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Edinburgh & Glasgow

Proud Scottish cities, each with a long fascinating history, stunning architecture and a vibrant arts and culture scene.

‘Is it better to visit Glasgow or Edinburgh?’ is a question we are often asked and, to be honest, find it difficult to answer. The cities are less than an hour apart, but very different in character. Edinburgh displays its majestic attractions for all to see whilst you may need to put in a little more work to discover Glasgow’s treasures – we’ll help with plenty of local tips and recommendations, of course.

In Edinburgh you’ll be one of many visitors, but in Glasgow, the minute you pull out a map, chances are someone will stop and ask if they can help you. Word on the street is to visit Edinburgh for history and heritage and Glasgow for arts, music and nightlife but things aren’t so clear cut. You’ll find world-renowned art galleries and museums, great shopping and independent outlets, breath-taking architecture, cutting-edge theatre, top-notch restaurants, cosy cafes and quirky bars in both cities – providing you know where to look.

Top Tips for your Visit to Edinburgh or Glasgow

Visit the Royal Mile which leads from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood. Certainly touristy, but so much to see and enjoy.

Discover the world’s largest private whisky collection and perhaps sample a wee dram at the Scotch Whisky Experience.

Head to Leith, the city's port, to find bars and restaurants with a more local flavour lining The Shore.

Marvel at the collections in the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow: from Salvador Dali to Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Walk around the Necropolis: a grand Victorian cemetery offering expansive views over the city of Glasgow.

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Things To See & Do

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and displays its heritage to fine effect along the fabulous Royal Mile. There are wonderful views of the Firth of Forth from the Castle at one end and more to explore at Holyrood Palace and the new Scottish Parliament at the other. Beyond this you’ll find peace and tranquillity in Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat, whose easily attained summit affords superb panoramic views of the city.

We’d also recommend a guided walking-tour which wends its way along the Royal Mile revealing the secrets of Edinburgh’s cultural, criminal and political past, venturing into oft-ignored closes, wynds and atmospheric courtyards. A short walk from the Royal Mile is Greyfriars Kirkyard; with its famous former and current residents, it’s a wonderfully atmospheric spot to rest and contemplate.

In Glasgow, head to Bellahouston Park for a morning at ‘House for an Art Lover’ which is a great way to enjoy the architecture which Charles Rennie Mackintosh made famous. The Lighthouse Gallery in Mitchell Lane offers a rooftop view and an interpretation of the city’s architectural history – the mainly Victorian city has often been used as a film set for 19th Century New York. Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery is a stalwart of the Glasgow culture scene, and you could easily spend hours wondering through the countless exhibits.

Wander over for a little shopping at the renowned Princes Square and meander through the beautifully restored Argyll Arcade, full of jewellers, whilst you are there. If it all gets rather overwhelming, pop in to Gin71, one of our favourite bars, to sample one – or two – of their 71 different gins from around the world.

Travelling To & Around

Both cities are easily accessible by train from England, including a sleeper service, or via flights from destinations near and far.

Glasgow makes a great starting or finishing point for trips to the west coast islands, including the Inner and Outer Hebrides, while Edinburgh combines well with trips to the Highlands and Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland.

The cities are fewer than 50 miles apart, linked by regular trains and buses.

Both cities are quite compact for walking around, though there are a few challenging hills. Glasgow has a circular subway system, dubbed the Clockwork Orange, given the colour of the trains and miniature-scale. It provides a good link between the city centre and West End. Taxis are reasonably affordable for short hops in both cities.

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