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5 Free Things To Do In Glasgow, Scotland - Updated 2020

free things to do in glasgow
Megan
Megan
Updated
Sumit Passary
Endorsed by Local Expert
Sumit Passary

Glasgow is a city of rich history, amazing architecture, great shopping, and unique food. It’s also a great city if you are traveling on a budget! Get a deeper glimpse into Glasgow’s culture and the history of Scotland, and have an all around good time, exploring these five free attractions, in Glasgow.

1. Visit the Glasgow Cathedral

The Glasgow Cathedral is also known as St. Mungo’s or St. Kentigern’s Cathedral and sometimes as the High Kirk of Glasgow. St. Mungo, also known as St. Kentigern, was a bishop in the 6th century and is attributed with being the founder of Glasgow. He is the patron saint of the city and the cathedral is built where St. Mungo is thought to have been buried and marks the place where Glasgow was born.

The cathedral itself was built during the 13th-15th centuries, replacing earlier wooden structures, consecrated in 1197. It has never been unroofed since that point and regular worship services are still carried out, inside. The cathedral survived the Protestant Reformation, in 1560, almost intact and thus remains one of the most complete medieval churches, on the Scottish mainland.

When you are here, visit the crypt of St. Mungo. The crypt was built in the mid-1200s, to house his tomb. At the east end of the crypt, there is an effigy of Bishop Wishart, a strong supporter of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, in the fight for Scottish independence. His body was entombed in 1316, though the tomb is unlabeled and has been damaged, likely during the Reformation. The pulpitum, which is a stone screen dividing the nave and the choir, was added to the cathedral, in the early 1400s. There is a small chapel that can be accessed from the cathedral’s nave. Look up at the ceiling to see brightly painted carved stone knobs (called bosses). Robert Blacader (or “Blackadder”), Archbishop of Glasgow in 1491, is responsible for the construction of this chapel, now known as Blackadder Aisle.

Glasgow Cathedral

Address: Castle St, Glasgow G4 0QZ, UK

Opening Hours: Differs from season to season, visit the website to find hours.

Contact: +44 141 552 8198

Website: Glasgow Cathedral

Travel tip by Glasgow Local Expert - Sumit
Posted on: Jan 08, 2020

Legend has it that the Glasgow Cathedral is where the city was founded. The Cathedral has some amazing stained glass works of which the Millennium Window by John Clark and the 1958 Creation Window by Francis Spear are well known. It will take you a 15-minute walk to get to the Cathedral  from St. George's Square.

Stained Glass Painting inside the Glasgow Cathedral
Stained Glass Painting inside the Glasgow Cathedral

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2. Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

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Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of the most visited museums in the United Kingdom, outside of London. It houses one of Europe’s greatest art collections, with works from Rembrandt to Monet and Van Gogh. You can find works by the Old Masters, French Impressionists, Dutch Renaissance and Scottish Colorists. The most famous painting on display is Salvador Dali’s “Christ of St. John of the Cross”. The museum also houses one of the finest collections of arms and armor in the world, along with a vast natural history collection. Sir Roger, the Asian elephant is one of the most popular items within the museum. Sir Roger used to tour the country with a traveling menagerie before becoming part of the Glasgow zoo. After his death in 1900, he was given to the Kelvingrove museum, for display.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

Address: Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG, UK

Opening Hours: 10am - 5pm (Monday - Thursday & Saturday), 11am - 5pm (Friday & Sunday)

Website: Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

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3. Riverside Museum

Glasgow tram in the Riverside Museum
Source: Photo by user Kim Traynor used under CC BY-SA 3.0


Set on the banks of the Clyde River, Glasgow’s Riverside Museum focuses primarily on transportation. You will find everything here, from bicycles to trains and vintage cars. You’ll even see things like prams and skateboards! There is an old cobbled Glasgow street that you can walk down, displaying shops from the late 1800s to the late 1900s. Outside the museum, you are free to enter the UK’s only floating Clyde-built sailing ship. The museum houses over 3,000 objects on display and is fairly interactive. It’s a great experience!

Riverside Museum

Address: 100 Pointhouse Place, Glasgow, G3 8RS

Opening Hours: 10am - 5pm (Monday - Thursday & Saturday), 11am - 5pm (Friday & Sunday)

Contact: +44 141 287 2720

Website: Riverside Museum

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4. St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art

St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art Glasgow
Source: Photo by user MSeses used under CC BY-SA 4.0

St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art is not about St. Mungo or only Scottish religious life, but it is a museum about religious life across the world and across time. Opened in 1993, this award-winning museum is one of the very few public museums of its kind. The main floor of the museum holds a gallery of religious art where you will see things like stained glass windows from Christian churches, Turkish prayer rugs, and statues of Hindu deities. The gallery of religious life explores various religious callings and duties. The museum presents similarities and differences of how different religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and more, approach common themes like birth, death, and marriage. The museum is set in a reconstruction of the bishop’s palace, which used to stand in the forecourt of the cathedral. There is a good view of the cathedral, from the third floor. The museum also has an excellent cafe, which leads out to the Zen garden.

