Glasgow: A Guide for Tourists

Glasgow is unique. The city’s warmth, humour, and vivacity combine with world-class culture, heritage, architecture, music, sport and events to attract millions of tourists each year, with numbers forecast to rise in the years ahead. Experience Glasgow for yourselves as an outstanding destination and as a gateway to the rest of Scotland.

Short history of Glasgow


It is suggested that Glasgow was founded by St Mungo in the sixth century, when he built a church at a place called Glas Gu, which means ‘Green Place’. Originally a fishing settlement, by the twelfth century it was a small town with many craftsmen including skinners, tanners and leather glove makers as well as fullers (men who cleaned and thickened wool) and dyers.

By the late seventeenth century Glasgow’s industries included the manufacture of rope, glass, cloth and porcelain as well as sugar processing. Quays and warehouses were built along the Clyde and this area became known as Port Glasgow. It was here that in 1674 that the first cargo of tobacco arrived, soon to become one of Glasgow’s most important imports due to its position on the west of Scotland.

By the end of the eighteenth century Glasgow’s population was about 84,000, making it a large town. By this time Glasgow was famous for its fine linen, with cotton spinning a major industry in town. 100 years later major industries in Glasgow included shipbuilding, cotton, engineering, carpet making, pottery and glass.

In the 1930s Glasgow suffered severe unemployment with shipbuilding one of the industries hardest hit by the depression, although it revived with the coming of World War II. Another steep decline, this time in the 1980s and 1990s affected the traditional manufacturing industries of Glasgow, but service industries grew to provide employment. In the last part of the 20th century Glasgow turned to art and its heritage to attract tourists and provide jobs. In 1990 Glasgow was named a European city of culture and in 1999 was designated the UK city of architecture and design.

Why you will want to visit Glasgow

Business Travellers Guide to Glasgow infographic
Business Travellers Guide to Glasgow infographic

Glasgow is an great city for tourists to visit as it is simple to get around. Tourists can choose a self-guided tours or a city

sightseeing bus, or take a walking tour with knowledgeable guides around the city or particular city venues. There are multiple reasons why so many tourists visit Glasgow, here we list just a few:

  • Glasgow has one of Europe’s largest civic art collections tourists can visit for free. It also has many attractions and architecture created by the iconic Glaswegian architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
  • Glasgow is not just famous for whisky, the city has a number of independent breweries and dedicated gin bars. Voted UK’s most Vegan Friendly city, there is quality food available for everyone.
  • Glasgow has a rich architectural heritage. From the medieval Glasgow Cathedral to the Neo-Gothic University of Glasgow, rumoured to have been the inspiration for JK Rowling’s description of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts – to the Art Nouveau wonders of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and cutting-edge designs along the riverside.
  • Glasgow has an unrivalled music scene with the SSE Hydro, one of the world’s busiest concert venues with a calendar of events including world class cultural and sporting highlights including all of Scotland’s national performing arts organisations. Glasgow also has independent art house films, basement comedy clubs, glitzy casinos and underground club nights
  • Buchanan Street is the main pedestrianised shopping street in Glasgow and is consistently voted as the top place to shop in the UK outside London’s west end.

Hotels in Glasgow

Cathedral photo at night

Glasgow attracts over two million tourists per year and the city is working to increase this to three million overnight tourists per year by 2023. Greater Glasgow has more than 18,000 guest-rooms across hotels in the area, and almost 7,000 of these rooms in the city centre. Tourists can be guaranteed to find a hotel to suit their itinerary and budget, including luxury hotels, spa hotels or a choice of grand historic hotels.

Centrally-located hotels in Glasgow are beside the top attractions and entertainment in the city. Hotels on the outskirts of the city are just a short bus ride from the centre and surrounding towns, with taxis, trains and an underground train service to take tourists around to other attractions. Hotels in Glasgow provide a wide range of facilities including air conditioning, free Wi-Fi and parking, indoor swimming pools and spas.

If you prefer a hotel in the countryside around Glasgow, there are plenty of grand country houses and hotels where you can relax and enjoy elegant accommodation, award-winning restaurants, indulgent spas and the peace and tranquillity of the great outdoors.

Many of the famous brand hotels have properties in Glasgow. Premier Inn offer simple, contemporary en suite rooms in their hotels on Buchanan Street and Argyle Street. Glasgow Marriott Hotel is a 4-star hotel offering bright rooms and suites, plus a spa and indoor pool. Jurys Inn Glasgow offers modern, understated rooms with free Wi-Fi as well as a coffee shop and two restaurants. Abode Glasgow is a grand Edwardian building offering a contemporary restaurant and bar. Hallmark Hotel offers traditional rooms, suites and apartments in an up-scale property with a fitness centre, spa and pool. Hilton Glasgow is a modern 5-star hotel with a fitness centre and pool, plus a seafood restaurant and a refined cocktail bar. Hotel Ibis Glasgow is s 3-star hotel offering contemporary rooms with free Wi-Fi and a cafe-style restaurant serving snacks and light meals.