Jun 23, 2022
Glasgow is Scotland’s most populous city, and its people are famed for their warm and welcoming spirit. Use our ultimate guide to find things to do in Glasgow, fun facts, travel tips, activities, places to eat and drink, and much more if you’re hoping for a holiday that offers you plenty of chances to make lasting memories. Our guide covers:
The guide can be viewed below and also download at this link, and taken with you wherever you go. We hope it helps you make the most of your time in Glasgow. Thanks for reading!
Let’s start by whetting your appetite with a few fun facts and things to know about Glasgow.
Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city
You’d think the capital Edinburgh would be Scotland’s largest city, but Glasgow lays claim to that crown. More than 600,000 people call this city home.
Legend says the patron saint of salmon founded Glasgow
According to legend, St Mungo, the patron saint of salmon (yes, the fish) was Glasgow’s founder. However, history tells a different story. There was a settlement on the banks of the Clyde in prehistoric times. The area was also known to the Romans, who built several outposts to prevent Pict incursions into their territory further south.
Some tree stumps in Glasgow are older than the dinosaurs
You’ll find 11 special tree stumps in Victoria Park’s Fossil Grove. Discovered during quarry excavations in 1887, the fossilised stumps have been dated to the Carboniferous period, which makes them 300 million years old. That’s twice as old as the dinosaurs!
Chicken tikka masala was invented in Glasgow
If you love South Asian food, you’ve probably encountered chicken tikka masala. The thing is that the dish isn’t truly South Asian. A British Bangladeshi chef named Ali Ahmed Aslam invented it in his restaurant in the city after a customer complained that the chicken curry was too dry.
St Valentine’s relics are in Glasgow
The reputed remains of the early Christian martyr whose name has become synonymous with love and romance were gifted to the Franciscan Church of Blessed St John Duns Scotus in 1868. The friars at the church decorate the reliquary with flowers and pray for lovers on 14 February every year.
Use the following travel tips to make your stay in Glasgow easier, smoother, and more budget friendly.
Take the bus from the airport to the city centre for a cheaper option: Bus 77 from the airport to the city centre might be slower than other transport options, but it’s by far the cheapest. Take the bus if you want to save a few pounds for an extra treat. Bus 77’s also the more convenient option if you’re staying in the city’s West End, as the faster Airport Bus doesn’t stop there on route to the city centre.
Ensure you have exact change when taking the bus: Not all bus drivers give change, so make sure you have the exact amount of money for your fare when taking the bus if you’re planning to use cash. However, most buses and transport will accept contactless payments from either a card or your phone which can be much easier.
Walk in the city centre, Merchant City, and West End: Glasgow is wonderfully walkable. If you’re concentrating on activities and things to do in Glasgow’s city centre, Merchant City, and West End, try to walk as much as possible. Fraser Suites is very close to Merchant City, with just a 15 minute walk to the infamous style mile, Buchanan Street.
Call private taxis in advance to save money: Although you need to call and book private taxis in advance, they are much cheaper than the black cabs you can flag in the streets.
Pay attention to which bus company you use: Various companies operate bus services in Glasgow, so take note of which company you use when buying tickets, as you generally cannot use a ticket from one company on a competitor’s buses.
The best time to visit Glasgow is between March and August when temperatures reach their peak and daylight hours are long. Bear in mind that June and July can be particularly busy months, which means crowds and queues at most of the best things to do in Glasgow.
On the flip side, the autumn, winter, and early spring months from September through February are characterized by bitterly cold and short days. The good news is that there are fewer tourists in the city and there’s no better feeling than coming in from the cold after a busy day out so time to wrap up warm and explore!
If you’re a city lover, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Glasgow. Check out our top picks.
Explore the Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis: If you’re looking for an atmosphere unlike any other, head to the Glasgow Cathedral and neighbouring Necropolis. Consecrated in 1197, the cathedral is one of the finest examples of Scottish gothic architecture, and it boasts one of the most spell-binding collections of post-War stained-glass windows in the UK. The Necropolis is an eerily beautiful cemetery that dates back to 1833. The cemetery was inspired by Paris’ Père Lachaise.
Stroll through Pollock Country Park: A mere 10 minutes from the city centre, Pollock Country Park is the perfect spot for a stroll through the idyllic countryside before seeing Pollock House’s collections of ceramics, silverware, fine art, Spanish paintings, and antique furniture.
See the Finnieston Crane on the Clyde: Once used in Glasgow’s famous shipyards, the giant Finnieston Crane is no longer in use. See it standing proudly on the bank of the Clyde as a powerful symbol of the city’s proud engineering heritage.
