Having lived in Glasgow my entire life, I’ve often wondered why people bother to visit Glasgow. I love it and have no immediate wish to live anywhere else – in fact, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of my beloved home city – but, really, when you could visit stunning cities such as Vienna or Venice, why would you pay all that money to fly up to grey and drizzly Scotland for a few days? But it’s a universal truth that, regardless of the town, city or village that you live in, you never see it with the fresh, enthusiastic eyes of a traveller. Everything becomes normal after a while, and while you might appreciate a particularly vibrant arts or music scene, the excitements of your home tend to get passed over in the daily routine of life. So, in the latest phase of my mission to explore everything that Glasgow has to offer, here’s how to be a tourist in your own city!
- Look up
It sounds simple, but it can make a huge difference. Although some cities might boast more stunning architecture than others, each big city is bound to have some beautiful buildings that you might just miss when walking to work or out shopping. Glasgow’s main shopping thoroughfare, Buchanan Street, is probably noticed more for its row of bright high street stores than its architecture, but look up and there’s so much more to the centuries-old street than Urban Outfitters. Just making the effort to look around you and actually notice the sights you’re so blithely walking past can make you re-appreciate the beauty of your home city and make that boring slog at work just a bit sunnier.
- Be a tourist
Okay, so sounds fairly obvious, given the title of this blog post. But I mean it. Tripadvisor, Time Out or any good travel guide will give you plenty of tips on what the main tourist locations are in your city. Museums that you’ve always been meaning to go to; art galleries that you haven’t visited since that one school trip in first year. If you don’t mind going full tourist, then hop on a sightseeing bus and find out just what tourist hotspots are considered attractive. I just looked up Tripadvisor’s preferred itinerary for a three day trip to Glasgow, and I’ve definitely never even been to some of those places. Seeing your city from a tourist’s perspective will make you understand just why people visit there, and I bet you’ll feel more cultured and knowledgeable after a few days’ exploration.
- Learn about its history
Whenever I go to a new city, I always make the effort to discover information about the city’s history, whether it’s before I visit or during the trip. Glasgow’s history as a slave-trading industrial capital is certainly a bit more dubious than other cities, but each city has a fascinating history at its core, and it’s certainly well worth investigating. Facebook pages such as Lost Glasgow and Lost Edinburgh illuminate the history behind long-standing or vanished buildings, and have proved immensely popular in reconstructing the cities’ past. Reading up on your city’s history will almost definitely surprise you, even after many years’ residence, and might turn out to be nearly as interesting as a weekend trip away.
- Make the most of your time off
Travels aside, our valuable weekends and days off shouldn’t just be used for chilling in front of the TV or bingeing on Friday night. Visit a museum, a park or maybe a part of your city that you haven’t previously visited; don’t restrict yourself to tried-and-tested restaurants and bars, but branch out to independent eateries and watering holes. (Although a chain restaurant is good every now and then). After all, don’t we all want to be the smug friend with dozens of recommendations at our fingertips?
- Venture outside the city confines
Apart from all the beautiful parks dotted around Glasgow, I know that there are dozens of fairy-tale locations only an hour or two away. There are country parks, lochs, castles, beaches and charming coastal villages, all waiting to be marvelled at. It’s the same for every city: as much as I love sprawling cityscapes and the bustling activity of city streets, sometimes it’s good to experience an entirely new setting, and to discover the vast opportunity for natural beauty practically on your doorstep.
So those are my recommendations for being a tourist in your own city! Let me know below if you have any more tips 🙂
Image: Kingston Bridge, Glasgow