Glasgow Port Guide (Greenock), Shore Excursions, Port Highlights

Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis

Welcome to Glasgow port guide (Greenock cruise terminal)!

Conveniently located on Scotland’s western coast, at the “Tail of the Bank” where the River Clyde expands into the Firth of Clyde, the charming seaside town of Greenock is the main gateway to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

In this article, read about:

  • Glasgow port (Greenock cruise terminal, local transportation, getting to Glasgow and Edinburgh)
  • Top things to do in Glasgow cruise port (port highlights, shore excursions)

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Glasgow Port – Greenock Ocean Terminal

Cruise ships dock at Greenock Ocean Terminal, located in the town of Greenock, approximately 25 miles (40 km) west of Glasgow.

Glasgow port map - Greenock Ocean Terminal
Glasgow port map – Greenock Ocean Terminal. google.com/maps/

The port of Greenock (officially Clydeport) is owned and managed by Peel Ports, the United Kingdom’s largest port operator. It has two berths and its deepwater quay can accommodate cruise vessels of all sizes.

Greenock Ocean Terminal boasts a modern terminal building featuring a tourist information center, currency exchange booth, restrooms, local vendors, and several souvenir stands. The town center of Greenock is only a few minutes walking distance from the pier and there is a short walkway connecting the cruise passenger terminal to the city center.

Cruise ship passengers are traditionally welcomed by bagpipe performers who greet guests with popular tunes wishing them a pleasant stay in their friendly city.

The local volunteer association Inverclyde Tourist Group has a dedicated seating area in the building and their friendly volunteers offer maps, brochures, and free guided coach tours of the area.

Cruise line morning shore excursions usually meet onboard the ship at the different lounges and guests are escorted to the terminal parking to board the buses. Afternoon shore excursions/tours booked with independent tour operators normally meet directly outside the terminal building but within the cruise port complex. Please make sure you check the instructions (meeting location/time) on your tour ticket/booking confirmation form to avoid inconveniences.

Local Transportation

Train

The easiest way to get to Glasgow from Greenock is by train. There are two train stations in Greenock, Greenock West and Greenock Central, both located within 15-20 minutes walking distance from the pier. The trains to Glasgow depart frequently, 3-4 times per hour depending on the time of the day. The ticket prices start at £7.10 each way and the journey takes approximately 35-40 minutes.

See the train timetables and fares on the official webpage of the national train company of Scotland https://www.scotrail.co.uk/

Public bus

Buses depart from the main Greenock bus station located on Kilblain Street less than a 10-minute walk from the port. Bus lines #901 and #906 serve Glasgow, and the journey takes approximately 50 minutes. The ticket price costs around £5 per person each way.

Check the timetables on https://www.travelinescotland.com/

Taxi

Taxis are available outside the port. A ride to Glasgow costs around £50 – £65 and the journey takes around 30 minutes, subject to traffic conditions. Taxis in Scotland are metered and they accept major credit cards.

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Currency in Scotland

Like in the rest of the United Kingdom, the official currency in Scotland is the British Pound (£). The exchange rate is approximately 1.38 USD for 1 GBP. Currency converter

USD are not really accepted in Scotland. Some tourist places may take US dollars but at a very poor exchange rate. Cruise lines normally offer exchange services for this currency onboard the ship. There is also a currency exchange booth inside the terminal building.

Hotels in Greenock/Glasgow

Hotels in Greenock nearest to the Greenock Ocean Terminal are The Tontine Hotel, Holiday Inn Express Greenock, Premier Inn Greenock, OYO Gin House Hotel, OYO Greenock Waterfront

See the top-rated hotels in Glasgow/Greenock on Booking.com, Tripadvisor, Expedia, Agoda, Hotels.com

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Top Things to Do in Glasgow Port (Greenock Cruise Port)

Before I share with you the top 12 things to do in Glasgow cruise port, I invite you to sign up below and get my exclusive, Shore Excursions Guise for FREE!

