The Best Things to Do in Glasgow City Centre

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Last Updated: by Craig Neil.

Glasgow is a vibrant and exciting city that offers a wealth of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, music, or food, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do in this dynamic Scottish metropolis.

However, one thing that many first-time visitors fail to realise is just how big Glasgow actually is.

While there are great bus and subway systems to get tourists around, deciding where to go for a day trip may be difficult, particularly with so many tourist attractions on offer.

To make things a little simpler, we’ll look at some of the best things to do in Glasgow’s city centre that are all readily walkable. The following list includes the city’s must-see landmarks, museums, and art galleries, most of which are within a 30-minute stroll of Glasgow Queen Street train station.

Whether you’re planning a trip to Glasgow or are simply curious about what the city has to offer, read on to discover some of the best things to do in Glasgow city centre.

Glasgow City Centre Tours

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Musuem

Out About Scotland Guide: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Address:Argyle Street,
Glasgow,
G3 8AG
Opening Hours:Monday - Thursday and Saturday: 10 am-5 pm
Friday and Sunday: 11 am-5 pm
Admission Price:Free
Temporary paid exhibitions
Parking:Paid car park on-site
Free parking for blue badge holders
Contact:0141 276 9599
museums@glasgowlife.org.uk
Facilities:Toilets, disabled access, hearing loop, baby changing, cafe, restaurant, shop, cloakroom,
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is the main attraction in Glasgow’s beautiful Kelvingrove Park, an 84-acre green space that was built for recreation in 1852.

This museum and art gallery has exhibits that change throughout the year and cover a wide range of topics such as modern art, animals, ancient Egypt, and the history of Scotland.

The French and Dutch art galleries, in particular, are noted for holding works of international importance, which is just one of the reasons why the attraction is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Musuem

During your visit, you’ll see numerous galleries devoted to the work of major Scottish artists as well as galleries devoted to The Glasgow Boys and renowned Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Like another beloved Glasgow institution – The Hunterian – the level of detail in Kelvingrove is astounding, but Kelvingrove is far larger and has a greater variety of things to see including the photo-worthy Floating Heads art installation in the East Court and the restored RAF Spitfire in the West Court.

If you’re searching for a fun place to spend the day by yourself, with a partner, or with the kids, Kelvingrove is a fantastic option. And the best part is that it’s free, just like all the other great museums in Glasgow.


The Riverside Museum of Transport

The Riverside Museum of Transport

Out About Scotland Guide: The Riverside Museum

Address:100 Pointhouse Road,
Partick,
Glasgow,
G3 8RS
Opening Hours:Monday-Thursday, Saturday: 10 am-5 pm
Friday and Sunday: 11 am-5 pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:On-site car park
Contact:0141 287 2720
museums@glasgowlife.org.uk
Facilities:Shop, restaurant, toilets, wheelchair access, hearing loop, baby changing, cloakroom
Photos:YouTube Video

Glasgow is a must-see for anyone touring Scotland because it has so many great tourist attractions, many of which are located close to the city centre.

The Riverside Museum at Pointhouse Place on the River Clyde is one such attraction that eclipses most others in size.

Since some of the largest shipbuilding companies in the world previously called the River Clyde home, it’s only fitting that the Riverside Museum is devoted to transport of every kind, from roller skates to bicycles, mopeds to cars, trains to trams, and ships big and small.

The Transport Museum showcases more than just exotic vehicles, though, and you can also get up close to many commonplace forms of transport that are sure to make you smile, such as the humble Ford Cortina and Raleigh Chopper, both of which now have a cult following.

The Riverside Museum of Transport

Additionally, there are a tonne of interesting exhibits that you can interact with to learn more about the history of transport in Scotland, but as you’d expect, a large portion of the museum is devoted to Glasgow’s transport history.

During your visit, you can learn more about the city’s connections to shipbuilding and even go back in time by walking through a replica of Glasgow’s streets. You’ll also get the chance to learn about some of the major inventions that revolutionised transportation, such as early automated factory machines.

Whether you’re a native Glaswegian or simply passing through, the Riverside Museum provides something for every age group and interest.


