City Orientation Walk, Glasgow (Self Guided)

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and a very popular destination among tourists. With a number of 19th century buildings, numerous musical events, football matches, traditional pubs, food venues, Glasgow is a truly unique place. Don't miss the chance to visit some of its most popular tourist attractions listed below.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Scotland » Glasgow (See other walking tours in Glasgow)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 km
Author: Caroline
1
George Square

1) George Square (must see)

When you see George Square today, it is hard to believe that at its origins it was a hollow filled with filthy, stagnant water and its marshy edges were used as a slaughterhouse. Between 1787-1829 the area was drained, opened out and lined with houses on the east and west sides.

Named after King George III, the square became the center of merchant activity with the Merchants House customs and exchange building constructed in 1850. No statue of King George is placed there, although one was intended to be. Unfortunately, because of Britain’s defeat in the American War of Independence, which caused so much anguish for Glasgow’s Tobacco Lords and the king’s later mental illness, the 24-meter column in the square’s center is topped by Sir Walter Scott instead.

Other statues and monuments abound on the square, including the Cenotaph by Burnett raised to the memory of Glaswegian soldiers killed in the First World War. There are rare equestrian statues representing Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, figures of Robert Burns, James Watt, Thomas Graham, William Gladstone, Robert Peel and James Oswald.

If you are lucky to be in Glasgow during the winter, you can enjoy the ice-skating rink that is set up there and buy your presents in the enormous Christmas Market.

Why You Should Visit:
Big square with statues in it – what's not to like? A good place to catch some sun, 'people watch' or protest against the government if that's what you are into.

Tip:
Enjoy a pint at the gargantuan Wetherspoon restaurant & bar, housed in the former home of the Bank of Scotland. One of the best Wetherspoons out there!
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Glasgow City Chambers

2) Glasgow City Chambers (must see)

You will find the City Chambers on the eastern side of George Square, and while you might not be interested in the Glasgow City Council business, do go and visit the building, which you can do either on a self-guided tour or with a tour guide on a scheduled basis.

The Chambers, which have been the City Council headquarters since 1996, were built in 1889 by William Young. The City Council originally met in the Old Tolbooth but by the mid 19th century they were too small and the new building was commissioned.

Although it has been extended in 1923 and 1984, it has kept its Renaissance Classical and Italianate style with a lot of ornate exterior decorations. The sculpture work is by James Alexander Ewing, with a celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee on the central pediment.

The statues on the apex represent Honour and Riches, with Truth in the center. The statues on the tower represent the Four Seasons.

The entrance hall has a wonderful floor-mosaic of the Glasgow Coat of Arms and the ceiling is decorated in gold leaf with a stained-glass dome. Marble and alabaster pillars support the main marble stairway.

The ground floor loggia has a breath-taking mosaic ceiling and the Councillors’ Corridor is decorated in Italian faience.

The best room in the building is the Banqueting Hall with its magnificent arched ceiling and chandeliers. The murals were executed by the Glasgow School of Art and show the history and culture of the city, the granting of the Royal Charter and Scotland’s four principal rivers.

Why You Should Visit:
There are free one-hour tours run on weekdays from the lobby. Tickets are first-come-first-served but aren't heavily publicised so likely to be availability.
The tours take place at 10:30am and 2:30pm – show up at least 30 mins early. You can also walk around yourself, but you'll have significant restrictions.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Buchanan Street

3) Buchanan Street

Buchanan Street is one of the main shopping thoroughfares in Glasgow. It forms the central stretch of Glasgow's famous shopping district with a generally more upmarket range of shops than the neighbouring streets: Argyle Street, and Sauchiehall Street. It runs south from the junction with Sauchiehall Street. At its north end are the Buchanan Galleries and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. The Princes Square mall and a flagship branch of the House of Fraser department store are opposite one another further south, and the street meets Argyle Street at the south, just north of St. Enoch Square. Buchanan Street is now entirely pedestrianised, but the streets that cross it (Bath Street, George Street, St. Vincent Street, and Argyle Street) are not.
Buchanan Street cuts through Nelson Mandela Place, which was renamed by the Labour city council from St George's Place and is also adjacent to St George's-Tron Church, the Glasgow Stock Exchange building, and Royal Exchange Square, which now houses the Gallery of Modern Art. Buchanan Street is renowned for its variety in high street shopping, including flagship stores, with rents on the street being as much as £250 per square foot, making it the 6th most expensive street in the United Kingdom for retail rent, only surpassed by 5 streets in London. Buchanan Street is also the second busiest shopping thoroughfare, second only to Oxford Street in London.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Buchanan Galleries

