Fun stuff to do in Edinburgh?
January 27, 2005 7:18 AM   Subscribe

A friend and I have free tickets to Glasgow from around March 18-27. We may have a free place to stay in Edinburgh. Which city is more fun? Any insider tips for travelers or fun places to go that we won’t find in guide books? (more inside)

Neither of us has been to the UK before. We're willing to travel around a bit, but having a free place to stay makes sticking around in Edinburgh awfully tempting. Generally, he’s more into clubs, and I’m more into museums and the like, but we both want to experience both the local nightlife and history.
posted by amarynth to Travel & Transportation around Edinburgh, Scotland (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I had a friend who went to school in Glasgow for six months, and he hated it there. However, he made frequent trips to Edinburgh. He was more of a museum type than a club type.
posted by goatdog at 7:20 AM on January 27, 2005

At the risk of offending Glaswegians, I'd say stick to Edinburgh for both the clubbing and the high culture. Edinburgh is generally a cleaner, safer, more vibrant city than Glasgow.
posted by rocket88 at 8:04 AM on January 27, 2005

Glasgow !!

"Edinburgh: A song ,a smile and a castle (one out of there isnt bad )"

Glasgow has its good share of museums and Art galleries as well. The train trip is only 40 minutes so you can spend time in both.
posted by stuartmm at 8:06 AM on January 27, 2005

I lived in Glasgow about ten years ago and liked it better than Edinburgh. Edinburgh seemed to have more of a "capitol city" feel, while Glasgow had more of a working class / bigger city atmosphere. But they both have wonderful museums and crazy fun nightclubs.

One thing I noticed: in Glasgow the beggars on the street sang and played music, and the ones in Edinburgh sat glaring at their hats, waiting for a handout. Or so it seemed to me, but I haven't been back in a long time and I'm sure times have changed.
posted by dual_action at 8:24 AM on January 27, 2005

Glasgow isn't that bad. Edinborough is prettier but feels awful touristy sometimes.

Glasgow's Cathedral of St. Mungo is neat, along with the necropolis. There's also a really cool museum of religious life right next to the cathedral. Other highlights include the MOMA there and the labour museum (can't remember the name).

Travel by train between Glasgow, Edinborough, and Stirling is VERY easy. Stirling has the best castle and battlegrounds... Edinborough's castle is large but is a total tourist trap nowadays.

Try to get out into the country too, if you can. Glencoe is beautiful if you want to take a reachable dip of the highlands.
posted by selfnoise at 8:54 AM on January 27, 2005

Best answer: Edinburgh is generally a cleaner, safer, more vibrant city than Glasgow.

What a ridiculous statement (no offence)! They both have safe and unsafe areas.

I lived in Scotland for 3 years and spent equal amounts of time in both cities. They're both very exciting places. Glasgow is generally better for live music and culture for most of the year, Edinburgh obviously wins out during the festival.

They're only 40 minutes apart/£7 return by train, so you can stay in Edinburgh and make day trips to Glasgow.

For what it's worth, my favourite things to do in both cities are..

Glasgow: See gigs at King Tuts, Nice 'N' Sleazy's, The Barrowlands (in a dodgy area, but safe really, and has the best atmosphere you'll ever experience), watch football, Visit the Lighthouse, have coffee (tinderbox!) and buy records in the west end, visit the Botanic Gardens, see a movie at the GFT (gorgeous auditoriums and very comfy seats), eat at the Ubiquitous Chip (one of the best haggis' in Scotland, and make sure you see the mural by famous Scots' author Alasdair Gray, painted when he was a struggling beginner (you should read his Lanark before you go).

Edinburgh: Climb Arthur's Seat, watch movies at The Cameo, visit the Scottish national gallery of modern art, eat at Black Bo's/David Bann's (and I'm not even vegetarian), look at the new Scottish Parliament.

Also, Stirling is not far and is interesting. The Castle is worth a look, as is the Wallace Monument.

And make sure you buy a copy of The List on arrival, to find out what's happening. You'll love it all, I promise.
posted by ascullion at 8:55 AM on January 27, 2005 [7 favorites]

Oh, and go clubbing/see a gig at the Arches in Glasgow, it's great.
posted by ascullion at 8:57 AM on January 27, 2005

I too preferred Edinburgh but had a great time in both cities as well as everywhere else I went in Scotland. ascullion wins as far as ideas of things to do goes, and is also definitely right about the train between. No reason to worry about missing things in one city or the other when it's so easy to get back and forth.
posted by librarina at 9:07 AM on January 27, 2005