Glasgow Science Centre

Glasgow Science Centre

Out About Scotland Guide: Glasgow Science Centre

Address:50 Pacific Quay,
Glasgow,
G51 1EA
Opening Hours:Monday to Sunday 10.00 to 17.00
Admission Price:£12.50 per adult
£10.50 per child
Under 3's go free but require an under 3's ticket
Parking:Car park on-site.
£3 per day.
£1 per day for Science Passport holders.
Contact:0141 420 5000
contact.us@gsc.org.uk
Facilities:Gift shop, restaurant, toilets, wheelchair access, baby changing area, disabled parking
Photos:YouTube Video

Need some inspiration for how to spend your free time with the family?

There’s a well-known tourist attraction in the heart of Glasgow that’s sure to keep the kids entertained, and it’s also one of the most fun things to do in Glasgow for adults.

The Glasgow Science Centre is an exceptionally popular tourist attraction, situated in the middle of the city on the banks of the River Clyde, not far from the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC).

This outstanding venue is jam-packed with entertaining and instructive displays that educate visitors of all ages about the fascinating world of science and technology.

The GSC is divided into three major areas: the Science Mall, the Glasgow Tower, and the IMAX, each of which is a worthwhile attraction in its own right.

Glasgow Science Centre

The Glasgow Tower is located behind the distinctive domed IMAX theatre, although most of the exhibits are in the crescent-shaped Science Mall which resembles a ship lying on its side; the reason being that it’s positioned next to a canting basin where ships used to be turned onto their sides for hull cleaning.

You can purchase separate tickets for the planetarium and IMAX or a single admission ticket for the science mall, but I recommend paying extra for a Glasgow Science Centre passport which permits unrestricted re-entry to all areas for 12 months.

There’s a handy on-site car park, and once inside, you can buy food, drinks, and souvenirs, allowing you to spend a full day at the site.


Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art

Glasgow Gallery Modern Art

Out About Scotland Guide: Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art

Address:111 Queen Street,
Royal Exchange Square,
Glasgow,
G1 3AH
Opening Hours:Monday-Thursday, Saturday: 10 am-5 pm
Friday and Sunday: 11 am-5 pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:None
Contact:0141 287 3050
museums@glasgowlife.org.uk
Facilities:Cafe, shop, toilets, disabled access, baby changing, cloakroom
Photos:YouTube Video

Any picture of Glasgow seen online is almost always of a statue of a solemn-looking man on a horse with a traffic cone on his head, standing in front of a grand neoclassical building.

If you’ve ever been curious about the statue’s significance, you may be interested to know that it depicts the Duke of Wellington in front of the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, also known as the GOMA.

This gallery is highly recommended for both art enthusiasts and those with a passing interest in the topic, and it has to be one of the major highlights of the city centre.

The gallery is free to visit, which is pretty amazing since it features some of Scotland’s most important works of art as well as masterpieces on loan from collections around the world.

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art

Since it opened in 1996, millions of art lovers have come to the GOMA to see the works of Andy Warhol, Margaret Tait, David Hockney, and many others in a wide range of themed exhibitions.

The majority of these exhibitions are permanent while some have a rotating selection of artworks, in addition to temporary exhibitions that usually have an entrance fee.

The GOMA is more than just a gallery though; it’s also an educational resource for students and the general public.

Anyone interested in doing so can enrol in ongoing art classes and workshops, and there are even classes for children so the whole family can enjoy art together.

Whether a modern art enthusiast or not, the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art is easily one of the best places to visit in Glasgow for free.


Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral

Out About Scotland Guide: Glasgow Cathedral

Address:Castle Street,
Glasgow,
G4 0QZ
Opening Hours:1 Apr to 30 Sept:
Mon to Sat, 10 am to 5 pm
Sun, 1 pm to 5 pm
Last entry 4.30 pm

1 Oct to 31 Mar:
Mon to Sat, 10 am to 4 pm
Sun, 1 pm to 5 pm
Last entry 4:30 pm

Closed for lunch 12 noon to 1 pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:Paid car park on Castle Street
Contact:0141 276 1614
Facilities:Shop, disabled access. Toilets at the St. Mungo museum.
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Many people consider Glasgow Cathedral as one of the best free things to do in the city because it’s close to both the Glasgow Necropolis and the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art.

