12 Awesome Places to Visit in Glasgow

The Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport

The Riverside Museum of Transport

Address: Pointhouse Place, Glasgow, G3 8RS

Contact details: Telephone 0141 287 2720 , email museums@glasgowlife.org.uk

My complete guide: A Guide to the Riverside Museum of Transport

I’ve got a minor admission to make. I’m a bit of a car nerd. I think that’s probably the reason why I almost skipped off the bus when I went to visit the Riverside Museum of Transport at Pointhouse Place on the River Clyde.

This really is a first-class tourist attraction because not only is it next to The Tall Ship – more on that later – but it’s chock-full with many of the greatest achievements in motoring history.

Take a walk around this museum and you’ll find pristine examples of Porsche, Bentley and Rolls Royce, as well as lots more down-to-earth cars like the Ford Anglia and VW Beetle.

You can dust your flares off and imagine being back in control of a 1970s Ford Cortina or strap on your deeley-bobbers (if you’re under 30, Google it) and pretend you’re manning the helm of a Sinclair C5.

All these vehicles and many more are on view at the Riverside Museum.

The Riverside Museum of Transport

But it’s not just cars on show. Raleigh Choppers, Penny Farthings, steam and diesel trains, ambulances, trams, horse and carriages – you name it, if it’s been used for transport there’s a good chance an example of it is somewhere to be found in this museum.

By the way, that last example, the horse and carriages, are part of the best display at the attraction, where the curators have installed a recreation of an entire Glasgow street inside the main hall, complete with shops, cafe, subway station and even a good-old-fashioned spit-and-sawdust boozer (booze not included, unfortunately).

This entire display is absolutely fantastic and you can walk inside most of the shops for a really authentic taste of what life would have been like in the last century, and it goes way above and beyond what you’d normally expect from a free attraction.

Well done Glasgow.

The Tall Ship

The Tall Ship

Address: 150 Pointhouse Place, Glasgow, G3 8RS

Contact details: Telephone 0141 357 3699, Contact form

My complete guide: A Guide to the Tall Ship

If you step outside the Riverside Transport Museum as it faces the River Clyde you can’t fail to miss the enormous sailing ship moored outside.

This 19th-century three-mast ship is the Glenlee, and she offers a glimpse into what life on the seven seas would have been like over one hundred years ago.

The Glenlee is one of only five remaining tall ships built on the River Clyde that’s still afloat today and she’s open to visitors to explore every nook and cranny to discover why these ships were used so extensively back when Glasgow was a shipbuilding powerhouse.

It took six years to fully restore this vessel and I reckon the owners have done a first-class job, with everything looking new and ship-shape from the main deckhouse all the way down to the cargo hold.

There are information panels installed throughout the ship and you can get hands-on in most areas, though some of the displays like the galley and the kitchen are cordoned off at the door.

The Tall Ship

Speaking of the galley, food is very much alive and well on the Glenlee because they’ve managed to fit an entire cafeteria into the 2nd-level deck, and the fact that the cafe and a shop only take up half the floor space gives you some idea how big this vessel actually is.

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When I visited I decided to grab a sandwich and a coffee in the cafe and I’m happy to report that everything was delicious and reasonably priced.

Plus you get to eat in the storeroom of an old sailing ship and look out the portholes while you’re munching on your cheese toastie. When have you ever been able to do that in Starbucks?

Lower decks have a children’s play area and an education room complete with mini-cinema, and there are even more information panels on the walls to tell you all about the ship, the crew that manned her, and Glasgow’s shipbuilding heritage.

This is yet another brilliant free Glasgow tourist attraction and it’s one I whole-heartedly recommend you visit.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Glasgow Botanic Garden

Address: 730 Great Western Rd, Glasgow, G12 0UE

Contact details: Telephone 0141 276 1614, email General Manager

My complete guide: A Guide to Glasgow Botanic Garden

Glasgow’s Botanic Garden’s easily rival those in Edinburgh (high praise as you’ll know if you’ve been there) and are a must-visit if you come to the city but don’t want to spend all day indoors.

The garden is home to over 12,000 different specimens that are spread across lawns, flower beds, riverside woodland and a gigantic conservatory, all of which have been cared for since 1842 when they were first opened to the public.

The Victorian masterpiece-of-design conservatory known as the Kibble Palace is particularly impressive because not only does it house a mini maze, a collection of beautiful statues, and a pond, but it’s also the home of Scotland’s national collection of ferns – some of which are over 120 years old.

You can’t really miss this structure as it dominates the main entrance on Great Western Road and the benches and lawn outside are always filled with people in the warmer months, and to be honest I don’t blame anyone for sitting there because it’s such a beautiful spot.

A second modern steel-framed greenhouse sits nearby which isn’t anywhere near as attractive on the outside but more than makes up for it on the inside, where you’ll find a tropical jungle, a copse of exotic trees and loads of rare flowers collected from all over the world.

Another really good part of the gardens is the walkway along the River Kelvin which offers a lovely riverside setting that makes it all too easy to forget you’re in the middle of a bustling urban metropolis.

The Glasgow Botanic Gardens also has a restaurant in the former Curator’s house near the front entrance where you’ll be able to sample a delicious range of home baking.

In my opinion, this is a first-class attraction and one that’s worth visiting if you’re looking for something a bit different to the pedestrianised city centre attractions – like the one that’s next on this list.

