Dangers & Annoyances
Glasgow is a safe city and you're unlikely to have any problems if you follow normal big-city precautions.
- Nightlife at weekends can get very boisterous.
- The football rivalry between Rangers and Celtic is a serious one; don't get involved in banter unless you understand the context.
Emergency & Important Numbers
To dial a phone number from outside Britain, dial your international access code, Britain’s country code (44) then the number (excluding the ‘0’).
|UK Country Code||44|
|International Access Code||00|
- Greetings Shake hands when meeting for the first time. Female friends are greeted with a single kiss.
- Football Be aware of the strength of feelings of local supporters before discussing the latest Old Firm match.
- Pub culture Locals drink in rounds; one person buys the drinks for everyone, then it's the next person's turn. Order at the bar; food will usually be brought to your table when ready.
- Transport Let people off before boarding yourself.
Gay & Lesbian Travellers
Glasgow has a vibrant LGBT scene, with the gay quarter found in and around the Merchant City (particularly Virginia, Wilson and Glassford Sts). The city's gay community has a reputation for being very friendly.
Most Glaswegians are very tolerant, but you may encounter disapproval away from central areas. Same-sex marriage was legalised in Scotland in 2014.
Many straight clubs and bars have gay and lesbian nights. To tap into the scene, check out The List (www.list.co.uk) and the free Scots Gay (www.scotsgay.co.uk) magazine and website.
Check whether you already have reciprocal health cover in the UK before considering what type of travel insurance you might want.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
There's a free wi-fi zone across the city centre. You can get a local SIM card for about a pound and data packages are cheap.
Gallery of Modern Art Basement library; free internet access. Bookings recommended.
Hillhead Library Free internet terminals.
iCafe Sip a coffee and munch on a pastry while you check your emails on superfast internet connections. There is wi-fi too. It's actually a very good cafe in its own right. There are other branches, including one on Sauchiehall St.
Mitchell Library Free internet access; bookings recommended.
Yeeha Internet Cafe Upstairs location in the heart of the city.
ATMs (cashpoints) widely available. Credit cards are accepted in most (but not all) places, sometimes with a minimum spend or surcharge.
- Hotels One pound per bag is standard; gratuity for cleaning staff optional.
- Pubs Not expected.
- Restaurants For decent service tip 10%, and up to 15% at more expensive places.
- Taxis Round up to nearest pound.
Typical opening hours:
Banks 9.30am–4pm or 5pm Monday to Friday; some open 9.30am–1pm Saturday
Nightclubs 9pm or 10pm–1am, 2am or later; often only open Thursday to Saturday
Post offices 9am–6pm Monday to Friday, 9am–12.30pm Saturday (main branches to 5pm Saturday)
Pubs & bars 11am–11pm Monday to Thursday, 11am–1am Friday and Saturday, noon–11pm Sunday
Restaurants Lunch noon–2.30pm, dinner 6pm–9pm
Shops 9am–6pm Monday to Saturday, often 11am–5pm Sunday
Many shops across the city centre offer postal service, including some supermarkets that are open Sundays. Service is reliable.
Post Office The most central full-service post office.
Although bank holidays are general public holidays in the rest of the UK, in Scotland they only apply to banks and some other commercial offices.
General public holidays:
- New Year 1 and 2 January
- Good Friday March or April
- Easter Monday March or April
- May Day First Monday in May
- Spring Holiday Last Monday in May
- Glasgow Fair Saturday before the 3rd Monday in July
- Autumn Holiday Last Monday in September
- Christmas Day 25 December
- Boxing Day 26 December
- Smoking Prohibited in any public place that has a roof and is at least half enclosed. Vaping is legal; smoking laws don't apply to it.
Taxes & Refunds
Value-added tax (VAT) is a 20% sales tax that is charged on most purchases. It's always included in quoted prices. Non-EU residents can reclaim the VAT off certain purchased goods; see www.gov.uk/tax-on-shopping/taxfree-shopping for further details.
The UK uses the GSM 900/1800 network. Local SIM cards can be used in unlocked phones.
- Roaming charges within the EU have been eliminated (though charges may reappear when the UK leaves the EU).
- Other international roaming charges can be prohibitively high, and you'll probably find it cheaper to get a UK number. This is easily done by buying a SIM card (around £1) and sticking it in your phone. Your phone may be locked to your home network, however, so you'll have to either get it unlocked, or buy a cheap phone to use.
- Operators offer a variety of packages that include UK calls, messages and data; a month's worth will typically cost around £20. Recharges can be done online or by buying vouchers from shops.
- Dialling the UK Dial your country's international access code then 44 (the UK country code), then the area code (dropping the first '0') followed by the telephone number.
- Dialling out of the UK The international access code is 00; dial this, then add the code of the country you wish to dial.
- Area code Glasgow's area code is 0141. Drop the zero if dialling from abroad.
- Free calls Numbers starting with 0800 are free; calls to 0345 and 0845 numbers are charged at local rates.
The council website www.glasgow.gov.uk has a list and a map of public toilets in Glasgow. Most are free; some have a small charge.
Glasgow Tourist Office The city's tourist office is in the centre of town. It opens at 9.30am on Thursday mornings.
Useful websites with tourist information include www.glasgowlife.org.uk and www.peoplemakeglasgow.com.
Travel with Children
Glasgow is easy to visit with children due to its extensive public transport system and friendly locals. The city boasts excellent family attractions and there are several apartment-hotels around town. In general, restaurants are well geared for children, and lots of places serve food throughout the day.
Top Family Sights
- Riverside Museum
This museum of transport has a tall ship, trains, steamrollers, fire engines and more.
- Glasgow Science Centre
A world of discovery for all ages that could occupy several hours.
- Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre
Enter a demi-monde of strange and wonderful creations at this curious place.
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
Entertaining natural history displays and art with informative panels aimed at kids at this excellent museum.
- Scottish Football Museum
- People's Palace
Child-friendly displays on the city's history at this museum on Glasgow Green.
- Scotland Street School Museum
See how other eras did schooling at this Mackintosh building.
Need to Know
- Childcare For suggestions for short-term child-care agencies, contact the council-run Glasgow Family Information Service.
- Playgrounds Most parks in Glasgow have playgrounds for children.
- Shopping centres Major shopping complexes are handy stops, with baby-changing facilities and soft play areas.
- Pubs In family-licensed pubs, accompanied children under 14 years old are admitted between 11am and 8pm.
Travellers with Disabilities
- Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
- Most new buildings are accessible to wheelchair users, so modern hotels and tourist attractions are fine. However, most B&Bs and guesthouses are in hard-to-adapt older buildings, which means that travellers with mobility problems may pay more for accommodation.
- Newer buses have steps that lower for easier access, as do trains, but it's wise to check before setting out. Tourist attractions usually reserve parking spaces near the entrance for drivers with disabilities.
- Many places such as ticket offices and banks are fitted with hearing loops to assist the hearing-impaired; look for a posted symbol of a large ear.
- An increasing number of tourist attractions have audio guides. Some have Braille guides or scented gardens for the visually impaired.
- VisitScotland produces the guide Accessible Scotland for wheelchair-using travellers. Its website (www.visitscotland.com) details accessible accommodation.
- DisabledGo (www.disabledgo.com) provides audited information on specific sites and venues in Glasgow.
Check out www.volunteerglasgow.org for volunteering opportunities in the city. Also see www.projectscotland.co.uk.