1. Greenock

If you decide to stay around the cruise port area, you can definitely take a walk to the town center and admire some of Greenock highlights:

  • Victoria Tower – The imposing 245-foot (75 meters) tall tower makes part of the Municipal buildings and is one of the most striking structures in the town. It is located on Clyde Square, 0.6 miles (0.9 km) or less than a 15-minute walk from the cruise terminal.
Victoria Tower and Wellpark Mid-Kirk, Greenock
Victoria Tower (right) and Wellpark Mid-Kirk. Source: Creative Commons
  • Lyle Kirk (former Old West Kirk) – A lovely town church that originally dates from the 19th century is located right next to the cruise terminal.
  • The Mount Kirk – The old, red-brick Presbyterian Church was one of the first Presbyterian churches ever built in Scotland. It’s located 0.9 miles (1.5 km) or a 20-minute walk from Greenock Ocean Terminal.
  • The Greenock Cut – A scenic walkway through the hills offering stunning views over the Clyde estuary. It takes up to 3 hours to walk and on the top, you can visit Greenock Cut Visitor Centre. Walking shoes are highly recommended.

Suggested article: 25 Top Shore Excursion Packing List Items

  • Dunrod Hill – Climb the hill and take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the Clyde.

Check out Greenock tours and activities

2. Stirling Castle

Discover the rich history, architecture, and secrets of one of Scotland’s largest and most iconic castles. This impressive fortress was built in the 12th century on a strategic location atop Castle Hill overlooking River Forth.

Home of Mary Queen of Scots and James VI and I, the Castle also served as a military base and home to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders infantry regiment.

Stirling Castle Scotland
Stirling Castle. Source: Pixabay.com

Admire the exquisite decoration and furniture of The Royal Palace and visit The Great Hall, a magnificent banquet hall and one of the largest of its kind built in Scotland. Visit The Royal Chapel that was completed in only seven months under the order of King James VI for the baptism of his son Prince Henry.

Visitors also have access to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum, The Stirling Tapestries, and Stirling Heads Gallery amongst other attractions within the Castle walls.

The entrance fee is £16.00 for adults (aged 16-64), £12.80 for adults older than 65, and £9.60 for kids aged 5-15. Family tickets are available and in some periods of a year, all kids under 16 get free access.

Read more information on Stirling Castle official webpage https://www.stirlingcastle.scot/

How to Get to Stirling Castle from Glasgow Port?

Stirling Castle is located approximately 50 miles (80 km) from Greenock Ocean Terminal and due to the distance the best way to visit it is on an organized shore excursion.

You can also get there by train but the ride takes around 2 hours each way (including changing trains twice) so I wouldn’t recommend this option for cruise passengers. You can check the timetables on https://www.scotrail.co.uk/

A taxi or booking a private transfer might be alternative options.

Check out Stirling Castle reviews, tours and activities on Tripadvisor and Viator

3. Glasgow Cathedral

Also known as St Mungo Cathedral or the High Kirk of Glasgow, this magnificent Cathedral is the oldest building in the city and mainland Scotland. Built in the 12th century, the Cathedral is a remarkable example of Scottish Gothic architecture.

One of the best features of the Cathedral is its medieval pulpit, a beautifully carved stone dating from the early 15th century, and the shrine of St Mungo, the city’s patron saint and founder. Glasgow Cathedral also boasts one of the finest post-war collections of stained glass windows found in Great Britain.

Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis
Glasgow Cathedral. Source: Pixabay.com

If you have time, visit the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art located right next to the Cathedral, where you can learn about Saint Patron who brought Christianity to Scotland.

The Cathedral is located in the city center, only a few minutes walking distance from the Cathedral Square. There is no entrance fee, however, donations are welcome.

There is a small lift at the west entrance for visitors with mobility challenges but some areas inside the Cathedral have limited accessibility.

Explore Glasgow Cathedral reviews, tours and activities on Viator and Tripadvisor

4. Glasgow Necropolis

Take a walk through this fascinating 37-acre Victorian garden cemetery filled with graves and mausoleums of the Victorian elite and the prominent people of Glasgow.

Located high up on the hill offering breathtaking views of the town, this cemetery is quite unlike any other, filled with beautiful memorial stones, statues and buildings designed by Glasgow artists. One of the most extraordinary monuments sitting on the top of the hill is the 19th-century statue of John Knox, minister, writer and the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

Glasgow Necropolis
Glasgow Necropolis. Source: Pixabay.com

The Necropolis is located adjacent to the Glasgow Cathedral. The entrance is free of charge, but you can also take a guided tour.

Get more information on https://www.glasgownecropolis.org/

Check out Glasgow Necropolis reviews, tours and activities on Tripadvisor and Viator

5. The Bagpipe Museum

If you are a fan of music and want to get an insight into the piping heritage, then the Museum of Piping is a must-stop.

