It’s time to kick off all that lazy winter slumber and start seriously getting into spring. The bulbs are breaking through and the buds are back on the trees so it’s a great time to explore Scotland and the country’s nature as it springs back into life as the frosts ease.
You might think spring is all about the countryside, but I also think it’s a great season for exploring our seven cities too. And none of them are more impressive than Glasgow at this most romantic of times. Join me now as I reveal five reasons to visit Scotland’s largest city in spring.
I’ve got everything for you from leafy parks to foraging for greens on the banks of Glasgow’s forgotten river! So come on – don’t be lazy, what are you waiting for?
Not for nothing is Scotland’s largest city known as the Dear Green Place. It may sport a very obvious post industrial history, especially along the banks of the lifeblood River Clyde, but there is also a lush necklace of parks strung dramatically around the city, even the urban core. Glasgow’s parks look their best in spring.
Glasgow Green and the People's Palace
My two favourites are Glasgow Green and Kelvingrove - just a stone's throw from Glasgow Youth Hostel. Kelvingrove is a great place to relax in the shadow of some of the city’s most dramatic architectire as students ease by and bands occasionally play on the famous bandstand. Glasgow Green stages concerts too in late spring into summer. At this time of year you can just walk through this vast green oasis or on a chilly day nip into the hothouses at the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens. More hothouses await, as well as numerous other flora highlights, across the city at the Botanic Gardens.
2. Myriad Museums
Glasgow’s galleries and museums can get a bit crowded in summer – the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of the most visited museums in the UK – so spring is an ideal time to visit the city’s treasures as you will have more space and freedom to explore. I recommend an unmissable trio. First up is the aforementioned Kelvingrove, a glorious stone edifice that is home to everything from Salvador Dali paintings and Charles Rennie Mackintosh furniture, through to taxidermy animals and a full size World War Two Spitfire.
Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery
The glorious Riverside Museum (the brainchild of late architect Zaha Hadid) hosts the legendary Museum of Transport, which is brilliant fun for kids and big kids alike. My kids though, prefer the Glasgow Science Centre, which is stuffed full of all sorts of scientific trickery. It is very much hands on and guaranteed to keep the wee ones occupied for hours.
3. Freshly Foraged
Glasgow has some great restaurants these days that utilise the best of fresh Scottish produce. One of the most impressive for me is Cail Bruich. This visionary wee place not only buys in fresh local produce, they forage around the city for it too! They once took me just outside the restaurant in spring for a forage along the banks of Glasgow’s often forgotten second river, the Kelvin. We snared a basket full of goodies – my favourite was the wonderfully pungent wild garlic.
Foraging On The Banks Of The Kelvin
If you are not too sure what you are doing I recommend coming for a meal and chatting through with them what you can forage for locally at this time of year.
4. Funky Finnieston
Just a decade ago Finnieston was quite a rundown area with few great bars, cafes and restaurants to tempt people to visit. That has all changed as Argyle Street in particular has seen a new swathe of hip bars, retro cafes and superb restaurants breeze in. Old timer Crabshakk (my favourite seafood restaurant in Glasgow) has now been joined by the likes of superb steak restaurant Porter & Rye and the creative The Gannet.
The opening of the SSE Hydro here has really boosted the area too. I suggest coming to Finnieston, though, on a night when there is not a big gig on, when you can enjoy the genuine Finnieston buzz. I love that old pubs, like the low fi Grove and the Ben Nevis, a hotbed of whisky and folk music, are still going strong too. For more on the new face of Finnieston check out my Welcome to Scotland blog.
5. Hostel Haven
For me any trip is only as good as the place you are staying and handily Glasgow is home to the brilliant Glasgow Youth Hostel. This gorgeous 110 bed old dame enjoys a privileged position in a posh part of town with views over the city and Kelvingrove Park.
They have a number of sleeping options, from shared rooms, singles and doubles, through to their excellent self-catering flat. I stayed there recently and it worked brilliantly well not only for my young family, but also the other wee family we brought along. The youth hostel’s common areas are spacious and comfortable too and feature a lounge and TV room, a fun games room, a well stocked self-catering kitchen and even a dining room.
Biography for Robin McKelvie
Robin McKelvie (www.robinmckelvie.com) is a Scottish travel writer, broadcaster and blogger who has been covering his native land since the 1990s. A member of the British Guild of Travel Writers, Robin is the author of a number of guidebooks, including National Geographic’s Scotland guide. He regularly contributes to a variety of newspapers and magazines across five continents, such as the Times and the Scotsman, as well as doing travel slots for BBC radio. Robin can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robinmckelvie.