Glasgow. Friendly, fun and an officially-designated UNESCO city of music, it’s a culturally eclectic city, with bundles of affordable activities and attractions for all the family. Around 800,000 tourists visit Glasgow every year, and tourism is growing in the city, so now is a great time to visit.
But with a slight reputation for being an historically dangerous city, you may want assurances that Glasgow is a safe place to visit for tourists. The good news is this: it absolutely is! But, just like when you’re visiting anywhere, there are things you should do to stay safe.
In this article, I’ve given you the final answer to the old question “is Glasgow safe for travel?”, along with all the tips and tricks you need to make sure your trip to Glasgow is 100% safe.
I’ve compiled lots of facts, stats and pieces of information you need to know before visiting the city; they will help to keep you safe, keep you healthy and, more importantly, get you excited for your trip to Glasgow.
For a brilliant trip to Glasgow, I’ve got you covered!
Is It Safe to Travel to Glasgow?
Yes, Glasgow is a very safe place for tourists. Glaswegians are friendly, welcoming and warm. Scottish people are all a hospitable bunch, and Glasgow is one of the best places to get acquainted with real Scottish charm.
As mentioned above, Glasgow’s tourist numbers are reaching almost one million visitors per year. Glasgow is slowly becoming a very popular city for many different types of tourist.
The vast majority of those visits are fun, trouble-free and problem-free. And in recent years, crime figures in Glasgow have fallen (source).
In 2017, a survey found that there are only around 7 crimes in Glasgow per 100 people (source). While this number is particularly low, it’s very important to remember that most of this crime happens in residential areas with small gangs. Very little crime occurs in the areas which tourists visit.
Though you should stay aware and exercise much the same caution which you would on any trip, Glasgow is overall a safe – and great! – place to visit.
Emergency Numbers in Glasgow
The most important emergency number in the UK is 999. If you need urgent, immediate assistance from the fire service, police, or ambulance service, this is the number you need to call.
If you have a non-urgent emergency, there are two other numbers:
- For medical assistance, it’s 111.
- For the police, it’s 101.
You should store all three of these numbers in your cell phone, just in case you ever need them. You never know when an incident might occur!
Pharmacies in Glasgow
It is very simple and easy to find good pharmacies in Glasgow. Like in most UK cities, there are pharmacies on many streets, and in many locations. Some of Glasgow’s large grocery stores even have good pharmacies inside.
To find a pharmacy, just ask at your hotel, hostel or guesthouse. The staff will know where your closest pharmacy is, and what you can get there.
If you need a pharmacy while you’re not in your accommodation, just ask a local person. Sometimes, local people in Glasgow will refer to a pharmacy as a ‘chemist’. ‘Chemist’ is simply the UK English version of the word ‘pharmacy’, which some people (especially older people) still use.
Pharmacy regulations in the UK are fairly stringent. While many countries sell lots of drugs over the counter, that isn’t the case here. You can still access allergy remedies, pain relievers, cough syrups and other low-risk drugs, but if you want anything stronger, you’ll need to visit a doctor.
If you’re from a country with lenient pharmacy restrictions, you may be surprised at how little you can readily buy in UK pharmacies. But for most minor problems, illnesses and ailments, you can find enough in a Glasgow pharmacy. In addition to drugs and medicines, you can also buy physical remedies such as bandages and band aids.
An important note on medication: if you rely on any daily prescription medications, you should bring them with you, along with all original packaging and paperwork. Don’t assume that you can simply buy these medications over the counter in Glasgow… because you probably can’t!
How to See a Doctor in Glasgow?
If you need the assistance of a doctor in Glasgow, there are three easy and simple ways to access one:
- Call one of the emergency numbers listed above
- Ask a pharmacist at any pharmacy to recommend a doctor
- Call your travel insurance, if you have one, to see what they recommend
Medical costs in the UK can vary very widely. That said, a short, simple, basic consultation can be very affordable. You should expect that to cost around $50-$60. Simple medication will cost around $15. But if the medication is more special or specific, it can cost more. And if the consultation is more extensive or complicated, the cost can also be much higher.
All doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies in the UK are licensed, trustworthy, and official. You don’t need to be concerned about finding any specific clinic – they’re all very reliable.
Is Tap Water in Glasgow Safe to Drink?
Yes, tap water is absolutely safe to drink throughout the entire city. Scottish tap water is of a very high standard. Many locals claim that tap water is even better than the bottled stuff!
Is It Safe to Travel Alone in Glasgow?
Yes. Whether you travel alone or in a group, Glasgow travel is largely very safe.
Many people travel solo in Glasgow. There are also many international tourists in Glasgow, who all arrived in the city solo – and they now all live comfortably and happily, very much a part of the fabric of Glasgow life!
Glasgow is a pretty easy place to travel solo, since English is the native language. Because everyone speaks English, it’s easy to ask people for advice, easy to get around, and easy to make friends while you’re traveling.
But a quick word of warning – the Glaswegian accent can be a little hard to understand at first. If you’re struggling to understand what people are saying, just ask them to slow down!
People in Glasgow are extremely friendly. Surprisingly friendly. After a trip to the city, many visitors remark that Glaswegians are some of the friendliest people they’ve ever met.
And you’ll see why for yourself. If you sit in a bar, cafe or restaurant alone, it won’t take too much time for a friendly local to chat with you. Glaswegians help to make the city safe – they care about people, and they’ll take good care of you!
A testament to how safe Scotland is: many people hitchhike around Scotland solo, especially in the Highland areas, which are very close to Glasgow. If solo hitchhiking is safe, you can be assured that solo travel in the city is too.
Is Glasgow Safe for Female Tourists?
Yes, Scotland and Glasgow are a great region to visit as a solo woman.
In Scotland, women receive equal rights. The attitude towards women here is much better than the attitudes in many other countries across the world. Locals – men and women alike – are very friendly and helpful. It’s very rare to experience any on-street harassment in Glasgow.
Scotland’s leader is a woman, and there are many pro-female political movements in Scotland, to reduce the pay gap, support vulnerable women and support women’s businesses. Scotland is a nation which treats men and women equally.
It’s also important to note that Scottish people are very tolerant, welcoming and open-minded. Many issues relating to gender and personal rights simply aren’t a problem in Scotland – it’s a very laid-back country!
Glasgow has many international students, many of whom are women. If young international women can arrive in the city solo, you can travel there solo! Take the same precautions you would take in any city, and you’ll be absolutely fine.
You can also easily find female dorms in Glasgow.
Overall, Glasgow is a perfect city for solo female travel.
Is Glasgow Safe to Visit with Your Children and Your Family?
Yes, 100%. The UK is a very family-friendly place, and people in the UK traditionally place a big focus on the family. Scottish people in particular love spending time with their families and love enjoying family-friendly activities.
Glasgow has a huge number of family-friendly events and attractions, making it a fantastic place to visit if you have little ones!
The Glasgow Science Centre has hundreds of interactive exhibits along with an IMAX theatre, a planetarium, and lots of science shows. The Riverside Museum, dedicated to several different types of transport, has motorbikes, trains, cars, fire engines and lots more.
The city also has a climbing centre, Pollok Country Park (and all of its animals!), bowling, mini golf and so much more.
Perhaps the best kids’ attraction in Glasgow is Kelvingrove Museum, with lots of exciting and interactive exhibits and attractions for kids, adults and everyone in between.
Over Christmas, Glasgow can be a magical marvel of an experience, especially if the city is enshrouded in a smattering of snow. During Christmastime, Glasgow has great Christmas markets, with food, drink, fairground rides and flashing lights. In the UK, Christmas is a very big event – and lots of it is geared towards kids. No matter their age, your children will love a UK Christmas.
If you take your kids to Glasgow, it’ll be easy to keep them safe… and even easier to keep them entertained.
