Glasgow Trip - Charles Rennie Mackintosh and so much more!

I'm not long back from a great trip to Glasgow city - I've always wanted to visit Scotland, probably more so the highlands and Scotland's natural beauty but I was on a budget and managed to get a pretty good deal on GoHop for myself, my husband and our 13 year old. It was approx. €600 for the 3 of us for 3 nights but we had 4 long days so I thought it was pretty good value.

I didn't entirely know what to expect from Glasgow - I did know that it was associated with Charles Rennie Mackintosh, part of the Art Nouveau movement and I was dying to see anything of his.
What I realised soon after arriving, however, is that there is an absolute wealth of things to see and do in Glasgow. Many things are free and it is a truly beautiful city. I absolutely fell in love with it and I will definitely be going back!

The first thing we encountered was Glasgow's Botanic Gardens, situated very near our hotel in Glasgow's West End. They are beautifully kept and feature stunning glasshouses, most notably Kibble Palace, erected in 1873. There's also a cosy little tearooms where we had scones with clotted cream and jam, and tea, yum :)

Botanic Gardens Glasgow

We had reasonably good weather so I was able to take pictures of some of the gorgeous flowers
Viola Flower, Glasgow

Poppy Flower, Botanics Glasgow

Botanic Gardens Glasgow Echinacea

We really packed a lot into our visit and I'm not sure if I remember exactly the order of our days but here are some of the highlights - 

Visiting anywhere with a 13 year old involves a certain amount of compromise so we did some trips to the shopping area. This is based around Buchanan St. and Sauchiehall St. and has all the shops you would need and more! Plenty for everyone and every budget. I got a bargain pair of jeans in River Island and Izzy bought some tops and jeans in H&M. 

We had a break for tea in the Willow Tearooms on Sauchiehall St. These tea rooms are so beautiful, entirely designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Kate Cranston, an enterprising Glasgow lady. He had complete control over the design, even down to the cutlery and waitresses' uniforms.  It was a joy to sit and have tea there and soak in the surroundings. Upstairs has a beautiful fireplace and a history of the tea room and the association of CRM and Kate Cranston. Downstairs, you can purchase souvenirs.

Willow Tea Rooms Sauchiehall Street

Sign at Willow Tea Rooms Glasgow

Willow Tea Rooms Glasgow Menu

Continuing on the Charles Rennie Mackintosh theme, a visit to the Glasgow School of Art was a must.  In 1897 a new building for the school was designed by CRM, and it's one of his best known works. Tragically, there was a fire in 2014 , which caused extensive damage and destroyed the Mackintosh library. Fundraising and restoration work is ongoing and you can read more here if you're interested - Things we found in the fire

Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh

Glasgow School of Art Window Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Heading back to the hotel, we went via Glasgow University and had a quick look through the Hunterian Museum (the oldest public museum in Scotland) - I was probably too tired at that stage to take in the museum but the University itself was absolutely stunning, breathtakingly beautiful if, like me, you're a fan of old buildings and architecture.

Entrance to Glasgow University

Glasgow University Buildings

Cloisters at Glasgow University

Walls of Glasgow University

One of the great things about Glasgow was that everything was so accessible, easy to get around by bus but most things are within walking distance if you have the energy.

The following day, we decided to have a day trip to Edinburgh - although it's probably the more popular tourist destination, it's actually nicer and cheaper to stay in Glasgow and visit Edinburgh by train or bus. It was only 50 min away by train from Queen St. Station and it was £25 approx. for a return off-peak ticket for the 3 of us, so very reasonable!
I was really glad we visited Edinburgh but I much preferred Glasgow, mainly because it was crazy busy in Edinburgh with the Fringe Festival on and so touristy that doing anything required spending money and being stuck in crowds of people.

Edinburgh Castle Skyline

I'm a bit of a solo wanderer, I like to meander around and discover things for myself, so I really didn't want to pay for an hour's tour of the Castle but we did go as far as we could though and looked out over Edinburgh. We walked through the Old Town, it was frenetic with people and street performers. I'm still not well and energy reserves run out quickly for me so it was a little too much although perhaps I'd be able for it if I was feeling better. Then we had a good look around the Scottish National Gallery (there were plenty of seats and wifi to keep Izzy amused whilst I browsed).

We had tea and cake in the cafe and as the sun was shining for once, we sat outside, there's a park just below the cafe so we were able to relax and recharge our batteries for a while.

