Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city has a reputation for being one of the friendliest in the United Kingdom. Everywhere you go people will chat to you in Glasgow. The city grew along and around the banks of the River Clyde, and is thought to have been founded as early as the sixth century. From the cathedral to the riverside, the city’s history is etched on its streets and buildings.
While its cousin in the east, Edinburgh, might be better known as a tourist destination, Glasgow has a trove of things to see and do. It’s also a wonderful base for road trips to the north, south, east or west. Campervan rental is possible both in the city centre and outside in suburban areas like Paisley. Journeying to Glasgow to begin a Scottish motorhome adventure is very smooth too. It has two major rail stations at Queen Street and Glasgow Central, connecting it with the rest of the UK. Two airports – Glasgow International and Prestwick – serve the city, with the latter running many flights from budget airlines. Meanwhile, Buchanan Bus Station provides a central location for travellers arriving by road.
Campervan hire in Glasgow close to either of the airports is a popular choice if you want to drive straight to your campsite. Red Deer Village Holiday Park and Strathclyde Country Park Caravan Club Site are just a couple of the options. Each individual site has differing facilities, but you can frequently expect showers, toilets and washing machines for laundry. If you rent a larger motorhome, you probably won’t require bathroom facilities. Pitching up at sites like Strathclyde will give you instant access to nature walks, cycling, water sports and opportunities for wildlife spotting.
But, don’t get too comfortable at your campsite. You should definitely take some time to explore Glasgow itself. The city centre is built on a distinctive gridiron pattern, meaning the streets criss-cross each other at right angles. Consequently, it’s not a difficult place to navigate. Stroll Sauchiehall Street, one of the most famous shopping districts, stopping in at High Street stores along the way. Here, the first Glasgow “skyscraper” was built in 1938 – a beautiful Art Deco hotel called the Beresford. It was just 10 storeys high and has since been converted to private flats. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping, take a break for afternoon tea at The Willow Tea Rooms. Designed by famous artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, this is both a tearoom and an inspiration.
Famous restaurants located on the west side of the city include The Ubiquitous Chip, Oran Mor on Byres Road and Cail Bruich. An evening in the West End wouldn’t be complete without a stroll along the cobblestones of Ashton Lane either. Inviting bars and restaurants line this romantic street, which is lit by strings of overhead lights.
Buckle up your seatbelt, as you’re in for an interesting campervan ride in Glasgow. Once you’ve had your fill of city life, you’ll probably want to begin some day or overnight trips to peaceful areas. Within about 30 minutes, you can be driving your vehicle through rural spaces such as Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
Exploring Glasgow & Surrounding Areas in a Campervan
One itinerary that comes highly recommended winds north towards the Scottish Highlands and Fort William. Upon leaving Glasgow you have two options. The most direct route takes the A82, passing the shores of Loch Lomond on the west side and leaving the River Clyde firmly behind. Many picturesque photography stops are available on this journey. Pause in the conservation village of Luss for a stroll on the ‘bonnie banks.’ At the other end of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, you might want to park up for the night. A stop near Arrochar on the Cowal Peninsula allows access to the famed Rest and Be Thankful pass, a viewpoint across Glen Croe and the old valley road. This is a small detour onto the A83. Getting back to your original route transports you still further into the Scottish Highlands, passing by notable villages like Crianlarich and Bridge of Orchy. Eventually you will arrive in a land bountiful with Munros, which run alongside the Glen Coe road leading into Fort William.
Itinerary number two has the same endpoint. However, instead of taking the A82, you’ll drive your campervan east from Glasgow on the M8 towards Stirling. This little city has a number of interesting tourist attractions, including its historic castle and the National Wallace Monument. You may also consider visiting Bannockburn, where you can learn about the famous battle that took place here during medieval times. Continue your road trip on the A84 through Callander and Kilmahog to meet Hamish the Highland coo! This road through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is a scenic drive too, which joins up with the A82 to merge with route one.
Keen walkers will definitely want to hike some of Scotland’s West Highland Way as they venture north. Stretching from the outskirts of Glasgow in Milngavie right up to Fort William, it spans 96 miles. It’s very feasible to walk short bursts of the trail, particularly if you choose route one.
Let’s now look at some of the other points of interest that surround Glasgow.
Many major roads circle Glasgow. If you want to head east to Edinburgh, the M8 is a well-maintained motorway. Scotland’s capital has everything you could want from a city. Tick the castle, the botanical gardens, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and more off your bucket list.
Driving your campervan hire from Glasgow 2 hours south on the M74 will lead you to the Scottish Borders. An interesting detour on this itinerary is a trip to New Lanark World Heritage Site. There you can discover the old machinery of a disused cotton mill. Its position on the River Clyde is very pretty, and a stroll to the Falls of Clyde waterfalls should not be missed. The Scottish Borders itself is a region known for astounding abbeys and quaint towns. Gently undulating, the countryside provides a contrast to the hubbub of the cities here.
Firth of Clyde
The Firth of Clyde is an inlet set on the west coast of Scotland. Meandering out of Glasgow, the River Clyde eventually meets the Atlantic in this spot. A drive to this area allows you to hop across to the Isle of Arran from Ardrossan. You can transport your campervan on the ferry to get a taste for island life just one hour from the mainland. Arran is beautiful and has a number of activities including bike hire, a visit to Brodick Castle and a walk on Goat Fell. Those with a passion for whisky might want to sample a dram at the distillery too.
Constructed along Scotland’s southwest coastline beside the Firth of Clyde, you will also find towns like Troon, Ayr and Alloway – the birthplace of writer Robert Burns.
Those who choose the renowned route north to Fort William from Glasgow will stumble across some wonders in this town. Ben Nevis is the crowning jewel, whether you are tackling the mountain on foot or admiring it from the Nevis Range gondola on Aonach Mor. Anyone with an interest in history should visit the West Highland Museum in Fort William. A fascinating collection of artefacts is displayed inside. Discover more about Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Jacobites and Highland life in general.
Close to Fort William you will also find the Caledonian Canal and its unique lock system. Named Neptune’s Staircase, it’s an engineering masterpiece. Park your hired campervan to sit and watch the boats go by for a while here – it’s a peaceful slice of Scotland on a fine day.