What are the top ten free things to do in Glasgow?

21 October 2016

When you visit Glasgow you’ll be amazed to find that all of the major museums and galleries can be visited for free. Glasgow is packed with loads of parks, buildings and events and you can enjoy them all – if you have time to pack them all in that is.

We’ve chosen a select few of the ones we think are not too be missed but the list goes way beyond this.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

One of Scotland's most popular attractions Kelvingrove has over 8000 items on display across 22 themed, galleries. The collections include natural history, arms and armour and periods of history to name just a few. Salvador Dali’s masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ is famously displayed at Kelvingrove as well as a Spitfire plane that hangs from the ceiling and Sir Roger the Asian elephant.

2. Gallery of Modern Art

The Gallery of Modern Art at Royal Exchange Square is Scotland's most visited art gallery. It’s the centre for Glasgow’s modern art collection and exhibits are shown by artists from across the globe and work is collected and borrowed so that the exhibitions change throughout the year.

3. Glasgow Cathedral

Built during the 13th-15th centuries and marking the birthplace of the city of Glasgow, the Cathedral is thought to have been built on the site of St Mungo’s tomb and is the only Cathedral in Scotland to survive the Reformation of 1560 intact. The magnificent medieval building has an amazing collection of stained glass and carved stone bosses on its ceiling.

4. Riverside Museum

At the Riverside Museum you can walk back in time as you stroll down an old cobbled street in Glasgow going in and out of shops from 1895 to the 1980s.

Home to some of the finest cars, trams, buses, trains and bicycles in the world you can spend a full day visiting all the exhibits. The winner of the European Museum of the Year in 2013 and located on the banks of the river Clyde you can also take the opportunity to visit the Tall Ship, Glenlee which is berthed outside. The Glenlee is the only floating sailing ship in the UK to be built on the Clyde itself.

5. Glasgow Botanic Gardens

A trip to Glasgow’s West End wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Botanic Gardens. Right by the River Kelvin you will encounter a huge array of plants, woodland and walks by the river.

Kibble Palace is also a must see. Built by John Kibble this beautiful glasshouse located within the Botanic Gardens is home to plants from tropical rainforests.

6. People's Palace & Winter Gardens

At Glasgow Green, the oldest public space in the city, you’ll find the People’s Palace. It tells Glasgow’s story giving you an insight into the city and its people going back as far as 1750. The Winter Gardens are filled with palms and plants and you can take it all in while visiting the café before stepping outside to see the Doulton Fountain. Recently restored the fountain has pride of place on the green.

The exhibitions at the People’s Palace include historic items, art, photographs, films and interactive displays. It’s a definite must see to learn more about how Glaswegians lived, worked and played.

7. Parks & Gardens

The Gaelic word for Glasgow, Glaschu, means “Dear Green Place” and with more than 90 public parks and gardens across the city it’s easy to see why. Despite being right in the city centre and amongst the hustle and bustle when you visit Glasgow you’re never far away from some green space and peace and quiet. The many parks have loads to offer and 8 of them were awarded the Green Flag Award in 2014 - the benchmark standard for UK parks.

Here’s a wee list of our favourites:

  • Glasgow Green
  • Kelvingrove Park
  • Pollok Country Park
  • Victoria Park
  • Tollcross Park
  • Queen’s Park

8. Glasgow Doors Open Days

An annual event each September, Glasgow Doors Open Days takes place across the city and allows free access to buildings that would normally be out of bounds or that would normally charge for the pleasure. Giving an insight into the city and its architecture and heritage you can also book tours and special events as part of this week long festival.

9. City Centre Mural Trail

Across the city you can’t help but notice huge pieces of art subtly embellishing some of Glasgow’s buildings. With street art in mind The City Centre Regeneration team have created a mural trail across the city for the first time allowing you to see all of the pieces of art on one easy walk.

The murals add amazing colour and detail to the buildings they decorate and provide artists with a space for their work to be shown.

Here’s the lineup:

  • The World's Most Economical Taxi - Mitchell Street
  • Honey, I Shrunk The Kids - Mitchell Street
  • Glasgow's Panda - Gordon Lane
  • Fellow Glasgow Residents - Ingram Street
  • Spaceman - New Wynd
  • Badminton Mural - Merchant City
  • Argyle Street Café - Argyle Street
  • Big Birds - Howard Street and Dunlop Street
  • Tiger Style - Clyde Street
  • The Charing Croc - North Street
  • The Swimmer - Kingston Bridge
  • The Gallery - Argyle Street
  • Hand Shadow Puppets - Cowcaddens
  • Strathclyde University Wonderwall
  • St Mungo - High Street
  • Musician - Sauchiehall Lane
  • Famous Faces - The Clutha Bar
  • Hip Hop Marionettes - John Street
  • Wind Power - Mitchell Street

10. Free Trails

If you’d like to explore the city on foot, there are a number of free walking trails that range from street art to Dr Who.

  • The Whovian Guide to Glasgow
  • Dr Baker’s Geek Guide to Glasgow
  • Glasgow Necropolis Heritage Trail

Glasgow is full of things to see and do during your stay and we know that you’ll enjoy every minute. For even more ideas than we’ve given you above check out Visit Scotland.

Please Note: All of our information is correct at the time of publishing