Areas to Avoid in Glasgow
Though Glasgow is generally a very safe destination, there are some parts of the city and its outskirts which you should avoid especially when it gets dark as these parts of Glasgow can be dangerous at night. They are:
- Sauchiehall Street
- Hope Street
- Clyde Street
- The area around the central station, though this is only dangerous at night
None of these neighborhoods in Glasgow are hugely dangerous, but you may want to avoid them if you’re a very cautious person.
You should be particularly cautious at night.
If you’re not interested in nightlife or bars, you should also avoid nightlife areas late at night. Though you’re unlikely to encounter any danger, British people like to drink a lot. A small minority can become aggressive when drunk.
Safe Areas to Stay in Glasgow
Generally speaking, you should use your common sense. Avoid the areas above, and you’ll be fine.
Stay in a central, well-lit accommodation with good reviews. If you stay central, you’re unlikely to encounter any of the troubles which occur on the outskirts of the city.
Areas with low crime include Bearsden, Milngavie, Newton Mearns, Bishopbriggs, and Kirkintolloch.
Terrorism in Glasgow
In recent years, Europe has been targeted by several terrorist attacks. The richer western European countries are most often targeted. So there is some risk of those attacks in Glasgow.
But let’s put that into context: terrorist attacks are still very rare. The chances of an attack successfully happening in Glasgow, while you’re there, are very small. You should be aware of the very small risk, but you shouldn’t let it deter you from traveling.
Report any suspicious bags or packages, wherever you see them, but especially in transport settings. You should also report any behavior which you consider to be suspicious.
Criminality in Glasgow
Criminal activity in Glasgow really isn’t much of a problem. As I mentioned earlier, there are some areas of crime in the city, but these are largely away from any of the tourist zones.
Though you shouldn’t be scared at all when you visit Glasgow, there are some things you should be aware of.
Glasgow, like many big cities in the UK, does have many beggars. These beggars very rarely cause problems, but they may ask you for money. You can accept or refuse (or offer food). Any of these reactions are unlikely to cause trouble. But if there is any conflict or trouble, don’t get involved. Leave before the situation escalates.
Muggers and pickpockets are very rare in Glasgow, but you should be wary. Don’t walk alone at night in unlit areas. But if you do encounter a mugger, it’s best to do as they say without causing any conflict. If you do as they ask, you’ll only lose some belongings, rather than your health or your life. Your safety should take precedence.
That said, later in this article, we’ve included details on how you can simultaneously keep yourself and your belongings safe.
Scammers can be a little harder to avoid, but just follow your instincts. If someone seems suspicious, they are probably suspicious. Don’t allow a suspicious person to gain your trust. If they do, it’s much easier for them to take advantage of you.
Here are some common scams in Glasgow you should be aware of:
- Gold ring scam: a stranger offers you a ring (typically gold) for a small amount of money. Or a stranger alerts your attention to a ring on the floor, in exchange for some money. In both situations, the ring is a worthless piece of jewellery. This scam is fairly common throughout the UK, especially in northern parts.
- Fake tickets and tour operators: this one is very important, especially since lots of people now buy lots of things online. If you buy any tickets or tours online, make sure you buy them from legitimate websites. Do not buy from any suspicious sites. As often as possible, you should buy your tickets or tours directly from the event operator or venue, whether online or in-person.
- Pickpockets: pickpockets operate in busy areas, such as busy walking streets, public transport and tourist attractions. Don’t keep your valuables in loose pockets, and be suspicious of anyone who is standing too close to you – or anyone who is acting strange.
- Fake police: if a police officer approaches you, you should always ask to see their badge before you cooperate with them. Some scammers pretend to be police officers in order to take your belongings. They may look and sound official, but that doesn’t mean they are. A real police officer will have no problem showing you their ID.
- Tinder scam: in Glasgow, there have been a small number of reports of suspicious people using Tinder to lure people on dates in order to take their money. If you do use Tinder (or any other dating app) while in Glasgow, just be sure to use your instincts, and only meet up with people who seem trustworthy. If they start behaving strangely while you’re with them, don’t feel bad about leaving early. It’s better to keep yourself safe.