The mediaeval cathedral was constructed in the 1100s in honour of St. Kentigern, also known as St. Mungo, and is one of the most complete mediaeval buildings in Scotland, surviving over 900 years of religious shifts and wars.

Even now, the cathedral’s dramatic Gothic architecture and ornate stone carvings amaze, just as they no doubt did when it was first constructed.

The exterior may entice you to whip out your camera, but it’s the interior that will make you snap away in a frenzy.

Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral is one of the few buildings I’ve visited that actually made me stop and stare upon entering – just picture a miniature York Minster to get the general idea.

The cathedral has many interesting areas to explore including the crypt where St. Kentigern’s remains are kept, and Historic Environment Scotland has erected numerous displays to help visitors learn about the saint and the cathedral’s fascinating history.

The shrine of St. Kentigern on the lower level is well worth seeing, as is the nave with its stunning stained glass windows and the vividly painted stone bosses on the ceiling of the Blacader aisle.

As far as facilities go, there’s a small gift shop selling maps and souvenirs at the entrance, but there’s no cafe or toilets, which isn’t really a big deal as there’s a very good cafe with public conveniences in the St. Mungo Museum next door.


Glasgow Green & the People’s Palace

Glasgow Green and The People's Palace

Out About Scotland Guide: Glasgow Green and The People’s Palace

Address:Templeton Street,
Glasgow,
G40 1AT
Opening Hours:24/7
Admission Price:Free
Parking:No on-site parking
Contact:0141 287 5064
Facilities:Facilities in The People's Palace - Cafe, toilets, wheelchair access, hearing loop, baby change area
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

As Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow is home to more than 90 parks and gardens, including Kelvingrove Park, Pollok Country Park, and Glasgow Green.

King James II bestowed Glasgow Green, the city’s oldest park, to the citizens of Glasgow in 1450, and it has played an important cultural role in the city since that time.

As a tourist destination near the city centre, Glasgow Green takes some beating. The park’s 55 acres are filled with monuments and historic buildings, and there are enough things to see and do to keep a family engaged for a good chunk of the day.

The park has a variety of amenities including a children’s playground, a bandstand, and sports facilities including a bowling green and football pitches, all of which are joined by tarmac paths that offer easy access for visitors of all abilities.

Glasgow Green and The People's Palace

The beautiful Doulton Fountain and the huge Nelson’s Monument can be found inside Glasgow Green as well as remnants of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but the crowning glory is the People’s Palace, a social history museum and garden conservatory that opened in 1898.

The ‘palace’ houses exhibitions on Glasgow’s social history including the city’s industrial heritage, working-class culture, and the lives of regular people over the years, as well as a Victorian-style glasshouse which is a wonderful place to relax while viewing an enormous collection of cacti, palm trees, and tropical flowers.

In addition to its historical significance, Glasgow Green has become the site of some of the city’s most important contemporary events such as the TRNSMT music festival and the World Pipe Band Championships.

The park also has an orienteering course and observation platforms from which to enjoy pleasing views of the nearby River Clyde.


The Hunterian Museum

The Hunterian Museum

Out About Scotland Guide: The Hunterian Museum

Address:Gilbert Scott Building,
The University of Glasgow,
Glasgow,
G12 8QQ
Opening Hours:Tuesday - Sunday 10 am to 5 pm
Closed Monday
Admission Price:Free
Parking:No on-site parking
Contact:0141 330 4221
Facilities:Toilets
Photos:YouTube Video

The Hunterian Museum is one of Glasgow’s best-kept secrets, located within the majestic Gilbert Scott Building at Glasgow University.

You’ll find the museum on the main campus, which is easily reached by taking the number 4 bus from the city centre or by walking ten minutes from the Hillhead SPT metro station.

The Hunterian Museum is full of surprising facts, the first of which is that it’s Scotland’s oldest museum.

Many of the exhibits date from 1807 when the museum first opened following the death of anatomist William Hunter. The donation of his extensive collections makes up the bulk of what is now on display, but many more artefacts have been added to the exhibitions over the years.

The Hunterian Museum

Walking around the main hall and upper balcony will transport you to a world of Roman history, dinosaurs, evolution, minerals, medicine, and much more, making it seem like a smaller version of Kelvingrove Museum.