4) Buchanan Galleries (must see)

Apart from London, Glasgow is the best place in the UK for shopping. The offer is impressive with lower prices than in London, and instead of having to run all over the city, it is quite convenient, as the shopping district is concentrated in four downtown streets. The Buchanan Galleries are up the street from Buchanan Street, and is the largest and most prestigious in Glasgow, with nearly 100 stores. Apart from international brands like Gap or Claire, for example, you'll find a curious whiskey shop, which is almost a museum and has a lot of information about the different types of whiskey, along with typical silver vessels in which the Scottish national drink is taken. The building also incorporates the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Tip:
Spend your time shopping on Buchanan Street and if it starts raining out, just take cover in here.
Try John Lewis for tea and scone and take a window seat to view down Buchanan street.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat: 10am–7pm; Thu: 10am–8pm; Sun: 10am–6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

5) Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (must see)

Longing to listen to some really good music or take in a ballet while you are in Glasgow? Then book your seats at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, which stands on the junction of Buchannan and Sauchiehall Streets.

The hall was designed by Sir Leslie Martin and it opened its doors in 1990. It has many different concert rooms: the Main Auditorium is huge and seats 2475 concert-goers. A rubber skin sound-proofing system was built into the floor to keep out the noise from the underground train system that passes under the building.

The Strathclyde Suite seats 500; the Lomond Foyer, the Clyde Foyer and the Exhibition Hall each have seats for 300 people, while the Buchannan Suite holds 150. There is a VIP Room, a gift shop, five bars, the Encore Café, and the Green Room Restaurant, so you will have plenty to occupy you while waiting for the show to begin.

Although the hall is the home of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, it also puts on a variety of other music, including country, jazz, pop, and rock concerts. It also hosts ballets, opera, musical comedies, as well as non-musical events such as the Miss Scotland finals.

Why You Should Visit:
Best acoustic settings in Glasgow if not the UK – even drab gigs sound amazing!
Also remarkably intimate for its size.

Tip:
If you are visiting in January/February time be sure to check out the Celtic Connections music festival which showcases Scottish and Irish music.
6
Sauchiehall Street

6) Sauchiehall Street

Sauchiehall Street is one of the main shopping and business streets in the city centre of Glasgow. Along with Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, it forms the main shopping area of Glasgow, containing the majority of its high street and chain stores. Although commonly associated with the city centre, Sauchiehall street is over 2.5 km long, finally meeting Argyle Street in the West End, in front of the Kelvingrove Museum. The two streets run parallel through the city centre, before starting to conjoin westward of the M8 motorway at Charing Cross. At the eastern end of Sauchiehall Street is the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and Buchanan Galleries, one of the largest city centre redevelopments in the UK. At the western end of the city centre section of the street, towards Charing Cross, there is an abundance of restaurants, bars and student-oriented clubs. This is a very popular street in terms of Glasgow nightlife. Notable landmarks in this area of the street include the former Beresford Hotel, Glasgow School of Art, the Glasgow Film Theatre, CCA Glasgow, the McLellan Galleries, the Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum and the Glasgow Dental Hospital and School.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Glasgow Film Theatre

7) Glasgow Film Theatre (must see)

The Glasgow Film Theatre or GFT is an independent cinema in Rose Street. The theatre is situated in a 'B' listed modernist European building with a post art deco interior. The building's design was by Glaswegian architects James McKissack and W J Anderson, and was influenced by the Dutch Modernist architect Willem Marinus Dudok. The current lobby was designed by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1968.

The GFT plays an important part in the cultural life of the city centre, showing a wide variety (around 450 per year) of international video and television productions in addition to arthouse, documentary, and mainstream films. In addition to daily screening of films, the GFT is host to a number of clubs and activities that meet regularly every month. The GFT is also an annual participant in the Glasgow Film Festival and numerous other film festivals held through the year.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful old art deco building and cozy cinema to boot. The main auditorium is a pleasure to sit in and you can take your drinks in to the screening.
Overall the best place for art house and alternative films in Glasgow - now well equipped with a selection of screens and a modern café.

