Latest posts by Amanda OBrien (see all)
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- 19 Best Glasgow Tours And Day Trips 2018 - March 20, 2019
Glasgow is a fantastic city – full of charm and character. There is much to explore within the city itself. However, it is definitely one of those places where it is more enjoyable to have tour guide showing you around so you hear all the very entertaining stories of the city!
Glasgow is also extremely close to some of the key sights in Scotland – from the home of famous Scottish poet Robert Burns to the stunning Scottish Highlands to the United Kingdom’s highest mountain Ben Nevis.
Here are my recommendations on the best Glasgow tours to take – plus a few of my favourite places I discovered whilst visiting.
Glasgow Tours – How to Get To Glasgow
The best way to get around Scotland is to hire a car. It is such a stunning country and the weather constantly changes – so if you’re in the car you can pull over and take shots! It is also a very easy country to drive in. The roads around most of these spa properties tend to be quite empty.
Glasgow Walking Tours
- For music fans, the Music Mile Walking Tour offers a great overview of the Glasgow music scene over 2 hours – all genres.
2pm pick up at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Lasts 2 hours
Finishes at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
2. The Glasgow City Centre Walking Tour departs at 1030 and 2 pm every day. The tour is run by locals and takes you to all the key sites in the centre of the city. This Glasgow tour covers Glasgow cathedral and necropolis, Glasgow Green, the Clyde and much more. This is a great value tour that gives you the key highlights of the city.
Pick up is Sir Walter Scott monument in the centre of George Square
The tour lasts 2.5 to 3 hours
Finishes in George Square
3. For a slightly different type of tour, this one is run by Tennent’s Brewery. It takes you to some of the key Glasgow city centre sites and then on to the Wellpark Brewery, Scotland’s oldest still working brewery, where you will enjoy a free pint!
Tour meets at 10am at Glasgow Cathedral
It is mostly outside so do dress appropriately
It runs for 2 hours and finishes at the Wellpark Brewery.
4. Or design your own perfect walking tour with a private guide. This 5-hour walking tour with a private guide will ensure you cover the highlights of Glasgow and go at your own pace. This is a perfect option if you have only one day in Glasgow.
You can choose your start time. The guide will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
5. Whisky lovers can combine exploring the city centre and walking with some tastings on the Glasgow City Centre Whisky Tour. The Whisky tour covers four different bars and everything you have ever wanted to know about Scottish Whisky.
The tour begins at 1 pm at the Pot Still Whisky Bar and runs every day. It lasts approx. 3 hours
Free Walking Tour Glasgow
The Free Walking Tour thing has become huge! Essentially most decent sized cities now offer a free walking tour of some type – general city discovery or even specific subjects like food. At the end of the tour, you decide if it was good enough to justify some type of tip.
This model guarantees that your tour guide works hard to entertain and inform you and I find they are some of the most enjoyable tours that I take while travelling.
6. The Glasgow Gander currently offers a free walking tour that takes place Wednesday to Saturday (1030am and second tour on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm) and covers the city centre.
This Glasgow tour begins on Royal Exchange Square outside the Costa Coffee and finishes at Glasgow Cathedral. It runs for approximately 2.5 hours.
7. The tourism board VisitScotland also offer contact details for a free Glasgow Walking tour on their site. They offer a couple of different options – 2.5 hour and 3.5-hour tours – and offer a tailoring option. The links weren’t quite working when I went back to check this so if you find out more or you are VisitScotland please let me know and I’ll update this!
In the meantime, there is a contact phone number and email address so check it out!
Glasgow Central Tours
8. I know it always seems like the biggest cliché but I am a big fan of a hop on hop off bus! Getting one is a great way to get a feel for a city and everything on offer. I like taking them at the beginning of a trip as it then helps me plan what I want to do with the rest of my time.
Alternatively, when I only have half or one day somewhere I like to take them to give me an overall feel.
9. Football lovers will enjoy a guided tour of Hampden Park, home of the Scottish National Football team. The tour includes admission to the museum and you will get to take a look at the player’s changing rooms, tunnel and underground roadway.
Tours leave from the Museum Café on the 2nd floor of Hampden Park. There are approx. 4 tours per day and they last up to 2 hours.
House for An Art Lover Glasgow
This isn’t quite a tour – although you can organise tours ahead if you have a big enough group – but it is somewhere that I loved in Glasgow so I wanted to let you know about it.
