number of cabs waiting, but you can call ahead to Cabfly (44-141-848-4588) or the Glasgow Airport Millennium Taxis (44-770-326-2470). Alternatively, you can take a taxi or the Arriva bus service to the Gilmour Street railway station, two miles away, then ride the ten minutes to Glasgow Central Station. It's possible to buy one ticket to cover the full journey. Citylink, Fairline, and Linn Park buses run from the airport to Glasgow Central and Queen Street railway stations as well as Buchanan Street bus station. Tickets are £3.50 (about $7), and the trip takes approximately 25 minutes.
Affectionately nicknamed the Clockwork Orange because of its bright orange carriages and circular route, Glasgow's tiny subway covers 15 stations that link the South Side and the West End. Tickets are £1 (about $2) for a single journey, £1.90 (about $3.80) for a day ticket. The subway does not run all night—the last train is at 11 p.m. except on Sundays, when it's at 5:30 p.m.
Buchanan Street bus station is the main hub for buses. Tickets are approximately 80p (about $1.60) for a short journey in the city, but there are many private operators, and fares vary. You'll need exact change to pay on the bus. There is limited service from midnight to 4 a.m.
Taxis can be hailed on the street, and there are stands at Central and Queen Street train stations (44-141-332-6666 or 44-141-429-7070).
Scotland Tourist Office
Tel: 44 845 225 5121
Glasgow Tourist Information Centre
11 George Square
Tel: 44 141 204 4400
Mon–Sat: 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; Thurs: 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sun: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.