Learn about Scotland’s tradition and its musical heritage while exploring a great collection of piping memorabilia including the world’s oldest surviving bagpipe relic.

The Bagpipe Museum is located inside The National Piping Centre, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) or a 20-minute walk from Glasgow Cathedral. The entrance fee to the museum is £4.50 for adults and £2.50 for senior citizens, children under 16 and students.

Find more information on https://www.thepipingcentre.co.uk/

To get there you can either walk or take a 5-minute taxi from the city center. A taxi ride should cost around £7 per vehicle one way.

6. Glasgow Shopping

Glasgow is considered to have the best shopping in the United Kingdom after London.

Buchanan Street in Glasgow
Buchanan Street is one of the main streets in Glasgow.

If you decide to spend your day browsing the shops, these are some of the locations that you must check out:

  • St. Enoch Centre shopping mall (20 minutes walk from the Glasgow Cathedral)
  • Princes Square Shopping Centre with food court and stylish bars (located on Buchanan Street, also 20 minutes walk from the Glasgow Cathedral and only 5 minutes walk north of St. Enoch Centre).
  • Merchant Square – An indoor market and event place filled with stalls, bars and eateries, very lively in the evening. It is cobbled inside and there is no toilet for disabled people, so guests with disabilities/wheelchair users might not feel comfortable. The Merchant Square is located a 15-minute walk from the Glasgow Cathedral and a 10-minute walk from each of the shopping malls.
  • Argyll Arcade – Glasgow’s jewelry quarter that offers the largest and finest selection of diamond jewelry, wedding rings and luxury watches in Scotland. It’s located next to the Princess Square Shopping Mall.

Read Glasgow shopping mall reviews on Tripadvisor

7. The Scottish Wool Center and Loch Lomond

Take a scenic bus ride through the Scottish countryside to the charming Victorian village of Aberfoyle and learn about the history of Scottish sheep and the working sheepdogs.

The Wool Center offers a daily sheep shearing and herding demonstration, interactive activities, and a large store with a variety of Scottish merchandise.

Scottish Wool Center
The Scottish Wool Center. Photo courtesy of Cristina Madrid.

Head over to the village of Balloch for a scenic boat ride across Loch Lomond, the largest freshwater lake in Britain, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of this magnificent lake that has played an important role in Scottish literature and history.

Aberfoyle is located around 40 miles (65 km) north of Glasgow port (Greenock Ocean Terminal), or approximately a 1-hour 15 minutes drive.

The village of Ballock, located at the foot of Loch Lomond, is situated about 30 minutes drive southwest of Aberfoyle and 40 minutes drive from the Greenock cruise terminal.

The best way to get here is through organized shore excursions due to the distance. You can also take a taxi (which will be an expensive option) or book a private round trip transfer.

Check out The Scottish Wool Center and Loch Lomond reviews, tours and activities on Viator and Tripadvisor

8. Edinburgh

No trip to Scotland is complete without a visit to the capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town with gardens and neoclassical buildings, Edinburg is a cosmopolitan city full of rich history and culture.

St Giles' Cathedral - Edinburg, Scotland
Edinburgh Old Town and St Giles’ Cathedral. Source: Pixabay.com

If it’s your first time visiting Edinburgh, I strongly suggest you take an organized guided shore excursion to make sure you capture the most of this beautiful city. However, if you decide to explore the city on your own, do not miss these city highlights:

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • The Edinburgh Dungeon
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Calton Hill
  • Grassmarket
  • Dynamic Earth
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • John Knox House
  • Arthur’s Seat
  • St Giles’ Cathedral

Edinburgh Hop on Hop off bus tours are one of the best options to explore the city at your own pace. You can find these sightseeing buses at St Andrew’s Square or Grassmarket Square located in Edinburgh city center. You can also book the tickets online. Sightseeing buses include stops at major city attractions and the prices start at around £16.00 (or $22) per person.

See Edinburgh Hop on Hop bus tours on Viator, Tripadvisor and Get Your Guide

How to Get to Edinburgh from Glasgow Port (Greenock Ocean Terminal)?

The distance from Glasgow port (Greenock cruise port) to Edinburgh is around 72 miles (115 km), or approximately a 1 hour 30 minutes drive, so due to the distance, the best way to visit it is on an organized shore excursion. Cruise lines normally offer guided tours to Edinburgh and On Your Own transfers.