Though you should be aware of all these common scams, you shouldn’t be afraid of them.
Again, it’s important to note that, in Glasgow, most crime occurs away from tourist areas, and within small gangs. If you stick to safe areas you’ll most likely be absolutely fine.
How to Protect Your Money and Documents in Glasgow?
You should exercise the same cautions which you would in any city. Here are some advice to protect your cash and important documents, and to stay safe during your trip to Glasgow:
- Don’t carry all of your money with you when walking around. Leave some in your hotel/hostel/guesthouse room, in a safe.
- The money which you are carrying around the city on a daily basis – don’t keep all of it in one place. Keep some in your pockets, and keep a separate amount in an emergency money belt. With this method, if you are mugged or robbed, you don’t have to hand over all of your money – you can simply hand over the stuff from your pockets.
- You should always carry your passport or ID with you – but keep documents separated from your money. If you are robbed, handing over money is bad. But handing over important documents is way worse.
- If you’re a particularly cautious person, you may want to carry a fake wallet with fake or expired papers. If you are a victim of robbing or mugging, you can hand these fake or expired documents over instead of any real documents. This allows you to protect yourself and your family while still protecting your documents. Though it may seem an excessive measure, it might keep you at peace if you like to stay super safe.
How to Protect Your Belongings in Glasgow?
Use the same precautions which you would use in any other tourist destination:
- Do not leave your bags unattended in any location or situation
- You shouldn’t leave valuables in your hotel/guesthouse/hostel room unless they are stored in a safe. If your accommodation has no safe, ask the staff about your alternative options.
Does Glasgow Have Any Animal-Borne Diseases?
The risk of animal-borne diseases in Glasgow and in Scotland, in general, is incredibly low. Scotland has no mosquitoes, and there is absolutely no presence of rabies.
But small flying insects called ‘midges’ are present in the warmer months.
Midges love damp forestry conditions, and they especially love lying water. They’re much more prevalent in the west, so you need to be especially careful when you’re traveling in and around Glasgow.
From June to September, midges swarm Scotland. If you want to avoid the irritating insects, avoid this period.
Midge bites aren’t at all infectious and they rarely hurt, but they can swell and itch – and be very irritating. To deter midges, you should apply bug spray and cover up with long clothes.
There are many bug sprays available on amazon such as this one which is plant based and have thousands of great reviews. You can also use it home to protect yourself and your loved ones from insects in your city or even your backyard.
You should also be aware of ticks, which can carry Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease can be very dangerous, and can even lead to fatal complications.
For any hiking or walking on grass – even in the city centre – you should wear bug spray, and make sure that you wear high socks, high boots and long trousers.
After any hiking or outdoors activity in any type of grass, you should check for ticks. Though it’s most common to find them on your legs, feet and ankles, you should check your whole body.
If you find any ticks, remove them very carefully. Use tweezers to get as close to the tick’s head as possible, before pulling up slowly and firmly. Clean the area around the tick both before and after removing the sneaky creature.
If you’re traveling with dogs, make sure you check your dogs for ticks too.
Does Glasgow Suffer from Natural Disasters?
Though Scotland rarely suffers from any huge natural disasters, flooding is quite common. Because rain is very common in Glasgow, flooding can occur year-round.
It is very rare that flooding is disruptive. Typically, all flooding is fairly manageable, so you shouldn’t worry about the risk of flooding while you plan your trip.
Are There Any Current Political Tensions in Glasgow?
None at all.
In any city, small demonstrations and marches can occur at any time because of any issue. And it’s the same in Glasgow. But because there are no major political tensions in Glasgow (as of now), any protests will be small, tame, and nothing to worry about.
If any small-scale protests do occur, simply stay away from there. If you avoid any potentially problematic situations, then no trouble can come to you.
Is It Safe to Drive in Glasgow?
Yes, it’s very safe. Road users in the UK are relatively very safe and very cautious. Compared to many other countries, road standards and driving standards in the UK are very high.
