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Visiting Glasgow: Top 20 Things To Do and See

What to do in Glasgow?

To visit Glasgow is to discover the largest city in Scotland. Often neglected during short stay in Scotland for the benefit of its elegant and legendary neighbor, the capital Edinburgh, Glasgow is worth the detour.

An industrial and cultural city, Glasgow has been named “city of architecture and design “, “city of culture” and “city of sport”. Dynamic and modern, Glasgow is one of the most interesting European cities to see.

To help you organize your visit and make the most of your stay, I have prepared a comprehensive guide to Glasgow. Discover the top 20 places of interest  and itineraries to visit Glasgow in 1, 2 or 3 days.

Then find all my tips to spend at he best family holiday, ideas of things to do if it rains during your stay in Glasgow (which is likely!) And the selection of the best accommodation in the city.

So what to do in Glasgow?

Visit Glasgow: the must-sees

1. Georges Square

It’s the heart of the city and Glasgow’s must – see public square.

Located in the city center, this majestic pedestrian square was named after King George III. You can admire many beautiful statues of historical figures, have a coffee, stroll, rest on a bench or on the lawns.

Georges Square is dominated by the City Hall (Glasgow City Chambers), with its remarkable renaissance architecture. The exterior building is beautiful, as is the interior, which you can see during free guided tours organized a few days a week and at fixed times.

It is one of the most touristy places in Glasgow and a good starting point to visit the city.

Enjoy your visit to Georges Square to get a map of Glasgow at the tourist office located on the square.
George square, Glasgow

2. Glasgow’s Saint Mungo Cathedral

It is the lighthouse monument of the city.

Settled on a hill in the East End neighborhood in the north of the city, its construction began in the 12th century. From the beginning, it was the nerve center around which Glasgow developed.

Also known as Glasgow’s High Kirk, this imposing medieval Gothic cathedral impresses with its architecture and is one of the city’s major sights. The visit of the interior is free. You can see beautiful stained glass windows and the crypt where the tomb of Saint Mungo, the patron saint of the city, is located.

Find the visiting times on the official website of the cathedral.  

Glasgow’s Saint Mungo Cathedral

3. The Necropolis

Just next to Saint Mungo Cathedral, do not miss the picturesque Victorian Necropolis Cemetery.

Perched on a small hill, it’s a bit like the Scottish version of the Père Lachaise cemetery in France. Most of the tombs date from the Victorian era and more than 50,000 people are buried there.

Visit the Necropolis is also discover, among the ancient tombs and mausoleums, a magnificent view of the entire city.

The cemetery is open daily from 7 am until dusk.

It’s a good idea for a little bit of activity to do in Glasgow.

It is from the hill where the Necropolis is located that you will have the best view of the cathedral.
The necropolis, Glasgow cemetery

4. Buchanan Street

If you want to go shopping, window shopping or just a stroll, Buchanan Street is the place to be in Glasgow.

Lively and lively, it is the main shopping avenue of the city. In this beautiful pedestrian street surrounded by shops, you can admire beautiful Victorian buildings mingling with recent constructions.

The very contrasting architecture of this street gives it a lot of charm and you will also find many shops for all budgets. I suggest you go for a walk around the shopping mall at Princes Square Shopping Center.

Buchanan Street

5. The GoMA, the modern art gallery

Located on Buchanan Street, GoMA is a museum of modern art that will delight cultural tourism fans in Glasgow.

The gallery is housed in a building that served successively as a home, library and museum from 1996. You can discover many works by local and international artists.

As for most museums in Glasgow, admission is free. 

Outside, right in front of the GoMA entrance, do not miss the statue of Wellington Duke wearing a cone of construction site. For the little anecdote, this cone was placed there by little jokers who put it in place each time the municipality removed it. By force, the city surrendered and decided to leave it there.

The Duke of Wellington and his cone of construction site on the head then became one of the most famous symbols of Glasgow.

For opening hours, it’s on the official website.

If you are in Glasgow during the Christmas period, you will have the chance to admire the beautiful decorations on Royal Exchange Square, all around the GoMA.
The GoMa, Glasgow Museum of Modern Art

6. The Riverside Museum

Built on a former shipyard and inaugurated in 2011, the Riverside Museum is the Scottish Transport Museum.

The building itself, designed by the contemporary architect Zaha Hadid (who also directed the Guangzhou Opera in China, for example), is very original and is worth a look.

This free museum tells the story of the transport industry in Scotland and around the world. There are many original vehicles, replicas and many interactive explanations.

The visit is really interesting and it’s impressive to be able to see the first bikes of the 19 th century with F1 cars, trams, steam trains and skateboards rubbing shoulders in the same room !

Outside, you can also visit the Tall Ship, a large vintage sailing boat that is docked along the Clyde River.

All practical information can be found on the official website.

The Riverside Museum

7. Kelvingrove Park

Where to go in Glasgow to enjoy a little greenery?

Glasgow has many museums but also a large green area to breathe and relax.

Kelvingrove Park, wooded park crossed by the Kelvin River, allows to make nice walks and enjoy a superb view of the university. Children can also have fun in the playgrounds provided for this purpose.

The park includes the Botanical Garden and the Kelvingrove Art Museum.

8. The Kelvingrove Art Museum

If we were to visit only one museum in Glasgow, it would be this one! The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of Scotland’s most important museums and should not be missed during your trip to Glasgow.

It is located in Kelvingrove Park and the entrance is of course free.

This museum exhibits a rich collection of paintings, sculptures, objects of new art, furniture. You will also find a part about natural history or medieval weapons. In short, a bit of everything in 22 thematic galleries.

The information is complete, fun and educational. The tour is also very suitable for children.

A happy cultural mix in a remarkable building, as beautiful outside as inside.

Check the official website for access times.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery

9. The Glasgow Science Center

I told you, Glasgow is the city of culture.

We continue with the tourist attractions, this time with the Glasgow Science Center.

Built on the south bank of the Clyde River, it opened in 2001 and is particularly popular with children. It is a scientific museum, very playful and interactive, a little in the style of La Villette in Paris.

There are a lot of exhibitions on all areas of science, all in the form of interactive workshops to discover while having fun.

There is also a planetarium and a cinema in 3D. You can also enjoy the ride up the Glasgow Tower and admire the view.

Unlike other museums, this one pays off. You can check the rates on the official website.

A great family outing in Glasgow.

Glasgow science center

10. The Lighthouse

Elected city of design and architecture, Glasgow then opened in 1999 this cultural center and museum.

The Lighthouse is dedicated to these two arts and more particularly to the famous architect Makintosh, designer of many buildings in Glasgow.

Located on Buchanan Street, just off GoMA, the Lighthouse is also a lighthouse. You can climb to the topof the tower to enjoy a 360 ° view of the city center.

The visit is free, so it would be a shame to deprive yourself, if only for the panorama.

To learn more about The Lighthouse, it’s on the official website.

The lighthouse, Glasgow

11. Glasgow Green

Glasgow Green is another large Glasgow public park on the north shore of Clyde, not far from the city center.

It dates from the 15th century and is the oldest park in the city. He notably hosted the first football matches in the 1800s.

What to walk, rest and admire the few beautiful statues and monuments that punctuate the park. In summer, you can even attend a bagpipe concert.

Also not to be missed in the park: the People’s Palace museum located inside Glasgow Green. I’m talking about it below.

The Glasgow green

12. The People’s Palace

Within Glasgow Green Park you will find People’s Palace and Winter Gardens. It is a museum (free) about the history of the people of Glasgow who is interested in the condition of life of the inhabitants through the centuries.

It is housed in a beautiful building in front of which is installed a beautiful terracotta fountain (the Doulton Foutain) representing the colonies of the United Kingdom as South Africa or Australia. It is the largest fountain of its kind in the world.

Leaving the palace, do not miss the old tapestry factory and its impressive multicolored facade.

