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Glasgow (in Scottish: Glesca) is the largest city in Scotland. It has gone through a difficult time after a large part of the shipbuilding industry and associated industries left the city in the 1960's and 1970's. Since the 1990's, a lot has happened in Glasgow: the city centre was completely renovated, keeping the old (beautiful!) architecture intact. It is once again a friendly city with a vibrant nightlife, beautiful parks and interesting museums. The revival did not benefit all the people of Glasgow though: it is one of the poorest cities in Great Britain and some suburbs are very desolate.
The city itself has 630,000 inhabitants, but in Greater Glasgow the population is three times higher. The people of Glasgow speak a dialect that is hard for outsiders to understand.
Glasgow is located on the river Clyde in the west of Scotland. This part of Scotland is fairly narrow due to the inlets in the west (Firth of Clyde) and in the east (Firth of Forth). Edinburgh is located on the latter Firth, only 70 kilometres to east of Glasgow. The city is located 150 kilometres to the north of the English border.
Despite the downturn in the 1960's and 1970's, shipbuilding still plays an important role in the local economy, mostly marine ships and private yachts. In addition, there are textile factories and there is chemical industry. Software development and biotechnology are the growth sectors. In addition, many people are working in the (financial) service sector. Glasgow is an important financial centre. Tourism also contributes to the economy: the city itself has beautiful old buildings and a big and diverse shopping centre. Many tourists go to the Scottish Highlands via Glasgow.
The city has two airports. The main airport is Glasgow International Airport, with flights to cities in Great Britain and the European mainland, and to some intercontinental destinations. This airport is located 13 kilometres to the west of the city, and it is connected to the centre of Glasgow via a shuttle bus. Most charter and budget airlines use this airport, but Ryanair uses Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, about 50 kilometres to the south-west of the city. There is a half-hourly train connection to the centre of Glasgow.
In the heart of the city is the bus station on Buchanan Street. This is the centre for all (local and regional) bus connections. Glasgow has an extensive network of bus lines, including some high-speed connections that take the so-called Quality Bus Corridors.
In addition, the city has a metro, which consists of only one circular line. Because the metro does go through the inner city, underneath both banks of the Clyde, it is a good way for tourists to move about. Because of that one circular line and the orange colour of the train, the metro is also jokingly called 'The Clockwork Orannge'.
There are two trains stations that are connected to each other. In the north of the centre is Queen Street Station, with connections to Edinburgh and the north of Scotland. Glasgow Central Station is located on Argyle Street and it is the terminal of the West Coast Main Line, with connections to cities in England and Wales.
Like in the rest of Great Britain, people in Glasgow drive on the left. This means the steering wheel in your rental car is on the right. If you have never driven on the left, we recommend you practice first in a quiet neighborhood.
The main motorway - the M8 - runs right through the city. It connects Glasgow to Edinburgh on the east coast, and it also connects the two airports of Glasgow. To the east of the city, there are exits to the north (the Highlands) and to the south (England - M74).
The centre of Glasgow is not big, and it is easy to explore on foot, especially because many (shopping) streets are car free and there are many one-way streets. There are a few pedestrian bridges across the Clyde.
Parking in the street in Glasgow is possible, although often only for a limited times. If you park too long, your car will be towed away. It is better to park your rental car in one of the 20 garages that are clearly indicated. The best chance of finding a space is in the garages in the north and north-east of the centre (Junction 16, 17 or 18 of the M8). The car parks are not cheap, the cheapest are those that are run by the city itself (Concert Square, Cambridge Street and Charing Cross).
The city has a large number of hotels in virtually all price categories, with the exception of a 5 star hotel. Luxury hotels (3 and 4 stars) are situated especially along Argyle Street and near Queen Street Station. Due to the increasing importance of financial services and tourism, we strongly recommend booking your hotel room in advance, especially for a room in the city centre.
For more information about Glasgow, we recommend Google, and the following sources: