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Situated on the River Clyde, 42 miles (67 km) west of the city of Edinburgh and 397 miles (639 km) north of London, Glasgow became Scotland’s biggest city and is famous for its culture, style, and the friendliness of its citizens.
Glasgow grants a mixture of internationally-acclaimed museums and galleries, remarkable architecture, lively nightlife, excellent shopping, and a various array of restaurants and bars.
Active and dynamic, Glasgow holds a year-round buzz with an art exhibition that constantly offers cutting-edge results and draws high-profile exhibitions that spanned to the city being established the European City of Culture in 1990.
Glasgow also became the UK’s City of Architecture and Design in 1999, and for a good reason.
Its architecture is an appeal in itself. The city hub has myriad striking Victorian structures and then there are the distinct masterpieces of one of the city’s most renowned sons, the legendary architect, and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
The city has long-standing fame for its energetic music scene and is very well off too when it comes to city parks.
Top Road Trip Destination in Glasgow
Glasgow lies in an excellent spot. Not only is it accessible from several of Scotland’s most famous tourist attractions, it also offers plenty of fun things that you can enjoy.
From here, magnificent destinations to visit incorporate the Scottish Highlands, Robbie Burns country adjacent to the Ayrshire coast, Aran Island, as well as Oban, and, of course, legendary Loch Ness.
Magnificent Loch Lomond is even more intimate and is famous for outdoor fanatics for its hiking and biking exploits. The Stirling Castle, along with several evenly charming castles and manor houses, is also within easy reach from Glasgow.
Whenever you want to visit, there are a lot of things you can do to spend time outside the city. Design your ventures with this list of the most immeasurable day trips from Glasgow:
Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands
Your trip to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without visiting Loch Ness, home of the legendary sea serpent, Nessie.
This spectacularly stunning 23-mile-long and incredibly deep body of water stuff the geological fissure distinguished as the Great Glen, whose sheer green walls make it one of Scotland’s most attractive sights. Hour-long boat tours from Fort Augustus or Inverness, or picturesque journeys along the loch’s shore reveal striking views of the rocky summits of the Scottish Highlands.
Journeys to Great Glen like the 12-hour Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Highlands Small-Group Day Trip from Glasgow, pauses in the isolated and misty Glencoe, place of the historic slaughter of the MacDonald clan in 1692. The whole region is packed with a breathtaking view of high mountains, rocky ridges, fast-running rivers, and dropping waterfalls.
Loch Lomond and the West Highlands
“Yon bonnie banks and yon bonnie braes” of Scotland’s biggest freshwater loch only takes a half-hour drive from Glasgow, located at the southern tip of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park. In fact, so lovely are the lochs and mountains here that they’ve gained the park the nickname of ‘The Highlands in Miniature.”
In addition to the eerie charm and idyllic vistas that this traditional Scottish verse speaks of, Loch Lomond is a hub for outdoor exploits.
Boaters and other water sports lovers coming here, as are golfers, who head straight to the Carrick Golf Course at Cameron House. Here, you’ll discover one of Scotland’s most exquisite championship-standard golf courses, flaunting unimaginable views of Ben Lomond across the waters of the loch.
Hiking and bicycle tracks swarm throughout the park, and Loch Lomond cruises leave from Balloch at the southern edge of the lake. Balloch is the place where you’ll also locate the Loch Lomond Shores shopping district, as well as the SEA LIFE Aquarium, one of the region’s best family attractions.
Although you can easily get to the loch by train, Loch Lomond is usually part of trips to the West Highlands from Glasgow. The full-day West Highland Lochs, Glencoe, and Castles Small-Group Day Trip from Glasgow incorporate attractions such as Kilchurn Castle, the town of Inveraray, and Castle Stalker on Loch Laich.
Stirling and Stirling Castle
Just a 30-minute drive from Glasgow, the town of Stirling is renowned as the scene of the Battle of Bannockburn. It was in this place in 1314 when Robert the Bruce overcame the English invaders. It was also the place where legendary William Wallace defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, a triumph for Scottish independence. Both these prominent battles are commemorated at the prestigious Bannockburn Heritage Centre.
Between Stirling and the picturesque village of Bridge of Allan lies the noble Wallace Monument, a magnificent 246-step tower with all-embracing views of the region, as well as artifacts that belonged to Wallace.
The striking 12th-century Stirling Castle, constructed atop a 76-meter-high volcanic mountain, has served a significant role throughout Scotland’s abundant history and is welcoming to visitors. You can tour Stirling and the castle and also relish the stunning scenery of the Trossachs on the Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle Tour from Glasgow.
Isle of Arran: Scotland in Miniature
The attractive Isle of Arran only spans 267 square kilometers but carries examples of just about everything that makes Scotland one of the world’s most attractive tourist destinations. It’s for this reason that the island has got the nickname “Scotland in Miniature.”
By a ferry ride from Ardrossan that takes an hour, which itself is an easy train journey from Glasgow, Arran is distinguished by brilliant mountains, moorland, sandy beaches, a wealth of wildlife, castles, fishing harbors, and great golf.
Arran is also a walker’s heaven, and buses are bound frequently around the island from the ferry terminal at Brodick to its several tourist attractions. Although the most desirable places to visit on Arran like Brodick Castle and Goat Fell mountain can be viewed in a day (including the ferry ride), you’ll want to spend at least a few days traversing this amazing part of Scotland.
Outlander Day Tour from Glasgow
Fans of the hit TV series, Outlander, will surely be drawn in by adding a magnificent journey of the series’ film areas to their Glasgow tour itinerary.
The famous Outlander day tour from Glasgow is an impressive eight-hour drive from central Glasgow where you can make stops in several places that you will instantly recognize.
For several people, the star of the journey is the opportunity to visit the charming village of Culross, which persisted in the fictional Crainesmuir. It’s the final stop of the trip, and you’ll possess lots of time to traverse the old village square, which records from the 1600s, as well as a well-known home recording from the same period.
The charming Doune Castle is another important destination that you should visit. This exceptionally well-preserved medieval citadel was known as Castle Leoch in Outlander, and you’ll have lots of time to traverse the place, armed with a magnificent audio guide.
The community of Falkland should also be part of your itinerary, where you’ll get a chance to have some lunch and stroll at your leisure. Also inserted are stops at Blackness Castle and Midhope Castle.
Benmore Botanic Garden
Benmore Botanic Garden lies amidst a magnificent rugged mountain landscape situated north of Glasgow. It is at the southern point of Loch Eck, which is part of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden.
The promenade of enormous Californian redwoods settled in 1863 lines the long path to the property, where you’ll be given a chance to roam around more than 300 distinct species of rhododendron and azaleas.
Other highlights involve Puck’s Hut, a wooden monument to Isaac Bayley Balfour who had the idea to build the gardens, and a bronze statue recording from 1875 (A Boy with Two Dolphins) bestowed by the owner of nearby Benmore House, now an outdoor learning center.
Nearby Argyll Forest Park is also well worth your time. Constructed in 1935, it was the first of its kind in Britain and flaunts an extraordinary 186-mile network of footpaths.
The modern town of Port Glasgow, situated 25 miles west of Glasgow’s city center, occupies 15th-century Newark Castle. The estate, with its gatehouse and tower, was once the home of the (sometimes cruel) Maxwell family.
Although visitors are not allowed at the Tower House rooms, you can still view the building’s pretty Jacobean exterior and the interesting “below stairs” rooms with exhibits describing the working situations and lives of the family’s staff.
Another previous industrial center is Greenock, the birthplace of engineer James Watt, who created the Clyde navigable. It’s also notable for being the last resting place of “Highland Mary,” immortalized by Robbie Burns.
The Ayrshire Coast: Robbie Burns Country
Lovers of the poetry and songs of Robbie Burns, Scotland’s revered national poet, will want to traverse the places he lived and the countryside he deified. At the same time, you’ll discover one of the most stunning coastal areas of Scotland.
Follow the Burns Heritage Trail from the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, on the outskirts of Ayr, where you’ll witness the wonderfully maintained thatched house where the poet was born and lived as a child.
After touring the 16th-century Auld Kirk where his father is buried, this round tour travels south to Dumfries and the Robert Burns House, where the poet resided for his final years before his death in 1796, at age 36. The house was turned into a museum and provides a good portrait of his life. His tomb is in the nearby St. Michael’s Churchyard.
Another star of the Ayrshire coast is Culzean Castle and Country Park. It has woodland tracks and landscaped gardens that incorporate a Victorian Walled Garden.
You can take a tour at the Burns sites and Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire Coast Day Trip from Glasgow: Robert Burns Country and Culzean Country Park with a guide who will explain more about Burns and Culzean castle, as well as its connections with President Eisenhower at the end of World War II.
