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Glasgow Alternative Bike Tour - The Highlights

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

On this tour, we discover the hidden gems of Glasgow on our alternative bike tour of the city - mostly focussing on the East End. This unique tour takes you on a journey through the gritty streets of some of Scotland's most interesting and evolving neighborhoods. We'll showcase some of our favorite street art along the way and point to examples of the continually emerging but bone fide hipster scene too. As we explore the area, you'll gain insight into the working-class social history of the East End, learning about the people and events that have shaped this diverse and dynamic community. Whether you're a resident or a first-time visitor (and we've tested on both!), this tour offers a unique perspective on Glasgow and an unforgettable experience (for the right reasons too hopefully!)


So here are some of the stops we make - as always, the interesting part is in the in-person narrative during the tour. At least we like to tell ourselves that.



1. La Pasionaria - the first stop on our Glasgow Bike Tour


A group of bike tour guests standing beside La Pasionaria monument on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow.
A group of bike tour guests standing beside La Pasionaria monument on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow.

The La Pasionaria monument, located in Glasgow, Scotland, is a statue dedicated to Dolores Ibárruri, the Spanish communist leader and political activist who was popularly known as "La Pasionaria" (The Passionflower). The statue depicts Ibárruri in a powerful and determined stance, holding a book and a rose in her hands. It was unveiled in 1979 in the Clyde Walkway, Glasgow, as a symbol of the city's solidarity with the International Brigade which fought against Franco and Fascism during the Spanish Civil War. What's remarkable about this status is that it was unveiled only 4 years after Franco had died and was in the same year that Britain elected Margaret Thatcher. This a good example of Glasgow being out of sync with Westminster consensus and for good reason too!



2. Glasgow Green


A sunny Glasgow Green with the Doulton fountain in view and the Templeton Carpet Factory in the background.
A sunny Glasgow Green with the Doulton fountain in view and the Templeton Carpet Factory in the background.

Glasgow Green is a picturesque park located in the heart of Glasgow, Scotland. It is the oldest public park in the city, with a rich history dating back to the 15th century when Bishop Turnbull gifted the green space to the people of the city. The park features a variety of attractions including the People's Palace (more info below on that) and the old Templeton Carpet Factory. Visitors can also explore the Doulton Fountain, one of the largest terracotta fountains in the world, or take a stroll along the river Clyde, offering a great view of the city. The park is also a popular spot for sports and activities, with facilities for football, hockey, and nearby rowing. Additionally, Glasgow Green is host to several festivals and events throughout the year, making it a lively and fun destination for locals and tourists alike.



3. People's Palace


A view of the People's Palace from behind the Doulton Fountain in Glasgow Green.
A view of the People's Palace from behind the Doulton Fountain in Glasgow Green.


The People's Palace in Glasgow is our personal favorite museum in Glasgow! This historic building, which dates back to 1898, is home to a fascinating museum that tells the story of the ordinary working-class people of Glasgow from 1750 until today. Inside, you'll find exhibits on everything from the city's social and industrial past to its cultural heritage, all presented in a fun and engaging way. There's a fascinating exhibit on some of the city's wealthy individuals who were engaged in industries tied to enslavement. We would have this museum down as a must-see!



4. Glasgow Women's Library


A view of Glasgow Women's Library in Bridgeton, Glasgow.
A view of Glasgow Women's Library in Bridgeton, Glasgow.

The Glasgow Women's Library is a museum and resource center in Glasgow, Scotland that aims to collect, preserve, and promote the education and knowledge of women's lives, histories, and achievements. The library holds a wide range of materials, including books, archives, and artifacts, that document the experiences and contributions of women throughout history. The library also hosts a variety of programs and events, such as lectures, workshops, and exhibitions, that engage visitors with the material in its collection and promote the study of women's history. The GWL's mission is to promote women’s achievement and to raise awareness of women’s history and it's a place where people can come together to learn, share, and be inspired. It is now the only Accredited Museum dedicated to women’s history in the whole of the UK and a designated ‘Recognised Collection of National Significance.’ We are also grateful to the GWL and their researcher Anabel Marsch for helping to compile our bios of the Trailblazing women who our fleet of bikes are named after.



5. An Gorta Mór statue and St Mary's Chapel


A picture of the Famine Memorial outside St Mary's Church in the Calton district of Glasgow.
A picture of the Famine Memorial outside St Mary's Church in the Calton district of Glasgow.

