If you've never been to Glasgow, it's high time you did.  It's a city of contrasts. Of traditional Scots and modern European, of traditional shops and designer-lead boutiques, of ancient historical buildings and state-of-the-art architecture and of busy, cosmopolitan population and an old-fashioned welcome. And, if you're a bit of a traditionalist, or even a Doctor Who fan, there are a number of traditional TARDIS-like blue Police Boxes dotted around thanks to a local effort to restore them. Because, in Glasgow, there's a surprise around every corner.

If you live in England, you probably think Glasgow is a far-distant land. And while it is some 400 miles from London, it's actually at the end of a frequent and really rather speedy rail connection. And only just over 100 miles from the Lake District and less than 50 from Edinburgh. The Central Station, the second busiest in Britain outside of London, is large and amply served with shops, restaurants and bars. As its name suggests, it is situated right in the heart of the city and just a short walk from the much-lauded Style Mile shopping district with malls, department stores and independent retailers aplenty, countless bars, pubs and restaurants and several very good hotels. Regular sightseeing tours around the city depart close by too. 

The Clyde Arc, known locally as 'the Squinty Bridge', is the newest road crossing across the mighty River Clyde right in the centre of an area of spectacular regeneration. 

Among the more long-standing visitor attractions are Glasgow Cathedral, it's unusual Necropolis, or 'city of the dead' cemetery, and the nearby Provand's Lordship – reputedly the city's oldest building. The People's Palace, which tells the story of Glasgow and its people from 1750 to the modern day, is a fascinating social history museum where you can learn about life in the Tenements, the public bathing facilities, local culture and businesses as well as the Glasgow citizens wartime experiences. The adjoining Winter Gardens house exotic plants and trees, exhibits and a very good cafe. Other City Council-owned museums include the Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum, the Scotland Street School Museum featuring the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the educational history of Glasgow. 

Constructed in the 1930s, the Finnieston Crane is a lasting monument to Glasgow's proud engineering heritage.

Hielanman's Umbrella – the glass-walled railway bridge that leads from Central Station. In days gone by it was a popular meeting place for Highlanders keen to maintain links with their compatriots.  

To the west of the city along the banks of the Clyde the area has been recently regenerated and the reclaimed docks now play host to both BBC Scotland and Scottish Television as well as countless office and apartment blocks and some fascinating museums and entertainment venues. The SECC and Clyde Armadillo are there, along with the soon-to-be-completed Hydro. And the newly-opened Riverside Museum containing a world-class collection of transport exhibits from bicycles to steam engines and everything in between. It's a very hands-on climb-aboard type of museum with lots of buttons to press and heaps of interactivity for the kids. And, in common with all Glasgow City Council-owned museums, entrance is free.

The Winter Garden at the People's Palace provides a welcome, and warm, environment to relax during a day's exploration.

If Rennie Mackintosh is your man, the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow is a must-see with it's Mackintosh House exhibit.The two Willow Tea Rooms – on Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street offer a traditional afternoon tea experience surrounded by full Rennie Mackintosh decor.

The former Glasgow Herald building on Mitchell Lane, itself representing one of the first commissions received by Mackintosh is now The Lighthouse – a centre for design and architecture.

The Glasgow Science Centre at Pacific Quay offers three floors of fascinating displays that showcase every aspect of science and the world's tallest IMAX cinema as well as a planetarium.  

If you're more of a foodie, then Glasgow is still the place to be. Just about every conceivable cuisine from Scottish to Brazillian is represented in the city and areas like that close to the Central Station and the recently revived Merchant City area are packed to bursting with classy and popular restaurants of all kinds. We sampled La Lanterna – reputedly the oldest Italian restaurant in the city – and Gandolfi Fish a newly established modern seafood restaurant. Both provided excellent food, offered a lively but still cosy atmosphere, and the staff at both were friendly and efficient.

But it's not all about high-end foodstuffs because one of the really great things I've always found about Scotland is the magnificent array of traditional sweets on offer. From Tablet (a crumbly, hard fudge) to Macaroon (delicious fondant-filled chocolate-coated and dipped in coconut) and boiled sweets like Soor Plooms there's plenty to choose from and I'll bet you, like me, will find at least a tiny space in the suitcase to take some home.