The Hunterian Museum’s display cases and cabinets are all expertly curated with just the right number of objects to pique curiosity without being overwhelming – as might be expected after having more than 200 years to perfect them.

The floor of the main hall, in particular, is a magnificent location, not only because of the amazing artefacts on display but also because of the building itself which has a beautiful church-like interior.

Look up to see carved wooden balconies, stone columns, and lead-lined windows, all of which are evocative of the famed Victorian Gallery in Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland.


Glasgow Necropolis

The Necropolis

Out About Scotland Guide: Glasgow Necropolis

Address:Wishart Street,
Glasgow,
G4 0UZ
Opening Hours:24/7
Admission Price:Free
Parking:Paid car park on Castle Street
Contact:To book a tour - tours@glasgownecropolis.org
Facilities:None
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Visiting the 37-acre Necropolis, located next to the cathedral, is arguably one of the most unique things to do in Glasgow and is a great option for anyone seeking out-of-the-ordinary things to do near the city centre.

Over 50,000 Glaswegians are buried in this Victorian cemetery, and a visit will reveal numerous monuments honouring Scottish notables from John Knox (the founder of the Scottish Presbyterian Church) to Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Scotland’s most influential architect).

Glasgow’s Necropolis, like other Victorian burial places, is set out like an informal park, with winding paths threading their way through a huge collection of gravestones that are evocative of the similarly massive Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

The Necropolis has an ethereal, otherworldly vibe because of the unusual mix of tombs, some of which are big and extravagant, while others are plain and unassuming.

The Necropolis

There are around 3,500 tombs in this ‘city of the dead,’ the most noteworthy of which is the John Knox monument located at the cemetery’s highest point.

Seeing the cathedral and Glasgow’s sprawling streets from this viewpoint is a real highlight, but the best part of visiting the Necropolis is getting lost in the maze of pathways that cover it like a gigantic spiderweb.

To truly grasp the history of the cemetery you can take a guided tour when you visit, but arguably the best way to explore it is to wander about it at your own speed, which you can do until late evening.

If you do visit at nightfall, you may be fortunate enough to see pipistrelle bats darting about as well as roe deer, wood mice, and voles.

All in all, this is a unique attraction that’s one of the best things to do in Glasgow at night as well as during the day.


The Tall Ship

The Tall Ship

Out About Scotland Guide: The Tall Ship

Address:150 Pointhouse Place,
Glasgow,
G3 8RS
Opening Hours:Monday 10am - 5pm
Tuesday 11am - 5pm
Wednesday 10am - 5pm
Thursday 10am - 5pm
Friday 10am - 5pm
Saturday 10am - 3pm
Sunday 10am - 5pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:Paid car park at the Riverside Museum
Contact:0141 357 3699
Facilities:Cafe, shop, toilets, disabled access, baby changing
Photos:YouTube Video

The Tall Ship is a restored sailing ship from the 1800s. It’s docked at Pointhouse Quay on the Clyde and is one of Glasgow’s most popular tourist attractions.

The Tall Ship (officially titled ‘Glenlee’) is one of only five remaining tall ships constructed on the Clyde and is a must-see for anybody interested in Glasgow’s maritime heritage.

During a tour, visitors can listen to an audio commentary that provides insight into what life was like for the crew of a British sailing ship over a century ago, including information on what they ate and where they sailed.

With so much to see and do, such as piloting the ship from the helm, seeing the captain’s quarters, watching a movie in the onboard theatre, and exploring the cargo hold, it’s difficult to imagine anybody being bored at this attraction.

The Tall Ship

Self-guided tours start at the gangway where visitors can explore the upper deck, see into the main deckhouse, and take in an amazing view of the ship’s masts and their intricate web of ropes and pulleys.

As you make your way down from the bridge to the tween deck you’ll get your first real sense of just how massive the ship really is.

On one side of the tween deck is a well-stocked gift shop, and they’ve also managed to squeeze in a full-size café – all while using less than half of the deck’s square footage.

The toilets and a teaching room are located on the lower deck, along with exhibits about the kinds of goods the ship would have carried. 

And of course, the Riverside Museum of Transport is located next door so you can attend both attractions in a single day, which you’ll no doubt want to do considering they’re both entirely free to visit.


