A cheap day-trip to Glasgow

Stenaline extended their £10 return day-trips to Glasgow throughout the summer and indeed the closing date quoted is now well into November so we were able to get the day-trip with the kids last week.

As with all day-trips involving any kind of boat or plane, there’s an early start. In this case, you’ve to be there no later than 7am and, of course, allowing for parking and whatnot that really means more like 6.45am. The ship doesn’t depart ’til 7.30 but the cheap trips over the holiday period are very popular so there was quite a line to checkin and it was quite a crowded trip. Arrival in Cairnryan is a little before 10am.

The ship is the quite nice Superfast, although with the trip taking almost 2.5 hours, it doesn’t seem that fast. Food in the restaurant isn’t cheap but the prices aren’t too over the top and the portions are ample (the childrens’ ones were fine for me). It’s best to grab a seat as soon as you get on as the available seats are taken up really quickly on the more crowded crossings. There’s the usual arcade games and small cinema (aimed mainly at the kids) with a spa along with assorted treatments for the adults. They’ve a small number of suites (for up to five people) which, at £25, are worth it after a tiring day though, of course, you only have use of it for a couple of hours.

The coaches set off not much after 10 with arrival in Glasgow scheduled for noon. However, in practice, we didn’t arrive at the Buchanan Street bus station until 12.30 which means that we only got four hours in Glasgow. The bus station is quite central though getting around Glasgow takes longer than you’d expect i.e. don’t try to be too ambitious if you’re intending to use public transport to get around.

What’s to see? It’s very much a Victorian era port city so there’s a focus on things along the docks although there are a number of things dotted around the city of course. All of these are covered in sufficient detail in the What to See and Do guide although the guide covers everything and for a day-trip is just too much.

Highlights suitable for a day-trip include:

  • The Science Centre, accessible from the Cessnock stop on the underground (allow 40 minutes each way for travel as you’ve to walk to the Buchanan Street stop and have a 15 minute walk from Cessnock). Mainly aimed at 7-14 year olds; it seems to include almost all the science gimics that you’re ever heard of. Quite expensive and very overpriced for adults considering that they’re mainly just accompanying their children.
  • Glasgow Police Museum is merely one of a range of museums covering different aspects of life in the city. Choose one that you’re interested as you won’t have time to do justice to more than that.
  • And, of course, the shopping of which the Buchanan Street area is well served.

The fledgling underground covers the city but allow for long walks to and from the stations as they are none too plentiful at the moment. There’s the usual open-top bus which takes about two hours to get around the city so you can’t really use it to get from A to B on a day-trip.

Is it worth it? I have to say, “no”, basically because four hours in Glasgow just isn’t enough and especially so as you spend eight hours travelling there and back. If the time there were a couple of hours longer, it would make an enjoyable day but with only the four hours, it’s all to easy to feel that it’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of trip. So, lots of stuff to see, but ruined by being there just too little time.

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