Why Glasgow is one of the world's top 10 destinations

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The Independent Online

It has more rainfall than the plains of Africa and colder temperatures than Hawaii, but according to one of the world's top guides, Glasgow is now one of the most chic, up-and-coming holiday destinations in the world.

Glasgow is the only European city in a top-10 list of the world's "must-see" places for 2006 compiled by the travel publisher Frommer's. For a city which has worked hard to shake off a mean reputation born of decades of violence and deprivation, such elite status is quite an achievement. Glaswegians will also be delighted to note that Frommer's describes the city as "more cosmopolitan and modern" than its traditional rival, Edinburgh.

As with the other destinations on the list of "interesting, affordable destinations" for 2006, Scotland's largest city is described by Frommer's as relatively free of tourists.

"Glasgow features radiant Victorian architecture," states the guide. "It encompasses a large artist community with museums; fine art and contemporary galleries as well as music venues.

"Although cosmopolitan, Glasgow's parks provide the city with a real outdoor feeling. A 45-minute drive can take you to the outskirts of the Highlands."

Other top 10 destinations include Belem in the heart of Brazil's tropical rainforest; the American colonial city of Charleston in South Carolina; the Hawaiian island of Molokai, birthplace of the hula; and the Caribbean paradise of Margarita Island.

Frommer's said Glasgow was "not a place that anyone might call precious" - as any outsider who has witnessed an Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic would confirm.

A United Nations report last year said Scotland was the most violent country in the developed world. Frommer's encourages visitors not to travel to the city's outskirts, where "serious pockets of poverty remain in the city's peripheral housing projects".

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Marketing Bureau said: "Glasgow has had hard times, but that's all in the past, and the city is now revelling in everything it has to offer, including fabulous shopping, great nightlife and superlative wining and dining.

"People pay a lot of attention to what Frommer's has to say, so we can safely predict this will have an impact on visitor numbers."

The guide's verdict is a huge boost for a city which has worked hard in recent years to provide cultural attractions to travellers looking for a city break. Glasgow was designated European capital of culture in 1990, and has since developed a new, more fashionable image. Last year the city was proclaimed one of the best destinations by the gay travel magazine Out and About.

Frommer's claims that in general, the city "exemplifies urban Scotland: historic, dynamic, increasingly cosmopolitan, and attuned to the world".

"It has overcome a 20th-century reputation for grime, grit, and gangsters - and now it is arguably more vibrant than Edinburgh, with a lively indigenous music and art scene. While the city still prefers to knock buildings down and erect new structures, the splendour of ... 'the greatest surviving example of a Victorian city' is evident."

Unexpected wonders

* Amador County, California:

Must See: A visit to the gold mines to view gemstones and gold deposits on the walls.

* Belem, Brazil

Must See: The island of Marajó, the world's largest freshwater island with vast flocks of wading birds, caiman and piranha.

* Charleston, South Carolina

Must See: 18th-century architecture in the walled city, or 19th-century architecture along Meeting Street and the Battery.

* Goa, India

Must See: Wednesday market, where thousands of stalls sell everything from rave gear to hammocks.

* Kenya game parks

Must See: Amboseli National Park, where herds of elephants wander across the grassy plains with Tanzania's Mt Kilimanjaro in the background.

* Margarita, Venezuela

Must See: El Mercado de los Conejeros, on the north-western outskirts of Porlamar. Bargains to be had at semi-permanent flea market.

* Molokai, Hawaii

Must See: A horseback ride to Ililiopae, Molokai's most powerful heiau, or ancient human sacrifice temple.

* Ramah, New Mexico

Must See: Ramah farmers market, every weekend.

* Tasmania, Australia

Must See: The national park and World Heritage area that encompasses both Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair - one of the most spectacular regions in Australia.

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