St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art

Address: 2 Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0RH

Opening Hours: 10am - 5pm (Tuesday - Thursday & Saturday), 11am - 5pm (Friday & Sunday). Closed on Mondays.

Contact: +44 141 276 1625

Website: St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art

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5. Walk around the campus of Glasgow University

Glasgow University 3
Source: Photo by user Mike Peel used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Glasgow University was founded in 1451, making it the second oldest university, in Scotland. The University grounds are beautiful and the architecture is impressive. Simply walking and exploring is a great free activity here in Glasgow, especially on a day when the weather is nice. Specifically worth a look are the cloisters, which connect the East and West quadrangles, leading inside the University’s main building, the Gilbert Scott Building. They are quite impressive and have been seen in many TV shows and films. The University flagpole is a great spot to get some terrific views of the city. From there you can see Kelvingrove Park and the Kelvingrove Art Galley and Museum. There are even benches for you to relax and admire the view. To get to the flagpole, head to the cloisters, then to where the main tower is located. The Gilbert Scott Building is named after Sir George Gilbert Scott, who designed this building and many others in the late 1900s. You will see a plaque with the University’s motto (Via, Veritas, Vita) above the central doorway. The Memorial Chapel is another highlight of the campus. It was built as a memorial to the university members who died in the two world wars, completed in 1929.

The Memorial Chapel

Address: Main Building Gilmorehill Campus, University of Glasgow, Chapel Corridor (South), West Quadrangle, Glasgow G12 8QQ

Opening Hours: every weekday, 9:00am - 5:00pm

Contact: +44 (0) 141 330 1888

Website: The Memorial Chapel

The following content is contributed by Trip101 writer, Celeste

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Tour the Hunterian Art Gallery

Hunterian Art Gallery & Mackintosh House
Source: Photo by user Tom Parnell used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Hunterian Art Gallery is located within the University of Glasgow. If you’re making a trip to the campus, be sure to check out the gallery along Hillhead Street. Founded in the year 1807, this is Scotland’s oldest museum containing many valuable resources. You will find some of these collections in the gallery - scientific instruments, Roman artefacts, ethnographic objects, and the works of James McNeill Whistle, an American artist based mainly in the United Kingdom known for its paintings. If you’re interested in his work, look out for his collection named ‘Battersea Reach from Lindsay Houses’ which is a good reflection of his interest in the Far East.

Hunterian Art Gallery

Address: University of, 82 Hillhead St, Glasgow G12 8QQ, United Kingdom

Website: Hunterian Art Gallery

Opening hours: Temporarily closed

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Explore exhibitions at The Lighthouse

"The Lighthouse" (Glasgow) (3803685346)
Source: Photo by user Jean-Pierre Dalbéra used under CC BY 2.0

The Lighthouse located along 11 Mitchell Lane is situated at the heart of Glasgow. You will find this landmark as an anchor for the creative industries in Scotland. Its exhibitions and events are created around the theme of appreciating design and architecture as part of our daily lives. Apart from the gallery and exhibition spaces, The Lighthouse also has four levels of spaces which can be rented for events, receptions, and even as a wedding venue. There is also an on-site cafe named Doocot café with wholesome food choices. To get a stunning view of the city, you can head to the top of the building to access the viewing platform.

The Lighthouse

Address: 11 Mitchell Ln, Glasgow G1 3NU, United Kingdom

Website: The Lighthouse

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10:30am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm

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Learn the history of Glaswegians at People's Palace

Glasgow People's Palace Museum 02
Source: Photo by user MSeses used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Here’s the place to go to if you want to trace the history of Glasgow’s people from 1750. You will be able to catch a glimpse of history over the years via the artefacts, paintings, photographs, films, and interactive displays. People’s Palace is situated in Glasgow Green, a public park open for 24 hours and in front of the Doulton Fountain. The Single End is a fascinating exhibition you must not miss as you will be able to experience for yourself the living conditions of a 1930s working-class family. In case you’re wondering, this museum is also guide dog and wheelchair-friendly. (Editor please note: The Winter Gardens is closed for an unspecified period of time.)

People's Palace

Address: Greens, Templeton St, Glasgow G40 1AT, United Kingdom

Website: People’s Palace

Opening hours: Temporarily closed

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Take a walk at Kelvingrove Park

Kelvin Statue in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow
Source: Photo by user Lyndon Woytuck used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Done with your visit at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum? You’re right at Kelvingrove Park! Why not take a walk and enjoy some of your vacation time at one of Glasgow’s oldest public parks? Open for 24 hours, you will be sharing the space alongside the other runners and cyclists. The little ones can have some free time at the play areas in the East and West of the park. Cross the Prince of Wales Bridge and you can get to Kelvingrove Bandstand opened in 1924 located within the park. You will find yourself treading the grounds of the only original bandstand left in Glasgow!