Edinburgh Park near the Gallery

Mark Reid Cliona Kelliher Edinburgh

Mother and Daughter Edinburgh

On our last day we had a good look around Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

This was another fantastically beautiful building in the Baroque style, very regal and impressive! Inside, myself and Izzy spent ages in the museum part and we were both totally riveted by all the exhibits, from fossils to skeletons to insects, it was truly fascinating and there were lots of interactive things for younger kids to do also. All three of us then wandered through the Art Collection which had an amazing array of works by French Impressionists, Dutch Old Masters and Scottish artists, to name but a few. There was also a whole gallery dedicated to Charles Rennie Mackintosh which was so interesting.

Kelvingrove Glasgow

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Ceiling Kelvingrove Art Gallery

Kelvingrove Charles Rennie Mackintosh Art Nouveau

Sadly, our time in Glasgow had to come to an end - I will definitely be going back as it was such a great experience. Two more things I have to mention - one is that we ate out one night in Sarti on Bath Street and it had fabulous food and great service and was also really allergy friendly, I would totally recommend it if you have anyone in the family with food allergies.

Secondly, I love thrift shops/charity shops/vintage shops - always good to find a bargain and something a little bit different and Byres Road in the West End, near our hotel, had absolutely loads of these shops so it was a really cool road to wander down, it also had lots of nice foodie places and a Waitrose which came in really handy!

Hope you've enjoyed my Glasgow recommendations and I'd love to hear if you know of anywhere I should visit that I've missed :)

For some places to visit in Ireland, you might like - Donegal Trip or Burtown House and the Green Barn

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  • MummyTravels
    MummyTravels 24 August 2015 at 10:16

    I had a long weekend in Glasgow last summer with my daughter and it was a bit of a revelation - we went to quite a few of the same places as you did, and I don't think I'd realised how lovely the city is, how easy to explore and how much to do.

    • Cliona Kelliher
      Cliona Kelliher 24 August 2015 at 20:01

      Yes, I definitely didn't realise how much there was to see, it's a fab city!

  • Heart2Art
    Heart2Art 25 September 2015 at 11:53

    I've never visited Glasgow but I've done Edinburgh. Scotland is an amazing place. Looks like you had a good time. X

  • Sarah
    Sarah 25 September 2015 at 12:06

    I'd love to visit Scotland and you got a really good deal! Looks like such a beautiful place and so much fun. I am also a solo wanderer and would rather discover things for myself as well.
    HAve a lovely weekend. xx

  • Emma T
    Emma T 25 September 2015 at 13:20

    Really beautiful buildings. I've not been to Glasgow, but I love Edinburgh, so should make the journey up again to check out Glasgow too.

  • Unknown
    Unknown 26 September 2015 at 10:21

    I have never been to Scotland. I like yourself would love to see the highlands and the countryside but Glasgow looks like a great place for a city break. It sounds like you got great deal as well.

  • Joanne
    Joanne 26 September 2015 at 10:42

    That looks like a great trip. I've never been to Glasgow, only had a weekend in Edinburgh, so we really want to explore the rest of Scotland

  • Unknown
    Unknown 26 September 2015 at 14:47

    Glasgow is one City I have never been too and it looks lovely, the building and artitecture are fabulous and these tea rooms look so quaint

  • Zena's Suitcase
    Zena's Suitcase 26 September 2015 at 21:53

    I visit Scotland quite a lot, but I have never been to the cities. I didn't realise it would be so easy to visit Edinburgh from Glasgow so that is something I'll bear in mind. Looks like you had a great visit

  • Ana De-Jesus
    Ana De-Jesus 26 September 2015 at 22:09

    I never realized how beautiful Glasgow is, when I picture Scotland it is a vision of cold and boredom but how wrong am I ? The university looks especially beautiful and like you I love old buildings.

  • Zeit my Geist
    Zeit my Geist 27 September 2015 at 12:16

    Oh I love Glasgow so much but am yet to visit Edinburgh. I must look out for some good deals ... Lovely photography.

  • Hayley: Sparkles and Stretchmarks
    Hayley: Sparkles and Stretchmarks 28 September 2015 at 02:52

    This looks like such a lovely trip! So interesting. Glasgow is one of those places I`ve always wanted to visit but have never yet managed to. Someday! xx

  • Ickle Pickle
    Ickle Pickle 28 September 2015 at 07:24

    I'd love to visit Glasgow - I've never even been to Scotland! Yes shopping with a teen is a must - my daughters are 15 and 19!! Kaz x

  • Lisa B
    Lisa B 28 September 2015 at 12:40

    This looks lovely! I've never been to Glasgow, I'd also never been to Scotland until now (sat in Glencoe on the worlds poorest wifi!) so far I'm finding it to be full of beauty although not near any cities we won't see as many things as you have in Glasgow! Xx

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