Edinburgh and Glasgow are practically neighbours. A train from Waverley to Queen Street takes less than an hour, yet the two really do feel worlds apart. They’re both great cities, but they’ve got totally different vibes: Glasgow’s the girl rocking out on an air guitar at a party while Edinburgh’s the demure older sister, always tucked up by 10 o'clock.
We think Scotland’s biggest city is also it’s best. There’s so much to love, from great live music to locals with a wicked sense of humour. But don’t just take our word for it. Read on, and discover 10 reasons why Glasgow truly is better than Edinburgh.
(Image: Sophie McAuley / Shutterstock)
1.we've got cooler art
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of great art to see in Edinburgh. They’ve got The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery and plenty of cool contemporary spaces to boot. But when it comes to painting, sculpture and everything in between, there just aren’t many cities that can hang with good old Glasgow. Where to start? We’ve got an Art School that keeps churning out Turner Prize Winners – four since 2005 – museums housing some of the world’s most celebrated artistic treasures and regular exhibitions from progressive, innovative artists. Head to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to check out gems by Rembrandt, Picasso and Van Gogh, as well as Dali’s Iconic Christ of St John on the Cross, or make your way to the Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) to catch a glimpse of works by Warhol and Hockney. The Modern Institute – split across two sites – exhibits works by big names like Starling and Boyce alongside some of Glasgow’s hottest up-and-comers, and there are always talented artists to discover at the David Dale Gallery and the Glue Factory. Oh, and architecture buffs can’t miss The Lighthouse (pictured), Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s first public commision. Whether you want to discover the next big thing or get a blast from the past, Glasgow really does have it all.
(Image: Annelies Leeuw)
2.our live music scene is legendary
There can be no doubting Glasgow’s status as one of the UK’s best cities for live music. Just look at the bands we’ve produced: Primal Scream, Mogwai, Belle and Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, CHVRCHES. And that’s just to name a few. Edinburgh’s got Bay City Rollers, The Proclaimers and that’s about that. And while their live music scene is pretty much confined to Sneaky Pete's, there are plenty of venues in Glasgow where upcoming bands can cut their teeth. King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut is the place to head if you’re looking for the next big thing – Radiohead, Coldplay, Oasis and The Strokes all played shows here in their early days. Nice N’ Sleazy is another Glasgow institution, a tiny basement venue that makes up for what it lacks in size with bags of atmosphere. Architecture buffs should head to Stereo, a vibrant venue in a Mackintosh building. Its sister venue The Old Hairdresser’s is just as happening, and that’s just a start. In Glasgow you can see a band every night of the week, and usually they’re great. That’s why we’re Scotland’s only UNESCO city of music. Take that Edinburgh.
3.we throw a banging rave
Edinburgh’s a lovely city, but it will never be famous for its club scene. Nightlife in ‘Auld Reekie’ consists of overpriced drinks, sticky floors and the same old tired chart-fillers. The smoking areas tend to be busier than the dancefloors, and that’s always a bad sign. For a proper night out, you’ve got to head to the West Coast. Glasgow’s long been renowned as a rave city, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Former warehouse SWG3 regularly hosts some of the biggest names in house and tech, while tiny basement club La Cheetah is the perfect place to get your sweat on – they cram the punters in until the ceiling starts to drip. Sub Club – now at the grand old age of 30 – is the world’s oldest underground dance venue, and has one of the UK’s biggest bodysonic dance floors. Make sure you pack your dancing shoes.
4.we have a better football team
The Beautiful Game. The Opiate of the Masses. Whatever you want to call it, it’s pretty clear that the whole world is football mad. And if you’re going to experience football in Scotland, there’s only one city to do it in. I mean, have you ever even heard of Hearts or Hibs? Thought not. Glasgow can lay claim to Scotland’s oldest club – Queen’s Park – as well as the nation’s two undisputed football powerhouses: Celtic and Rangers. The title of Scottish champions has been shared between the two for 32 years running, and consequently, they have quite possibly the angriest rivalry in all of football. Celtic have been the undisputed kings since Rangers went into liquidation in 2012, but the ‘Gers are now back in the top flight, and both Ibrox and Celtic Park are magnificent stadiums to watch a game. Just make sure it’s clear you’re impartial if you’re heading to an Old Firm Derby. Oh, and we almost forgot, Glasgow has another world-class stadium. Not only is Hampden Park home to the national side, it also contains the Scottish Football Museum, widely regarded as being one of the world’s greatest tributes to the game. You can even sit in the original changing room and get the hairdryer treatment from Craig Brown. How’s that for an experience?
