Whether you’ve just newly moved to the city, or are a veteran Glaswegian, it’s always fun to be a tourist. So, whatever your experience, here are six day-trip ideas for exploring what Glasgow’s cultural scene has to offer. Plus, they’re all free!
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of the best free attractions in Glasgow. Situated at the edge of Kelvingrove Park nearby the river, the Museum boasts an impressive collection of over 8000 objects ranging vastly in theme and time period. Some highlights include Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross, the Floating Heads Installation by Sophie Cave and the fossil remains of a Giant Irish Deer. As well as year-round free access to the Museum and Gallery, Kelvingrove also hosts Organ Recitals 1:00pm every Monday-Saturday and on 3:00pm on Sundays. For budding creatives, Drawing and Painting Studio Glasgow also run regular and relaxed sketching sessions of the museum artefacts – ‘from curious oddities to elegant objects!’
This famous historical landmark serves as Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture and was the first public commission completed by renowned architect and innovator, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This visitor centre and exhibition space can be found in the heart of the town centre and its 162-step tower boasts impressive, 360 views of the whole city.
Loved by students, dog-owners, families, locals and the odd slack-liner alike, Kelvingrove Park is the green hub of the West End. Take a walk along the Kelvin River and soak up the happy buzz of this wonderful, open space, teeming with activity whatever the weather. During summertime, students escape the library and descend on Kelvingrove, Tesco BBQs and tinnies in hand; while during the winter months, the hilly landscape of the park is often used for sledging. After Glasgow hosted the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and as part of the city’s continuing commitment to widen community access to sport and recreation, you can also make use of the park’s bowls and tennis courts free of charge!
Glasgow Botanic Gardens are a beautiful and tranquil place to spend a free afternoon (or even better, a hungover morning). Over 200 years old, the Botanic Gardens house an array of exotic plants and flowers and contains a detailed walking exhibition in the most famous greenhouse, Kibble Palace, about historical life in Glasgow. Theatre-fans might also enjoy the annual ‘Bard in the Botanics’ event where a Shakespeare play is performed open-air in the garden grounds.
One very unique feature about the University of Glasgow is that, unlike most other universities, it is home a fully-fledged museum on campus! The Hunterian takes its name from the famous doctor and avid collector William Hunter (1718-1783), a Glasgow local and University alumnus who funded the museum’s construction in 1807 and supplied a vast amount of its display items. The Hunterian is Scotland’s oldest public museum and hosts one of the largest collections outside the National Museums. In 2011, The Hunterian also started running the MUSE (Museum Student Educators) programme which enlists UofG students of any discipline or level of study to run 30-minute tours of the collection and offering a unique interpretative perspective for visitors.
Pollock Country Park
Although not in the West End, Pollock Country Park is well worth the short bus/train journey to the South Side. As well as being the largest park in Glasgow, Pollock Country Park is also rich in rural history and is home to the internationally renowned Burrell Collection. The park is a lovely way to get out of the West-End bubble without breaking the bank with return tickets on public transport coming in at under a fiver.
Beth Leishman, Lifestyle editor