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10 Insane (But True) Facts About Glasgow

Our family really enjoyed visiting Glasgow. It is a great city and I wouldn’t hesitate to travel there again and again. I have written several posts on the topic, but this time I wanted do a little something different. Despite my intense research on the city, I actually learned more during my stay. So, I thought it would be fun to share some interesting facts about Glasgow that you may not be aware of and that could help your next trip that much simpler. You’re welcome!

But first, if you want to see our family explore Glasgow, we have a series of funny and colorful travel vlogs on our YouTube channel. Check us out below!

1. Strict Liquor Laws:

By now it is no secret that this family likes our libations, so it will come as no surprise that we were stoked to be visiting the land of Scotch and beer. Shockingly, Glasgow has recently enforced some strict liquor licensing laws. So what does this mean for you? Well, if you are traveling with kids, you can’t be in some establishments after 8:00pm if alcohol is still being served. Some restaurants don’t serve alcohol after 8:00pm, which means kids can stay. You can’t purchase alcohol at markets or liquor stores after 10:00pm. In pubs last call is 11:00pm and pubs close at midnight. We learned about these laws the hard way the first two days, which you can read about in related about in  our Ultimate Guide.

Curlers Rest bar Glasgow

2. Tabs & Tips:

As a bartender and frequent restaurant diner, I was really surprised by Glasgow’s dinning culture. Most places are quick to drop a tab and turn over the table as quickly as possible, but in Glasgow we would sit forever and never get a tab brought to the table until we asked. This happened over and over again, making us realize that you actually have to ask for your check. It was kind of nice to not feel rushed.

As for tipping, have some cash on hand. Although you can tip on your credit card, they prefer cash tips to avoid extra taxes. If you do plan on tipping on your card, be sure to tell them before they run the card, otherwise tab will close without the option to leave a tip. Unlike the U.S, where people live and work for their tip, the UK is definitely more relaxed. The tipping recommendation in the UK is 10%.

Like I said, I am a bartender in the U.S and tips are my income, so I have strong feelings about tipping well. Even in the UK I’m dropping at least 20%. So, if they ran my card without the opportunity to leave a tip I was running around the corner to the nearest ATM to grab some cash.

British pounds

3. Is AMEX Accepted?

My best travel rewards and biggest credit limit are on my AMEX card, which is why I LOVE to use it while I am traveling. But there is a catch. AMEX is not widely accepted. Apparently AMEX charges establishments a fee to run their cards. In the UK is it hard to find places that will accept AMEX, so bring backup. Fortunately, Glasgow was pretty good about taking AMEX. Smaller establishments probably won’t, but many of the larger restaurants and pubs did accept my card.

4. Plenty of Public Transportation:

I’m from Southern California and if you don’t have a car, you are pretty much screwed. I absolutely LOVED the public transportation in Glasgow. I had so much freedom!! Cabs are just lined up waiting to take you wherever you want to go and if you call they show up right away. The Subway and trains run like clockwork! Best part? I was able to maneuver around this big city with my kids with ease! Glasgow’s public transportation is clean, inexpensive and efficient.

Glasgow Transportation

5. Drink the Tap Water!!

Many places I’ve traveled, you can’t drink the tap water or you will get sick. Even where I live in California, the tap water has a nasty chlorine taste. Blah!! I was told by my Glaswegian friends that the tap water is delicious. “Wait until you brush your teeth,” they said. Well, they weren’t lying! The tap water is amazing! Cold and fresh, I would guzzle that tap water down every night.

6. Edinburgh vs. Glasgow:

Did you know that there is a bit of a rivalry between the cities? Is Glasgow friendly and creative or tacky and scruffy? Is Edinburgh snooty and boring or sophisticated? I guess that is for you to decided. When you visit you will notice snarky comments made about either city, depending on where you are visiting. It is kind of funny. For instance, a popular quote you’ll hear is, “The best thing out of Edinburgh is the train back to Glasgow.”Although both cities are amazing, I have to say I felt more comfortable in Glasgow. I found the city well organized, easier to get around and less touristy. They have culture, art, music, university, museums, amazing restaurants and awesome people!

