A subway tour of Glasgow: The world’s third oldest system

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Glasgow’s subway loop is the world’s third oldest underground train system. The circuit leads you round to sparkling museums, bijou tea rooms, chic indie stores and legendary sporting venues.

Glasgow city centre

Kicking off your tour at Buchanan Street or St. Enoch stations will put you at either end of Glasgow’s main shopping hub. You can escape west-coast downpours by browsing the Argyll Arcade, Scotland’s original indoor mall, built in 1827. A 10-minute walk east in the Merchant City, Factory 45 showcases up-and-coming designers, stocking chain-mail jewellery and reworked vintage dresses.

Immediately off Buchanan Street, you can snap panoramic photos from The Lighthouse tower, and catch a stylish exhibition downstairs. The building was designed by the Glasgow’s master Art Nouveau architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

West End

Next stop is Kelvinhall, in Glasgow’s West End, and a short stroll to the free Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This palatial landmark is home to 8,000 artefacts, including a suspended Spitfire and a stuffed elephant named Sir Roger. Hungry? Pop into pastel-hued Cushion & Cake for scones served on vintage china.

If you stay on the train until Partick, you can wander to the shimmering Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum to admire an eclectic display of vehicles, from skateboards to bikes to trains.


From Cessnock Station it’s a short walk to Glasgow Science Centre, where you can stargaze at the Planetarium or watch the biggest blockbuster movies on the vast IMAX screen next door. If you’d rather spend some time outdoors, you can stroll through the Victorian walled garden at Bellahouston Park. There you’ll also find Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s House for an Art Lover, designed in 1901, but built in the 1990s.

Your final stop is Kinning Park, where glitter balls and retro tunes will have you spinning at RollerStop’s roller-skating discos.

Glasgow subway tips

There’s an Inner Circle and an Outer Circle, one line running clockwise, the other anticlockwise. Make sure you pick the right line to avoid a long journey.

  • A Smartcard gives you cheaper fares than standard tickets. It’s free if you register online or you can buy one at any station.
  • All-day tickets allow unlimited travel for one day. With a Smartcard, it’s cheaper still.
  • Mackintosh Trail Tickets give unlimited subway travel plus admission to all Charles Rennie Mackintosh attractions.

For more information on things to do and places to stay in Glasgow, visit our destination guide.

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