Budget Travel

Edinburgh vs Glasgow: How to choose between the two Scottish cities

Only an hour or so apart by train, Glasgow and Edinburgh feel far more distinct compared to distance between them suggests. With different attitudes, accents, and almost unrecognisable looks, the cities represent two very separate faces of Scotland. Cliches abound about both – and are often perpetuated by the other – but the choice of Edinburgh vs Glasgow might boil right down to dependent on time.

Edinburgh, the cultured capital, is a city ready to use for tourists, with obvious attractions; Glasgow, the one-time industrial behemoth, requires more discovery but arguably offers greater rewards. So which should you visit? Here is how the 2 cities compare.

Hotels: Edinburgh blows Glasgow the water

Despite to be the smaller city, Edinburgh attracts three times more visitors each year than its old rival and blows Glasgow the water with regards to accommodations. To cope with this massive demand, brands from around the globe have flocked to the Scottish capital, joining an array of domestic options. Properties like the outstanding Kimpton Charlotte Square sit on the edge of the main tourist drag and more suburban neighbourhoods, while long-established grand hotels like The Balmoral happen to be welcoming guests for over a century.

Glasgow's accommodation scene is comparatively humble, using its offerings focussing more on capacity and location rather than looks. Some of the most popular hotels are simply those alongside large event spaces. It isn't totally bereft of luxury, however – the city centre Dakota has many admirers, along with the Hotel Du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens. Ultimately, though, the option is narrower and also the high-end nowhere near as lofty.

Our pick: Edinburgh

Things to complete: Edinburgh puts on quite the itinerary, but Glasgow is definitely an exciting treasure hunt

As the second-most visited city in great britan after London, Edinburgh wears quite the itinerary. Home to the country's best museums, most important monuments, and something unignorable, famously unconquered castle, you need only leave Waverley Station to see that you'll possess a busy day ahead. Along with all this, there are some of Scotland's rare Michelin-starred restaurants, the surprisingly charming seaside neighbourhood of Portobello, rapidly gentrifying Leith and, permanently measure, Arthur's Seat, an outstanding city park and hilltop climb offering grand views back towards Edinburgh Old Town.

Over in Glasgow, it's something much more of a treasure hunt. The Finnieston neighbourhood has established itself as probably the most enjoyable culinary artery in Scotland during the last decade, while gig venues like the iconic Barrowlands provide an atmosphere you just cannot find in Edinburgh. The Kelvingrove Art Museum's astonishing collection is remarkably free to the public and it is adjoining park is probably probably the most handsome in america.

Our pick: Edinburgh

Edinburgh is known for being pretty and Glasgow is known for being fun

It might be a bit reductive but essentially Edinburgh is known for being pretty and Glasgow is known for being fun. The same might be said of their people. Edinburgh's heavily Unesco-endorsed centre is perhaps probably the most complete and photogenic anywhere in the UK, providing visitors a feeling of time travel to another, more prosperous age. To strengthen this, most of the shops and restaurants exist to look after mass tourism instead of locals – you'll see much more tartan and hear a lot more bagpipes here than you ever will in the west. This is never more true than during the annual Edinburgh Festival, the world's largest arts and culture event, which runs through August.

Glasgow, meanwhile, is well known as a hard-drinking, hard-living city. As the major ship-building city for that British Navy within the WWII, it was bombed extensively by enemy air forces. Some of those wounds were scarred with ugly modern architecture, but in truth Glasgow was never as pretty as Edinburgh in the first place. Instead of seeing, it's more a town for doing – every evening each week there are events on in Glasgow, a revolving cavalcade of gigs, comedy, performance and, obviously, partying. You'll actually meet locals too – and they'll talk to you.

Our pick: Glasgow

Attractions for families: Edinburgh has got the history, Glasgow the parks and kid-friendly museums

Kids will need to have a serious interest in history to obtain the most from Edinburgh, though joining one of the Harry Potter walking tours will probably result in the mass of stone buildings more interesting. Young imaginations are usually triggered by Edinburgh Castle, too. The addition – and ongoing extension – from the tram service makes getting around the area less arduous for little legs, but be prepared to wish to take breaks in Princes Street Gardens.

If the elements turns ugly – also it often does – Glasgow's Science Centre and also the Riverside Museum make for ideal days out with the kids. However, Glasgow means Dear Green Place, and so forth of Queen's Park, Glasgow Green and Pollok Country Park are fabulous when the sun is shining.

Our pick: A draw

Is Edinburgh or Glasgow expensive for visit? It's marginal, but both are less expensive than London

Edinburgh is generally a little more expensive than Glasgow, but it's mostly a marginal call and both are significantly cheaper than London. In Edinburgh, the sheer range of options means it's easier to spend more money – it's posh wine bars and fancy restaurants catering to affluent crowds who tend not to visit Glasgow. Then there are all the attractions, meaning you're more prone to have you in your wallet throughout the day.

While Glasgow is slowly increasingly expensive too – in Cail Bruich it finally has a Michelin-starred restaurant again – generally the food is cheaper and the tourist traps almost non-existent.

Our pick: Glasgow

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