Consider doing a short trip to the Isle of Arran and staying over for one night at the Lochranza hostel. 'Scotland in miniature' is about right - mountains and glens and mist and kind, kind people.
posted by Marquis at 9:22 AM on January 27, 2005

ascullion: That's why I said "generally". Anyway, you can argue with the facts.
posted by rocket88 at 9:24 AM on January 27, 2005

ascullion's excellent post saiys it well. They're both great cities and both offer a huge amount of both high and popular culture. You won't have time to more than scratch the surface of either, so just go, follow your nose where it takes you and enjoy. You can't really go wrong with either, in my opinion. And the train between is a short hop, anyhow.
posted by normy at 9:33 AM on January 27, 2005

rocket88 - sorry, didn't mean to be so uncompromising!
posted by ascullion at 9:36 AM on January 27, 2005

Glasgow by a mile...Edinburgh seemed like an overgrown town to me.

the architecture, the people, the nightlife--all great and more varied in Glasgow.
posted by amberglow at 10:26 AM on January 27, 2005

i went to glasgow, and it was freakin' cool.

can't say i remember much (this was a "working" trip, meaning i spent the entire time there drinking at pubs and stuff). the university is pretty. all the clubs are in one spot, more or less (and don't seem particularly awesome, but, you know, whatever). Def. go see the cemetary/cathedral -- the cathedral museum isn't great, but if i remember correctly it's cheap/free and they have a pretty decent Dali. If you're there for nine days, definitely get some train tickets and go to both.
posted by fishfucker at 11:56 AM on January 27, 2005

(i didn't think glasgow is big enough to merit nine whole days if you've never really been to the UK before, but i'm certain some people would argue that. I think you could see what you wanted to in glasgow -- the major "attractions" in two or three days, and then check out some other cities. The one thing i regret is that i didn't have access to an automobile so i couldn't check out any scotch distilleries).
posted by fishfucker at 11:59 AM on January 27, 2005

I've been to Glasgow twice for a total of more than nine days and still can't wait to go back. So I have to disagree with fishfucker. The labor museum referred to above is The People's Palace and it is kind of made for kids (all the Glaswegians I met said they went on field trips), which means it has fun interactive bits. The youth hostel there is great and the subway is really cute. Make sure you walk a lot--things are pretty close together. Also the library in the basement of the MoMA has free internet. Finally, look for odd things to do. Glasgow doesn't always have things that are obviously touristy, but lots of little things are super neat. The Footprints guidebook is excellent for suggesting these things.

Also seconded is Arran. The train to ferry trip is excellent and the castle ruin at Lochranza is cool. Plus there is a short hike to these giants' graves things that will take you through the spookiest stretch of forest.

Me loves the Scotland.
posted by dame at 12:17 PM on January 27, 2005

Glasgow, absolutely. I spent a few months over there as an undergrad and had a blast. And yes, while Edinburgh seemed to have more of the big museums (sadly, the MOMA-Glasgow opened right after I left), Glasgow actually felt like it was a real place. Make sure you're in the cathedral/museum area on a weekend, and then wander over to the Barras Market while you're there.
posted by Vervain at 1:51 PM on January 27, 2005

I've not been to Edinburgh, yet, but am familiar with its urban planning and, on that score, it has no real equal on the planet to the best of my knowledge. Not to say its urban plan is better than another -- just that it is utterly unique.

In Glasgow, don't miss Mackintosh. You can also take a day trip to the The Hill House. One of the more amazing works of architecture (might not be readily apparent to non-architects or afficianados of architecture) ever is the Glasgow School of Art.
posted by Dick Paris at 3:45 PM on January 27, 2005

Another good spot in Glasgow is The Lighthouse - worth a wander up to the top for the view.

Also train from Glasgow to Balloch (40 mins) and spend an afternoon wandering the banks of Loch Lomond (where R.E.M. are playing in June) you can choose either bank, the national park (with big hill and wee castle) or the newer Lomond Shores, with nice restaurant and shops (and wee walk area behind the tourist centre).

If you get off at Dumbarton East you can wander to Dumbarton Castle for some stunning view down the Clyde towards Arran (and you'll be standing on a volcanic plug), and if you know where to look you can see where the Cutty Sark was built.

Edinburgh can be touristy but for good reason, it is the capital and is a compact city, lots to do in a small area. Glasgow is a bit more spread out, so expect some Underground (Tube) and Bus travel if you want to see some of the further out things.

One suggestion, and don't laugh - try the bus tours of both. Saves you walking, you get loads if interesting info and most will let you jump on and off the buses all day if you see something that takes your fancy. I spent a day doing this in London once and it's much easier and nicer than cramming onto a tube.

If you DO make it to the Arches I might even bump into you -who knows!
posted by snowgoon at 4:26 AM on January 28, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. Looks like we'll have a busy trip!
posted by amarynth at 7:03 AM on January 28, 2005

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