Last updated on May 8th, 2020
Attractions like Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Riverside Museum of Transport and The Tall Ship draw thousands of visitors to Glasgow each year. Discover these top places to visit and much more in this complete guide to Glasgow.
The complete guide to 12 awesome places to visit in Glasgow
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Glasgow? The River Clyde perhaps, or maybe shipbuilding, Billy Connolly and summer festivals.
Or how about Tennants lager, enormous city parks and world-class shopping. All symbols of the city in their own right and all things that Glasgow is rightly proud of.
But for me, Glasgow conjures up images of amazing tourist attractions that some might say (whisper it in hushed tones if you’re in the south-east of Scotland) easily rival those in the tourist-hotspot capital of Edinburgh.
There’s certainly a different feel to Scotland’s biggest city compared to its eastern sibling. It just feels more vibrant somehow, busier, yes, but a bit more friendly too, and in my opinion it’s got an edge to it that mirrors London, but without the oppressive overly-crowded atmosphere of that city.
I have to say I like Glasgow, but truth be told I only recently formed that opinion after deciding to spend a week there at the beginning of 2019.
Before then I’d gone on the occasional day trip but really just for the shopping – which is by far the best in Scotland – and I’d never explored much past the city centre.
What I found during my week-long visit is that this city has a huge, HUGE, amount of things to do and that shopping on Argyle and Buchanan Streets are really just the tip of the iceberg.
The amount of cultural venues in Glasgow is nothing short of gob-smacking and not only are there a fantastic selection of theatres, restaurants, museums, art galleries and tourist attractions but it’s also a hub for creative talent and music, and performers can be seen and heard on virtually every street in the city centre.
It’s a real family city too thanks to the number of green spaces and themed attractions spread across it, and unlike the tourist rip-off prices you’ll find in some places (cough-Skye-cough) many of Glasgow’s best venues are completely free to visit.
What can you see in Glasgow?
Did you know Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music? I didn’t until I spent a few evenings there but I can now say hand on heart that it definitely lives up to its musical reputation.
It has an incredibly exciting music scene and there are so many venues you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll enjoy whether you’re a fan of rock, pop, jazz or even classical, and that’s before you venture into the city at night to experience its awesomely brilliant collection of nightclubs (even for someone like me who’s age 30…and a bit…plus a bit more).
If you’re a mum or a dad you might not be too interested in clubbing till 4 am but rest assured you can enjoy plenty of family-friendly attractions spread out across the city – most of which don’t even have an entrance fee.
Attractions like Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Riverside Museum of Transport and The Tall Ship all draw in thousands of visitors each year and there are a dizzying number of fun/educational attractions like the Glasgow Science Centre and the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art too.
If you’re travelling solo or as a couple you’ll be pleased to know that this city has more history and beautiful buildings than you can shake a selfie stick at with places like Glasgow Cathedral, The Necropolis and The University of Glasgow amongst the highlights (although there are loads more, some of which I’ll cover later in this article).
Bit of a foodie? Well don’t worry, you’re covered there too.
The food scene has exploded in Glasgow in recent years and popping out for a bite to eat has now turned into a bit of an occasion thanks to many of Scotland’s finest seafood, Indian, Italian and fusion restaurants offering mouth-watering dishes whether you’re on a budget or you’re treating yourself to a once-in-a-month blow-out.
And not only have you got all that but you’ll also find yourself mixing with some of the friendliest, warmest, most down-to-earth people you’re ever likely to meet. It’s no wonder the city slogan is People Make Glasgow – it’s true.
How do I get to Glasgow?
One of the reasons the city is so popular is that it’s really easy to get to if you’re visiting from overseas thanks to the excellent transport infrastructure both inside the city and on its outskirts.
These buses are ultra-efficient and depart every 10 minutes so you’ll never wait long to catch one, plus they operate 24/7 (except for Christmas Day). You’ll find them at the airport stance 1 when you arrive and Buchanan Bus Station stance 46 when you depart. They’re reasonably priced too at just £19 (as of 2020) for a family ticket.
Be warned though that Glasgow Airport is enormous – understandable considering it’s an international travel hub serving more than 30 airlines – and it gets really busy so I’d advise getting transport to your destination as soon as possible.