But before you drive, you should ensure you know the rules of the road, what different road signs mean, and the standard speed limits.
In the UK, everyone drives on the left-hand side of the road.
Renting a car is a great idea if you want to travel further from Glasgow while on your trip. Because many people use Glasgow as an access point to the Scottish Highlands, it’s quite common for Glasgow visitors to rent a car.
If you do go into the more rural parts of the country, make sure you go slower than you think you need to. Many of the roads in this area are windy, narrow and single-track.
Here are some other things you should be aware of:
- The minimum age for renting a car in Scotland is 23. The maximum is 65.
- Be prepared to slow down for cows, goats and sheep. In more remote areas of Scotland, animals often wander onto roads. You should be especially wary of this if you drive in the direction of the highlands.
- Drive carefully in wet or snowy weather. You may not be accustomed to driving in these conditions. If that’s the case, be ultra-cautious. Poor road conditions can be very dangerous. This is a very important consideration in this area of Scotland, as rain can be very frequent.
- Never, under any circumstances, drink and drive. It’s illegal, and it’s potentially fatal.
Before you visit Scotland, ensure you have all the necessary papers required to legally drive in the country. You do not need an international driver’s license. EU visitors need their domestic driver’s license along with another form of photo ID. Non-EU visitors need the same documents, on the condition that the driving license also has an English translation.
When you rent a car, make sure you only rent from a reliable and reputable company. There are some untrustworthy car rental agencies who may try to add extra charges to your bill.
Before you take your rented car away from the rental store, undertake a thorough check of the vehicle with a member of staff. You don’t want to be wrongfully blamed for any holes, scratches or damages. Ensure you highlight these damages to a member of staff, so that there can be no disputes or controversy when you return the vehicle.
You should also be aware that most cars in the UK run on manual transmission. It might be difficult to find a car with automatic transmission.
Is Public Transport in Glasgow Safe?
Yes. It’s also very easy to use, since everyone speaks English, and all signs are written in English. The public transport system in Glasgow is built on a grid-like system, which makes it very easy to follow and very easy to navigate.
The transport system in Glasgow is excellent and extensive. Much of Glasgow – and its outskirts – can be accessed by public transport. The public transport system in Glasgow is made up of buses, trains and a subway. A quick note on the subway: on Sundays, they stop running at 6pm. This is a frustration for many locals and travelers, but you can easily compensate for this inconvenience by using buses instead.
Glasgow also has a city sightseeing bus, which you can use to enjoy most of the city’s big attractions. Because the bus is open-topped, it’s also a great way to enjoy the atmosphere and architecture of the city.
If you like to get around in a more active way, you can also easily rent bicycles at easy access points throughout the city.
Or for those who prefer walking, Glasgow is a very walkable city. It’s fairly small compared to many other popular tourist cities, and it’s very pedestrian-friendly.
Is Uber Safe in Glasgow?
Yes. Uber is safe, common and popular. There are a small number of reports of drivers trying to charge too much on Uber. But if you’re aware of your journey distance, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Sometimes in Glasgow, Uber can be very busy. If that’s the case, try Gett instead. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s equally reliable.
Are Taxis Safe in Glasgow?
Yes. Taxi scams are very uncommon in Glasgow, but you should always exercise caution. Make sure each journey is metered, and always ensure that you know where you are going.
You should make sure that you are very comfortable and familiar with British currency. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it can be very easy to accidentally hand over too much cash to a taxi driver.
You should absolutely only ever travel in licensed taxis. Don’t take rides from any cars which are not definitely official taxis.
If you’re worried about being scammed in a taxi, Uber or Gett are usually the best options. But overall, you shouldn’t at all worry about taxi safety in Glasgow. Glasgow taxi drivers have a reputation for being some of the friendliest, chattiest, most helpful taxi drivers in the world!
Is Glasgow Safe to Live in?
Yes. Though the crime statistics here are a little higher than some other cities in the UK, it’s generally a safe place to live.