If you decide to come on your own, you can take a taxi, book a private transfer, or take a train that is available from Greenock. The journey by train takes over 2 hours one way, so this option is not recommended for cruise ship passengers. See the timetables on https://www.scotrail.co.uk/

Check out Edinburgh reviews, tours and activities on Tripadvisor and Viator

9. Edinburgh Castle

Start your day at the most visited Edinburgh attraction located in the heart of the city. This impressive 11th-century fortress sits atop Castle Rock overlooking the city and is home to the Honours of Scotland, The Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny.

Tour around some of the castle’s highlights including The Royal Palace, The Great Hall, St Margaret’s Chapel, Scottish National War Memorial, and do not miss the One o’Clock salute from Half Moon Battery.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle. Photo courtesy of Cristina Madrid.

Entrance tickets are required and should be purchased in advance to avoid long lines and waiting. Prices range from £12.40 to £15.50 for adults and £9.30 for children 5 – 15 years old. It is free of charge for children under 5 years old. The castle also offers convenient family tickets at a discounted rate.

Find more information on https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/

Check out Edinburgh Castle reviews, tours and activities on Tripadvisor and Viator

10. Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat

Located about 1 mile (1.6 km) east of Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town, Holyrood Park is a royal park sitting on the highest hill in the Scottish capital, with a 251-meter (823 ft) high peak that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.

Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, is the highest peak in the center of the hill surrounded by the cliffs of Salisbury Crags and three magnificent lochs.

Holyrood Park - The view of Edinburgh
The view of Edinburgh from Holyrood Park. Source: Pixabay.com

There are different routes you can choose from Holyrood Castle to the summit (Red, Blue, Pink, Yellow and Green) with different activity levels.

The red route offers the prettiest views and is not too steep. Along the way, you will enjoy stunning views of St Margaret’s Loch and the ruins of the medieval St Anthony’s Chapel. The hike can take approximately one hour each way. Make sure you wear comfortable footwear.

You can also choose to take a taxi to Holyrood Park and then take the green route, a slow but easy climb to the summit. Find more information on Holyrood Park routes on https://www.geowalks.co.uk/

Check out Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat reviews, tours and activities on Tripadvisor and Viator

11. Palace of Holyroodhouse

Nestled at the foot of the Holyrood Park, this majestic palace dates from the 16th century and is the official residence of the Queen in Scotland.

The palace is open to the public and visitors can admire the stunning historic and State Apartments, famous for their elegant furniture, tapestries, and plasterwork. Stroll through the Palace Gardens and tour the Holyrood Abbey, one of the most extraordinary medieval abbeys in Scotland.

Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland
Palace of Holyroodhouse. Source: Pixabay.com

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is located in the center of Edinburgh, at the end of the notable Royal Mile Street.

Entrance fee is required and prices range from £14.90 to £21.90 for adults and from £9.50 – £12.00 for children 5 – 16 years old/ disabled visitors. Family tickets are also available.

The Palace is mostly accessible for visitors with mobility challenges with some restrictions in Mary, Queen of Scots’ rooms.

Visitors can also enjoy a proper afternoon tea at the charming café.

Find more information about the palace on https://www.rct.uk/

Explore Palace of Holyroodhouse reviews, tours and activities on Tripadvisor and Viator

12. Shopping in Edinburgh

Shopping in Edinburgh is quite an experience and there are plenty of locations to choose from.

One of the most popular locations is Grassmarket Street, a cobbled former livestock market street located in the heart of the Old Town, filled with eateries, bars and shops.

Another renowned place is Royal Mile street, a narrow alley lined with charming townhouses, churches, souvenir stores, cafes and museums.

To Wrap Up

As you can see, there are so many things to see and do in the Glasgow port of call, and based on your priorities and preferences, make sure you plan your day ahead to get the most of it.

Going on the British Isles cruise? Check out my port guides to Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Holyhead, Invergordon and Dover!

What to bring on your shore excursion? Check out 25 Top Shore Excursion Packing List Items


12 Best Things to Do in Glasgow Port (Greenock):
  1. Greenock
  2. Stirling Castle
  3. Glasgow Cathedral
  4. Glasgow Necropolis
  5. The Bagpipe Museum
  6. Glasgow Shopping
  7. The Scottish Wool Center and Loch Lomond
  8. Edinburgh
  9. Edinburgh Castle
  10. Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat
  11. Palace of Holyroodhouse
  12. Shopping in Edinburgh

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