Outside the museum, you can take a tour through the winter gardens which are in fact beautiful tropical greenhouses containing palm trees and other exotic plants. You can have a coffee or lunch in an unusual setting.

The Doulton Fountain in front of The People’s Palace

13. Glasgow University

To continue visiting Glasgow, I recommend you head to the university.

The university is one of the most beautiful and prestigious universities in the world. This is one of the must see places during your stay in Glasgow.

You will no doubt be left speechless in front of its splendid architecture, which one understands at first glance that it has inspired JK Rowling a lot for his conception of the school of wizards: Hogwarts. Ambience to the Harry Potter guarantee!

This university is a real architectural masterpiece and all of its neo-Gothic buildings take us back centuries. It is an exceptional tour to be done freely through some buildings, courtyards and some very interesting museums (Hunterian Museum, Hunterian Art Gallery, Mackintosh House and Hunterian Zoology Museum).

You can also opt for a guided tour if you want to know the smallest details of the history of the place and have access to more rooms.

Glasgow University

14. The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery

Another museum to see in Glasgow: the Hunterian Museum.

Divided into two distinct parts, this museum is composed of an art gallery and a science museum, both located on the campus of the university.

The Hunterian Museum exhibits an impressive collection of objects related to natural history, anatomy and medicine. It is the oldest public museum in the country, opened in 1807 thanks to a gift from William Hunter, a famous anatomist and alumnus of the university.

Organs in formalin jars , skeletons, deformed animals, it’s very special and it’s like being in the wizard school. The architecture of the museum is worth a visit alone with its stone walls and magnificent vaults.

The art gallery is located opposite, next to the university library. On a completely different note, she exhibited the university’s art collection, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens, Chardin, Whistler and Stubbs.

More details on the Hunterian Museum on the official website.

The Hunterian museum

15. The Glasgow Botanical Garden

During your weekend in Glasgow, you can also visit the botanical garden.

A stone’s throw from the university, this is a beautiful garden where you can spend an afternoon strollingamong the flowers, crossing bridges over the river, visiting the magnificent tropical greenhouses. Victorian inspiration that characterize it and observe the cute little gray squirrels that populate the places.

Even in cold or rainy weather, the visit is possible inside covered and heated greenhouses. 

16. Pollok Park

With 146 hectares, it is Glasgow’s largest green space.

It is a bit out of the way because it’s south of the city center but easily accessible by train from Queen Street Station.

It is the ideal place to relax in peace and find a little Scottish countryside a few minutes from the city. There are pleasant walks through meadows, undergrowth and flower gardens. The trails are well laid out.

Your children will enjoy playgrounds, cycling and watching the famous “Highland cows” (Scottish highland cows).

In the park, you can also visit the Pollok House, family home of the former owners of the park. Lovers of English classical novels will appreciate the visit of this picturesque house and the different rooms of life.

Do not miss the Burrel Collection, one of the most beautiful collections in Europe that includes more than 8000 objects from around the world.

Pollok Park

17. Strolling along the Forth and Clyde Canal

For a bike ride, a jog, a nature photo session or simply for a pleasant walk, the trail along the Forth and Clyde Canal is the ideal place in Glasgow.

One of the departures of the ride is in the Maryhill district. You can also join the trail from Kelvingrove Park along the river.

The canal connects the Forth River in the east to the Clyde River in the west. If you feel like it, you can follow the bicycle lane from Glasgow to Edinburgh (105 km anyway!), Or to the village of Bowling from Glasgow (15 km).

The best way to do some sport on your Glasgow vacation.

You can rent bicycles for around £ 15 a day near Kelvingrove Park, specifically at Gear Bikes on Gibson Street.
The forth and clyde canal

18. Hampden Park and Celtic Park

What to visit in Glasgow if you like football? Hampden Park!

This is Scotland’s national sports stadium. It is also in this stadium that plays the team of Queen’s Park FC, the oldest football club in the country.

The stadium is also home to the Scottish Football Museum, which fans will visit with pleasure to learn all about the history of football in the country. There is a collection of 2,500 exhibits, including the Scottish Cup, the oldest national trophy on the planet.

