With Time Out magazine naming Glasgow as one of the 48 best cities in the world for 2019, and in the top 10 no less, there has never been a better time to book a short break to Glasgow. It’s a vibrant city full of character, warm Scottish hospitality and great experiences. When you’re here, you’ll find world-class visitor attractions, distinct neighbourhoods, stunning architecture, an ever-evolving food and drink scene and legendary nightlife.
And it’s never been easier to combine the excitement of a Glasgow city break with a day trip to some of Scotland’s most scenic spots. Glasgow is located in West Central Scotland and has great travel links, meaning experiencing city and scenery in one trip need only take a weekend. Here are just some ideas for unmissable day trips from the city, and suggestions for the top things to visit too.
The lyrics ring true, they're called the bonnie, bonnie banks for a reason. And what’s more, Loch Lomond is only 50 minutes by train from Glasgow Queen Street Station, in the city centre, to the charming, lochside town of Balloch. There are lots of great things to do in and around Balloch, so here are some of our top picks to get you started.
Experiences on the Loch
Admiring the beauty of Loch Lomond from the shore is something special, but it’s even more remarkable from the water. Sweeney's Cruises offer several boat trips from Balloch which run all year round. Enjoy magnificent views of Ben Lomond, discover the legends of Loch Lomond’s islands or take in a picture perfect sunset – we’ll leave that up to you! Or if you fancy something a little different, get a bird’s eye view of the dramatic landscape with Loch Lomond Seaplanes who operate tours from nearby Duck Bay.
Time to stretch the legs? Enjoy a gentle 30 minute lochside walk beginning from Loch Lomond Shores before you head back to Glasgow. Or, if you’re looking for something a little longer, visit Balloch Castle Country Park which spans over 200 acres of woodland and offers gardens, nature trails and a great vantage point for views over Loch Lomond. The park itself is of historical significance too, having retained largely the same layout as it had in 1800. Or finally, if you’re after a walk with a bit of a twist, then Scotland’s Wild whisky and walking tour could be right up your street.
Explore Loch Lomond Shores
Loch Lomond Shores is a great place to visit for a bite to eat with unparalleled views of the loch all around. Check out the Balcony Bar and Grill or shop local crafts and produce at the farmers market which takes place on the first and third Sunday of every month.
Half Day Guided Tours
Small group tour operator Rabbie’s offer a brilliant half day trip which takes in Balloch and Glengoyne Distillery where you can enjoy a taste of our national drink – whisky! Or enjoy some off road driving on the Loch Lomond hills with 4x4 Adventures Scotland. Your 4x4 vehicle comes complete with a friendly, kilted guide too! Both great options if you would prefer a guided tour from start to finish.
Visit the town of Ayr, spend some time by the seaside and discover the heritage of one of Scotland’s most celebrated figures, Robert Burns. Ayr is easily accessible from Glasgow, simply catch a train from Glasgow Central Station and you’ll be in Ayr within 50 minutes.
A 20 minute stroll from the train station and you’ll have sand at your feet and the sea breeze on your face as you reach Ayr Beach. On a nice day, enjoy expansive views out to sea and try to spot the nearby islands of Ailsa Craig and Arran in the distance. And even if the sun isn’t shining, what is the seaside without ice cream? Make sure to pick one up at Renaldo’s or Mancini’s, both of which have been in operation for nearly 100 years.
More affectionately known as Rabbie Burns, Robert Burns was a poet and lyricist and is one of the most celebrated figures in Scotland, even having his very own national day every year on January 25, called Burns Night. The majority of Robert Burns’ visitor attractions are in the quaint village of Alloway where he was born, which is a short bus ride away from Ayr town centre. First up, visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and learn all about ‘Scotland’s favourite son’, where you’ll soon discover that there are many landmarks nearby the museum which inspired many of Burns’ works. From Tam o’ Shanter at the Brig o’ Doon to the witches at Alloway Auld Kirk, Burns’ heritage can be felt all around.
Take a day trip to Stirling – one of Scotland’s most historic cities – and discover the magnificent Stirling Castle or climb the monument which commemorates Scottish legend, Sir William Wallace. Catch a train from Glasgow’s Queen Street Station and you could be in Stirling within 30 minutes.
From the train station, wander through the pretty cobbled streets of Stirling’s old town and head towards one of Scotland’s most impressive castles. Stirling Castle holds much historical significance for Scotland as many Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned here, including Mary Queen of Scots. A guided tour of the castle really brings it to life, and even better, is included in the price of your ticket. Stirling Castle’s striking positioning on a crag surrounded by three steep cliffs also makes it a great spot for taking in views of the surrounding area and another historic attraction, the Wallace Monument.
Standing proudly atop Abbey Craig, the National Wallace Monument is one of Scotland’s distinctive landmarks. Visit the Hall of Heroes to take a look at the alleged sword of William Wallace and make sure to climb the 246 steps to the monument’s Crown where you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views of Stirlingshire. 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the monument and to celebrate there will be lots of special events and activities taking place throughout the year.
*Note that some parts of the monument will be closed until early May whilst essential maintenance work takes place, but exhibition spaces and the Crown will remain open if you plan to visit before then.
Discover some of the first time must sees during a Glasgow short break, explore all that Scotland has to offer when planning your next trip and check out ScotRail for information on direct rail services to Balloch, Ayr and Stirling from Glasgow City Centre.
Images © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam / Paul Tomkins