With galleries galore, top museums and buzzing nightlife, this Scottish city has a creative vibe, writes Christina Pfeiffer
The jewel in Glasgow's crown, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum reopened last summer after a three- year, GBP27.9 million (HK$421 million) refurbishment. Before its temporary closure, Kelvingrove was already one of Britain's most popular museums (www.glasgowmuseums.com). Its renovation means 8,000 items are now on display in 22 themed galleries. A key exhibit is a second world war Spitfire that was part of the 602 City of Glasgow Squadron. The restored aircraft hangs from the ceiling of the West Court. Other displays include a life-sized skeleton cast of a ceratosaur, a collection of Egyptian treasures on loan from the British Museum and a controversial Salvador Dali painting, Christ of St John of the Cross, which - after heated public debate - was returned to Kelvingrove from the nearby St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. The value of Kelvingrove's collection is estimated to be about GBP600 million. Entry and guided tours are free.
2 Buchanan Street
Admire the grand Victorian architecture along Buchanan Street - and because it's Glasgow's main shopping street you may be tempted to give your credit card a good workout. The Argyll Arcade, Britain's oldest covered shopping arcade (established in 1827), is headquarters for the city's top jewellers. Head for the designer boutiques in Princes Square, a converted 19th-century warehouse worth walking into simply to admire its glass canopies, wrought-iron balconies and wall mosaics. You'll find designer names such as Armani, Escada and Ralph Lauren in the Merchant City area, once home to 18th-century tobacco barons and now Glasgow's main haute-couture neighbourhood. Pop into the historic Willow Tea Rooms (www.willowtea rooms.co.uk) for a spot of afternoon tea among the high-backed chairs and clean lines of architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
3 Glasgow Green
King James II granted Glasgow Green to Bishop William Turnbull and the people of the city in 1450. In those days it was used as a common area in which to perform tasks such as washing, bleaching linen and drying fishing nets, as well as for grazing and swimming. Today, Glasgow's oldest city park covers 55 hectares of open space and is used for concerts, fireworks displays and other major events. At the edge of the park is the city's social history museum, the People's Palace. Housed in an elegant 19th-century red sandstone building, the museum documents the story of the people of the city since 1750 with three floors of paintings and photographs. Wander next door into the Victorian glasshouse of the Winter Gardens, where you can warm yourself with a hot drink in the cafe among the tropical plants. Admission to the People's Palace and Winter Gardens is free.
4 The Burrell Collection
The result of a 1971 architectural competition, the Burrell is set in the woodlands of Pollok Estate, a property presented to the city by Anne Maxwell Macdonald (the 11th Baroness of Pollok). The museum holds a collection of 9,000 artworks donated by Sir William Burrell and his wife Constance. There's something to satisfy every taste, including ancient artefacts from China, Egypt, Greece and Rome, modern sculptures by Epstein and Rodin, works by European masters and Islamic art treasures. Architectural items such as medieval arches have been cleverly integrated into the design of the building. Admission is free.
5 Historic heart
The City Chambers (www.glasgow. gov.uk) on George Square have been the headquarters of the city council since 1888. Tours are free and run twice a day (10.30am; 2.30pm). Also located on the square is the Glasgow Tourist Information Centre (www.seeglasgow.com). The hop-on, hop-off bus (www.scotguide.com) starts its run in George Square and the pre-recorded commentary begins by providing interesting historical snippets about its stately statues. Tickets cost GBP9 (adult) or GBP3 (child) and are valid for 24 hours.
6 Charles Rennie Mackintosh trail
What Antoni Gaudi is to Barcelona, Charles Rennie Mackintosh is to Glasgow. The legacy of the architect, designer and artist can be admired in many buildings. A GBP12 trail ticket provides entry to key Mackintosh attractions (such as the Mackintosh House, the Lighthouse, Glasgow School of Art, House for an Art Lover, the Hill House, the Mackintosh Church and Scotland Street School) and includes unlimited travel on public transport (www.crmsociety.com).
7 Trendy West End
Soak up the vibrant atmosphere among the restaurants, bars and street musicians after dark. Catch a lunch- time performance at the quarter's most popular entertainment venue, Oran Mor (www.oran-mor.co.uk). Set in a converted church, its theatre programme - known as A Play, A Pie and A Pint - attracts the city's best writers and actors. Byres Road is a treasure trove of unique boutique dress shops, interior design shops and trendy cafes. Glasgow's top boutique hotel, One Devonshire Gardens (www.onedevonshiregardens.com), was taken over by Hotel du Vin and reopened in October 2006 as Hotel du Vin and Bistro, with beautifully appointed luxurious rooms, an impressive Scotch whisky room and a new bistro that's the talk of the town.
8 Glasgow Harbour
When the regeneration of Glasgow Harbour (www.glasgowharbour.com) is complete, the area promises to become an attraction that pays tribute to the city's past as one of Britain's major shipbuilding centres. Residential areas, a 3km riverside walkway, cycle paths, landscaped areas and retail, leisure and museum precincts are all taking shape. In the 19th century the River Clyde was one of Britain's most prominent shipbuilding centres and the term Clydebuilt was an industry benchmark for superior quality. Today, the Glenlee (better known as the Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour; www.thetallship.com) is a historical reminder of Glasgow's shipbuilding past and one of only five Clydebuilt ships in the world that remain afloat. The tour costs GBP4.95 (adult) or GBP2.50 (child).
9 Hunterian Art Gallery
Although it displays art works from well-known masters such as Rembrandt and Rodin, the Hunterian Art Gallery (www.hunterian.gla.ac.uk) is best known for its large collection of paintings by American-born James McNeill Whistler, who lived and worked in Britain and France. Admission is free.
10 Glasgow Science Centre
Interactive exhibits, shows and workshops are housed within three sleek, titanium-clad buildings at the Glasgow Science Centre (www.glasgow sciencecentre.org). The centre also contains Scotland's only Imax theatre and the ScottishPower Planetarium, where a Carl Zeiss Starmaster projector provides an opportunity to investigate the mysteries of space beneath the planetarium's dome.