5.we have high-end cuisine AND deep fried mars bars
Sure, Edinburgh’s got its Michelin stars. But who wants to dine fine all the time? Gastronomy in Glasgow is about so much more than that. Of course, there are plenty of places to eat fancy. The Gannet, Ox and Finch and Stravaigin all received the Michelin Bib Gourmand for 2017, while Ubiquitous Chip was one of the first restaurants to bring Scottish cuisine out of the home. It offers innovative twists on classic dishes in a breathtaking hanging garden setting. Plus, Glasgow is the UK’s most vegan-friendly city: it has 48 suitable eateries and is home to Europe’s largest vegan festival – VegFest. We recommend The 78 or Mono, which does an excellent vegan fish and chips. Speaking of which, in Glasgow we do takeaway fare much better than our genteel Eastern neighbours. Have you ever tried finding a deep-fried Mars Bar in Edinburgh? It’s hard. We’ve got any number of spots just waiting to make your drunken culinary dreams come true. Whether you’re after deep-fried pizza, macaroni pie or a classic munchy box, we’ve got you covered. And we haven’t even mentioned that we’re the home of Chicken Tikka Massala and have some of the best Indian restaurants in the world.
6.we have a subway
If you’ve spoken to an Edinburgh cabbie in the last decade, you’ve no doubt heard them moaning about the tram. And with good reason. The project – which launched in 2008 – faced delay after delay, and ended up costing almost double initial estimates. That’s £776 million in all! And while we can’t deny that it looks slick, to say that it connects the city would be something of a stretch. Running the 8.7 miles from the airport to York Place, it’s essentially a glorified shuttle. But, Glasgow’s got something that any self-respecting city should have: a fully functioning subway system. The ‘Clockwork Orange’ as locals sometimes call it, has been running for over 120 years, making it the third oldest underground system in the world. And it really does connect the city. Want to spend the morning soaking up culture at Kelvingrove and the afternoon watching football at Ibrox? The subway’s got you covered. It’s even spawned the legendary Subcrawl: a pub crawl which involves disembarking at every stop and finding the nearest watering hole. If you’re going to take it on, make sure you line your stomach.
7.we're the second biggest shopping centre in the UK
Sure, Edinburgh’s got Harvey Nicks and Jenners, but once you look past the big department stores, options start to get a little thin. Not so in Glasgow. With over 15,000 stores, we’re the second biggest shopping centre in the UK – the only city that can rival London when it comes to retail therapy. There are plenty of iconic global brands around the ‘Style Mile’: you can browse the styles in Vivienne Westwood or find a fresh pair of trainers at Scotland’s only Nike Store. Buchanan Galleries has all of your favourite high street stores. Plus, Glasgow’s got a whole host of stylish, independent boutiques just waiting to be explored. For womenswear, we recommend Pampas, Solo or Sara Pacini, while men should head to Fat Buddha for the latest street fashion, or to MacGregor & MacDuff for a real souvenir. They’re specialists in traditional Scottish menswear, and have a great range of tartans, tweeds, sporrans and kilts for you to choose from. Remember to ditch your underwear if you want to keep things traditional.
8.you won't be blown off your feet
Edinburgh has deservedly earned the nickname ‘the windy city’ – we’ve heard a lawsuit from Chicago is on its way too. And while Glasgow has a reputation for being wetter than a pint of water, we’d like to tell you that what you’ve heard just ain’t true. Sure, it rains sometimes, but the UK’s got plenty more showery towns (we’re looking at you Cardiff). And we can all deal with the occasional downpour, right? Just get an anorak and you’re good as gold. What we can’t deal with is rain that falls at right angles, gusts that turn your umbrella inside out and gales that tear traffic lights out of the ground. All of which seem to be daily occurrences in Edinburgh. The howling winds can make a winter’s day feel 20 degrees colder. And take our word for it, it’s pretty cold to start with. If you want to avoid the worst of Scotland’s weather, Glasgow’s your best bet.
9.we're quintessentially Scottish
‘Athens of the North’? Having walked around Edinburgh, it feels more like London in the North. There are English accents everywhere – the university nourishes itself on a steady diet of Sloanes, while English retirees seem to be drawn to the city like moths to a flame. When you throw in the 4 million tourists who visit Edinburgh each year, you’re left with a place strangely devoid of Scots. All that’s left is bagpipes and souvenirs. Not so in Glasgee. Sure, there are a few English people knocking around, but this is a city with a distinctly Scottish feel. There’ll be plenty of accents you can’t understand, the rich scent of haggis will never be far from your nostrils – and if you’re lucky you might even be verbally assaulted by a drunk and angry local. Just kidding. This is a city with a soul. A soul that couldn’t be more Scottish.
10.we've got better banter
From Billy Connolly to Frankie Boyle, Glasgow has long been a breeding ground for comedians. It must be something in the water, because everyone in this city loves a bit of banter. Don’t believe us – you’re about to find out. While the stuffy Edinburgh locals tend to keep their eyes firmly fixed on the pavement, in Glasgow you’ll soon be approached by a stranger who tells you your haircut is ‘a pile of shite’, before inviting you back to his local for several pints of Tenants. That’s right, not only do Glaswegians tend to be funny, they’re also an incredibly affable bunch. The city regularly tops lists of the world’s most welcoming, and you’re bound to make friends here in no time. You just have to remember a few important rules: insults aren’t always insults; being sworn at isn’t necessarily a sign of aggression; and if you can’t understand a word of what’s being said, just nod and smile.