Glasgow, astride the River Clyde, is a surprising city – and Scotland's most underrated destination. Just an hour from Edinburgh (making it an easy day trip), Glasgow offers an energetic dining and nightlife scene, fanciful architecture and top-notch museums – most of which are free. Today, this once-run-down city feels revitalized, and Glaswegians (sounds like "Norwegians") are eager to give visitors a warm welcome.

Locals here are some of the chattiest people in Scotland – and have the most entertaining (and impenetrable) accent. One once told me he was "British by passport, and Scottish by the grace of God." Their unpretentious friendliness makes connecting with people here a cinch. There's no upper-crust history, and no one puts on airs. In Edinburgh, people identify with the quality of the school they attended; in Glasgow, it's their soccer team allegiance.

In its 19th-century heyday, Glasgow was one of Europe's biggest cities and the second-largest in Britain, right behind London. It was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution and is said to have produced a quarter of the world's oceangoing ships. After World War II, the city was hit with tough times, giving it a gritty image. But modern Glasgow is rejuvenating itself with a thriving cultural scene and its trademark knack for design and artsy edge.

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