Cheap flights to Glasgow

During the past few decades Glasgow, the UK's fourth largest city, has re-invented itself from a rather economically depressed post-war industrial centre to a modern metropolis with a thriving art and culture scene, which has earned it accolades like the 'European City of Culture' title in 1990 and 'City of Architecture' in 1999.

In days of yore Glasgow depended on shipbuilding and engineering for its wealth; the city fell into decline in the mid-20th century with massive poverty and unemployment. Prosperity has returned however, riding on the back of 21st century technology, and it is now the hub of Scottish film, theatre, writing, music and design, capturing worldwide attention.

The city has more than 20 galleries and museums to complement the architectural heritage of architects like Alexander Thomson, renowned for his classical designs, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, master of Art Nouveau.

The youthful, progressive atmosphere of the reborn Glasgow is encouraged by its large student population, which is spawned by four universities and several colleges, and reflected in the numerous lively restaurants, pubs and attractive shopping precincts.

Tourists find plenty to see and do in Glasgow, and can also use it as a base to explore the surrounding countryside, boasting some of Scotland's most scenic mountains, glens, lochs and coastline.

Getting around

Glasgow's city centre is compact and easily explored on foot, but public transport will be needed to reach some of the major attractions, which are further out. The integrated transport network includes a reliable but confusing bus system with connections to the underground and train network. Some routes operate limited services throughout the night. The simple underground system, also known as the Clockwork Orange, has two circular routes that are easy to understand; this is the best way to get between the city centre and the West End. The suburban train network is fast and efficient. There are various passes available for all forms of transport, including the family Daytripper pass combining underground, rail, bus and ferry service. Taxis are readily available and provide excellent, if fairly expensive, service. A car is not necessary in the centre, and it is often easier to get around using public transport; car users can make use of the park-and-ride system at underground stations outside the city centre.

Shopping

Shopping in Glasgow is one of the best-kept secrets in Europe. The city is second only to London for the most retail space in the UK, and attracts dedicated shoppers from all over the country.

The heart of the Glasgow shopping districts is the 'Golden Z', which zigzags through the city centre along the pedestrian malls of Argyle, Buchanan and Sauchiehall streets. Here you'll find all the major European brand names, with Buchanan Street and its mall the Buchanan Galleries attracting the most upmarket shops. The Argyle Arcade has a large concentration of jewellery shops, and Princes Square is a stylish centre set in a renovated Victorian building.

If chain stores aren't your fancy, nearby Bath Street and Hope Street are home to a number of independent shops and boutiques where you can find a unique Glasgow souvenir or gift. De Courcy's Arcade has a fun variety of book and music stores, and a few quirky independent gift shops. Popular Glasgow souvenirs include wool knits like cashmere sweaters, mittens and scarves; swirling paperweights of Caithness glass; and local food like smoked salmon and shortbread cookies.

There are also city centre markets that are well worth a visit, including the Barras in the East End, which boasts hundreds of market stalls selling all manner of items. Be wary of counterfeit goods however, as the market is rife with knock-offs and pirated goods.

There are a few popular shopping malls in Glasgow, mostly on the periphery of the city. The biggest and busiest can be found in Braehead, Silverburn and Glasgow Fort.

Dining

As the city gradually becomes more international and cosmopolitan, the restaurants in Glasgow follow suit. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is from the fair city, and though it lacks an international reputation for fine dining, you'll find plenty of good options when looking for places to eat Glasgow.

Interestingly enough, the restaurant scene in Glasgow has been named the 'Curry Capital of Britain', and you'll find a number of good Indian restaurants for all budgets, as well as the ubiquitous fish and chips takeaways. Glasgow is home to large immigrant populations, so there are tasty eateries that serve Greek, Korean, Lebanese, Spanish, Japanese, and Turkish cuisine in addition to the usual Chinese, Italian and Thai options.

Many Glasgow restaurants close for either Sunday or Monday. Diners are expected to tip waitstaff around 10%, or 15-20% for very good service. Smoking is prohibited in all restaurants and bars in Scotland.

Climate

Like the rest of Scotland, the weather in Glasgow is unpredictable and several degrees colder than England in the south of the British Isles. Winters are long and wet, with very cold winds and some snow, with seldom a sign of the sun, but when spring arrives (between March and May) the mild temperatures and colourful flowers in parks and gardens make the city a cheerful place to be. In summer most days start off misty but warm up to sunny, mild afternoons.