Unlike Edinburgh where many tourist attractions centre around the Royal Mile, Glasgow's attractions are a lot more spread out. As it is an expansive city, if you only have 1 or 2 days to explore I recommend using the 'Hop on Hop off' Bus Tours to make the most of your time. Many of the attractions are quite a distance apart so walking is not the best option if visiting some of them is on your agenda.
At first glance visitor's might think the city doesn't have much to offer on a sightseeing trip, however this couldn't be further from the truth. Glasgow is bursting with world class museums, galleries and historic sites which are not only some of the most visited attractions in Scotland, but also within the UK.
On top of that there are more than 90 parks and gardens, umpteen music venues (did you know Glasgow was a UNESCO City of Music?), fantastic architecture and many more unique places to visit. Did I also mention that it is a previous European Capital of Culture and was named the top cultural and creative centre in the UK in 2019?
As there are no obvious tourist areas, Glasgow has a more authentic feel than other cities but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty for tourists to see and do. You just have to work a little harder to find the sites and the City Sightseeing Bus is the perfect solution for those short on time.
The circular route takes you around various districts and recorded commentary is a great introduction to the history of the places that you pass through. It stops at most of the major attractions and takes away the stress of planning individual public transport journeys to get around. I've tried out the tour twice and even though I was born in Glasgow and lived in the city for over 30 years, I found it an enjoyable way to explore and even learned a few new things along the way!
If it is a dry day, then the open top buses offer a great perspective of the vibrant street art and architectural details of the grand buildings. You might choose just to sit back, relax and learn more about Glasgow as you tour the city or you might decide to get on and off at various stops to explore a bit more.
Whatever you decide to do this handy guide to the Glasgow Hop on Hop off Bus will help you plan your own visit. Below you will find -
A Guide to the Hop on Hop off Glasgow Bus Tour
Unlike the Edinburgh Hop on Hop off Tours which offer three bus route options, Glasgow only has the City Sightseeing Bus and all buses follow the same route. You can't miss them with their distinctive red branding.
What does the Glasgow Bus Tour include?
Glasgow Hop on Hop off Bus Ticket Options
There are several ticket options for the City Sightseeing Glasgow Bus. Depending on what attractions you plan to visit and how long you have, it is worth working out what ticket is best for your needs as getting the right one will save you money. Here are the main options -
INDIVIDUAL 1 AND 2 DAY TOUR TICKETS -
An individual 1 day ticket covers your travel for 1 calendar day only - not 24 hours.
If you have more than 1 day to explore Glasgow then I recommend buying the 2 day ticket which covers 2 consecutive days of travel - at the moment this only costs £1 extra.
There are varying adult, concession and children prices. Individual tickets allow you to hop on and off as much as you like withing your travel period.
It is worth noting that children under 5 travel for free and child tickets prices apply to anyone aged between 5 and 15.
FAMILY TICKETS -
Again these can be purchased to cover 1 or 2 day's travel. A family tickets covers 2 adults and up to 3 children. It stills works out better value than individual tickets even if you only have 2 adults and 1 child, or 1 adult and 3 children.
1 DAY TOUR PLUS SUBWAY -
This combined ticket provides you a 1 day individual ticket for the Hop on Hop off Bus as above but also allows you unlimited travel on the Glasgow Subway on the same day.
Unless you have a burning desire to take several trips on the subway, personally I don't see a great benefit to this ticket as you will likely be busy enough exploring attractions along the bus route if you have only 1 day to spare.
1 DAY TOUR PLUS TENNENT'S BREWERY TOUR -
This combined ticket provides you a 1 day individual ticket for the Hop on Hop off Bus as above but also includes a tour of Tennent's Brewery.
From what I can work out, there is no financial benefit to this ticket as the combined individual tour prices work out the same. However, if doing the tour is a must, it does allow you to book your brewery tour time in advance when you purchase your ticket online.
1 DAY TOUR PLUS CLYDESIDE DISTILLERY TOUR -
This combined ticket provides you a 1 day individual ticket for the Hop on Hop off Bus as above but also includes a tour of the Clydeside Whisky Distillery.
As above, from what I can work out, there is no financial benefit to this ticket as the combined individual tour prices work out the same. However, if doing a tour is a must, it does allow you to book your distillery tour time in advance when you purchase your ticket online.