Kelvingrove Park

Address: 6 Professors’ Square, Glasgow G3 6BY, United Kingdom

Website: Kelvingrove Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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Stroll at the Pollok Country Park

Pollok House, Pollok Country Park, Glasgow (7097919791)
Source: Photo by user dun_deagh used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Need another reason to visit a park in Glasgow? We’ve got you! Pollok Country Park is the place to go to if you want to witness for yourself why it was named Britain’s Best Park in 2007 and Best Park in Europe in 2008. Travellers who’ve gone before you have raved about the gardens around the Pollok House and spotted highland cows during their visits. Pollok House is a museum located within the country park holding collections of Spanish art pieces and period furniture. Pollok Country Park is slightly far off from central Glasgow but we think it’s worth every minute of your travelling time to get there.

Pollok Country Park

Address: 2060 Pollokshaws Rd, Bellahouston, Glasgow G43 1AT, United Kingdom

Website: Pollok Country Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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Admire the glasshouses at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Source: Geograph

As if we can’t get enough of greenery, here’s another garden in Glasgow, Scotland. Glasgow Botanic Gardens is well-known for its beautiful glasshouses. The nearest subway stop is Hillhead, a 5-minute walk to the gardens and Partick or Hyndland railway station is the closest to the grounds, at about 20 minutes by foot. We recommend getting there early to beat the crowd and enjoy a peaceful walk along the self-led trails. Glasgow Botanic Gardens is open from 7am and the glasshouses from 10am to 6pm. Need a little perk-me-up? Visit the Botanic Gardens Tearooms near Kibble Palace for some refreshments!

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Address: 730 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 0UE, United Kingdom

Website: Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Opening hours: 7am - dusk (daily)

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Take the road less travelled at Glasgow Necropolis

Glasgow Necropolis

We think it’s a perfect idea to connect your destinations while travelling. If you think so too, consider dropping by Glasgow Necropolis after visiting Glasgow Cathedral. The Victorian cemetery is a three-minute walk from the cathedral so it makes great sense to have one more destination ticked off your bucket list. Situated on a low hill, you will see for yourself the graves of about 50,000 individuals at Glasgow Necropolis. However, don’t be alarmed because not all monuments are named and some graves have missing stones. Keen to hear more about the history of these graves? You can book a walking tour in which all proceeds will go towards its restoration work.

Glasgow Necropolis

Address: Castle St, Glasgow G4 0UZ, United Kingdom

Website: Glasgow Necropolis

Opening hours: 7am - 4:30pm (daily)

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Appreciate temporary art at the Gallery of Modern Art

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art
Source: Photo by user Raymond McCrae used under CC BY 2.0

The Gallery of Modern Art is the go-to place for all things contemporary art in Glasgow, Scotland. You will have the chance to catch temporary exhibitions and attend workshops at the gallery along Queen Street. Tap on the range of free activities offered by the gallery that’s running till 2021! They include weekend guided tours, Saturday Art Club (for children aged 3 to 12 years old), and CommonSpace of community projects. There are five exhibition spaces in the Gallery of Modern Art so make sure you check out all five to see the existing displays during your specific time of visit.

Gallery of Modern Art

Address: 111 Queen St, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow G1 3AH, United Kingdom

Website: Gallery of Modern Art

Opening hours: Temporarily closed

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Connect with the plants at Kibble Palace

Inside Kibble Palace Glasshouse
Source: Photo by user GeeDave used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Remember the Glasgow Botanic Gardens we introduced to you earlier? Kibble Palace is situated right in the gardens and one of the main glasshouses travellers visit at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. This glasshouse was originally known as The Kibble Crystal Art Palace by its architects, John Boucher and James Cousland. Kibble Palace once closed in 2003 but thankfully reopened again in 2006 after undergoing a restoration process. Enjoy the wide display of tropical plants, ferns, and flowers from all around the world while you’re there! Some visitors have feedback that it can get quite hot during the day so do consider the time and season you’re visiting.

Kibble Palace

Address: Botanic Gardens, Glasgow G12 0UE, United Kingdom

Website: Kibble Palace

Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)

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The best things in life come free

Glasgow has so much to offer each and very visitor. These five attractions are great places to start getting your feet wet or to take a break to save some money, with some cool free sights. Either way, you’re sure to love the city and all it has to offer!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.
This article has been endorsed by Glasgow local expert Sumit Passary

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Megan is an avid explorer and food aficionado. She loves to see the world, experiencing different cultures & traditions. When she’s not off traveling, you’ll most likely find her tucked away with a...Read more

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