The Irish Famine Memorial in Glasgow is located at St Mary's Chapel on Abercromby Street. It is a monument dedicated to the memory of the Irish who died during the Great Famine but also to those who had to flee Ireland in search of food and work. The memorial, which was unveiled in 2021, consists of a bronze sculpture of a family of three, depicting the struggles and hardships faced by Irish immigrants during this period. It's estimated that up to 1 million people left Ireland during the Famine and around 1 in 10 of those are thought to have arrived in Scotland, the majority of which would likely have come to Glasgow. The sculpture is situated in a small garden surrounded by plaques with quotes and information about the famine. For more information on this topic check out our blog on The Glasgow Irish.



6. Buffalo Bill Statue


The 'Buffalo Bill statue in the East End of Glasgow.   Buffalo Bill was born William Fredrick Cody, aka “Buffalo Bill” was born in the Iowa Territory in 1846. After fighting in the American Civil War, Bill soon got into the entertainment industry and ended up taking his show to Glasgow.
The 'Buffalo Bill statue in the East End of Glasgow. Buffalo Bill was born William Fredrick Cody, aka “Buffalo Bill” was born in the Iowa Territory in 1846. After fighting in the American Civil War, Bill soon got into the entertainment industry and ended up taking his show to Glasgow.

The Buffalo Bill statue in Glasgow is a must-see for any wild west enthusiast visiting the city! The statue, located in Dennistoun, depicts the famous American showman William "Buffalo Bill" Cody.


The statue was unveiled in 2006 and was commissioned by Regency Homes to mark their new development in the adjacent street - a smart and welcome move! The bronze statue stands tall at over 10 feet, with Buffalo Bill himself sitting confidently on his horse, holding a rifle in one hand and a buffalo horn in the other. His co-star was none other than Annie Oakley, who one of our bikes is named after.



7. Tennents Wellpark Brewery


The main brewery for Scotland's national beer.
The main brewery for Scotland's national beer.


This historic brewery is the perfect destination for all your beer lovers out there. The brewery has been brewing delicious suds since 1885, and it's still going strong today!


The brewery is home to the famous Tennent's Lager, a crisp and refreshing beer that has been quenching the thirst of Scotland for over a century. Visitors can take a tour of the brewery to see the brewing process in action, and of course, sample some of the delicious brews.


But the tour isn't just about the beer, it's also a chance to learn about the rich history of the brewery and the city of Glasgow itself. The Tennents Wellpark Brewery has been a vital part of the community for over a century, and the tour will give you a glimpse into how it has contributed to the city's culture.



8. The 'Merchant' City

The mercantile area of Glasgow or the Merchant City, with the Tollbooth in the background.
The mercantile area of Glasgow or the Merchant City, with the Tollbooth in the background.

The Merchant City is a historic district in Glasgow, Scotland. It is located in the east end of the city centre and is known for its vibrant culture, diverse architecture, and wide range of shops, restaurants, and bars. The area was originally developed in the 18th and 19th centuries as a centre of trade and commerce, and many of the buildings from this period still stand today. The area features a mix of Georgian and Victorian architecture, as well as more modern developments. The area is popular with locals and tourists alike and is known for hosting events such as festivals, markets, and art exhibitions.


The Merchant City in Glasgow played a significant role in the transatlantic slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. The area was a hub for tobacco and sugar merchants, many of whom made their fortunes through enslaved Africans. Many of the merchants who lived and worked in the area were involved in the slave trade, and their wealth helped to finance the development of the city. The area's historic buildings and monuments, including the impressive tobacco lord's townhouses, still stand as a reminder of the city's involvement in the trade.


If you're interested in booking this tour, click here.


Testimonials


Excellent bike tour. The tour guide is clearly very knowledgeable and passionate about his city. The bikes we used were great and the route was nice and easy on the legs. Would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city or to people currently living in Glasgow to find out more about the hidden gems hiding in plain sight! Lovely way to spend a few hours.
Excellent morning! As an adopted Glaswegian I thought I knew most of Glasgow's history but I was wrong! I did the “Alternative” tour but will give the “Classic“ tour a go in the summer. I will be visiting the Women's Library as a result of this trip and an overdue visit to the Peoples Palace. Bikes are easy to operate and comfortable
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