If you avoid the areas we’ve outlined earlier in this guide, living in Glasgow is very likely to be very safe. Most crimes take place in the areas we’ve mentioned – and most people who move to Glasgow don’t move to those areas.
The vast majority of people in Glasgow are friendly, helpful, kind and generous. Don’t let the crimes of a small minority allow you to think otherwise.
Though Glasgow has a slight reputation for crime, this is largely an old-fashioned sentiment. Over the past few years, levels of crime in Glasgow – and in Scotland generally – have dropped.
Glasgow is the Scottish city with the most crime (source), but considering that it’s the biggest city in Scotland, it’s no great surprise.
For the most part, British people are very friendly and very open-minded. No matter who you are, and no matter where you’re from, you’ll largely be greeted with warmth and kindness if you decide to live in Glasgow.
Top Safety Tips to Follow when You’re in Glasgow
- When booking tickets or tours online, you should only do so with a reputable source. Where possible, book directly with the event venue or event organizer. If you don’t book with a reputable source, you may not receive what you’ve paid for. But you’ll still pay for it!
- Take note of the 3 UK emergency numbers: 999 for all urgent emergencies, 101 for non-urgent police and 111 for non-urgent medical care. Store these numbers in your phone or written on a piece of paper, so you have them ready if you ever need them.
- Stay in central, well-lit accommodation. If you stay in the outskirts, you’re more likely to encounter trouble. This is particularly important in Glasgow. Check out accommodation options here with their updated prices.
- Avoid the slightly-unsafe areas we’ve listed earlier in the article, especially at night.
- Carry lots of bug spray, to deter ticks and midges. This is a good idea for the whole of Scotland, but midges are particularly rife in the west of the nation. I recommend this plant-based insect repellent with thousands of great reviews on amazon! You can also use it at home to protect yourself or your loved ones from insects in your city’s parks or even your backyard.
- If you don’t like nightlife, try to avoid Glasgow’s busy nightlife areas at night. In these areas, a small number of drunken people may be argumentative or aggressive.
- Don’t rent a car from a company without a good reputation.
- When renting a car, drive safely and slowly. Be aware of potentially bad weather, and be very cautious when driving on winding roads or single-track roads. In the west of Scotland, there are lots of them.
- … and don’t drink and drive! This can be very dangerous. It’s also highly illegal in Scotland. Drink driving in Scotland can lead to long-term imprisonment. Worse than that, it can also lead to fatal repercussions for you and other road users.
- If you rely on daily medication, bring it from home. You may not be able to buy your necessary medication in Glasgow, because over-the-counter medications are relatively regulated, compared to some other countries.
- If any police officers approach you in the street, for any reason, always kindly ask to see ID before you cooperate. If they aren’t in possession of a real ID, they aren’t a real police officer.
- Public transport in Glasgow is very safe, extensive, simple, and accessible. It’s built on a grid-like system. You should have no concerns about using it.
- The underground system in Glasgow stops operating at around 6pm on Sundays.
- Be careful if you use any dating apps in Glasgow. A small amount of scammers use dating apps to lure in unsuspecting victims.
- Familiarize yourself with the Scottish currency, to make sure you don’t accidentally hand over too much money. This is particularly important with the coins!
- If you hike, make sure you know exactly where you’re going. Many hikers get lost in the Scottish highlands. Have a good map, wear good clothing, and use a compass if necessary.
- If you’re struggling to find any cars with Uber, use Gett instead.
- Take lots of waterproof clothing. Glasgow and the Scottish highlands can have heavy rain any time of the year.
- The most important tip of all – have fun!
Is Glasgow Safe for Tourists? Final Thoughts
Overall, Glasgow is a very safe, very fun, very tourist-friendly destination.
Every day, tourists from around the globe visit Glasgow for its museums, its music, the nearby highlands, and for the beautiful day trips from the city.
That said, make sure you use common sense. Stay in safe, central, reputable accommodation, don’t walk alone in unlit or unsafe areas, and don’t interact with any suspicious people.
Glasgow is fun, friendly, and exciting. Stay safe and you’ll have a great time!
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