As with an arrival in any new city, the hardest thing is getting to grips with how the city works. Not just the language - although we do want to help you with that too - but also how can really slip into the city like a local and really beat the transport system.
Glasgow is the fifth-largest urban area in the UK, but is a shade on London’s (nearly) 10 million people, at 1.2 million people. Nonetheless, it is easy to get lost and misplaced in a transport system that is trickier to decipher than it may first seem. These eight hacks will have you travelling like a local in no time.
Drop the cabs
Everybody loves a good cab ride. Feeling like royalty as you’re chauffeured from door to door, A/C set to your exacting standards, your favourite tunes blaring from the speakers. Unfortunately, for the savvy traveller, cab rides are a luxury that can ill be afforded. But there are always other options. A bus for example. So, a cab ride from Glasgow Airport to the centre of town will knock you back £24, while the bus service that takes just 25 minutes and runs 24/7 will cost you £8.50 return. Dropping you off at the Glasgow Central Station or Queen Street Station, you will be so perfectly placed to carry on your journey to your destination, you won’t even notice that you weren’t chauffeur driven.
Map it up
What is worse? Looking like a tourist who knows exactly where they’re going, or looking like a local with absolutely no idea where they are? I know what I’d choose. Now, I realise maps are the worst enemy of blending in as a local, but the bus network in Glasgow is a maze. You’ll struggle without one. An SPT Bus Map can be picked up for free at most tourist offices and could save you a pointless trip the wrong way down the River Clyde.
Go 2 for 1 for a great discount
Just as there are many buses, there are also all manner of tickets to choose from for various forms of transport. If you want absolute freedom to travel on the bus, rail, subway and even some ferries you need to go for the combined ticket option. This allows two to travel all day on the above modes of transport for just £19.80. One person can get the same ticket for £11.20. This is the ideal ticket to get early on in your visit and really explore and get to know the layout of the city.
Get smart with the subway
For cheap rates on subway rides you should look to get a subway smart card. In the footsteps of London, Glasgow have done away with paper tickets for the subway and are moving everything to an electronic system. The smart card will need to be applied for online before travelling, but is completely free. With this you can electronically check in and out of the subway and get savings on the price of travel in the meantime. This is the ideal travel hack for those who plan to stay in the city longer term than just, say, a weekend.
Save cash, and the planet
For the ultimate cash saver, you would be well advised to bring your trusty bike with you on your visit. If this is one impracticality too far, or perhaps costs more than its worth, then never fear. But this raises an interesting point, Glasgow is a born-again cycle-friendly city. Styling itself on European cousins, such as Amsterdam or Berlin, the city has over 300km of cycle routes available. Many of which take scenic routes that are unhindered by the usual road traffic. There is a rental system available in the city with 170 bikes spread across 31 locations. The bikes are maintained by Nextbike and are comfortable and easy to ride with big saddles and wheels, to make even the shakiest of cyclists into budding Sir Chris Hoys. Rentals start at £1 for the first half hour with modest charges added for more time spent cycling. Download the Android and iOS app and get renting on arrival.
Put your trust in your feet
If cycling isn’t your thing, take things a little slower. Glasgow is a city steeped in history with stunning architecture to boot. Don’t miss this all by descending into the subway, rather put your best foot forward and walk. The city is not huge and is easily walkable. Download the Glasgow Walking App, which was developed by Glasgow City Council and offers some of the most scenic and historic walks around town. Feel smug in the knowledge that with every step you take you’re saving yourself a penny or two, this can be redistributed into buying yourself a victory pint at the end of your personal walking tour.
Steer clear of the subway
So you want to seem like a local? The best way to do this is to know where you’re going. You’re not going to learn that by jumping on the subway for a stop and hopping off again. You may start to get an idea if you stay above land. Luckily for you the city has one of the most extensive urban rail networks in the UK, second only to London. You can buy a daily roundabout ticket that costs £6.50 and allows you freedom of travel on all over ground rail services for a day. Undoubtedly one of the best ways to get around the city.
Get out of town
This is a secret many Glaswegians are unlikely to tell you. Their fiercest rival and neighbour Edinburgh is just a 55-minute train ride away. Go from Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh Station in under an hour and pack two cities in for the price of one on your trip to Glasgow. Tickets on the day can cost £13.50 one way, but with a bit of planning or a concessions card such as your 16-25 rail card they can be substantially cheaper. Just don’t tell any Glaswegians where you’re going - they wouldn’t be too impressed.
And there we have the best eight ways to hack your travel plans in Glasgow and travel like a local on arrival.
Now all that’s left is somewhere to stay. Have you considered easyHotel Glasgow City? Our rooms are comfortable, clean, in great locations and always at near unbeatable prices. Perfect for the canny traveller.
November 2016 | Insider’s Guide
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