The 19th World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (WCP2023) will take place in the cultural city of Glasgow, Scotland. From historic architecture to amazing shopping and dining experiences to a bustling nightlife, there is a whole range of things to discover in the city during your visit. And if you feel like venturing a little further afield, Scotland has even more wonders for you to explore.
Glasgow: a welcoming city of culture
Glasgow is one of the UK’s most visited cities and one of the friendliest. Glaswegians are so welcoming, that a popular saying is that if you ask one for directions, they will not only take you there, but then take you home for tea as well!
Glasgow is also incredibly diverse and inclusive and has such a range of sites and activities to explore that in 2019 the European Commission named it the UK’s top cultural and creative city.
For art lovers, the city offers a range of galleries including the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art. There is even the House for an Art Lover designed by Glasgow-born Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald in 1901. Mackintosh was an artist, designer, and architect whose architecture can be discovered all over the city, including a building at the Glasgow School of Art. Outside of the galleries, impressive street art can be found in and around the city, with guided tours to help you find and learn more about the pieces.
Glasgow boasts a number of museums, including the Glasgow Science Centre which is located just across the river from the Congress venue. The award-winning Riverside Museum is also just a short walk down river and Scotland’s oldest public museum, the Hunterian, can be found on the University of Glasgow campus.
From emerging bands in tiny clubs, to global touring artists, to orchestras in the concert halls, Glasgow has a lively and varied music scene. The city was the first in the UK to be named UNESCO city of music in 2008 and offers a range of contemporary live music, as well as more classical entertainment such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish Ballet. Glasgow is also in touch with its Celtic heritage and you can find live traditional Scottish music played in venues around the city. There will even be a chance to join a cèilidh (a traditional Scottish gathering with live music and dancing) as part of the Congress’ social activities. If you plan to stay in Glasgow into August, you might be able to catch the World Pipe Band Championships which regularly attract more than 220 bands and have roots as far back as 1906.
Glasgow is the ideal location for shoppers and caters for all tastes and budgets. The city’s Style Mile has an extraordinary concentration of shops from top high-street names to high-end retailers. Glasgow’s lanes also offer a number of quirky independent shops and restaurants.
In the old Cumbric language, ‘Glasgow’ means ‘green hollow’ or ‘green place’, and it’s easy to see why. The city offers a wide range of beautiful green spaces including Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow Green, Glasgow Botanic Gardens and Pollock Country Park.
Less than an hour’s train journey to the east of Glasgow is Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. With its medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town, Edinburgh is steeped in history and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Attractions include the awe-inspiring Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Scott Monument and St Giles’ Cathedral. Edinburgh has its own impressive collection of galleries including the Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and City Art Centre. Museums include the National Museum of Scotland, Museum of Edinburgh and the Museum of Childhood. For an inspiring view of Edinburgh, head up to Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano with an array of paths and trails to follow. In the evening, you can take in a show at the Festival Theatre, sip a whisky in a quaint pub or see a live band at one of the city’s music venues.
Food and drink
With the Atlantic on its doorstep, fresh mountain waters, lush rolling hills, fertile soil and varied weather, Scottish cuisine is renowned for its unrivalled quality. From Aberdeen Angus beef, Stornoway Black Pudding, Arbroath Smokies and Shetland salmon and shellfish to Scottish whisky, ales, scones and shortbread. Try the national dish, haggis, or for a sweet treat, seek out the more contemporary deep fried Mars Bar which celebrated its 25th birthday in 2020.
Of course, Scotland is also known for its gin and whisky. There are a number of gin and whisky distilleries you can visit and many pubs and bars offer tasting sessions. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s venues include 38 Bath Street in Glasgow and 28 Queen Street and The Vaults in Edinburgh. The brand new Johnnie Walker Experience will open in time for the conference and boasts eight levels (including a rooftop bar) at Princes Street.
Grassmarket in Edinburgh’s Old Town is a great place to discover restaurants and traditional pubs with a great selection of beer and live music.
The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh is a love letter to Scotland with its Balmoral tartan, classic Scottish art and whisky ambassadors with 500 malts. Enjoy a drink or award-winning afternoon tea with a view of the famous clock tower in the Palm Court. Or try their Michelin-starred dining, French-Scottish bistro fare or classic cocktails.
The great outdoors
Scotland is famous for its dramatic coastlines, rolling highlands, lochs, rivers and forestry.
Just an hour’s journey north west of Glasgow is Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park which offers mountains, lochs, forests and glens. Further east, Pentland Hills Regional Park features nine peaks with amazing views of Edinburgh and the surrounding area and nearby is the Pentland Hills Gin distillery.
For those wishing to explore even further, Scotland has two National Parks, 45 National Natural Reserves, three UNESCO Global Geoparks and two UNESCO Biospheres. The Highlands are home to many mountain ranges including Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. Loch Ness is one of the most well-known natural sites in Scotland and some believe it is home of the elusive Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie’. However, during your stay, you are much more likely to get a glimpse of some other examples of Scotland’s beautiful wildlife, such as a red deer, a bullfinch or a highland cow.
Sports and activities
There are lots of sports and other activities you can watch and take part in while in Scotland.
Scotland is the birthplace of golf and boasts a huge number of beautiful courses, so why not play a round? Learn more about the history of the sport and play on the oldest course in the world, the Old Course at St Andrews Links (which also offers an additional six courses).
A ring of top-quality golf courses surrounds Glasgow including Haggs Castle Golf Club and further out is Prestwick, where the first Open Championship was held in 1860. Even further afield are the Highland Golf Links (which include Royal Dornoch Golf Club, The Nairn Golf Club and Castle Stuart Golf Links) and Trump International Scotland in Aberdeen and Trump Turnberry.
Rugby is also very important to Scotland and to the West of Edinburgh city centre is Murrayfield Stadium, home of the Scottish Rugby Union and Scotland’s home stadium for the Six Nations.
If you are into climbing then make sure you visit the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena. Its Europe’s largest indoor climbing centre and features world-class climbing walls, a bouldering room and a gym overlooking the main arena.
If you plan to stay a little longer after the conference, you can enjoy the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships. Taking place across ten days in August, the competition promises to be the ‘the biggest cycling event ever’ and will see the world’s greatest riders come together in Glasgow and across Scotland to compete at the highest level over thirteen disciplines.
Of course with Scotland’s vast and rugged countryside there is an endless amount of options for walking, hiking, cycling, kayaking and more.