The most populous city in Scotland isn’t the country’s capital but a city located not too far to the west of Edinburgh in a region called the West Central Lowlands.
Located on the banks of the River Clyde, Glasgow grew from being a small village to the biggest seaport in Scotland and the 4th-most populous city in the United Kingdom.
The city quickly grew during the Industrial Revolution to become the “Second City of the British Empire” during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The metropolitan area in and around Glasgow is now home to over 1.8 million people.
This rapid expansion also resulted in Glasgow becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United Kingdom. Today, it’s the 5th-most visited city in the UK after London, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Birmingham.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the best things to do in Glasgow, attractions you simply must visit during your stay in the city.
1. Check out Saint Mungo’s tomb at Glasgow Cathedral
What better place to start your visit in Glasgow than the oldest structure in the city, right?
Glasgow Cathedral was built on the location that the patron saint and founder of Glasgow, Saint Mungo (518-614), was buried in the 7th century.
The current stone cathedral wasn’t erected until the 12th century and most of the structure’s features date back to construction projects completed in the 13th century.
The tomb of Saint Mungo is still located within the church, making it one of the most fascinating historic attractions in Glasgow.
Official website: Glasgow Cathedral
2. Discover more famous graves at the Glasgow Necropolis
The Glasgow Necropolis was constructed in the 19th century and was modeled on the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris which was opened at the beginning of the 19th century.
Just east of Glasgow Cathedral there’s a hill which features a large number of monuments. This is, in fact, a huge cemetery and the final resting place of over 50,000 people.
The cemetery can be accessed via a bridge called the “Bridge of Sighs,” not the be confused with the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy.
The cemetery is a popular attraction in Glasgow because it features over 3,500 monuments with most of the largest ones located near the end of winding uphill paths near the summit of the hill.
Official website: Glasgow Necropolis
3. Admire art at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was originally established in 1901 and has been completely renovated for 3 years starting in 2003.
Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland as it welcomes nearly 2 million visitors every year. It’s located at Argyle Street in the West End district of the city.
The collection of the museum is extremely varied, ranging from ancient artifacts to Renaissance and Impressionist paintings, all neatly exhibited in 22 different galleries.
An important note regarding this fascinating museum: it’s free to enter as well!
Official website: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
4. Visit the Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Just north of the historic building that houses the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum you can find another interesting tourist attraction in Glasgow, the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.
It features several fantastic greenhouses in which a wide variety of tropical flowers and herbs are grown. This remarkable attraction also features a rose garden that was opened in 2003 by Princess Tomohito of Mikasa, a member of the Japanese Imperial family.
The history of the botanic gardens dates back to the early 19th century and the facility was moved to its current location in 1842.
One of the most remarkable glasshouses on the site is the so-called “Kibble Palace,” named after the architect who designed it in the 19th century.
Official website: Glasgow Botanic Gardens
5. Stroll around George Square
Every major city in the world has one specific location that is considered to be its most important square. In Glasgow, this public square is called “George Square.”
It’s not as historically important as some of the medieval squares in some cities in Europe, but it’s lined with historically important buildings in the city.
Some of these include the Municipal Chambers, the City Chambers, and the Merchant’s House. all of these were built after the square was laid out in the late 18th century.
The square is also decorated with various statues and monuments dedicated to important people such as Robert Burns, James Watt, Sir Robert Peel, and Sir Walter Scott.
6. Explore ships and trains at the Riverside Museum
The Riverside Museum is the name of the building that houses the Glasgow Museum of Transport. It’s located at Pointhouse Quay in the Glasgow Harbour regeneration district, just west of the heart of the city.
Even though the museum only opened in the year 2011, it quickly became one of the most popular tourist attractions in Glasgow and now welcomes nearly 1.5 million visitors every year.
The main reason is the amazing collection of trains, vehicles, and even boats. The collection size of the museum exceeds 3,000 exhibits, which is quite fascinating.
The building itself was designed by renowned British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid (1950-2016) and its futuristic design is an amazing attraction in itself as well.
Official website: Riverside Museum
7. Learn about science at the Glasgow Science Center
On the opposite bank of the River Clyde in central Glasgow, you can find another attraction located in the Clyde Waterfront Regeneration area called the Glasgow Science Center.
The complex features 3 different buildings called the Science Mall, Glasgow Tower, and an IMAX cinema. This makes it one of the most-visited attractions in Glasgow.
The Science Mall is the largest of the 3 buildings and features interactive exhibits related to science. The Glasgow Tower is a tall observation tower that allows you to get stunning views of the city.
The complex opened its doors in the year 2001 and is operated and managed by a registered charity in Scotland.
Official website: Glasgow Science Center
8. Check Out The Nelson Monument and relax at Glasgow Green
Just south of Glasgow Cathedral, on the north banks of the River Clyde, you can find an amazing public park called Glasgow Green.
This park was established in the 15th century which makes it the oldest park in the city. It’s also pretty big as it covers an area of 55 hectares (136 acres) making it one of the most amazing places to relax in the heart of the city.
The most prominent landmark in the park is Nelson Column, a monument erected in honor of Admiral Horatio Nelson who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
It was the first monument dedicated to Nelson erected as it was completed less than a year following the battle in 1806. That’s almost 4 decades earlier than the most famous one, Nelson’s Column located on Trafalgar Square in London.
9. Shop and dine at Buchanan Street
Every major city has a major shopping street as well, and in Glasgow, this street is called Buchanan Street. It runs from north to south, right to the heart of the city.
This major thoroughfare in Glasgow is lined with upscale stores. It was established in the year 1777 and named after a rich tobacco plantation owner named Andrew Buchanan (1690-1757).
You can find all the biggest brands in this street and the stores have to spend quite some money for rent, making it the 6th-most expansive shopping street for retailers in the United Kingdom.
It’s also one of the busiest shopping streets in the UK as only Oxford Street in London is considered to be more crowded. This street has helped to establish Glasgow as the second-most important shopping destination in the UK as well.
10. Visit Hampden Park and the Scottish Football Museum
Glasgow is the city famous for the Old Firm, the legendary battle between the two biggest football clubs in the city, Celtic Glasgow and the Glasgow Rangers.
The home stadium of the Scottish national football team is called Hampden Park. It’s also home to a museum dedicated to the history of football in the country called the Scottish Football Museum.
If you have a chance to visit Glasgow while there’s an Old Firm game scheduled, then you must get tickets for it as the atmosphere is electrifying.
If not, you can book a stadium tour at Hampden Park and visit the Scottish Football Museum at the same time. Both are amazing experiences for football lovers, that’s for sure.
Official website: Scottish Football Museum