The Gallery of Modern Art

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art

Address: Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow, G1 3AH

Contact details: Telephone 0141 287 3050, email museums@glasgowlife.org.uk

My complete guide: A Guide to the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art

The Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art – or the GOMA as it’s more commonly known – is the city’s primary gallery for modern art (well…obviously….) and it’s been entertaining both locals and visiting tourists since 1996.

While the gallery in its current incarnation isn’t that old the building that contains the collection most certainly is, having been originally built in 1778 as the townhouse of the tobacco merchant William Cunninghame, before being taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1817.

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This building is in the cultural heart of the city, not far from George Square and in between Buchanan and Queen Streets – both popular attractions in their own right thanks to the number of shops, malls, bars and restaurants in them.

The gallery hosts artworks by many of the world’s greatest contemporary artists and walking around each floor gives you access to pieces by Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Margaret Tait and many others in a range of media including paintings, sculptures, photos and video.

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art

But the GOMA isn’t just about showcasing modern art and it’s also used as an educational venue where visitors are free to unleash their inner artist in regular classes and workshops held throughout the year.

Although the GOMA is free to visit there are frequent premium exhibitions that have an entrance fee, although the costs are usually quite minimal for the quality of the exhibitions that are displayed.

There’s also a really good cafe on-site and a great shop that has lots of art and culture-themed books if you’re interested in that type of thing, though be aware you’ll be fighting for space between the hordes of students that have swarmed the place every single time I’ve ventured inside.

I don’t really think this is a good attraction to take youngsters as they’ll probably not understand the whole modern art scene, but if you’re a teenager and above you’ll more than likely have a great time at the GOMA.

Glasgow Green and The People’s Palace

Address: Templeton Street, Glasgow, G40 1AT

Contact details: Telephone 0141 276 0788, email museums@glasgowlife.org.uk

My complete guide: A Guide to Glasgow Green and the People’s Palace

The People’s Palace is proof if it were ever needed that Glasgow is rightly proud of its social history.

Set in Glasgow Green, the ‘Palace’ (it’s a nice building, but not really up to royal standards) was opened in 1898 as a cultural centre for Glasgow’s residents and at one time housed reading and recreation rooms until being converted into a social history museum in the 1940s.

Although it fell into disrepair for a few years it has now reopened and has been renovated to include photography exhibitions, museum exhibits about the city’s history, a cafe, and the Winter Gardens.

The gardens are basically a miniature version of Kibble Palace in the Botanics and they offer a lovely green oasis whatever the weather’s doing outside, but not only that they make a brilliant setting for enjoying a courtyard snack from the cafe.

Outside the People’s Palace is the Doulton Fountain that was created in 1888 to celebrate the reign of Queen Victoria, while landmarks like Nelson’s Monument – built 30 years before Nelson’s Column in London – can be found in the centre of Glasgow Green.

Other points of interest are the McLennan Arch that sits at the Saltmarket entrance and various statues that commemorate leading figures from the city’s history.

This park is yet another example of Glasgow’s fondness for green spaces and most certainly contributes towards the fact that it’s officially the second greenest city in Britain after Edinburgh.

But the space isn’t only used by busy office workers on a lunch break as it’s also the venue for some of Scotland’s biggest annual events, with TRNSMT (which you can read my Complete Guide to the TRNSMT Music Festival) being one of the highlights along with The World Pipe Band Championships.

Glasgow Mural Trail

Address: See the City Centre Mural Trail website for details

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My complete guide: A Guide to the Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail

The last place on this list of the best places to visit in Glasgow isn’t a place as such, more of a series of artworks spread across the city.

The mural trail has gained something of a cult following among new visitors to Glasgow because it’s one of the few ways to see the more off-the-standard-tourist-route areas while still being able to do a bit of sightseeing.

The trail is a fairly recent addition that was created as a way to dress up the, shall we say, less-salubrious parts of Glasgow while offering potential visitors an incentive to go for a walk about.

What it’s actually turned into is a way for Scotland’s best young artistic talents to create a series of clever murals that highlight the role that Glasgow and its people have played in Britain in modern times.

Many of these murals are absolutely enormous and they’re surprisingly high quality – think along the lines of Banksy but much more colourful and you won’t go far wrong.

While it’s possible to just wander around the city and stumble on the odd one here and there, if you want to see them all you need to head on over to the official Glasgow Mural Trail website and check out their map.

Don’t be surprised if during your walk you find the occasional mural has mysteriously gone missing though, because this metropolis is constantly in motion and walls and buildings are getting torn down and replaced all the time.

So while you might miss out on some artworks you can rest assured a different one will be going up somewhere else to replace it, and that just means you get to explore even more places.

Glasgow infographic

Well that just about wraps it up for my list of awesome places to visit in Scotland and I hope it’s given you some inspiration for where to visit when you come to explore Scotland’s biggest city.

There are so many other attractions I could have included but to be honest it would have made this article feel more like a mini book than a website article, and I think I’ve gone on long enough already.

That being said, if you think there’s something else I should include please drop me a message on one of my social media accounts (you can hit me up on one of the links at the very bottom of the page) or message me via my contact form and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

Thanks for making it this far and happy travels.

I hope to see you again here at outaboutscotland.com in the near future.

Craig 🙂

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