With that in mind if you want to steer clear of the buses you can grab a taxi from dedicated taxi ranks at the airport entrance or take a train into the city centre from Paisley Gilmour Street station which is around a mile from the terminal.
The other major airport you could use is Glasgow Prestwick (address: Prestwick KA9 2PL) which is quite a bit further out at 32 miles from the city centre but has its own railway station that connects to Glasgow Central Station in 45 minutes.
This airport also has shuttle services to outlying car parks if you’d rather drive and it has bus services that connect to the city centre. Check out the Stagecoach website for further details.
If you want to find out more about Scotland’s airports and how to travel between them take a look at my Complete Guide to Scotland’s Airports.
Another popular way to get into the city is by rail and you can reach the centre from the south of Scotland at Glasgow Central Station or from Edinburgh and the north of Scotland at Queen Street Station.
Both stations are easily accessible from the city centre and make travelling to the rest of the country an absolute breeze, especially if you’re intending to combine a visit with Edinburgh as the train journey between them only takes around an hour.
How do I get around Glasgow?
Much like Edinburgh’s New Town 18th-century design masterpiece, Glasgow is built on a grid system which makes it easy to navigate on foot. There’s also an extensive bus network thanks to the services provided by First Bus and taxi’s can be hailed from pretty much anywhere in the city centre.
Due to the fact that many of the best tourist attractions are spread so far apart I recommend you take advantage of the SPT Subway system which runs in a circle around the most-visited areas and then walk to your destination from the nearest available station.
The subway – the only one in a Scottish city – is insanely convenient and only takes 24 minutes to complete a circuit of its 15 stations.
I found the carriages to be clean, modern and an extremely efficient way to explore the city, and the tickets are reasonably priced too at just £3 (as of 2020) for an all-day adult smartcard or £4.20 for an unlimited travel paper ticket. Take that London Tube!
As a top tip I recommend heading to the SPT website and downloading a copy of their station map. That way you can walk around the city’s attractions and find your most convenient subway stop at the end of your day. Alternatively, head on over to Google Maps as they also list all the SPT stations. Honestly, where would we be nowadays without Google?
Buses meanwhile are quite busy and seem to attract ‘interesting’ characters whenever I’ve been on them (or perhaps I’m the one that attracts these people) and I’m afraid they’re not a patch on Edinburgh’s beautifully clean Lothian Buses.
That being said, First Buses cover the entire city and you can get an adult day ticket across all city zones for £4.60 or an under-19 ticket for £4, which makes for a cheap day out with the kids.
As far as taxis are concerned they’re by far the easiest option, but also the most expensive.
Glasgow Taxis are the official licenced service and they have an amazing website and app that makes booking an absolute doddle.
They have a fleet of over 800 taxis and operate 24/7, 365 days a year so you’ll always be able to get to your destination no matter what the other modes of public transport are doing.
By the way, I’ve listed most of this information on my Glasgow Travel Information page so remember to bookmark it so you’ve always got this information to hand.
What is the weather in Glasgow like?
Due to the fact the west coast is close to the Atlantic you’ll frequently find temperatures are a little bit cooler than the east coast, though because Glasgow is set inland it misses out on many of the downpours that the coastal towns are subjected to.
July and August (so says holidayweather.com) are regarded as the hottest months with average temperatures sitting around the 15°C mark while January tends to be the coldest with average temperatures of 3°C.
Bear in mind that these are average temperatures and day-to-day conditions can vary considerably, so don’t be surprised to find yourself in blazing mid-20’s sunshine in summer and below-freezing blizzards in winter.
That being said, you can pretty much guarantee that outside of the summer months you’ll be subjected to quite a few rainy days and unfortunately Glasgow doesn’t fare too well when it comes to getting a good-old-fashioned British downpour.
December and January suffer the worst of the wet weather with an average 25 rainy days per month and even August gets between 10 and 15 days of rain, so you might want to pack an umbrella if you’re thinking of visiting.
But at least we get plenty of summertime daylight at this latitude and you’ll find the sun rising around 5am and setting at 10pm, giving you a full 17 hours of light to enjoy.
This is in contrast to winter where the sun rises around 8.30 in the morning and sets around 4pm, giving you a miserable 7 and a half hours of light which might be worth bearing in mind if you’re thinking of visiting the city in the colder months.
