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Places to visit in Glasgow in summer
For me, Glasgow sums up everything that’s great about Scotland.
Friendly people, beautiful green spaces, stunning buildings and more tourist attractions than you could ever hope to fit into a single holiday. Plus all the best ones are completely free.
But there’s more to this city – which is the largest in Scotland – than tourist attarctions.
While Edinburgh is fantastically well-optimized for separating money from people’s wallets, Glasgow is all about offering great experiences, and you’ll find some of the best shopping in the country within it’s long, meandering streets as well as many of the finest bars, clubs and restaurants in the British Isles.
It’s a city that has a vibrant, edgy feel and it’s practically begging to be explored by new visitors, and I reckon the following suggestions for places to visit will give you a good taste of what this amazing city has to offer.
Address: Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8AG
My complete guide: A Guide to Kelvingrove Park
I only visited Kelvingrove Park a few months after I’d first visited Kelvingrove Museum, when looking at Google Maps I realised there’s this enormous green space right behind one of Scotland’s most-visited free attractions.
It’s not even that hard to miss.
Kelvingrove Park covers an impressive 85-acres in the heart of Glasgow and it’s one of the city’s favourite parks after Glasgow Green, and if I’m being honest I’d say it’s the nicest park in the city.
Most people will, of course, come here to explore Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which sits on the southern side of the park, but if you’ve already looked at Google Maps you’ll know that Glasgow University lies a short distance away to the west so it’s easy to combine the park, museum and university in one attraction-filled day.
Aside from the fact that each attraction is free, you’ll get to experience some of the highlights of Glasgow without having to walk very far – something that’s worth considering if you’re already wilting under the heat of the summer sun.
Kelvingrove Park has a network of paths running through it that really make you forget you’re in the middle of Scotland’s biggest city, with the Kelvin Walkway being a particular favourite of mine.
This riverside walk follows the River Kelvin from the museum along 10 miles of meandering paths to the picturesque Milngavie countryside on the outskirts of the city, and along the way you’ll see geese, kingfishers, foxes and otters.
It’s a beautiful walk but if you’d rather stay within the confines of the city centre you can stay in the park and go on a wee expedition to see all the monuments dotted about the place.
There have been a lot of monuments installed in Kelvingrove Park over the years but if you’re short of time I suggest you at least take a look at the Stewart memorial fountain near the Kelvingrove skatepark and west play area.
The fountain was built in 1872 to commemorate a new freshwater supply from Loch Katrine over 40 miles away and it’s a popular spot for locals to sit and relax when the sun’s beating down, but go there mid-week when everyone’s busy working and you might find you’ve got the entire place to yourself.
Address: Cathedral Precinct, Castle Street, Glasgow, G4 0QZ
My complete guide: A Guide to the Glasgow Necropolis
Yeah, I know, bit of a weird one this, but if you’re visiting Glasgow in the middle of summer I have to recommend the city cemetery as a top tourist attraction.
The Glasgow Necropolis is a 37-acre burial site next to the city’s beautiful cathedral, and the fact that it’s so close to both the cathedral and the St. Mungo Museum make it a great place to go for a stroll on a warm, sunny afternoon.
I recommend packing all three attractions into one visit as they’ll keep you occupied for the best part of a day, but it’s The Necropolis that you’ll more than likely find the most memorable.
This cemetery was originally a Victorian arboretum that was designed to be used by the city’s ever-expanding middle class, but by the 1830s it was decided to convert it into a burial site instead. I guess you could say that one way or another Glasgow’s wealthy residents got to spend time at the site whether they wanted to or not.
If you’ve ever had the chance to explore the vast Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris you’ll immediately recognise the Necropolis because it was designed to imitate it, and I reckon they’ve done a pretty good job.
A web of paths run right through the site where a labyrinth of tombs and gravestones mark the final resting places of some of the greatest Scots that have ever lived, including Charles Rennie Mackintosh (architect), Charles Tennant (industrialist), and John Knox (theologian – who’s actually buried in Edinburgh).
The Knox monument sits at the highest point in the Necropolis where you’ll get a fantastic panoramic view of the cathedral and the myriad adjoining streets, and if you want to find out about both Knox’s monument and all the other gravestones dotted about I recommend booking a 2-hour guided walking tour where you’ll learn lots of interesting facts about them.
I’ll give you a quick fact now so you’ve got something to impress the guide with. William Millar, the poet that penned the nursery rhyme Wee Willie Winkie is buried in the cemetery. See, I told you I’m full of useless facts.
The Riverside Museum of Transport
Address: Pointhouse Place, Glasgow, G3 8RS
My complete guide: A Guide to the Riverside Museum of Transport
I was debating about adding the Riverside Museum to this list as it’s an indoor attraction and this is an article about places to go in the summer, but I’m including it because it’s really, really good. And it’s completely free!
I guess I’m also including it because the museum is located right next to the River Clyde and it’s always nice to be near water when it’s hot, but this site has another much-appreciated bonus.
Moored up outside the museum is the Tall Ship, a fully restored 19th-century sailing ship that’s one of the last examples of a Clyde-built ship of that era that’s still afloat today.
The Tall Ship is a big vessel that’s full of fascinating maritime memorabilia and it’s worth making the journey to this part of Glasgow just to see it, especially as the floating attraction is also free. Honestly, it’s amazing how many of the best attractions in Glasgow cost nothing to visit.
Anyway, back to the Riverside Museum of Transport. This museum is dedicated to the world of transport (well yeah, obviously…) and it’s crammed to the rafters with every type of vehicle you can possibly think of.
From rollerskates to mopeds, sports cars to trains and everything in-between, the Riverside Museum transports you back in time to explore their origin and show you examples of each one.
During your visit you’ll see oddities like the Sinclair C5 and ultra-cool retro gear like the Raleigh Chopper, so your inner nerd will be well and truly treated with the exhibits on display.
If you’re a car fanatic (i.e. 90% of all men) you’ll love a visit to this museum mainly because they’ve got an entire wall-mounted display with some of the most iconic cars from the last hundred years or so on show.
The 1980s Porsche 911 had me practically drooling on the floor.
But the highlight is the recreation of an entire olde-worlde Glasgow street complete with shops, subway, and good-old-fashioned boozer. If they actually served beer in there I don’t think I’d have ever left.
Planning a trip to Scotland?
- Want a memento of your visit? Discover a range of quality Scottish gifts in my Etsy shop. Sale now on!
- Find hotels in Scotland and book your rental car.
- Explore the country with Rabbies small group coach tours and get cheap advance tickets for attractions.
- Learn about Scotland with a range of Amazon books and prepare for hikes with
Ordnance Survey maps.
- Before you explore the great outdoors get your rain gear in place and don’t forget to buy Smidge anti-midge repellent!