Dumbarton Castle rests climatically on a basalt rock on the north bank of the Clyde, overlooking Port Glasgow. This strategically vital stronghold was built in the 6th century and was pivotal to the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde‘s rule over the neighboring area until 1018. Only the dungeon and 12th-century gateway survive this medieval structure where Mary Stuart left for France at age five.
Other stars of this star of the Game of Thrones series incorporate the stunning views, the Georgian artillery fortresses, and the Governor’s House with its fascinating artifacts from the castle.
Oban and the West Highlands
The lovely Victorian town of Oban, the seafood capital of Scotland, lies on the coast. It is the main port for the ferries that unite the southern part of Scotland to Mull, Skye, and the Hebrides islands.
For scenery that surrounds the town and inlet and stretches to the Isle of Mull on clear days, explore the top of McCaig’s Tower, a Victorian monument constructed to mirror the Colosseum in Rome.
The path to Oban from Glasgow reaches through some of Scotland’s most spectacular countryside, a land of mountains, moors, lochs, and castles. On the Oban and the West Highlands Day Trip from Glasgow, you’ll drive through this picturesque land, along the shores of Loch Fyne, Loch Awe, and Loch Lomond, which ends in the village of Luss.
The Hill House, Helensburgh
Enthusiasts of Art Nouveau styling won’t be frustrated by a tour to Hill House in Helensburgh. Created by Charles Rennie Mackintosh after plans were brought up for his Art Lover’s House, Hill House was constructed in 1904 with an overlooking view of the Firth of Clyde.
Encompassed by a pleasant garden, the house is somewhat evocative of Scottish strong manor houses, while the figural details, rounded ends, oriel shutters, and small chimney stacks carry all the hallmarks of the gifted stylist.
The home is now the case of an avid renovation design that has it encased in a massive steel frame. Called the “Hill House Box,” this extraordinary structure that is expected to be in position for up to 15 years is something of an architectural spectacle in itself.
Constructed to keep the weather out and enabling the house’s exterior walls to dry, visitors can climb the frame to experience never-before-seen scenes of the structure. Meanwhile, the interior settles open to guests.
In the wide hall, the dark wooden panels conflict with the light wallpaper, enhanced with obscure patterns and refined pastel shades, while Art Nouveau patterns in pink and light green weaken the impact of the walls, windows, and lamps.
The bedroom on the first floor over the lounge is deemed as the most auspicious of Mackintosh’s “White Rooms.” Mackintosh also composed the furniture, and his wife, Margaret Macdonald, designed and produced many of the textiles and a marvelous fireplace panel.
The Forth and Clyde Canal and the Falkirk Wheel
The Forth and Clyde Canal, constructed in 1790, loops its way through the Strathkelvin District to the northern part of Glasgow.
The completely renovated 35-mile waterway was an essential connection for seagoing ships between the Firths of Clyde and Forth, meeting the River Clyde at Bowling and the River Forth at Grangemouth. Today, it serves as a very enjoyable outing destination coming from Kirkintilloch aboard one of the vessels managed by the Forth and Clyde Canal Society.
Be sure to leave time to traverse the magnificent Falkirk Wheel at the eastern border of the canal. Able to carry up to eight boats, this distinct piece of contemporary engineering – part sculpture, part boat lift – combines the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal near the major industrial city of Falkirk.
Guests can try the hour-long journey aboard unique boats and learn more about its service at the visitor center. Behind-the-scenes journeys of this engineering wonder are also available.
Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life
The Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life is constructed to showcase life within the 20-acre site of 19th-century Summerlee Iron Works.
Inaugurated in 1836 and once one of the region’s most prominent employers, this tourist spot now serves as an amusement for kids and kids at heart. It boasts Scotland’s only still-operating vintage tramway, a recreated mine, workers’ cabins, and several Victorian steam engines. Guided trips to the deserted mines are also available, and entry is free.
Paisley Abbey and the Thomas Coats Memorial Church
Some surviving pieces of Paisley Abbey can be recorded from its first construction in 1163. It features the choir stalls and a walk-up of 197 steps leading to the Tower.
Another Paisley landmark is the magnificent Thomas Coats Memorial Church. Financed by one of Scotland’s leading textile producers and built in 1894, its elaborate stonework was the result of diverse apprentice stonemasons.
While in the area, take the time to visit Paisley Museum and Art Gallery. It features the fascinating displays associated with the rise of the textile industry and the story of the unique “drop motif” for being the world-famous Paisley design.
