Want to get the most out of your city trip to Glasgow? Here are my 50 super useful travel tips for Glasgow that will ensure your trip is a winner!
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10 Fun & Free Things to do in Glasgow

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Visiting Scotland can burn quite a hole into your wallet – even if the British Pound is at a historical low point at the moment. Still, eating out is more expensive and so is beer, hotel rates can be really high, especially during the summer and holiday season, and whether you buy train tickets or rent a car you won’t always get away with a super cheap deal. And then you have all the admission fees for castles and whisky distilleries. The good news is that you can easily save some pennies, especially when you visit the less touristy city of Glasgow! Here are my top 10 fun and free things to do in Glasgow.

And the best thing? Seven of these 10 double up as awesome activities for rainy days!

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!

1) Explore the Botanical Garden

When I first moved to Glasgow I lived in the northwest of the West End. Every day I would walk to uni through the Botanical Garden, and often stop by the glasshouses for a break from the cold. It is still one of my favourite places in town, and a must see when you visit Glasgow as well!

The Botanical Garden lies just a 10-minute walk away from the subway station Hillhead and is a good spot to visit even when it’s raining. One the one hand green is always more beautiful when it’s wet in the air; and on the other hand there are two large glasshouses which free to enter. The round and white Victorian glasshouse is one of the best spots to come for a picnic lunch, or just a relaxing break sitting on a bench. The plants are split up in geographical sections and if you want to learn more, take a look at the signposts in between them.

The second glasshouse is a bit bigger, and certainly more diverse. It lies a bit further up the hill. You enter at the top and make your way from one section to the next. Each room represents a different climate, from arid desert plants to a lush rain forest – which is no doubt my favourite.

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!


2) Visit the Gallery of Modern Art

Like most museums in Glasgow the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is free to enter any day of the week! You might know it better from the outside than the inside, as this is where the iconic Duke of Wellington statue resides – yes, the one with the traffic cone on its head. Only in Glasgow…

Anyway, the museum itself is great and always offers a variety of local and international artists, and some quirky items in the museum shop!

Top tip: If you’re hungry for sweeties, check out Patisserie Florentine on the right side of the square! For drinks head to Max’s Bar further down on Queen Street to the left and try an Espresso Martini.

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!


3) Kelvingrove Park & Art Gallery

The green heart of the city’s West End is Kelvingrove Park, a huge Victorian park which is cut through by the River Kelvin and offers amazing views up towards the University’s bell tower. There is a really nice cafe by the playground in the far back corner of the park, as well as a big meadow where the locals come to sit in the sun during the summer, or sled downhill during the winter.

For an eclectic, yet impressive museum experience head to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery where you can see everything from dinosaur bones to a painting by Salvador Dali.

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!


4) A Walk by the Riverside

On a sunny day – yes, even Glasgow does get some sun – there is nothing better than a walk along the Clyde’s Riverside. You could also rent a city bike and cycle all the way from Glasgow Green to the Harbour – the first 30 minutes of your ride are free if you have an annual subscription; otherwise it’s £1 for 30 minutes.

Walking along the river will bring you past the many beautiful bridges across the Clyde – they don’t say ‘Glasgow made the Clyde and the Clyde made Glasgow’ for nothing. One of them is the quirky Clyde Arc, or Squinty Bridge, in Finnieston which was opened in 2006. Close by is the Hydro, Glasgow’s major concert venue, the SECC Conference Centre, the Armadillo auditorium and the Glasgow Science Centre on the other side of the river.

End your walk with a visit to the Riverside Museum, a transport museum that was designed by the world-famous architect Zaha Hadid, and a tour around the Tall Ship museum. Both are free to enter!

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!


5) Necropolis

It might sound a bit morbid to visit a cemetery during your holidays, but the Necropolis – Glasgow’s unique Victorian cemetery – is worth to go that one step further. Not only are some of the graves of such intrinsic detail and beauty, you also get a fantastic view over Glasgow Cathedral and the rest of the city!

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!


6) Free tour of the City Chambers

I actually still haven’t done this tour – one more thing to put on my to do list for the next rainy day – but I’ve heard that the interior of Glasgow’s City Chambers falls nothing short of its magnificent exterior!

The tour is free of charge and takes place twice a day from Monday to Friday. No pre-bookings are required!

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!