Kelvingrove Park

Kelvingrove Park

Out About Scotland Guide: Kelvingrove Park

Address:Kelvingrove Park,
Kelvin Way,
Glasgow,
G3 6BY
Opening Hours:24/7
Admission Price:Free
Parking:No on-site car park. Kelvingrove SPT car park nearby.
Contact:0141 334 6363
Facilities:Toilets, play areas, sports pitches, cafes, skateboard park, disabled access
Photos:YouTube Video

Taking a walk around Kelvingrove Park is one of the most popular things for couples to do in Glasgow’s city centre.

Created in 1852 for the city’s middle class, the park is a picturesque green oasis filled with monuments from the past as well as modern sports facilities.

The wide paths and tree groves make it perfect for a leisurely stroll, while the River Kelvin provides a peaceful respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. Along the riverbanks, there’s a good chance you’ll even see geese, kingfishers, herons, and otters – not what you’d usually expect from a walk in a busy city.

One of the best ways to experience Glasgow is by walking the entire length of the Kelvin Walkway, a 10-mile footpath that takes you from Kelvingrove Park to the peaceful Milngavie countryside.

Kelvingrove Park

The walkway starts near Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on the southwest edge of the park and continues northwards, providing a good opportunity to check out the park’s many monuments along the way.

Kelvingrove Park’s main attraction is the Stewart Memorial Fountain. It was created in 1872 to celebrate the freshwater transit connection from Loch Katrine to Glasgow, and is today enjoyed as a place to unwind on a warm day owing to the manicured lawns and beautiful flower beds that surround it.

Other monuments include the Lord Frederick Roberts Memorial and the historic bandstand which hosts a variety of music festivals, and charity shows throughout the year.

The park also features three children’s play areas and a variety of cafes, including the family-friendly An Clachan located near the park’s eastern entrance.


Getting Around Glasgow

Taxi: Taking a taxi is by far the quickest way to get around Glasgow and the official Glasgow Taxis operate throughout the city with their distinctive black cabs making them easy to distinguish from the private mini-cabs that also run in the city centre.

They offer 5 and 6-seater vehicles and if their yellow light is on they can be flagged down on the street. Alternatively, telephone 0141 4297070 to book one in advance.

Bus: The main bus operator in Glasgow is First Bus, which provides regular bus services throughout the city with over 100 routes to choose from.

Most locals prefer to use the bus network as it’s one of the easiest and cheapest options for getting around the city centre and the outlying districts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best things to do in Glasgow City Centre?

Popular things to do in Glasgow city centre include visiting Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, touring Glasgow Cathedral, and exploring the Riverside Museum. The Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is also a popular attraction, as is the People’s Palace which is a great place to learn about the city’s history and culture.

Is 1 day enough for Glasgow?

One day may be enough to see some of the main attractions in Glasgow, but it would likely be a very busy and rushed day. Some of the biggest attractions such as Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum can take a full afternoon to fully explore.

If you’re looking to make the most of your time in Glasgow, it would be best to plan your itinerary in advance and focus on the most important attractions. Alternatively, you could consider spending two or three days in Glasgow which would allow you to see most of the city at a leisurely pace.

What are the most popular things to do in Glasgow with children?

There are many fun and educational things to do in Glasgow with children. Some popular options include:

1: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – This museum features a wide variety of exhibits including art, natural history, and science.
2: Glasgow Science Centre – This interactive science museum features hands-on exhibits and live science shows.
3: Riverside Museum – This museum is dedicated to Glasgow’s transport history and features displays of cars, trains, and ships.
4: Glasgow Botanic Gardens – These gardens feature a wide variety of plants and flowers and a children’s playground.
5: Glasgow Climbing Centre – Children will love climbing and exploring this indoor climbing centre which has a dedicated kids area.

Where is Glasgow?

Glasgow is located in the western lowlands of Scotland at roughly the same latitude as Edinburgh. It’s a port city and is famous for its shipbuilding industry centred around the River Clyde.

Distances from other UK cities:
Glasgow to Edinburgh: 39 miles (62.76 km).
Glasgow to London: 346 miles (556.83 km).
Glasgow to Birmingham: 253 miles (407.16 km).
Glasgow to Manchester: 184 miles (296.12 km).
Glasgow to Cardiff: 306 miles (492.46 km).

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Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.