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Glasgow may not be mentioned often among the world’s top travel destinations but lately it seems to be making a comeback. Travel experts have been raving about the city, and National Geographic Traveler named it one of the world’s top spots to travel to in 2016, citing its “world-class architecture, vibrant nightlife, breathtaking scenery and outstanding shopping.” You’ll find all sorts of things to do here, with something for just about every taste, from world-renowned museums to historic parks, distilleries to tour and shows to take in.
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Tasting authentic Scotch whisky while in Scotland is really a must, and you can do just that at Glengoyne Distillery which lies just a short drive from the city. Often ranked among the most entertaining whisky tours in the country as well as the most picturesque, it overlooks a scenic glen and cascading waterfall, and has been producing Highland single malt whisky since 1833. Today the establishment provides visitors the chance to take a variety of guided tours and enjoy tastings, with everything from a Chocolate Matching tour to a Master Blender Session and a private dining room.
This impressive kinetic theater is focused on Eduard Bersudsky’s life works, a
Russian-born mechanic and sculptor. Catch a show in which you’ll experience remarkably elaborate mechanical exhibits that are set to eerie tunes which tell the tales of Communist Russia’s often murky past. Each one of the intricate pieces comes to life via tiny people and monsters that turn cranks, or take a ride on the gears when the larger pieces start to move for an incredibly mesmerizing performance.
This museum astonishes visitors as one of Scotland’s best 20th-century works of architecture. The building, which opened in Pollok Park in 1983, houses a priceless collection of art and antiquities collected by the late industrialist William Burrell. The glass walls that hold the Burrell Collection encase not only a range of artworks and various objects, but they bring in the woodlands around it. Donated by millionaire Burrell, it features everything from Rodin sculptures to Chinese ceramics, and admission is totally free. Arguably one of the best bargains in the city, afterward you can take a stroll through the surrounding park.
One of the most popular attractions in not only Glasgow but in all of Scotland, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is housed in a magnificent Victorian red sandstone building and features everything from a Tyrannosaurus Rex collection to coffins from Arthur’s seat. Admission is free and there are some 8,000 works to explore, including pieces from ancient world cultures. The collection includes a vast array of paintings and sculptures, Scottish arms and armor, medieval swords, dueling weapons, clothing, furniture and more. Its most famous painting on display is the “Christ of St. John of the Cross” by Salvador Dali.
The main city square in central Glasgow, George Square, laid out in 1781 and named after King George III, is the favorite central gathering spot for locals, filled with statues and surrounded by stately buildings and eateries. It’s a great place for people watching as well as to see the notable statues and monuments like those dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Queen Victoria. You can also marvel at its most prominent structure, the 19th-century building of the Glasgow City Chambers, which lies to the east and enjoy a pint at the pub in the old Italian Renaissance-style Bank of Scotland building.
The High Kirk of Glasgow and the Cathedral of Saint Mungo, more often referred to as the Glasgow Cathedral, is the oldest building in the city. Part of it dates all the way back to the early 12th century. Originally a Roman Catholic church, it now serves as a popular gathering spot for the Church of Scotland. The patron Saint of Glasgow, St. Mungo, is buried in a crypt underneath the building. There are also several important historical, religious, and architectural elements to take in as a spectacular example of Scottish Gothic architecture. If you’re so inclined, you can contact the cathedral in advance for a guided tour.
The most popular Glasgow beer brand, Tennent, known as Scotland’s “favorite pint,” is produced at Wellparkk Brewery. Founded in 1740, guided tours of the brewery are offered providing the opportunity to learn about its history, brewing process, packing and distribution. Of course, the best part for many is the tasting. You’ll follow the timeline that begins at the origins of brewing at Wellpark, all the way through the passion for Scottish music and football. You can watch some of the most popular advertisements from the brewery from over the years, and buy Tennent items too. The museum and sample room is a fun place to look around before or after, with all sorts of interesting memorabilia, like the famed “Lager Lovelies” cans.
While there are plenty of city delights, you may also want to take a break to enjoy Glasgow’s oldest park, which lies at its east end. The historic park has been a public green space since the mid-15th-century, with the land first given to the people by King James II. The 136-acre park includes a number of popular sights like the McLennan Arch, Nelson’s Monument, the Templeton Building, the People’s Palace, St. Andrew’s Suspension Bridge and the Winter Garden. Doulton Fountain is a great spot for a selfie, with the highly decorated fountain designed for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. You’ll also find paths for walking, sports facilities and children’s playgrounds.