Exhibits include the old looms on which the best-selling designs were created, as well as unique woven and embroidered shawls from Kashmir, the influence for Scottish production.
Gourock: Granny Kempock Stone
By the shore at Gourock, situated some 28 miles west of Glasgow, stands an impressive six-foot-tall slate monolith known to have been a gathering place for Druids. It’s perceived as Granny Kempock Stone.
Fishermen would present small offerings in return for nice weather and good catches, and it’s still common for local newlyweds to surround the stone to produce good luck to their marriage.
The scenes across the Clyde Estuary approaching the southwest Highlands offer the journey to this seaside town worth the effort. The Gourock Highland Games are held here in May.
Driving in Glasgow
A self-drive vacation in Scotland is the most reliable way to witness the beauty of the country. But to achieve a fluid road trip adventure, it is essential to learn the art of driving in Scotland.
Overcome all your anxieties as there is nothing to be scared of when it comes to driving on Scottish roads.
Driving in Scotland can be very intimidating at first, especially if you haven’t driven on the left side of the road. But don’t let that block your way of an epic and flexible road trip around Scotland.
From understanding all the traffic rules by heart to adjusting your attitude and employing the right tools.
You can find several ways to make your driving on Scottish roads a pleasant experience, even if you are concerned about driving in a foreign country.
Driving Rules in Glasgow
Getting ready on your road trip and still wondering what driving in Scotland feels like? Let’s begin with the general rules about driving in Scotland that you should know:
Driving on the left in Scotland
- All vehicles in Scotland are driven on the left side of the road. Keep in mind that people cross on a single-lane road!
- There are several roundabouts, particularly in the South. Don’t worry, the curves in Scottish roads are natural, and you won’t find yourself going against the flow. Just remember to drive on the left-hand side of the road and always give way to pedestrians.
License to drive in Scotland
- You are allowed to drive in Scotland for up to 12 months if you own a valid license from your own country.
- You won’t be required to bring an International Driving Permit in Scotland.
- Scotland allows drivers with ages minimum of 17 years old, but most rental companies require their renters to be at least 21 years old or own a driving license for 5 years. Check and compare the rules of each rental agency.
- To have a well-detailed information about the documents you need to carry while driving in Scotland, you can visit the License to drive in Scotland check tool.
Speed Limits in Scotland – Driving laws
- Speed limits are displayed on round signs with a red border and a number on them.
- Speed limits in Scotland are displayed in miles per hour.
- National speed limits in Scotland are 70mph on Motorways and Dual Carriageways for cars while 60 for towing caravans, 30mph in built-up areas while 20mph around schools, and 60mph otherwise displayed for cars while 50mph for caravans.
Other Scotland Driving rules
- The legal age for driving in Scotland is 17 years old. Rental car companies may vary with this rule.
- The allowable alcohol limit is only 50 mg in every 100 ml of blood
- It is unlawful for everyone to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
- Seatbelts are mandatory and required for drivers and all passengers.
- For well-detailed knowledge about rules on the road in Scotland, you can visit their Code and Road safety page.
Hiring a Car in Glasgow
Hiring a car makes your driving experience easier, especially if you’re taking a trip to rural Scotland. It may seem to be a little pricey compared to other transportation options, but if you require more flexibility, then this is the best option!
Don’t forget that you’re paying one-off for the car, rather than just one person so if you’re taking a trip in a big group, it might be a great choice to even out the cost and save money.
You’ll gain the freedom to traverse the local area or even travel further deep into Scotland, grasping the thought that you’re behind the wheel of a trusted vehicle from one of the top car hire providers in the industry.
To hire a car at Glasgow Airport, you can take a quick walk to the Car Hire Depo next to Terminal 2 which is not far from the main terminal. It’s very easy to pop in and chat with a car hire representative to ask for advice, prices, or to hire a vehicle. It should be a breeze going straight through.
Car Rental Companies in Glasgow
You’ll easily find all of the car rental firms in the Car Rental Centre, positioned past Terminal 2 on the right side of the main airport terminal. Alternatively, some car rental firms can be easily found in the main arrivals hall.
For your convenience, all of the providers also lend child seats and a sat navs device. They also lend hand controls for passengers with special needs.
Sometimes, these extras might come at a higher price so it’s worth checking the details before you book or pick up your car. On top of this, you can also visit their handy app to check all your booking at all times.