Tip:
Check out their timetable as there are lots of special events throughout the year, actor Q&As, kids club (Saturday mornings) and autism-friendly showings.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Mitchell Library

8) Mitchell Library (must see)

The Mitchell Library stands on North Street, drawing thousands of tourists each year – booklovers and sightseers alike – and when you see this impressive building, you will surely understand why.

Tobacco manufacturer Stephen Mitchell left funds in his will and a request that a library should be built and offered to the people. The building was designed in 1906 by William Whitie, who won the architectural competition set by the City Council. It was built in the Neo-Classical style, with a copper dome topped by a bronze statue called quite simply “Literature”.

The library contains five floors of reading rooms and over 2 million books. It is the largest reference library open to the public in Europe. A lending library section opened in 2005. It houses the Glasgow Archives and is also considered one of the best places to go for those who wish to research their family history.

In 1972 the Council bought the former St Andrews Halls, which had been badly damaged in a fire ten years earlier, and incorporated them into an extension for the expanding library now housing the main collection of books. An internal street on the ground floor connects the extension with the main library. There is also a very good café with free wifi.

Why You Should Visit:
Staff is friendly and helpful, happy to order in books or track them down at other local libraries if you're in a rush.
The library also hosts numerous book events throughout the year with some well-known authors giving talks etc.
You can research your family tree (for free) or look up old maps and property information in the reference library.
Add to take how beautiful the classically-inspired building is, particularly when lit up at night, and you have a real gem.

Tip:
The place can get very busy during exam times (December and April/May) – therefore go early.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 9am-8pm; Fri, Sat: 9am-5pm
9
Pinnacle

9) Pinnacle

This skyscraper is the tallest building in the city. It was built on the grounds of the Heron’s House based on a design by Alexander Thomson, and was renovated in 2004. With a total height of 61 meters, the Pinnacle is situated just few minutes west of the town center, near the St. Vincent church - a free Scottish basilica designed by the same architect, Alexander "Greek" Thomson.
10
Mercantile Chambers

10) Mercantile Chambers

Another fine building for those among you, who collect photos of architectural gems, is the Mercantile Chambers on Bothwell Street.

This huge building of sandstone was constructed in 1897 in the Art Nouveau style, with many windows and nine bays of arcades on the ground floor. The arches are supported by thick columns with sculptured imposts. Once the centre of the cities merchants, the ground floor now houses shops, while the five other storeys are used as office space.

The building boasts many statues and sculptures on its façade. The four female sculptures represent Fortune, Industry, Prosperity and Prudence. Standing out over the main entrance is a small semi-circular, shrine-like construction supported on brackets depicting cherubim. Seated inside the shrine is the statue of Mercury, the Roman god of trade and commercial success.

The building was designed by James Salmon Junior and was his first commission. He is best known for “The Hatrack Tower” a 1902 Art Nouveau building that features a lot of glass – an innovation for the time.

The sculpture-work on the Mercantile Chambers is by Francis Wood, who was renowned for his architectural and free standing sculptures. During the First World War Wood worked in the Masks for Facial Disfigurement Department of London’s Third General Hospital. He was one of the first sculptors to make thin metal masks for soldiers wounded on the battlefield.
11
Lighthouse

11) Lighthouse

While you are visiting Glasgow you will surely hear about the Lighthouse and you wouldn’t be the first visitor to wonder what a lighthouse is doing in the center of a city far from the sea. The only way to satisfy your curiosity is to go and see it for yourself.

The building was constructed in 1895 from designs by the architect John Keppie, but it was his apprentice Charles Mackintosh who oversaw the work as his first public commission. It is because of this that most people forget about Keppie and attribute the building to Mackintosh.

The Lighthouse was once the offices and headquarters of the newspaper, the Glasgow Herald. It now belongs to the Glasgow City Council, who has turned it into a Centre all about architecture, design and the city.

The Centre’s aim is to help people understand the link between architecture, creative industry and design, through exhibitions and interactive displays. On six floors, the Centre boasts 6000 square meters of exhibition space and hosts twelve local and three international shows a year.

