Secret City: Glasgow

©VisitBritain / Britain on View

17 April 2014

This week we’re heading to Scotland on the hunt for culture, sport, nightlife... and some top student tips.

Join our team of international students as they give us the gossip on all things Glaswegian on our Secret City tour of Glasgow.

Glasgow: Key facts

Piper At Kelvingrove Art Gallery ©VisitBritain / Britain on View
Piper At Kelvingrove Art Gallery

Location: West Central Lowlands, Scotland
Population: 595,080 (2012 census)
Famous for: Football, rugby, hosting the Commonwealth Games 2014, being European City of Culture in 1990, architecture, the River Clyde, the Glaswegian dialect (‘Glasgow patter’), comedy, music
Famous Glaswegians: Colin Montgomerie (golfer), Andy Murray (tennis champion), Sir Alex Ferguson (football manager), Barry Ferguson (footballer), Andrew Bonar Law (British Prime Minister), Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (British Prime Minister), Charles Macintosh (inventor), Adam Smith (economist), Alexander Watson Hutton (founder of Argentine Association Football League), James Watt (engineer)
Glasgow actors: Peter Capaldi, Tony Curran, Robbie Coltrane, Laura Fraser, James McAvoy, Kelly MacDonald
Glasgow bands and musicians: Amy Macdonald, Belle & Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, Lulu, Primal Scream, Simple Minds, Travis, Wet Wet Wet
Major football teams: Celtic FC, Rangers FC, Partick Thistle FC
Closest airports: Glasgow Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport
Train to London takes: Approx. 4 hours 30 minutes direct
Train to Edinburgh takes: Approx. 50 minutes direct

Meet the insiders


 Name: Melissa Bergoffen
 From: Pennsylvania, USA
 Age: 19
 Studying: MA in Classical Civilisation at the University of Glasgow





 Name: Alejandro Moreno Rangel
 From: Uruapan, Michoacán, Mexico
 Age: 26
 Studying: MArch in Architectural Studies at Glasgow School of Art


Where do you find out what’s on in Glasgow?

Alejandro: Talk to people and find out from them about cultural events.

Melissa: I usually hear things through my friends – or from flyers hanging throughout Glasgow that tell you about all the things going on.

What’s the best way to spend a sunny day in Glasgow?

Alejandro: Any sunny day in Glasgow is going to be enjoyable – go for a picnic in one of the many parks in the city or along the river.

Melissa: Explore the beautiful lanes.

Pollock House ©VisitBritain / Britain on View
Pollock House

What’s the best way to spend a rainy day in Glasgow?

Melissa: It depends on the amount of rain or the temperature. If it’s pouring or cold, I like to visit a museum – the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is my favourite. If it’s a warm or light rain, try taking a refreshing walk in the rain!

Alejandro: It can be very windy in Glasgow, and personally I like it that way – but it does mean that umbrellas don’t work! As long as you’ve got a good raincoat, though, you could go for a walk around the city centre – it’s one of the best tours of the city you can have.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery ©VisitBritain / Britain on View
Kelvingrove Art Gallery

What’s the best way to get around the city?

Melissa: Walking is the best way; it’s free and you get to enjoy all of the scenery.

Alejandro: The city is large, but get a good bike and you’ll find all the places become very close.

Where can you find the best food and drink in Glasgow?

Alejandro: At lunchtime, I like to go to the refectory at my college – it’s got lots of different options for reasonable prices. There are also good restaurants that aren’t too expensive in Glasgow. After a good meal, I like to grab a tea or a beer in one of the nice pubs around the city centre. It's difficult to have a favourite one with all the options you can find!

Melissa: Pizza from Little Italy on Byres Road – I’m a very picky eater and no one can go wrong with pizza! I also like Hillhead Bookclub, a small pub just off Byers Road with a great atmosphere – and a ping pong table you can play on with your friends.

What’s the best way to spend an evening in Glasgow?

Alejandro: There are loads of parties and events for students. I usually keep an eye out for posters on the walls of my college.

Melissa: Go to the pub – any pub. You’ll meet nice people and learn a bit about them!

Where’s the best place to go shopping in Glasgow?

Melissa: I love shopping – or rather window shopping – in the many shops along Byres Road, because you never know what new place you’ll find. But when I know what I need to be shopping for, the city centre is the perfect place.

Alejandro: Buchanan Street has plenty of different stores and there are some big shopping centres nearby.  That's definitely enough for a full shopping day!

Buchannan Street ©VisitBritain / Britain on View
Buchanan Street

Where is the best place for sport in Glasgow?

Melissa: Garscube Sports Complex – although it is a bit far from the rest of Glasgow, it has many great fields.

Alejandro: If you are the kind of person who tries to exercise, but is just too lazy to go every day (like me…), then going to the college sports centre when you have time is the best you can do. Luckily there are plenty of sports activities there!

What’s your top money-saving tip for the city?

Alejandro: If you are trying to get the most out of your money, I definitely recommend checking discount websites such as They have really good discounts for almost everything – my favourites are for travelling, restaurants and bars.

Melissa: Head for the museums or parks – they’re free and you can have a great time exploring.

Norwich Union Challenge at the Scotstoun Stadium, Start of Mens 800m invitation race Dimitriy Bogdanov ©VisitBritain / Andrew Orchard
Norwich Union Challenge at the Scotstoun Stadium

What’s your favourite Glaswegian word or expression?

Melissa: ‘Cheers!’ – it means ‘thank you’, but it seems so much more friendly!

Alejandro: ‘What?’ – you will probably use that word more than you expect when you arrive! Glaswegian English has lots of its own expressions and a quite particular accent. But no matter what happens, people here are very friendly and always, always will give you an extra hand if you don’t understand!

What’s been your most memorable moment since you came to Glasgow... the one you'd tell your grandchildren about?

Melissa: I don’t really have one experience; the entire experience of living in another country, seeing new places, meeting and making new friends, and just starting my dream of travelling – that’s an experience I’d be excited to tell.

Alejandro: Earlier in April, after an enjoyable day at the opening of a new building at my college, I met a guy at my school. We got chatting and went for a beer. After a few hours I was at a party with my classmates – and I saw him again. So we had another beer together, then went back to our own friends… and then when I was going back to my flat, I bumped into him again! It turned out he lives really close to my flat! People here are so friendly and I love that.

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For more information about events and attractions in Glasgow, check out VisitScotland. Find courses and scholarships with the Search tool at the top of this page.