Best Things To Do in Glasgow
Although Glasgow tends to be overshadowed by eastern city Edinburgh, professional travelers say Scotland's largest city is not to be overlooked. With an out-of-this-world shopping scene that features everything from couture items to thrift-shop steals (and all that lies in between), as well as a hot live-music scene, Glasgow offers an abundance attractions to more than fill a vacation. Recent travelers especially recommend touring the City Chambers, Museum of Transport and shopping in the Barras Market.
Updated January 29, 2016
- #1View all Photos#1 in GlasgowMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Travelers express astonishment at this museum's near pitch-perfection. The Burrell Collection's glass walls not only encase a variety of objects and artworks, but they also usher in the surrounding woodlands. In the collection, donated by the late millionaire Sir William Burrell, you'll find everything from Chinese ceramics to Rodin sculptures. And once you're done with the art, you can wander about the surrounding Pollok Country Park.
Open daily, the Burrell Collection can be viewed for free. And travelers highly recommend you take advantage of this steal, saying the museum's variety of art and its milieu are beyond compare.
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After a perusal through the vast and varied art assemblage at the Burrell Collection, you might want to rest your eyes in the green and leafy Pollok Country Park. Comprised of about 360 acres, the park makes for a peaceful retreat -- one that is peppered with grazing Highland cattle, formal gardens and long expanses of unadulterated Scottish greens. If you're in the area, recent travelers highly recommend taking a walk through the Pollok Country Park (which is open daily from sun up to sun down).
- #3View all PhotosfreeCity Chambers#3 in GlasgowSightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Accommodating some sort of governing body since the late 1800s, the Victorian-style City Chambers today hosts the Glasgow City Council. You'll find the impressive building on the east side of George Square, and if you take one of the building's free guided tours, you'll view an ornate entrance hall, banqueting hall and some sumptuous staircases, among other features. Open weekdays, the City Chambers are free to tour.
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Dedicated to the city's patron saint, St. Mungo, the Glasgow Cathedral was consecrated in the 1100s but was finished around 300 years later. Of almost equal delight -- to experts and travelers alike -- are the cathedral's architecture (the nave, crypt, chapel) and the legends surrounding St. Mungo's life. And in fact, the symbols found on Glasgow's Coat of Arms relate directly to the St. Mungo legends, including the tree, bird, fish and bell.
Recent visitors recommend following your tour of the cathedral with a walk through the nearby necropolis. The Glasgow Cathedral is free to tour and is open daily, though it does have abbreviated hours on Sundays to make way for morning services.
- #5View all PhotosfreeRiverside Museum#5 in GlasgowMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
This free museum displays the city's transportation history. One neat exhibit showcases a 1938 Glasgow street scene "with period shop-fronts, era-appropriate vehicles and a reconstruction of one of the Glasgow Underground stations," according to Frommer's. Some travelers highlight this exhibit, while others really enjoyed the Clyde Room's model boats. Visitors were also highly impressed with the in-house café.
The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info, visit its website.
- #6View all PhotosfreeKelvingrove Park#6 in GlasgowParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
If you're planning to spend an afternoon at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, you should also allot some time for lounging in the lush Kelvingrove Park. You can walk along the River Kelvin, which meanders through the park, or stroll by the duck pond and numerous monuments before stopping by the park's open-air theater to see if anything is on. "The park also houses recreational tennis courts, a skate park, playground, and lawn bowling green," Frommer's says. "Don't be surprised to hear bagpipes played by shirtless, bearded college students." Travelers highly enjoy this park for its variety of things to do.
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Recent travelers -- especially those with families -- are in love with the Glasgow Speedway. Open on late-afternoon Sundays, families can cheer on the ferocious Tigers, who ride high-speed motorbikes 'round and 'round the racetrack. One Yelp user likes the way the Glasgow Speedway showed another side of the city: "I came here with a young friend, and I felt like I had found a part of Glasweigan life I had never seen before. … I couldn't recommend it as a good weekend day out to entertain the kids more." Previous visitors also like the admission prices: Kids under age 12 get in for free.
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The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is another favorite museum (that's also free!). Built at the turn of the 20th century to resemble a Renaissance-style castle/cathedral, the museum was closed for about three years in the early 21st century for major renovations. Now, the Kelvingrove is the most visited gallery and museum in Scotland. Amongst its collection of European masters such as Botticelli and Monet, you'll discover exhibits on Mackintosh, Scottish storytelling and Scottish armory, among others.
One TripAdvisor user enjoyed the Kelvingrove's variety, writing, "There something for everyone here." He goes on to write that among the great exhibits to view (Mackintosh Art Deco artifacts to Egyptian mummies), this free museum offers a great coffee bar. Open daily, the museum's specific hours are posted on its website.
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What's more Scottish than some Scotch whisky? For a reasonable price, visitors can learn how the spirit is made and enjoy a complimentary dram or so. Recent visitors thought very well of the Glengoyne Distillery, saying the guided tour was very interesting and informative and that the taste test was very smooth.
If you've got a car, you might want to drive the about 30 minutes north to the distillery. But you can also hop aboard a bus from Buchanan Bus Station to reach it as well. If you'd like more than just a tour, check the Glengoyne Distillery's website for information on special events, tastings and master classes. Open daily, the distillery offers abbreviated hours during the winter months of December through February.
- #10View all PhotosfreeBarras Market#10 in GlasgowShopping, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDShopping, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Some recent travelers disappointingly note that the Barras Market had really gone down in quality. However, the majority of visitors seemed to enjoy their few hours digging through piles of flea market goods and haggling in the market. Get to the market off the Argyle Street train station, or you can hop on a bus that drops off at Glasgow Cross. Open on the weekends, travelers say the Barras really gets going about 11 a.m. and ends about 5 p.m.
- #11View all Photos#11 in GlasgowParks and Gardens, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
The Botanic Gardens are yet another free attraction in Glasgow. Bursting with colorful flora and fauna along the River Kelvin, the gardens also encase a number of greenhouses including the fantastic Kibble Palace, which contains a very rainforest of tropical plants and trees. Botanic Gardens make a good reprieve from the city, especially if you're on your way from buzzy Byres Road's restaurants, bars, cafés and shops. One TripAdvisor traveler recommends entering the gardens in the West End at Great Western Road or from the top of Byres Road. Open daily, the gardens offer shortened hours in the colder months.
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Located on the Glasgow Green, the free People's Palace is a museum dedicated to the city's social history of normal folk. For instance, one of the exhibits details Glasgow's interesting vernacular, while another displays the desk of political activist (and Glasgow resident) John MacLean. Adjacent to the museum are the Winter Gardens -- a greenhouse that acts as a cozy reprieve for people and tropical plants alike. Stop in for a coffee at the in-house café before venturing on. One Yahoo! Travel user recommends combining your museum visit with a stroll through the coffee shops and galleries of nearby Glasgow Green. The museum is closed on Mondays, but the Winter Gardens are open each day of the week.
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If you have small kids in tow, consider a trip to the Glasgow Science Centre. However, this museum wasn't a favorite of teenagers or adults. The high price of admission was the other gripe recent tourists had with the centre. Yes, you can spend half a day at the Glasgow Science Centre, but you'll need to do just that to get your money's worth.
Among noted exhibits are the twirling Glasgow Tower, the three-level Science Mall, the ScottishPower Planetarium and the IMAX Theatre. Open daily, you can check the website for specific hours and admission prices.
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