Best get those SAD lights out.
I’ve included a map of the best places to visit in Glasgow below so you can get your bearings and find out where the attractions listed in this article actually are, with details of each attraction detailed on the following pages.
The best places to visit in Glasgow: Details and descriptions
- The People’s Palace
- Gallery of Modern Art
- Glasgow Botanic Garden
- The Tall Ship
- Riverside Museum of Transport (behind #4)
- St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art
- The Necropolis
- Glasgow Cathedral (behind #6)
- The University of Glasgow
- A = Kelvingrove Park
- B = Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Address: Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8AG
Contact details: Telephone 0141 276 9599, email [email protected]
My complete guide: A Guide to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
This attraction – located in the serene Kelvingrove Park – is one of the city’s highlights and absolutely has to be at the top of your list of places to visit in Glasgow.
Set inside a beautifully ornate red sandstone building, Kelvingrove has been wowing visitors since opening in 1852 and if you ever get the chance to visit it you’ll be taken on a journey through ancient Egypt, the animal kingdom, modern art, Scotland’s cultural heritage and much, much more.
What I like most about Kelvingrove is that it’s pretty much two attractions in one as it features halls dedicated to the fields of both art and history and the curators have arranged them in a way that’s enjoyable for all ages, not just pensioners looking to kill a couple of hours.
Although there are lots of permanent fixtures (like the restored Spitfire hanging from the ceiling of the East Court) many exhibits in the Life (showcasing natural and human history) and Expression (featuring fine art) galleries are rotated, so going back for another visit later in the year always gives you something new to look at.
And there’s plenty to look at.
Over 9000 exhibits are displayed across 22 state-of-the-art galleries, with the fine art collections being widely recognised as some of the best in Europe where you can see masterpieces by Leonardo Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Renoir and Glasgow’s favourite home-grown designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a top place to wander around if the weather turns grey but as it’s in the middle of Kelvingrove Park you can always head outside to enjoy the sun when the clouds clear.
There’s even a decent restaurant on-site, and it’s also close to Glasgow University so it’s easy to combine both attractions into one city visit.
Address: Kelvingrove Park, Kelvin Way, Glasgow
Contact details: Glasgow City Council website
My complete guide: A Guide to Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow
As mentioned above, Kelvingrove Park is home to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – one of Scotland’s most popular free tourist attractions.
But what many visitors (myself included) fail to realise on their first visit to the museum and art gallery is that there’s a beautiful 85-acre public park sitting behind it which has loads of activities to get involved with in addition to vast expanses of parkland.
Admittedly most people visiting the park midweek are there to take a break from busy office jobs, but if you take the time to find out what else it has to offer I reckon you’ll spend more time there than you were expecting.
Walking north along Kelvin Way will take you to the Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls and Tennis Centre which was used for the 2014 Commonwealth games, and the Kelvingrove skate park is nearby if you’ve got sports-loving kids with a penchant for skateboards.
There are also 3 children’s play parks if you’ve got younger offspring that need to be kept occupied and there are a couple of cafes if you fancy a caffeine fix that doesn’t make you feel like you’re stuck in a claustrophobic city centre.
Kelvingrove is a very accessible park too and there’s a network of well-maintained tarmac paths running through it, with the path that runs alongside the River Kelvin as it meanders towards the River Clyde being my personal favourite.
The Kelvin Walkway is a real oasis right in the heart of Glasgow and is home to geese, kingfishers, foxes and even otters.
Now I bet you weren’t expecting to find that lot in the middle of Scotland’s biggest city.
Glasgow University and The Hunterian Museum
Address: The Gilbert Scott Building, The University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ
Contact details: Telephone 0141 330 4221, email [email protected]
Strictly speaking, this is actually two separate attractions, although the Hunterian Museum is located inside the university’s Gilbert Scott Building so I’m combining them into one section.
Besides, it’s my website and I’ll do whatever I like. If that’s ok with you of course.
Anyhoo, moving on… The University of Glasgow is one of the most striking buildings in Glasgow, and possibly the whole of Scotland, looking more like a cathedral than a place of education.
This beautifully ornate building is located close to Kelvingrove Park which you can walk to in just 10-minutes so it’s well worth taking the time to visit if you’re in the vicinity, even if you’re not exactly expecting a city university to be all that tourist-worthy.
