Thanks to a well-developed public transport system, expats should find that getting around in Glasgow is relatively easy and stress free.
Glasgow's public transport system is comprehensive, convenient and cost effective, and it's quite possible to get by on public transport alone. Those who aren't keen to face Glasgow's typically chilly, windy and rainy weather may prefer to drive around in the comfort of their own car.
Public transport in Glasgow
The bright orange exterior of the subway trains and the circular route they follow has led to the Glasgow subway being dubbed the 'clockwork orange'. Admittedly, this nickname is perpetuated more by guidebooks and tour guides than locals, who tend to just call it the subway.
More importantly, the underground train system is a quick and easy way to get around the city, though its route is limited to the central and West End areas of Glasgow. The circular route has one inner track and one outer track with trains running in opposite directions, so that passengers can choose either track depending on which train will reach to their desired destination first. Trains arrive every four minutes during peak times.
One drawback of the subway system is that it's quite compact in both size and scope. There are 15 stops in total, and it only takes about 20 minutes to complete a full circuit of the route.
Glasgow's network of above-ground trains traverses a much wider network than the subway, with ScotRail covering local and regional routes and other providers such as Virgin Trains connecting Glasgow with England and Wales.
The local train route covers much of suburban Glasgow and connects it to the inner-city areas. Once in the city, it's easy to connect to the subway. The frequency of trains depends on the route and time of day.
Trains may suffer from delays, especially in bad weather. Travellers should be sure to stay up to date using ScotRail's website or mobile app, which both offer information on timetables, routes and any delays.
Glasgow has an extensive bus system, with the main provider of bus services being First Glasgow. There are over 80 bus routes in Glasgow, so travellers are well covered. However, some buses offer only limited services, especially at night.
The First Glasgow app is the easiest way to buy tickets, but they can also be bought at ticket kiosks around the city and onboard the bus, using exact change.
Taxis in Glasgow
Ride-hailing applications such as Uber and Lyft are operational in Glasgow, and travellers can easily hail a cab using the relevant application on their phone. There are also classic black cabs, run by Glasgow Taxis. They can be hailed on the street or booked online, over the phone, or by using the official Glasgow Taxis app.
Driving in Glasgow
While owning a car in Glasgow is largely unnecessary, it can come in handy in the case of rainy weather.
Expats from within the EU can drive in Scotland for as long as their licence is valid, and those from outside the EU can drive in Scotland on a valid licence from back home for up to 12 months after their arrival.
Expats who are used to chaotic and aggressive driving will find that Glasgow roads are much calmer. Glaswegian drivers are also noticeably more polite and patient than drivers in many other countries – it's uncommon for anyone to honk their horn, even if someone else on the road drives carelessly or inconveniences them.
Cycling in Glasgow
Glasgow has over 186 miles (300 km) of cycle lanes. Sidewalks are also usually safe to cycle on. Although Glasgow is not quite as cycle-friendly as nearby Edinburgh, there's still plenty of support for cyclists in terms of cycling infrastructure and bicycle-hire schemes, including a comprehensive scheme run by the city council.
Walking in Glasgow
If using public transport, walking is an almost inescapable part of travelling in Glasgow. Glasgow is a large city, and despite numerous public transport options, a bit of walking is often necessary to get to where one wants to go. Travellers should always be prepared for a bit of rain, though, so it's advisable to carry around a small umbrella or rain jacket in case of sudden showers.
►Learn about the city's must-see attractions by reading See and Do in Glasgow
Are you an expat living in Glasgow?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Glasgow. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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