6 Fun and Free things to do in Glasgow :
Is Glasgow on your travel bucket list? If it isn’t then it should be. Glasgow has a working class charm and beauty unrivalled by any city you will visit. Its grand Victorian buildings invariably marked by “To Let” signs sit above a vibrant and complicated city.
Truly, the fantastic shopping, busy restaurants and happening music scene make Glasgow an exciting stop for any traveler. Glasgow definitely has an edgy, urban vibe that is infused with world class friendliness.
Perhaps Glasgow’s vibe relates to the fact that 11% of Glasgow’s population is enrolled in post-secondary education. 67,000 students, wow! As these students graduate and remain in Glasgow, the city’s cultural and urban sophistication only grows. Glasgow is clearly moving on from its shipbuilding days.
So when you’re in Glasgow and not enjoying the fine dining, shopping and nightlife, here are six fantastic and free things do in Glasgow. And hey… free is good right?
Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art
The Gallery of Modern Art opened in 1996 and occupies a beautiful neoclassical building in Royal Exchange Square right in the very heart of Glasgow. It’s hard to believe that this building was originally built as a home to a wealthy trader!
You won’t find any rich Glaswegian lounging in his robes any more, but amazing galleries, a café, a shop, a library and a tourist information centre. And since its free, visiting comes at no risk if you find our you’re not a fan of modern art!
How to get there: The Gallery of Modern Art is located in Royal Exchange Square right of Buchannan Street in central Glasgow. It’s an easy walk from both St. Enoch and Buchanan Street subway stations, as well as most downtown hotels.
University of Glasgow
It’s funny that universities in the UK seem to be tourist attractions as much as educational institutions. Glasgow University is no different. In addition to being one of the top Universities in Scotland, its grand buildings attract many tourists and photographers. The cloisters between the quadrangles in the main building are particularly popular with architecture or travel photographers, as well as fans of the TV series Outlander, amongst others.
If you are visiting the University of Glasgow, you should also stop at the Hunterian Museum. The Hunterian is Scotland’s oldest public museum. And, aside from the national museums, contains one of the most extensive collections of artifacts in Scotland.
How to get there: The closest subway stop to the University is Hillhead station. And if you can walk past all the great spots without stopping it should only take between 5 and 10 minutes. If your traveling from Glasgow’s centre by bus, then you will need the 4 and 4A.
Glasgow Cathedral is one of Scotland’s most significant medieval buildings and the only mainland cathedral to survive the reformation of 1560 with its roof!
It is built on the site where St Kentigern, or Mungo, is believed to have been buried in the year 612 so many consider this spot the birthplace of Glasgow. The building itself dates from the 13th – 15th centuries.
If you visit Glasgow Cathedral during the day, it is well worth a wander through the necropolis which is accessible by foot path located beside the church.
As well, the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art is located on Cathedral Square and contains a rich collection of artefacts and art that tell the story of religion in the lives of people over time. Make sure you stop by here as well.
How to get there: Glasgow Cathedral is located in the city centre, and is a short walk from Buchanan Street and Argyle Street. Glasgow Cathedral is a stop on the City Sightseeing bus tour or you can use buses 19, 19A, 38, 57 and 57A which all have a stop near the Cathedral.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum opened in 1901 as part the International Exhibition in Kelvingrove Park. Kelvingrove features red stonework and contains numerous display galleries. Its primary features include natural history, archeological and historical collections, as well as paintings from Scottish and European masters like Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh, amongst others. And it’s free!
And while this is one of the more visited museums in Scotland, it is much less crowded than similar museums in Edinburgh and London. You can even take a guided tour. For a guided tour just check with the Information Desk.
There is a lift on the left side of the main steps leading up to the main entrance which you can use if you have challenges with stairs or are pushing a big stroller. It’s actually not well marked and difficult to spot. Once inside there are elevators to the various floors which will help you get around.
How to get there: Kelvingrove is a quick walk from Kelvinhall subway station. Also nice is the 15 minute stroll through Kelvingrove Park on the way to Kelvingrove and to do that you jump off at the Kelvinbridge subway stop (plan for about 15 min).
Riverside Museum is one of those places you’re going to love. It’s all about transportation but it’s really not boring. In fact, it’s downright fun. The museum covers Glasgow’s distant past as a centre of shipping and takes you up to general developments in transportation on land into the 20th Century. Its collection includes everything from rare bicycles, cars and trains, to skateboards and all other manner of transportation.
This is a place the kids will absolutely love after seeing too many old castles, churches and art galleries.
How to get there: The nearest subway station for trains is Patrick Station, then it’s around a 10 minutes’ walk to Riverside Museum.
Clyde River Walk
The River Clyde cuts through the city and flows out to the Firth of Clyde. Significant redevelopment has occurred along the River Clyde in recent years. However, the location still feels disconnected from the actual city. That said, a walk along the Clyde is an amazing and unpretentious experience.
Among other attractions you will find the Riverside Museum, the Glasgow Science Centre, the Clyde Arc Bridge and BBC Scotland building. These beautiful modern buildings reflect a new and vibrant Glasgow.
More Information on where to Stay in Glasgow?
We stayed at the Jury’s Inn when we visited Glasgow. Jury’s Inn is not a luxury hotel but it is well located. It is next to the train station in the centre, steps from the River Clyde and a block from Buchanan Street and the subway station there. Also, its new and clean. And that’s not a bad thing.
Happy Holiday Shooting!