And if you want even more level ball round in Glasgow, you can also visit a second stadium: Celtic Parkwhere plays the Celtic Football Club. It is one of the biggest football stadiums in Europe. You will be able to participate in a guided tour of the stadium and have access to the dressing rooms of the players and the field. An activity to book in advance here!

19. Enjoy Glasgow’s vibrant nightlife

If you’re lucky enough to be in Glasgow for a few days, do not go back to your hotel at dusk and enjoy a few hours of the unique atmosphere of the city.

Renowned for its vibrant nightlife, Glasgow is the perfect city for evening out and partying. Whether it’s for dinner, going to concerts, enjoying street entertainment or having fun in pubs and clubs, nighttime Glasgow is one of the things you can not miss.

Some ideas for things to do in the evening in Glasgow:

  • Stroll along Ashton Lane: this charming little cobblestone street is full of bars, pubs and restaurants as well as a small cinema
  • Discover the district of Finnestion and its very good restaurants
  • Have fun in the Merchant City area with its trendy wine bars, restaurants, pubs and clubs
  • See a live concert at SSE Hydro, Royal Concert Hall or King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
The district of Finnieston to go out at night in Glasgow

20. Make a “subcrawl” with friends

Did you know that the Glasgow Underground is the third oldest in Europe after those in London and Budapest?

Very small and circular, it does not move further than in the West End but is ideal for a pub tour. There is even a specific term for this: the subcrawl.

The subcrawl is a word game that defines a pub tour (pubcrawl) by subway. The pubcrawl is a bit of Anglo-Saxon tradition and if you are in Glasgow with your friends it’s an opportunity to spend a fun evening full of discoveries and encounters. Provided of course to return on foot or metro after the tour.

You will find here the list of all the pubs located on this line and near the stops.

Make a subcrawl in Glasgow

What to do around Glasgow?

If you have the time, feel free to expand your scope of visit around Glasgow to see the surroundings. Here are my favorite sites located less than 2 hours from the city:

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

If the two big cities of Scotland (Glasgow and Edinburgh) are beautiful to visit, it is above all for the countryside and the nature that one leaves in Scotland. For this, Loch Lomond (Scotland’s largest lake) and Trossachs National Park are worth a visit. They are located just a few miles north of Glasgow and it would be a shame not to go for a walk during your stay.

For example, you can visit the small town of Balloch in the heart of the park and on the shores of Loch Lomond, just 30 km from Glasgow and a 50-minute drive away.

The place is really pretty, it is the ideal place to enjoy nature around Glasgow. You can walk along the loch, discover the ruins of a castle but also do some shopping at Loch Lomond Shores.

If you prefer to opt for a guided tour from Glasgow to visit Loch Lomond and the National Park, I suggest you book here. The day also includes the possibility of an hour-long cruise on the loch and a visit to Stirling Castle. 

Isle of Arran

About a 2-hour drive from Glasgow, Isle of Arran is a gem that allows you to spend a weekend or a few days away in nature.

See you at the small port of Ardrossan where you will take the ferry to the island of Arran. It is easy to get around by car on the island, it is complete tour in 2 hours and it crosses from East to West in just 20 minutes.

A few things to see and do on the Isle of Arran near Glasgow: Brodick Castle, the Arran Historical Museum, the ruins of Lockranza Castle, the pretty village of the same name and the distillery Arran.

You can also do a lot of sports activities everywhere: hiking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, diving …

3 more places to visit near Glasgow

  • Stirling: A medieval town steeped in history with beautiful cobblestone streets, a castle and a tower that hosts exhibitions. You can spend a few hours in Stirling and make the round trip from Glasgow in the same day since the city is reachable in 50 minutes by car.
  • New Lanark: This is a beautiful UNESCO heritage village located 41 km from Glasgow. You can get there in 40 minutes by car. In New Lanark you can visit a former cotton mill of the eighteenth century and walk in the beautiful forest of the village.
  • Edinburgh: And of course if you’re in Glasgow and have not visited the capital yet, do not miss a day or two in Edinburgh, which is only 1 hour from Glasgow. To organize your visit to the Scottish capital, do not hesitate to consult our comprehensive guide to the city: Top 20 things to do in Edinburgh.
The city of Edinburgh in Scotland

What to do in Glasgow when it rains?