Where to buy your City Sightseeing Glasgow Bus Tickets
If you’re staying in a hotel in Glasgow, ask your reception for a City Sightseeing Glasgow £1 off voucher
Note that contactless payment is applicable to transactions £30 and under
Bus Tour Glasgow Travel Tips
Hop on Hop off Bus - Glasgow Discounts
Your Glasgow bus tour ticket will get you discounts at the following attractions and restaurants on the tour routes (correct at time of publishing, check for an up to date list when you're travelling). If you're planning on visiting these places anyway then it makes the bus ticket price even better value if you offset the costs -
Suggested Tour Bus Itineraries for 1 & 2 days in Glasgow
Along with the bus tour, you will have time to comfortably fit in 3 - 4 attractions per day. The great thing about these types of tours is the freedom to get off at any place that takes your fancy. However, if you prefer to be a little more organised, I have put together suggested 1 and 2 day itineraries below which will give you a flavour of the history and diverse culture of the city.
1 DAY IN GLASGOW
If you only have 1 day in Glasgow this itinerary will give you a good taste of what the city has to offer.
Today you will visit Glasgow Cathedral, The Clydeside Distillery, Byres Road and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
AM - Head to stop 1 at George Square (or the nearest bus stop to you) and catch the first Glasgow CitySightseeing Bus of the day. Get off at stop 2 and make your way to Glasgow Cathedral. The cathedral opens daily (except Sundays) at 9.30am. Spend up to an hour exploring the history of this medieval cathedral and find out about the origins of the city.
If you are taking the tour on a Sunday then the cathedral is closed in the morning so I suggest getting off at Stop 4 and visiting The Barras weekend market instead.
When you are ready take the next bus to stop 11a and take a 1 hour tour of The Clydeside Distillery. Tours start at 10 am and run on the hour until 4 pm - recommend you book online in advance. You will learn some of the history of Glasgow before taking a distillery tour which is followed by a whisky tasting.
Alternatively, if whisky is not your thing, get off at stop 12 and explore The Riverside Museum and The Tall Ship.
LUNCH - By now you will probably be getting hungry so hop on the next bus to stop 15 at Byres Road. This is the heart of the vibrant west end of the city. There are plenty of eating options as you walk down bustling street but I personally recommend heading to Ashton Lane, a cobbled backstreet filled with popular bars and restaurants. I personally like The Ubiquitous Chip and the Innis & Gunn Brewery Taproom (which is also a must for fans of craft beer) but there are restaurants for all tastes and budgets in this area.
PM - After lunch continue walking down Byres Road and head to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (stop 16) rather than getting the bus. This will allow you some time to soak up the west end atmosphere. The museum closes at 5 pm and you could easily spend a couple of hours here. I suggest making this your last stop and when you are ready hop on the tour bus outside and return to George Square at stop 1 or get off near to your accommodation. Just remember to take a note of the bus times so you don't miss the last bus back!
2 DAYS IN GLASGOW
Lucky you having extra time to explore my favourite city! Today you will visit Glasgow Green, The Riverside Museum and The Tall Ship, Glasgow University and The Hunterian Museum or The Mackintosh House. If you have time left you can also visit the Museum of Piping.
AM - Head to stop 5 at Glasgow Green and get off to view the Doulton Fountain and the Templeton Carpet Factory. Then either hop back on the next bus or walk through the park at Glasgow Green to stop 6 at St Enoch Shopping Centre.
Alternatively, if you opted to visit The Riverside Museum on day 1, spend longer at stop 5 and also pay a visit to the People's Palace.
Get off at stop 12 for The Riverside Museum and The Tall Ship. Spend some time exploring these two great attractions.
LUNCH - For convenience I recommend getting lunch at the cafe in the Riverside Museum.
When you're ready hop back on the bus outside and continue to stop 14 at Glasgow University. Take a walk around this impressive historic building, stopping off at the famous Cloisters. Depending on your interests visit either The Hunterian Museum or The Mackintosh House.
If you have enough time, hop on the bus to stop 20 and finish off your day with a visit to the small Museum of Piping, where you can try your hand at playing the bagpipes.
Taking a city tour of Glasgow by Hop on Hop off bus can be a really great way to explore a large area in a short space of time while learning some of the local history. Hopefully my guide will help you to maximize your time in Scotland's largest city.
If you're travelling to Edinburgh, you might also want to check out my Hop on Hop off Edinburgh Guide.
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