Let me assure you though, it’s actually quite a beautiful place, full of gothic towers and curious hidden archways and it absolutely oozes with history – not surprising seeing as it’s the 4th-oldest university in Britain having been founded all the way back in 1451.
The Gilbert Scott Building is a bit newer at a mere 150 years old but it’s an extremely atmospheric structure, and I recommend you see the cloisters and the East and West Quadrangles during your visit (hit the Glasgow University link above to find out more about them).
There’s also a nice 1920’s chapel, Bute Hall which is an impossibly impressive room where students graduate, and the Hunterian Art Gallery is nearby with the Mackintosh House that celebrates the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (yep, him again).
Pop your head inside the Gilbert Scott Building where the stairs lead away from The Cloisters and you’ll find The Hunterian Museum which is a university and public museum located opposite Bute Hall, and in my opinion it has to be the best hidden gem in the city.
This fascinating collection of exhibits opened in 1807 when private collector and anatomist William Hunter gifted his life’s work to the university, and since that date it has been extended into a museum that covers the themes of Roman history, dinosaurs, evolution, metals and minerals, medicine and much more.
Turn right from the main entrance and you’ll enter the main hall – a huge area set over 2 floors that contains the bulk of the artefacts while the space opposite the main entrance houses a collection of pieces from the Roman Antonine Wall.
They’ve managed to cram a huge number of things to look at inside each exhibition space and the displays never get boring, though I suppose they’ve had the time to get it just right seeing as The Hunterian is actually the oldest museum in the whole of Scotland.
Each display case is meticulously arranged and full of interesting objects, from meteorites to dinosaur bones and ancient human tools to old medical instruments, and there’s so much to look at I defy anyone to get bored during their visit.
And did I mention it’s free to get in? Seriously, what’s not to like about that?
Address: Cathedral Precinct, Castle Street, Glasgow, G4 0QZ
Contact details: Telephone Historic Scotland Custodians 0141 552 6891, Contact form
My complete guide: A Guide to Glasgow Cathedral
The story of Glasgow Cathedral is really the story of Glasgow, because without this majestic example of 1100s architecture we wouldn’t have this city with all its amazing tourist attractions.
The medieval cathedral was built in dedication to Saint Kentigern (also known as Saint Mungo) who is believed to have been buried on the site in 612AD, and as worshippers flocked to his shrine a small community grew around it.
Over time the community attracted tradespeople and shopkeepers and within a few hundred years the city that we now know as Glasgow was founded.
The cathedral as we see it today wasn’t finished till the mid-1200s but take a look at it and you can understand why it took so long to build.
It’s beautifully sculpted and mightily impressive – kind of like a mini York Minster – and thankfully it’s managed to survive the last 900-odd years pretty much intact through religious upheavals and world wars.
Step inside and you’ll be amazed by the decorative interior and the awe-inspiring stained glass windows, and the nave is absolutely monumental in size.
It’s an incredible space and I can’t even begin to imagine what our medieval ancestors must have thought of it, and I don’t think it’s any surprise that it remains one of Glasgow’s most-visited buildings today.
The cathedral is joint run with Historic Environment Scotland so there are frequent exhibitions held inside and you can book yourself onto a free tour if you really want to discover its history, but I personally recommend wandering around at your own leisure to soak up the atmosphere of the place
And speaking of atmosphere, when you visit make sure you head downstairs to the crypt which is supposed to be the final resting place of St. Kentigern.
It’s really goose-bumpy (that’s an actual word, right?) down there and also has several information panels so you can learn about the story of both the cathedral and the saint, but if you develop a thirst to know more there’s a decent shop near the entrance that has loads of history books to browse through.
But if even that leaves you craving more I highly recommend you take a walk across the cathedral precinct and head inside St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art – which just so happens to be the next attraction in this list.
St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art
Address: Castle Street, Glasgow, G4 0RH
Contact details: Telephone 0141 276 1625 , email [email protected]
My complete guide: A Guide to the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art
This is another Glasgow Museum that’s well worth visiting, not just because it’s free and next door to the cathedral but because it’s genuinely interesting whether you’re a religious type or not.