Scotland and rain is a great love story. And Glasgow is of course not spared with an average of 290 days of rain a year!

But do not panic, in case of rain or rain all day long, you have plenty to occupy yourself and enjoy the city. The cultural places are not lacking, you will always have the opportunity to enter the museum or the nearest monument while waiting for the next thinning.

With countless free museums, Glasgow is definitely a city where you’ll find plenty to do when it’s raining.

And if you have finished touring the museums, you can still go shopping or warm up in a tea room or pub.

Visit Glasgow with your family

As you understand, Glasgow is mostly a cultural city.

Young children will not necessarily be excited by all museums and will soon be bored. On the other hand, the majority of the museums being free, if they are old enough to appreciate this kind of visits, you will have enough to discover many things together without exploding the budget.

Here are some ideas to do in Glasgow with your family:

  • The many art museums may not appeal to everyone, but if you are visiting Glasgow with your family, do not miss out on the Glasgow Science Center, a must-see for kids that appeals to parents too!
  • Apart from cultural visits, you will also have a good time in the green spaces of the city. I particularly recommend the Pollok Country Park, suitable for families and very popular with the youngest.
  • The visit of the university is also an attraction to do with the family. It will delight young Harry Potter fans.
Glasgow University Tour

Visit Glasgow on foot

Glasgow is easy to walk around and the city center (where most of the city’s points of interest are) is easily accessible in one day.

Thanks to its checkerboard layout, Glasgow is a city in which one finds one without problems. I propose here a route to discover Glasgow on foot in one day and that allows you to have a very good overview.

If you spend more than one day in Glasgow, you can deepen this route and spread it over 2 or 3 days. I’ll talk about it later in the article.

Start with a walk in Glasgow Green Park where you can visit the People’s Palace and take a ride in the winter gardens.

Then go up to the famous St Mungo’s Cathedral and its Victorian cemetery, the Necropolis.

Join central Glasgow via George Square (about 15 minutes walk from the cathedral). Do not miss the visit of the magnificent City Hall! (Glasgow City Chambers)

You can then pass in front of the GoMA then climb to the top of the Lighthouse to have a view of all Glasgow.

Stroll along Buchanan Street to admire the department store windows.

Head west and join Kelvingrove Park where you will find the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, from where you can quickly reach the University of Glasgow.

To end the day in style, then join the charming and picturesque street Ashton Lane (located just 500 meters from the university) where you can spend a beautiful evening.

Glasgow City Chambers (City Hall)

How many days to visit Glasgow

The main places of interest in Glasgow are quite close to each other and the city is easily discovered on foot in one day.

On the other hand, staying there for 2 or 3 days allows to deepen the visit, to explore the different neighborhoods and to visit many museums.

For a simple overview of the city, a day will be enough. On the other hand, if you like art and culture and want to soak up the atmosphere of the city, plan a whole weekend, even 3 days. It’s the perfect time to enjoy all that Glasgow has to offer.

To help you organize, I suggest 3 itineraries to visit Glasgow in 1, 2 or 3 days.

Visit Glasgow in 1 day

If you only have one day to visit Glasgow, here is the program I propose:

  • Walk to Glasgow Green Park where you can visit The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens
  • Visit of Saint Mungo Cathedral
  • Necropolis scary walk
  • Passage through George Square and Glasgow City Chambers
  • Lunch
  • Visit of GoMA 
  • Ascent The Lighthouse
  • Showcase on Buchanan Street
  • Evening in Merchant City

If you want to visit Glasgow in a more condensed version to see more things, you can consult the itinerary that I propose a little higher in “visiting Glasgow on foot”.