Edinburgh vs Glasgow

7. Rough and Tough History:

Glasgow has a pretty rough past, which plays into the opinions of the Edinburgh/Glasgow rivalry. For years, Glasgow functioned as an industrial center where factories and shipbuilding took place, making for a pretty dirty place. Soot covered many of the buildings for years. When many of the industries went out of business in the 1970’s the city experienced many issues, including poverty and high crime rates. Glasgow was once voted the most violent city in the UK! Now things are totally turned around. Industry is back; the city is clean and thriving, and it was even voted the friendliest city in the world!

8. Friendliest City:

Bringing me to the next point: the people in Glasgow are fantastic! I stayed in Glasgow for some time and can say from experience that Glaswegians are very friendly. If you ask where something is, they won’t just give you directions and wave you away. They go above and beyond to help. I had a man walk me around the corner to physically show me where to catch a cab. I had a server, even after her shift, call the cab service for me and wait until the cab arrived to make sure I didn’t need anything else. Everybody felt like a family member, happy to really get to know you.

9. Museums are Free:

I never really go to museums, but Scotland rains…a lot and the kids and I needed some inside activities to do while in Glasgow. Always on a budget, I had to be careful of spending too much every day. Luckily of us, most museums in Glasgow are FREE. We got to see so many amazing things, because we had the freedom of just wandering in and out of a number of museums. The kids loved it, because many of the museums were interactive, like the Riverside Museum and People’s Palace. When in Glasgow, definitely make time for museum hoping. It is fun, fascinating and FREE!

Kelvingrove Museum Glasgow
Kelvingrove Art Museum

10. The Best Indian Cuisine:

Amazing Indian food in Scotland? Yes. Glasgow in general has fantastic food! Every restaurant was better than the next. However, fabulous Indian restaurants specifically, are abundant in Glasgow. Ashoka, The Wee Curry Shop and Mother India are just some to name a few. There is literally an Indian restaurant around every corner in Glasgow…more than Starbucks! Not sure why it is so popular in Glasgow, but it has a long history in the city. In fact, did you know that Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in Glasgow, not India??? If you want the best Indian cuisine, then go to Glasgow.

Wee Curry Shop Glasgow
The Wee Curry Shop

That’s A Wrap!

Well, I hope you found these little tidbits interesting and helpful! If you have any fun facts that you would like to add, please do so in the comments!!!

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10 Insane (but true) facts about Glasgow


I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".



  2. I was surprised to read about Indian Restaurants in Glasgow.. 😛 Glad you had a wonderful time in Glasgow. Great post.

  3. michele h peterson Reply

    You soaked up a lot of handy info on your trip to Glasgow! Tip #1 about the liquor laws is a real surprise and a great thing to know if you;re headed out for dinner.

  4. I learned two unexpected facts from this post. First, I would have never suspected Glasgow to have strict liquor laws. And the second that they offer the best Indian cuisine. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I feel ya on Amex! I love my American Express card (I get Starwood points on it) and it’s RARELY accepted overseas. The one exception I’ve found is Japan, though!

    • Yeah, I get good rewards on mine too. Luckily, I did find that many bigger business in the area took the card.

  6. Who would have thought the water would be so good to drink? I also love that the museums are free! That really helps save money.

    • The tap water was delicious. I’m used to chlorine flavored tap, so that was a lovely surprise. Yes, the free museums was a great help.

  7. We in my home town also have the same thing for check. Until you ask you can sit long you want to 🙂

    • I kind of like it. In America we move everything so fast and going out to eat should be leisurely.

  8. Pingback: A Perfect Day In Glasgow, Scotland - 52 Perfect Days

  9. I love that the museums are free! I haven’t been to Scotland yet but am definitely putting Glasgow on my list of cities to visit when I’m there 🙂

    • Yeah it was great to bounce freely around to all the museums. Glasgow was an amazing friendly city.

  10. The best people in the world come from Glasgow (or so my Glaswegian pals say) they are truly the major part of why Glasgow is such a great place to visit. Of course the architecture is fascinating as well and being the home of the great Charles Rennie McIntosh doesn’t hurt -seeing his work at the Glasgow School of Art was a thrill of my life.

  11. I had to pick between Edinburgh and Glascow and picked Edinburgh. I loved it there so much, but you make a great case for Glascow.

  12. We’ve been to Edinburgh a few times now but not ventured anywhere else in Scotland. You’ve definitely convinced me to visit Glasgow. And your comments about the water made me laugh!

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