The first floor is dedicated to education with a computer laboratory, workshops and the “Wee People’s City”. This is a hands-on play area especially designed for 8 – 13 year olds, to promote understanding about building and design. It is great fun for the kids as they take a path that leads them through investigation, exploration and discovery of the city.

The Lighthouse has a viewing platform on the top of the Mackintosh Tower that can be reached from the third floor by a helical stairway. For those who don’t feel up to climbing the stairs, another view-point on the 6th floor can be reached by lift.
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Princes Square

12) Princes Square

Princes Square is a five-story shopping center in the very center of Glasgow. It has a wide range of both high-street products and branded boutiques, as well as independent specialty shops. When you're done shopping, check out the range of bars and cafes here that include some of the best spots in town.

Hours: Monday-Friday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm; Saturday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm; Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
13
St Enoch Square

13) St Enoch Square

St. Enoch Square is a public square in Glasgow, Scotland, situated at the junction of Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, the city's two busiest shopping streets. t. Enoch Square has been home to many chapels and churches, namely the Church of St. Thenew, where her resting place is. The last St. Enoch Church was demolished in 1926, in order to allow development of a bus station and a car park. St Enoch Square received an upgrade, transforming the area into a plaza like environment, housing large screens for broadcasting, and generally creating a more pleasant urban area for pedestrians. Located directly adjacent to the square is the St Enoch Centre, the largest glass-covered enclosed area in Europe.
The IET Glasgow: Teacher building is found in the St Enoch Square. The building is a multi-award winning event venue, converted in 1995. Original features of the building, such as the sandstone facade that historical buildings around this area share, have been preserved.
The Caffè Nero in the area is situated in the original ticket office for the subway station. The building still has its original architecture, and remains aesthetically untouched since its original creation.
Sight description based on wikipedia
14
Argyle Street

14) Argyle Street

Argyle Street is a major thoroughfare in the city centre of Glasgow. It is the longest street by distance in the city centre, running for 2.1 miles (3.4 km). It begins in the south-eastern corner of the city centre, at the Trongate, where it is pedestrianised as far as Queen Street. This section forms the major shopping section of the road, including the St. Enoch Centre and the Argyll Arcade (a Victorian arcade principally containing jewellers).
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Glasgow, Scotland

Create Your Own Walk in Glasgow

Create Your Own Walk in Glasgow

Creating your own self-guided walk in Glasgow is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Family Fun Self-Guided Tour of Glasgow

Family Fun Self-Guided Tour of Glasgow

Glasgow is a fantastic city to visit with your family, because there's a whole range of great attractions for everybody - young and old - to enjoy. Take our Family Fun Tour to catch the must-see family attractions in the city.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.7 km
Museums & Galleries Tour

Museums & Galleries Tour

One thing you have to do on your trip to Glasgow is see some of its many museums and galleries. These fabulous places offer a great insight into different aspects of Scottish art, culture, transport, science, history and more. This tour will guide you to the most interesting Museums & Galleries located in the city center.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Walking Tour of Sauchiehall Street

Walking Tour of Sauchiehall Street

Sauchiehall Street is one of Glasgow's most interesting and fascinating districts. It's a lively spot full of great shopping and entertainment venues. Take our walking tour and explore the area.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 km
Landmarks Of Glasgow Self-Guided Tour Part 2

Landmarks Of Glasgow Self-Guided Tour Part 2

Glasgow is home to a number of great historic, architectural and cultural landmarks. To make sure you see the best attractions of the city, we've created this two-part Landmarks of Glasgow self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Places of Worship Walking Tour of Glasgow

Places of Worship Walking Tour of Glasgow

The feeling of serenity, of being free from stress and worries is very precious nowadays. And where better to find this than inside a church. Glasgow is home to a number of great churches that are notable for their architectural design, mostly in a Gothic style. Take our Places of Worship tour to visit the best churches in the city.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.8 km
Garnethill Art Walk

Garnethill Art Walk

Art and culture hold a special place in the hearts of Glaswegians, and Scots in general. The emphasis here is laid on maintaining and promoting the appreciation of arts among both locals and visitors. Take our Walking Tour to see some of the best galleries and art centers around Glasgow's Garnethill district .

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Glasgow for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Glasgow has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Glasgow, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.