Car rental providers include big names in the industry such as::
Documents Needed When Hiring a Car in Glasgow
- Driver’s license of the renter
- Another mode of identification such as the Passport of the renter
- A credit card that pairs the name on the driver’s license
You are also required to purchase insurance, something that can be organized easily and quickly by your rental provider. More so if you have a US credit card.
There will be several choices available to you, so you’ll have to determine what you prefer to add on. If more than one person plans to drive the same vehicle, you’ll more likely be required to purchase an add-on too.
Legally speaking, these requirements might seem less, although most Scotland car rental providers have their own few additional rules.
For some situations, most companies restrict their rentals to those over the age of 21. Renters aged between 21 and 24 are required to spend a surcharge because of the increased likelihood of an incident. Likewise, individuals over the age of 75 might also pay a surcharge for the same reason.
Car Rental Insurance In Scotland
As stated above, if you own a US credit card, it’s possible that you already have CDW insurance for rental car coverage. Be sure to check the inclusion by calling your credit card provider to find out.
It’s also worth considering spending on a new credit card that does offer this coverage. That’s because car rental firms in Scotland tend to upsell their insurance package. Make sure that you do not fall victim to their trap.
For your assurance, call your credit card provider and double-check everything as a part of your planning of renting a car in Scotland.
If you haven’t got a credit card that includes rental car insurance, it may be worth adding it to your package. That way, if you bump into an accident, you won’t be stuck spending for a car hire damages out of pocket.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cost of hiring a car in Glasgow?
The cost of renting a car in Scotland varies depending on the make, model, operator, and hire span. But for your reference, it’s currently possible to rent a car with a model like a Ford Focus starting from as little as £11.04 per day and a Volkswagen Transporter starting at £28.50 per day.
What’s the cheapest car that I can rent in Glasgow?
Currently, you can rent a Toyota Aygo for £8.04 a day.
What’s the allowed minimum age to hire a car in Glasgow?
The minimum age allowed for renting a car in the UK is 21.
What are the additional charges I have to pay for renting a car in Glasgow?
Additional charges vary depending on the type of insurance, upgrades, damage that occurred, age of the driver, and fuel. This can be clarified easily by your rental operator in the form of an agreement.
What’s the best car to drive around Glasgow?
Looking for the best car for driving around Glasgow depends on your needs. For example, a family of four might feel relaxed in a smooth sedan like a Vauxhall Insignia. Meanwhile, a solo traveler or couple may opt for a compact car like a Ford Fiesta for cruising the city streets and easy parking.
What should I do if I have an accident in Glasgow?
Many rental providers include collision damage protection and third-party liability insurance along with their insurance coverage. But please, always ask your car rental provider to confirm which additional cost would be covered in the event of damage to your vehicle or that of a third party.
While in the event of a serious accident, please remember that 999 is the emergency services number in Glasgow, Scotland, and the rest of the UK.
Is it worth renting a car in Glasgow?
Glasgow is a big city, it was also listed as one of the top cultural centers in the UK – thus, there are lots of things to see. We’d definitely urge you to rent a car during your trip to Glasgow as it will make the adventure so much better.
You can also consider hiring a car one-way from Glasgow to Edinburgh.
What is the best time of the year to visit Glasgow?
The best months when visiting Glasgow are May, June, July, and August. You may want to visit this city during one of these months even in its high season. The good weather really makes it worth your time.
How much is the week-long car hire in Glasgow?
For a budget-friendly car, it would cost around £60 for a week, or £9 a day.
How much for month-long car hire in Glasgow?
Monthly charges for an economical car in Glasgow start at £543, or £18 per day.
From dawn to dusk and into the night, you’ll find a great array of things to do in Glasgow during every hour of your journey.
Glasgow is home to some of Scotland’s greatest cultural attractions. And the best part is that most of them don’t charge a single penny!
You could spend your time traversing the different neighborhoods and head your way to the amazing shopping, dining, and attractions in Glasgow. Maybe you get a chance to witness the best of Glasgow’s architecture on a city walking tour or fill your tastebuds’ way around the city on a foodie excursion.
And when it comes to entertainment, attractions, and amazing days out in Glasgow, you don’t have to look any further. Over a hundred Glasgow gigs take place each week, and you can also easily locate theatre tickets, performing arts, and sporting games.
Are you looking for a cool, quirky, and off-beat experience? Then keep an eye out for energetic festivals, special pop-up Glasgow attractions.
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