House for an Art Lover Glasgow is just outside the centre of Glasgow. The house is an art gallery, exhibition space, a lovely restaurant, studio and visitor attraction. It was designed by Glasgow’s most famous architect, Rennie Scott Mackintosh, as a country retreat.
The house sits within the 169 acre ground of Bellahouston, one of Glasgow’s oldest and loveliest parks.
I so loved my visit here. I went to see a couple of exhibitions, including a recreation of some of Rennie Scott Mackintosh’s lovely work, had a great lunch and very much enjoyed wandering the grounds. A great thing to do in Glasgow – and very photogenic!
Highland Tours From Glasgow
11. Combine the Highlands with Loch Ness on this Small Group Day Trip from Glasgow. You’ll also get to see a couple of Scottish castles and battlegrounds on the way in your luxury coach. It’s a big day – up to 12 hours – but this is a serious bang for your buck trip in terms in terms of how much you see and the reasonable price.
Tour leaves from Central Glasgow at 8am and returns to the same point approx 1945 that day.
Read my post on Climbing Ben Nevis
12. If you’re more interested in the Western Highlands this day tour from Glasgow will take you there plus Glen Coe and Loch Lomond. And of course a couple of castles along the way!
Tour leaves from Central Glasgow at 830am and returns approx 1900 that day.
13. Or combine the Western Highlands with Oban instead of Glen Coe and Loch Lomond on this day trip. Oban is on the coast and the self-professed seafood capital of Scotland.
Central Glasgow picks up at 815am, drop off the same place around 6 pm.
Read my post on The Top 12 Things to do in the Scottish Highlands.
14. If you have the time try this 3 Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands trip. You’ll see Glencoe, Loch Lomond, some great castles and my favourite the oh so beautiful Isle of Skye. This is a great one for photographers and those who love some stunning scenery.
The tour includes 2 nights B&B accommodation and all transport. It does not include meals. Pick up and drop off is central Glasgow.
15. This is the big one – five days experiencing the Best of Scotland! This is the perfect tour if you are travelling solo or looking for a fast way to see as much of Scotland as possible in a limited time. It takes in Oban, Glencoe, Isle of Skye and the Trotternish Peninsula.
The tour offers a mix of hotel and b&b accommodation. Meals are not included. Drop off and pick up is central Glasgow.
Day Trips From Glasgow
16. If you’re a fan of the tv series Outlander then this is the day trip for you! This 8-10 hour tour will take you to some of the key filming locations for the series including Lallybroch, Castle Leoch and Crainsmuir. Castle Leoch has also been used in Game of Thrones!
This tour has some particularly strong positive reviews.
The tour is currently running mon-wed and Saturdays (do double check) at leaves Glasgow at 845am. The pick up point is 266 George Street.
17. Combine Stirling Castle with Loch Lomond and the Whisky Trail in this day tour.
Tour leaves from Central Glasgow at 9 am and will drop you back at the same point at 6 pm.
18. The Ayrshire Coast is just stunning – Read my post about The Best Things to do on the Ayrshire Coast – and is a great day trip from Glasgow. This trip covers the hometown of Scottish poet Robert Burns as well as the fantastic Culzean Castle.
Pick up point is Central Glasgow at 930am and expect to be back by 6 pm.
19. Finally, Scotland is heaven for photographers – when the light is right! That does tend to happen several times a day but it is rather unpredictable. This Photography Tour of Glencoe gives you the whole day in the area which improves your odds of getting some nice shots. There is also one to one teaching.
This tour is a bit more flexible. It generally runs from 9 to 5 and the pickup and drop off tend to be central Glasgow.
And remember, Edinburgh is only 1 hour and 10 minutes away from Glasgow so makes for a great day trip.
Read my post on Underground Edinburgh Tours
And Glasgow is one of the gateway cities to the lovely region of Dumfries and Galloway – Read about the Top 11 Things to do in Dumfries and Galloway
Great Deals for those visiting Scotland from outside the UK
Visit Great Britain has some fantastic offers that are just for those who live outside the UK. It is possible to make significant savings if you book certain things before you travel – not to mention how much easier it is to already have tickets for things when you arrive!
If you have just moved to the UK you can buy these passes in your first six months of residency.