Follow the City Centre Mural Trail: Glasgow is home to some truly spectacular street art, and, thanks to the City Centre Mural Trail, you don’t need a guide to find it. Follow the trail to see works such as Smug’s St Mungo mural and the Billy Connolly murals by Rachel Maclean, Jack Vettriano, and John Byrne.
Tour Clydeside Distillery: Housed in the former Queen’s Dock Pumphouse, the Clydeside Distillery is Glasgow’s first single malt whisky distillery in a century. Choose a chocolate and whisky guided tour to see the facility, learn how whisky is made, and then sample single malts that have been paired carefully with handcrafted artisanal chocolates from Sugar Wings of Glasgow.
Are you headed to the Dear Green Place with the special person in your life? Here are a few romantic things to do in Glasgow.
Enjoy a fun date together at M&D’s Scotland’s Theme Park: Head to M&D’s Scotland’s Theme Park for some good old-fashioned fun times. You’ll find attractions such as Devil’s Island Adventure Golf, Cosmic Bowl 10-pin bowling, Diamond Lil’s snooker and pool lounge, rides such as Runaway Mine Train, White Water, and Moby’s Revenge, as well as games, beer gardens, and restaurants.
Have afternoon tea at the Willow Tea Rooms: Treat yourselves to a delicious traditional, savoury, or luxury afternoon tea at the iconic Willow Tea Rooms. If sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, shortbread, and other goodies can’t tempt you, try some of the establishment’s traditional Scottish fare.
Take in a show at the Pavilion Theatre: The Pavilion Theatre opened as a music hall in 1904, making it one of Glasgow’s oldest theatres. The wide variety of shows come to the theatre, from serious dramatic productions to musicals, and from alternative comedy to pantomime. See a show and enjoy the ambience of this grand old building.
Stroll through Glasgow Botanic Gardens: Home to a stunning collection of temperate and tropical plants and trees in outdoor plantings and greenhouses, the Glasgow Botanic Gardens is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll. Bring your visit to an end with a warm beverage in the gardens’ tearooms.
Explore Ashton Lane and have a romantic lunch or dinner: A cobbled backstreet in Glasgow’s West End, Ashton Lane is lined with cosy bars and great restaurants – and it even boasts a licensed cinema. Take a slow walk down Ashton Lane, enjoy a blockbuster or art-house film, and then find a restaurant for a romantic lunch or dinner together.
Glasgow oozes family-friendly vibes, making it a great place to spend quality time with your partner and kids. Take a look at a few cool things to do in Glasgow with teenagers and children.
Go on a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour: A hop-on hop-off bus tour is one of the best ways to see the sights of Glasgow with your family. You can hop off the bus and explore attractions that interest you before hopping on another of the buses and continuing your journey. The open top deck adds even more fun to the experience.
Ascend the Glasgow Tower: The Glasgow Tower officially is the world’s tallest fully rotating freestanding structure. Getting to the top takes only 2.5 minutes, and once there, you can enjoy eye-popping views of the city and the River Clyde. You’ll also have the chance to learn about the city’s history and the site on which the tower was built.
Take a day trip to Stirling Castle: One of Scotland’s largest and most important castles, Stirling Castle is a 45-minute journey from Glasgow, making it a doable day trip. The sections of the castle that are open to the public have been restored and decorated, and they house items and exhibitions that let you step back in time to the days of Scotland’s Renaissance kings and queens.
Learn more about the beautiful game at the Scottish Football Museum: If your partner and/or children are footie fanatics, be sure to visit the Scottish Football Museum in Hampden Park. You’ll find more than 2,000 objects of football memorabilia, and you have the option of touring Hampden Park Stadium.
Visit the Riverside Museum and the Tall Ship: Gain fascinating insights into Glasgow’s days as a maritime powerhouse and learn about various methods of transport at the state-of-the-art Riverside Museum. After exploring the museum’s enthralling exhibits and displays, head to the Tall Ship and find out what life was like on a historical vessel that circumnavigated the globe several times. Entry to both is free (although donations are welcome).
For city with so proud and powerful an industrial heritage, Glasgow and surrounds certainly have much to offer the nature enthusiast. Discover some of the best things to do in Glasgow for nature lovers.