7) The Barras

Should you find yourself in Glasgow on a sunny Saturday, why not spend the day in the East End? The Barras is one of Glasgow’s few remaining markets and is most likely to experience the Glaswegian vibe in the most authentic way.

Read up on more ideas on how to spend a day in the East End of Glasgow, including more info about The Barras!

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!


8) Pretend you’re Harry Potter Hermione Granger at UofG

I might be biased, because I study here, but if you ask me, the University of Glasgow is the most beautiful out of all the universities in Glasgow – and there are quite a few. Where else can you pretend that you’re enrolled in Hogwarts and work on your PhD thesis in Muggle Studies with a focus on film festival culture?!

The university is a great photo spot – also with great views across to the Kelvingrove Museum – and there are two museums on site, should you fancy learning a bit more about the university’s collections (The Hunterian) or the designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh (The Mackintosh House).

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul! Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!


9) Do a self-guided street art tour

You can’t compare the street art in Glasgow to the likes of Berlin, London or New York, but there are several large-scale murals  spread out across the city centre. Together they make up the Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail.

You can pick up a brochure at the Visit Scotland office in town, or download it here.

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!


10) The Lighthouse

Before you get too excited – there is of course no real lighthouse in Glasgow. The Lighthouse is rather a design and architecture centre with many collections and exhibitions featuring more work by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and a great little museum shop. From the third floor you can access the viewing tower, which sits high about the city centre – hence the name.

Note, that you have to climb quite a lot of stairs to reach the top, but the views are SO worth it!

Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul! Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!

What I love about Glasgow so much is that it is not a city designed for tourists, but rather for its locals. Hence, most of its attractions are public and you hardly ever run out of free things to do in Glasgow!

Are you curious what else awaits you in Glasgow?


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Traveling to Scotland can burn a big hole in your wallet - but luckily there are so many free things to do in Glasgow that are fun and good for the soul!

All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.

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10 Comments

  1. There is a high possibility that I will move to Glasgow from March to June in order to do a practical training at the Queen Elizabeth hospital. Do you have any suggestions on where to look for a room in a shared flat (website and area of town)? Which part of town is fun to live in? 🙂

    • I’d check out Gumtree.co.uk to find a flat, as most agencies list their properties there, but also private landlords – for the hospital it’s probably good to look in the Southside around Cessnock, Kinning Park, or even the West End (areas: Charing Cross, Finniston, Anderston), as connections are better from there. The West End is where many students live, but it’s a bit pricier. The Southside (south of the river Clyde) is also great though – lots of young people move there! Particularly the areas of Kinning Park, Pollokshields, Pollokshaws, Shawlands, Govanhill, Mount Florida and Battlefield are quite popular and there are loads of restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes there! Dennistoun in the East End is also very cool, but probably a bit less well-connected to the hospital! Hope this helps 🙂

  2. These photos are incredible! I hope to visit Glasgow one day…I’m also considering UofG for my masters…what do you think of the school?

    • Hi Alex, thanks for your comment! I’m really happy at UofG! I did my masters here and after a year’s break went on to my PhD. I love all the staff at my department – they are very approachable and helpful, and really take an interest in my research. It was actually several members of staff who encouraged me to apply for a PhD! The uni itself is great as well – good infrastructure, loads of clubs and societies and many opportunities to get involved with projects around the city! What are you thinking of studying?

  3. I adore Glasgow and by extension Glaswegians. My first experience of Scotland was visiting friends in Clydebank and listening to my Canadian Glaswegian “family” re-live their memories of the place. After visiting I was hooked and will be back many times. Thanks for both the memories and the ideas.

    • Thanks for your comments! I love your story – I would love to learn more about the history of Glasgow and the surrounding areas!

  4. I agree with you that Glasgow is absolutely worth visiting, liked the city a lot when I was there.. but in all fairness, if you only have a limited amount of time to spend in Scotland, I would always pick the Highlands over Glasgow 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment! If I was this pressed for time, I’d probably rather spend at least the evening in Glasgow (instead of Edinburgh) because the music and food scene in Glasgow are totally worth it 🙂

  5. Awesome! I don’t know much about Glasgow but these all sound right up my alley, especially the Barras + that gorgeous-looking cemetery. Love the photos!

    • Thanks for your comment Robin! The Barras is such a fun experience – and you can make some great bargains! Hope you make it to Glasgow one day 🙂

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