Explore: Glasgow

Date Posted: 11/12/2013

Neil Murray explores what’s best for groups and the essential sights to see in the Scottish city of Glasgow, including the European Museum of the Year (2013),  the People's Palace and the new Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

Essential sights

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum: The city’s star attraction,the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Musuem has been pulling in the crowds since 1901, when it was part of the Glasgow International Exhibition. Revamped in 2006 at a cost of £35 million, its 22 themed galleries house 8,000 objects, including Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross. Call 0141-276 9583 for larger, free, group tours.

Riverside Museum: Named the European Museum of the Year for 2013 and designed by award-winning architect Zaha Hadid, the Riverside Museum charts the history of transport through cars, ships and trains, inter-active displays and moving anecdotes. Moored alongside is The Tall Ship, the Glenlee, which was built on the Clyde in 1896 and is free for groups of up to eight people. Larger groups can arrange a visit in advance, but there is a charge.

Burrell Collection: Donated to the city in 1944 by successful shipping magnate Sir Paul Burrell, the 9,000-item art Burrell Collection (only a fraction of which is on show) - from Rodin to Degas - has been housed in an award-winning, glass building in the delightful woodland setting of Pollok Country Park since 1983.

What’s new?

More than 6,000 athletes from 71 countries will descend on Glasgow between 23rd July and 3rd August for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. But even if you haven’t managed to get tickets for any of the 17 different sports, the atmosphere can still be enjoyed; the city will be alive with a whole range of concerts and events   

Described as ‘an entertainment experience for the 21st century’, the 12,000-seater SSE Hydro opened in September and plans to host around 140 concerts and events a year. It becomes one of the top five busiest indoor entertainment arenas in the world, rivalling London’s O2 and New York’s Madison Square Garden.   

The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is the new home of Scottish cycling and is open to the public. Anyone can ride the track, using a specialist type of indoor bike and the helmet and pedals that are provided. There are sessions for beginners (introductory or improvement), experienced riders or groups.

Best for groups

Based on Glasgow Green, the oldest of the city’s 90-or-so parks, the People’s Palace follows Glasgow’s history from 1750, showing how ordinary Glaswegians lived, worked and played. See how housewives washed clothes in the ‘steamie’, families lived in a single-end (one room) and went ‘Doon the Watter’ on holiday.

Perfect for football fans, The Hampden Experience combines a behind-the scenes tour of the changing rooms, warm-up area and player’s tunnel at Scotland’s national stadium with a visit to the Scottish Football Museum. Tour and museum visit can be bought separately. Group discounts are available.

Visit Buchanan Street for the Buchanan Galleries (over 90 shops), Princes Square (30 plus speciality shops), Frasers department store and the St Enoch Centre shopping mall, with almost 90 shops and eateries - all located in Glasgow’s ‘Style Mile’.

Where to stay

Located between Argyle Street, one of Glasgow’s best-known streets, and the modernised riverbank, the friendly, 129-room, four-star Menzies Hotel is built on the site of a former rice mill. 12 apartments offer extra space and kitchen facilities for do-it-yourselfers. 

Situated close to the Central Station and the River Clyde, the 321-room Jurys Inn Glasgow has a refurbished bar and restaurant that serves tasty Scottish food.

Offering a budget option, the new 210-room Premier Inn Glasgow City Centre Buchanan Galleries is perfectly located for shopping, sightseeing and dining.

Take a tour

For a 24-stop, jump-on, jump-off bus tour try CitySightseeing Glasgow which takes in the likes of Glasgow Cathedral, the Riverside Museum, Botanic Gardens, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and Buchanan Galleries. Stay on board and it lasts one hour 45 minutes, with a live commentary or taped by broadcaster Neil Oliver. Discount for groups.

The twice-daily (10.30am, 2.30pm) free tours of the imposing Glasgow City Chambers that overlooks George Square emphasise the grandeur of a building that has been the city council HQ since the 1880s. Inside, find out why one side is ‘working’ and the other ‘ceremonial’ and see where Sir Alex Ferguson and Nelson Mandela were given the Freedom of the City. Call 0141-287 4018 for group visits.

Your group can take to the air with Loch Lomond Seaplanes (nine seats) for a 40-minute flight over Loch Lomond, Trossachs National Park and Scotland’s stunning west coast, or head out for an afternoon cruise along the River Clyde or a 90-minute hop-on, hop-off city cruise with Clyde Cruises.

Pictured: Riverside Museum and The Tall Ship, the Glenlee.

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