Visit Glasgow in 2 days

To visit Glasgow in 2 days, go back to the previous program and add the following tour ideas:

  • Visit the Riverside Museum or the Glasgow Science Center if you have children
  • Walk in Kelvingrove Park
  • Visit the  Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
  • Discovery of Glasgow University
  • Passage through the Hunterian Art Gallery
  • Walk in the Glasgow Botanical Garden
  • Evening on Ashton Lane
Glasgow

Visit Glasgow in 3 days

If you have the chance to spend 3 full days in Glasgow, take the previous courses. After that, you still have to see and do:

  • Pollok Country Park to breathe the air of the Scottish countryside and admire the Burrel Collection
  • Visit the Football Museum at Hampden Park (for sports fans) or at Celtic Park
  • A long walk or bike ride along the Forth and Clyde Canal
  • The subway pub tour 

You can also choose to visit Glasgow by visiting Loch Lomond, Trossachs National Park, Stirling, Arran or even Edinburgh! 

And if you have not rented a car, I advise you to opt for a day trip with driver and guide included.

Several day trip choices are available from Glasgow:

Where to sleep in Glasgow

  • The Z Hotel Glasgow: Located next to George Square, right in the city center. Double room well appointed and comfortable from 55 € per night, breakfast 9 €. Most: the geographical situation in the center, the aperitif offered every evening between 17 pm and 20 pm with wine, cheese and cold cuts, the staff very welcoming.
  • Motel One Glasgow: Located 10 minutes walk from George Square and 200 meters from Buchanan Street. Double room with neat decor and views of Glasgow from € 95, breakfast at € 11. The most: the setting, the location, the decor, the competent staff. It’s our heart stroke for its benefit / price ratio!
  • citizenM Glasgow: Located 10 minutes walk from George Square. Elegant, modern and bright double room with large bay windows from 105 €, breakfast 14 €. The most: the design and style of the hotel, the friendliness of the staff, the good breakfast.
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow: Located 5 minutes from the Museum of Modern Art and 700 from George Square. Spacious and quiet double room with comfortable bedding from 160 €, breakfast 19 €. Most: the very good breakfast, the helpful staff, the location.
  • Blythswood Square: 5-star hotel located in Glasgow city center. Double room very spacious and comfortable from 250 € per night, breakfast 14 €. Most: the Spa free access to certain times, comfort, discretion of staff. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Glasgow!

Where to eat in Glasgow

  • Number 16: Not far from Kelvingrove Park and University. This excellent restaurant offers typical local cuisine as well as international cuisine. There is not much choice on the map but in general it’s good sign … and it is confirmed because the dishes are really delicious and homemade. Remember to book!
  • Wee Lochan: a nice little restaurant that serves delicious local dishes in a friendly atmosphere. The training of the dishes is particularly pretty and original. It’s good, it’s beautiful and the prices are correct, what more?
  • Obsession of India: for lovers of Indian cuisine and if you want to change some of the Scottish cuisine, this restaurant will delight your taste buds. It is located in the bustling Merchant City (High Street at number 25). The service is perfect, the warm and reasonable rates with a pretty original principle: if you do not like the dish, you do not pay.

When to visit Glasgow?

Winter in Glasgow (and throughout Scotland in general) is often very cold.

Summer is rather humid with heavy showers interspersed with beautiful sunny days.

To visit Glasgow in the best conditions, I would advise you to go there in the spring, between the months of April and June. September is also a good option. It is at these times that you are most likely to enjoy maximum sun while avoiding the influx of tourists.

Glasgow Tourist Map

To help you visualize the city a little better, I made you a  tourist map of Glasgow  listing the places to visit I’m talking about in this top 20 things to do in Glasgow. You can display the legend of the map by clicking on the button at the top left with a small arrow.

And you? What do you plan to visit during your stay in Glasgow?

Are you going to Scotland? To read also

Discover all our articles on Scotland: All articles about Scotland are listed here.

Visiting Glasgow: Top 20 Things To Do and See
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Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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