I’ll be honest with you here, I’ve got absolutely no interest in religion, but I really enjoyed my visit to St. Mungo’s Museum which in my mind is the sign of all the best attractions. People will find it interesting regardless of their background.
I’ve got a mind-blowing fact for you – this is the only museum in the world that’s solely devoted to the subject of religion. Ok, that’s not exactly mind-blowing but it is a bit interesting, and I reckon it’s worth visiting this museum just for that fact alone.
What impressed me most about St. Mungo’s Museum is that it doesn’t cram religion down your throat and instead aims to inform and educate you about religions the world over. You’re then left to make your own mind up about it all which is a great approach to take.
To achieve that aim each room is full to the rafters with religious paintings, statues and objects collected from all over the globe, and there are plenty of information panels along with each exhibit and display case so you can learn about the origins of each religion and how it ties into modern life.
Take a walk around the floors and you’ll see a Nigerian tribal screen sat next to a statue of the Indian god Shiva, and Buddha statues resting in front of Christian stained glass windows.
It’s interesting stuff.
Of course, the biggest section is devoted to St. Mungo himself so you can’t fail to learn a little bit about the saint and his ties to the city of Glasgow.
While all this is great for adults I think youngsters are going to find it hard going, but at least there’s a really good cafe downstairs with outside seating if you want to give them a break.
By the way, top-tip for you – the cakes are properly yummy and very reasonably priced so consider eating in the museum cafe instead of grabbing the standard Greggs sausage roll up the road.
The Glasgow Necropolis
Address: Castle St, Glasgow, G4 0UZ
Contact details: email [email protected]
My complete guide: A Guide to the Glasgow Necropolis
And this next attraction is…a graveyard. Nope, I’m not going mad. One of Glasgow’s top tourist attractions is indeed a graveyard.
But not just any old graveyard. Oh no. The Necropolis is the final resting place of over 50,000 Glasgow residents, many of whom were instrumental in forging Scotland into the country that it is today.
Across this vast 37-acre site you’ll find a dizzying number of Gothic tombs, monuments and gravestones with a spiders-web of paths threading their way between them.
One thing I recommend you do before setting off is to download a map and then go on a hunt for the graves of Scotland’s most famous great and good, like John Knox and Charles Rennie Mackintosh (he gets everywhere at these attractions) because it makes the whole experience much more interesting.
You can download a good map here.
There are around 3,500 monuments at the Necropolis and most of them are very decorative, but possibly none more so than the very first monument that was installed there – and that’s the one dedicated to the 16th-century Scottish reformer, John Knox.
Knox’s monument sits on top of a hill overlooking Glasgow Cathedral and it’s a great spot to get an elevated view of the city, especially if you’re trying to get an all-encompassing photo of the cathedral situated right at the foot of the hill.
This is another unusual but genuinely interesting tourist attraction and I think you really should make the effort to walk up to the Knox monument if you’re already in the area to visit the nearby cathedral and St. Mungo museum.
It’s just a shame that Knox isn’t actually buried there. Instead, you’ll find him tarmacked under the car park at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh…
The Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport
Address: Pointhouse Place, Glasgow, G3 8RS
Contact details: Telephone 0141 287 2720 , email [email protected]
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Address: Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow, G1 3AH
Contact details: Telephone 0141 287 3050, email [email protected].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.
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.
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 [email protected]
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
Contact details: NA
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Riverside Museum of Transport, The Tall Ship, Glasgow Science Centre, Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow Cathedral, The Necropolis and The University of Glasgow.
Glasgow Airport (address: Paisley, PA3 2SW) is a 15-minute bus ride away from the city centre using the Glasgow Airport Express Bus service 500. The other major airport is Glasgow Prestwick (address: Prestwick KA9 2PL) which is 32 miles from the city centre but has its own railway station that connects to Glasgow Central Station in 45 minutes.
There is an extensive bus network provided by First Bus and taxi’s can be hailed from pretty much anywhere in the city centre. Additionally, the SPT Subway system runs in a circle around the most-visited areas of the city.
July and August are regarded as the hottest months with average temperatures around 15°c. January tends to be the coldest month with average temperatures of 3°c. December and January suffer the worst of the wet weather with an average 25 rainy days per month while August gets between 10 and 15 days of rain on average.