Marvel at the beauty of Finnich Glen: Located a half-hour’s drive from Glasgow, Finnich Glen is a unique natural attraction in Scotland. The steep gorge carved out of red sandstone by the Carnock Burn, the glen is renowned for its otherworldly beauty and strange rock formations such as the Devil’s Pulpit. Be prepared for an adventure, though. Some of the 200-year-old stone steps used to access the glen are crumbling and broken, and if you want to explore the glen, you’ll need to wade in the brook. Wear rubber boots, if possible, and behave as respectfully of the land as possible. Don’t go to the glen in wet weather as you’ll find the water higher and difficult to traverse.
Discover the Hidden Gardens: An urban garden dedicated to peace on the site of a former tree nursery and tram works and depot in Pollokshields, the Hidden Gardens is an inspiring place. In addition to spacious lawns, you’ll find trees and wildflowers, and an ornamental kitchen garden on what was industrial wasteland. Check the Hidden Gardens website to see if the space is hosting any exciting events while you’re in Glasgow.
Explore Linn Park: Glasgow’s third largest park, Linn Park invites exploration. See the remains of Cathcart Castle, stroll past the old Linn House mansion, photograph the picturesque Half Penny Bridge, and be delighted by the waterfall on the river.
Enjoy a day trip to Loch Lomond: A 45-minute journey from Glasgow is all it takes to reach Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The freshwater loch is located on the Highland Boundary Fault, which is where the famous Highlands begin. Great Britain’s largest lake by surface area, Loch Lomond contains many islands. Explore the bonnie banks and go for a boat ride on the loch.
Visit Victoria Park and Fossil Grove: Wander through Victoria Park, where you’ll find a pond with two islands (one of them is connected to the bank by bridges), memorials, a miniature lamp post clock, Scotland’s most northerly parakeet flock, the Victorian Jubilee Gates, and Fossil Grove. See the ancient tree stumps mentioned above for yourself!
Glasgow is a veritable hotbed of cultural activities and events. Here’s a good sampling of some of the best cultural things to do in Glasgow.
See the Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery: Travel 20 minutes northwest from the city centre along the Clyde to reach the Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery. Explore permanent and temporary exhibitions that offer insights into Clydebank’s industrial heritage.
Visit the Dalgarven Mill Museum of Country Life & Costume: See what rural life and industry was like in the Victorian era by visiting the Dalgarven Mill Museum of Country Life & Costume, halfway between Kilwinning and Dalry. After a 40-minute drive southwest of Glasgow city centre, you’ll find yourself in a bucolic setting. The historic grain mill was built in 1880, and it features Scotland’s last working water wheel, powered by the river Garnock. Explore the granaries on three floors to learn more about the lives of farmers and associated trades in the past. You’ll also find a collection of costumes dating from 1775 to the present day. After your explorations, go for a river walk, and then refuel with coffee and home baking or a light lunch at the Miller’s Coffee Room.
Tour the Glasgow School of Art: Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Glasgow School of Art is a must. Mackintosh was Britain’s chief proponent of art nouveau in the late 19th- and early 20th-century. Many students offer guided tours of this beautiful building, and if you’re lucky, you’ll also have the opportunity to see a few of their exhibitions.
Make your way to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum: Immerse yourself in amazing art and incredible history at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. A perennial favourite among locals and visitors, Kelvingrove has something to interest almost everyone. A few highlights include Salvador Dali’s surreal Christ of St John of the Cross, the magnificent Kelvingrove Organ, a 1944-built Spitfire LA198, the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin stained-glass window, Vincent van Gogh’s portrait of Alexander Reid (1887), and the reconstructed Ladies Luncheon Room from the Ingram Street Tearooms with furniture, decorative panels, and light fittings designed by Mackintosh.
Have a drink at Drygate Brewery: Glaswegians are known for their merriment and hospitality, so you’ll find plenty of pubs and breweries around the city. Drygate Brewery, an experimental microbrewery, beer hall, and restaurant, is one of the best. Explore the time-honoured tradition of brewing beer on a tour of the place, enjoy a hearty meal, and quaff a pint or two. Try to time your visit with one of the musical or comedy events Drygate hosts on a regular basis.
You’ll find great events throughout the year, which means you can time your holiday to coincide with all sorts of fun things to do in Glasgow. Here’s our pick of some of the best annual events.
Burns Night: Held on 25 January every year, Burns Night is one of Scotland’s iconic cultural celebrations. The event commemorates radical poet Robert Burns, and it usually involves traditional Scottish fare such as haggis with neeps and tatties, drams of whisky, and all sorts of revelry. You’ll find concerts by pop bands, rock bands, and traditional music artists, as well as a host of other events where you can party the night away.
