Glasgow with kids: A brilliant family break in Scotland's biggest city
Holidays in Scotland
Scotland's biggest city makes for a surprisingly good family break, says Jillian Bolger.
Set the mood
The tourist board's slogan, 'People Make Glasgow', is bang on the money. Scotland's biggest city is a friendly, vibrant choice for a brilliant family break.
Culturally rich, the mix of museums, Scottish heritage, glorious Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture and industrial roots has turned this fascinating city into a cool, buzzing metropolis. We visited recently with our kids and found it compact to explore - with diverse neighbourhoods and an impressive collection of museums, attractions and galleries that are easy to navigate, should the weather turn.
Add in the warm Scottish welcome, affordable dining in an improving food scene and great shopping and you've found a cool, captivating getaway that's just an hour or so's flight from three Irish airports.
A real-life laboratory with plenty for every age, Glasgow Science Centre (glasgowsciencecentre.org; €13/€11) is like a giant play centre for the mind, where technology and science collide in a Disney-like experience.
Floor upon floor is packed with mind-blowing exhibits, cool experiments, interactive displays, learning activities, fun shows, demos and puzzles to challenge and entertain kids, teens and adults. Splurge on the planetarium experience (an extra €4 each) and enjoy a fun journey through outer space learning about the universe.
With two acres of displays, games and exhibits, you could easily spend a full weekend in this enchanting high-tech place.
Much more than a simple transport museum, the Zaha Hadid- designed Riverside Museum (glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/riverside; free) holds more than 3,000 displays - from bikes to boats, trams to trains and a huge wall of cars ranging from vintage gems to sporty icons. It's designed around three historical street scenes, complete with life-like shops and businesses to explore.
With a kids' treasure hunt and interactive displays, the museum also hosts Glenlee, a restored tall ship from 1896, berthed outside.
Pack comfy shoes and raingear for everyone - Glasgow is compact and easy to walk around, but the weather is changeable and the breeze can be cold, even in summer. The Kelvingrove Gallery & Museum (above, free) is a super rainy-day bet, with treasures as diverse as a Spitfire plane and Salvador Dalí canvases.
Also worth noting is the fact that Glasgow Airport (glasgowairport.com) runs free kids’ Craft Zones in the Departures area during peak times, including Easter, summer and the October mid-term. The zones open extra early and include art supplies, face painters and goodie bags. They’re a great distraction for all ages.
Within walking distance of the Glasgow Science Centre, IMAX and Riverside Museum, the stylish Village Hotel Club at Festival Gate is perfect for an affordable family break. Breakfast is good, and there's an in-house Starbucks, bar, restaurant and bright 20-metre pool. Comfortable family rooms sleep four, so larger families will need two interconnecting rooms. Rooms from £79/€93, at village-hotels.co.uk.
The Village Hotel Club's lovely pool welcomes children from 9-12pm and 2-7pm on weekends, with shorter hours during the week. If you're early risers, you may want to fit in a swim before heading out for the day.
Get me there
Aer Lingus Regional (aerlingus.com) operates four daily flights from Dublin to Glasgow (one-way fares from €19.99 including taxes and charges), four flights weekly from Cork (from €24.99) and three weekly from Donegal (from €29.99). Aer Lingus Regional is operated by Stobart Air. Glasgow Airport Express buses connect to the city centre every 10 minutes, with family return tickets at £24/€28 (firstgroup.com). See also peoplemakeglasgow.com.