By | 16th January 2018
Do you need a car in Glasgow > Should you rent a car in Glasgow UK > Glasgow ( GLA ) Do you need a car in Glasgow? Is it worth hiring a car in Glasgow? Should you rent a car in Glasgow?

Glasgow Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]


  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Glasgow but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Glasgow during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]



  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.

Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 269 - of which 127 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Glasgow, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Glasgow public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.


  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Glasgow


  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.


  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Glasgow good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Glasgow because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Glasgow. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.


  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Glasgow, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Glasgow Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Glasgow", "is it worth hiring a car in Glasgow", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Glasgow?

Do you need a car in Glasgow?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Glasgow " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Glasgow?

Is it worth hiring a car in Glasgow?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Glasgow" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Glasgow?

Should you rent a car in Glasgow?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Glasgow, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Glasgow compares with other destinations in  UK or  Europe.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Glasgow?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.


Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.


  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Glasgow if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Glasgow for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Glasgow for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Glasgow if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Glasgow if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Glasgow if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Glasgow, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Glasgow if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Glasgow if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Glasgow if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Glasgow, or are there good reasons not to?

Do you need a car in Glasgow? With its two airports (Glasgow International and Prestwick), Glasgow is the main gateway to Scotland for visitors arriving by air, and it is also Scotland’s most important rail centre. If you are arriving in Glasgow by rail, you can also pick up a hire car at Glasgow Central station.

So is there any need to get a hire car when visiting the city and the vast range of scenic destinations which can be reached from here?

Do you need a car in Glasgow? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Glasgow?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Glasgow? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Glasgow as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Glasgow?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

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  • Glasgow is the gateway for western Scotland, including Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the Scottish Highlands and Islands. This region has a relatively sparse public transport links, so you will have much more flexibility in a hire car.
  • The greater Glasgow area has many interesting buildings to visit, including the Mackintosh Trail, and the stunning Burrell Collection in Pollok Park. A car will give you much more flexibility when travelling around these places.
  • Although Glasgow has a comprehensive public transport network, this is essentially aimed at suburban commuters — to reach some of the interesting destinations in greater Glasgow, you may have to go by bus.
  • Glasgow’s West End is well worth exploring, and  car will give you more flexibility than waiting for buses. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery is another must-see attraction.
  •  A car is ideal for exploring the historic Clyde river bank, including for visiting the Glasgow Science Centre and the Armadillo.
  • Glasgow may have an excellent suburban and regional rail network, but it is still disjointed. There is no rail link to Glasgow Airport, there are two stations which are only linked by shuttle bus, and the east-west lines alternate between serving Queen St and serving Glasgow Central, so you need to keep tab of the right times to end up where you want to be.
  • The Glasgow subway only operates in one loop, and does not connect directly with the main Glasgow Central Station (connect via St Enoch). The subway is extremely cramped, and impossible to use for anyone with any kind of mobility impairment.
  • Glasgow Central station car hire – you can hire a car from Enterprise in Oswald Street, which is directly adjacent to Glasgow Central station. Note there are no car rental facilities inside or directly adjacent to Glasgow Queen Street station.

Why not? Visiting Glasgow without a car

What is public transport like in Glasgow? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 4?
  • Compared to nearby Edinburgh (see our Edinburgh car hire guide), Glasgow has a much more substantial network of suburban rail services, so it is much easier to get around the Glasgow region by train, without needing to bother with the hassles of a hire car. This network wasn’t just built for commuting – it was also developed to give Glaswegians access to coastal resorts and other scenic areas.
  • You can travel by train to Balloch, for Loch Lomond, where station is right next to the terminal for Loch Lomond pleasure cruisers.
  • Glasgow is the start of the West Highland Line to Oban and Mallaig – this is one of the most scenic railway journeys in Europe. The stretch across Rannoch Moor is utterly stunning, and is one of several stretches of this journey which can only be reached by train, as there are no roads nearby.
  • You can also take the train to destinations such as Wemyss Bay or Ardrossan to catch ferries to islands across the Firth of Clyde such as Arran and Bute.
  • The Falkirk wheel is an excellent excursion from either Glasgow or Edinburgh. It is best appreciated by bike — this will be a fantastic day trip along the Forth and Clyde Canal from Glasgow or the Union Canal from Edinburgh. However, you will naturally get there much quicker my car, even if this means skipping out some of the good bits along the canal.
  • Glasgow city centre has many superb buildings from its industrial heyday, and some interesting modern ones too. The best way to appreciate these by far is to be on foot.
  • Amongst the impressive Victorian heritage of Glasgow are its two great stations — Glasgow Central, which is undoubtedly the finest station in Scotland, and the smaller Glasgow Queen Street with its vaulted roof.
  • The main public transport hubs in Glasgow are directly adjacent to prominent city centre landmarks — when you exit from Glasgow Queen Street station, a vista of George Square and Glasgow City Chambers opens up on your left. Glasgow Central Station sits right on top of the Clyde riverbank, and takes you directly onto the main shopping streets.
  • A visit to Glasgow should include a trip to the People’s Palace. Trips like these are best done as a leisurely stroll, and you may want to take public transport back in the opposite direction – the same applies to Glasgow Science Centre and the Armadillo.
  • Glasgow is famous for its two legendary football clubs — Rangers who play at Ibrox and Celtic, who play at Parkhead (also known as Celtic Park). Both of these stadiums are within easy reach of the city centre by underground or bus. Trying to park at either these stadiums is an unnecessary nightmare.
  • No visit to Glasgow is complete without a journey on its legendary Clockwork Orange Underground system (known officially as the Glasgow Subway), only the third in the world when it opened, after London and Budapest. Just make sure that you haven’t been indulging in too much whisky or Tennants Super before venturing down the steep steps to its narrow platforms. However, the system does close at 11 pm, and as early as 6pm on Sundays, long before chucking out time!


So ultimately, do you need a car in Glasgow? For the city itself and anywhere within the “SPT” network, ie most places within around a one hour train ride from Glasgow, there’s really no need for a car at all, as public transport isn’t just excellent, it’s vastly superior to what you will find in any other UK city outside London. Unlike many other cities, the Glasgow suburban train network is also really good for getting to the coast, or to other scenic places like Loch Lomond – it’s much more than just a scattering of commuter shuttles. Once you start getting well outside the city, there’s no doubt that a rental car is going to be useful for some itineraries, but it’s still far from essential. If you only ever make one trip outside Glasgow (other than to Edinburgh), then make it a journey on the legendary West Coast Mainline.

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