Celtic Connections: Held in January/February, Celtic Connections is one of the UK’s premier celebrations of Celtic music. You’ll find hundreds of concerts, ceilidhs, late night sessions, talks, workshops, and other events to choose from. Performers include those who focus on traditional Scottish music, as well as international folk, roots, and world music artists.
Glasgow Jazz Festival: If you love to bop along to jazzy music, make sure you’re in town for the Glasgow Jazz Festival. The annual event takes place in Merchant City in June, and it attracts jazz musicians from around the UK and further afield. In addition to the headline acts you can see at the open-air main stage in George Square, you’ll find fringe artists performing at many restaurants, bars, and pubs in the city.
Glasgow International Piping Festival: Also known as Piping Live, the Glasgow International Piping Festival is a celebration of bagpipes and piping culture. Held annually in August, the festival offers performances, bands, recitals, street cafes, and much more.
Clydebuilt Festival: September’s Clydebuilt Festival is a celebration of the river Clyde and the area’s shipbuilding heritage. Watch boats being launched, cheer competitors in Scotland’s biggest open water rowing race (Castle to Crane), shop for arts and crafts, sing along to old sea shanties, and enjoy a few pints of beer with friendly people in a festive atmosphere.
You can choose from various options to get from Glasgow Airport to the city centre. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Bus: As mentioned in our travel tips above, Bus 77 is the cheapest option for getting from the airport to the city centre or to the West End. A single one-way adult ticket costs £4.95. Bear in mind that the journey usually takes longer than an hour. Alternatively, take the Glasgow Airport Express service 500 for a faster journey at £8.50 per adult for a single ticket and £4.50 per child.
Train: There isn’t a train station at the Glasgow Airport, so if you want to travel by rail to the city centre, you’ll need to take the McGill’s 757 bus to Paisley Gilmour Street Station, which is just over a mile (1.6km) from the terminal. You can take the train from Paisley Gilmour Street to Glasgow Central Station. The train journey takes approximately 13 minutes, and tickets cost £2.15.
Taxi: You’ll find taxis waiting outside the door of the airport. With more than 180 taxis in the fleet, there’s no need for you to book in advance. Please note that taxis are one of the more expensive options.
Car: If you hire a car at one of the agencies at Glasgow Airport and you want to drive to the city centre, take the M8 to Glasgow. Take the M74 exit from the M8, and then continue on the A8. Take King Street and Albion Street to National Bank Lane. The journey should take approximately 20 minutes.
Glasgow’s rather compact, as far as cities go, so it’s easy to get around, regardless of your preferred means of transport. It should also be easy for you to find your way around the Dear Green Place.
Walk: Glasgow’s city centre is especially walkable. If possible, try to walk around the city and enjoy its atmosphere and architecture.
Bicycle: If Glasgow is especially walkable, it’s also great for cycling. OVO Bikes operates a fantastic bicycle hire scheme. You’ll need to download the app and register before renting one of the bicycles parked in various locations around the city. Scan the QR code or enter the number displayed on the bike or e-bike. The framelock will release, and you can pedal away to your heart’s content. The app also has park and return options, so you can lock the bike when parking it or returning it to an official station.
Underground Railway: Glasgow’s underground is known as the Clockwork Orange, due to the regularity of its orange trains. Trains run every 4 minutes during peak times, and it takes a mere 24 minutes to complete the 15-station circuit. You can purchase single tickets or a Subway Smartcard that offers better prices and can be topped up.
Train: Glasgow Central Station links the city with the south, and Glasgow Queen Street Station links the city with Edinburgh and the north. You can walk or take the bus from Glasgow Central to Queen Street or vice versa if you need to travel from one station to the other. Purchase a Roundabout ticket for unlimited one-day travel on ScotRail trains and the underground to more than 110 stations in the Greater Glasgow area.
Bus: Buses are a convenient method of transport in Glasgow, as First Bus Glasgow operates more than 80 routes across the city. Choose from a variety of tickets, such as day tickets offering unlimited travel within a specified area, and weekly tickets that are ideal for longer stays.
Taxi: Glasgow Taxis operates 5- and 6-seater cabs in and around the city. You can flag down a taxi on the street if its yellow light is on.
Located in a lovingly renovated 1850s building in Merchant City, Fraser Suites Glasgow is the ideal place to base yourself when you’re visiting this vibrant city. Our elegantly designed Gold Standard studios and one- and two-bedroom serviced apartments place you in the heart of Glasgow’s cultural quarter, where you’ll find art galleries, museums, other attractions, and fantastic nightlife. Stay at Fraser Suites Glasgow and enjoy a holiday you’ll never forget.