There are a number of Brit Rail passes available. Rail is a brilliant way to get around the UK – the train services are generally pretty good and there are good timetables. The most important thing to check is what kind of pass you need. The best way to determine this is to start by checking this map against where you are planning to visit.
There are two options available for Scotland.
The BritRail Central Scotland Pass covers the key central cities in Scotland – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Fife Station.
If you’re planning on exploring the Highlands and the islands of Scotland then a better option is the BritRail Scottish Freedom Pass. This covers all rail within Scotland and even some of the ferries to the islands.
If you’re planning on travelling around England and Scotland then the best option is to buy the BritRail GB Pass. This covers all train journeys across all of the United Kingdom.
All of the above take the form of paper tickets that will be mailed to your home address.
There is a new BritRail MPass which has an eticket that can be downloaded onto a mobile. However, it has one key restriction which is that the travel must be taken on consecutive days so make sure you check if this suits your plans before purchasing.
Book Your BritRail Passes Here
If you prefer travelling via a bus to train then check out the skimmer pass national express coach. National Express travels to over 1000 locations and has free wifi, usb and power sockets, onboard entertainment, air conditioning and reclining leather seats!
Minicabs can be a great way to get around the UK. Minicabit taxi booking covers 300 UK towns and cities and can be booked as far as one year out. These can be particularly good for getting from a train station to hotels/b&Bs.
One of the best value offers for overseas visitors are National Trust passes. These passes cover entry to a large number of major attractions and stately homes within the UK. If you will be visiting a few of their properties these passes very quickly become amazing value.
The Historic Scotland Explorer Pass covers more than 75 properties including Edinburgh and Stirling Castles, Urquhart Castle at Lochness and many more.
The Scottish Heritage Pass covers over 120 properties but can only be used between April 1 and October 31.
Click Here to see All Deals on UK Sightseeing passes
UK Travel Essentials
Grab a WorldSIM PrePaid Global SIM Card to stay in touch at reasonable prices. Access WIFI at local rates with the mobile wi fi rental wireless internet anywhere you go in britain. This in your pocket wifi can be picked up at Heathrow or Paddington Station.
Boutique Hotels in Glasgow
Glasgow has a fantastic boutique hotel scene. There are loads of gorgeous options and some really great value price points.
Let’s start with the quintessential Glasgow Boutique Hotel One Devonshire Gardens. Opened in 2006 this stunning property now encompasses five townhouses and is often visited by celebrities. It has a great location, fantastic “Monsoon” power showers and an award-winning restaurant.
Glaswegian hotelier Ken McCulloch created the Dakota brand. The latest incarnation is the Dakota Deluxewhich is located in an old Works and Pension building in the city centre. Ken’s wife is an interior designer and the design is where this lovely boutique hotel really shines.
Grasshoppers is an independent penthouse hotel offers great views over the Glasgow Central Station. It is independently owned and has just 30 rooms. Don’t miss their famous scrambled eggs at breakfast.
For a very cool design heavy option check out Citizen M Hotel. Modern Danish style and a futuristic theme provide a modern boutique hotel experience. This one isn’t for your parents! It has a good location in the North of the city so all the key sites are walkable.
Something Special – Cromlix House
If you’re after something truly memorable when you visit Glasgow I highly recommend Cromlix House. This stunning property is about a one hour drive from Glasgow near the town of Dunblane. One of the reasons Cromlix House is well known is because its owner is world famous tennis player Andy Murray, who great up in the area.
The other reasons are all about the brilliant food, beautiful grounds, stunning rooms and friendly service. Visiting Cromlix genuinely feels like visiting a friend’s unbelievably gorgeous country estate. Everything is so beautifully done yet it is very relaxed. My stunning suite was larger than my flat and considerably better furnished!
The highlight of the highlights for me (if I can say that!) was the food. Cromlix features a Chez Roux restaurant housed in a light and airy conservatory. My 3-course dinner was absolutely sensational – heavy on local ingredients and beautifully plated. Breakfast was just as good – scrambled eggs with trout and caviar – and everything is very Instagram friendly!
Top Tip – Cromlix House offers fantastic value in its 3-course dinner and lunch menus – check them out online before you go.
If you’re looking for some other special experiences whilst in Scotland check out my post on 11 Brilliant Spa Breaks in Scotland.
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