It always makes me happy when far-flung friends, friends of friends and ‘internet friends’ decide to visit Glasgow and see for themselves the city that I’m always talking up so much.
Of course, I can never resist sharing a few ideas on how to spend an hour, a day or even a long weekend and, before I know it, I’ve emailed a list as long as my arm! But, more recently, I’ve been asked for budget-friendly activities from people looking to get a taste of Glasgow for little to no expense at all.
Never one to turn down a challenge, it got me thinking about how much there is to see and do here. I wondered if I could come up with a list of completely free things to do in Glasgow, so that no matter what your budget, and whether you’re local or a visitor, you’re guaranteed to have fun!
So, put your wallet away – this one’s on me…
Tour some street art. This city is bursting with talented local artists and you can find their work brightening up quiet corners, vacant buildings and some of Glasgow’s most historic streets with splashes of colour, humour and heart. You can discover them for yourself while out and about or hit the mural trail and catch ’em all, Pokemon-style! See the full trail and map guide here.
Live that park life. A Blur reference? REALLY? Oh, just go with it! As well as there being a ton of city streets to stomp around, Glasgow is also home to some beautiful green spaces and parks that you just have to see. A summer afternoon at Kelvingrove Park is hard to beat, though a Saturday morning seeing the ducks quacking around Queen’s Park is a contender. Picturesque, sprawling and free of charge, what more do you need?
Take in some views. Speaking of Queen’s Park, you can stroll / be pushed up the hill towards the viewing platform, which gives some amazing views of the Southside, the Clyde Valley and The Trossachs. Meanwhile, in the city centre, pop into the Lighthouse on Mitchell Lane and use the lift to zip up to the 6th floor to get another impressive view of the city.
Get totally tropical. Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens turn 200 years old this year (!) and are still home to a stunning collection of tropical plants at the Kibble Palace and glasshouses. There’s nothing like being able to take a stroll under some palm trees while it’s 2 degrees and raining outside! Only in Glasgow…
Go behind the scenes in an iconic building. Overlooking George Square you’ll find the City Chambers, an imposing building which holds an important place in Glasgow’s history. It’s also home to such grandeur as the largest marble staircase in Western Europe, a Banqueting Hall and stunning vaulted ceilings. But don’t take my word for it – the City Chambers run free tours of the building twice daily from Monday-Friday!
Soak up some art and culture, dah-ling. We are extremely lucky in Glasgow as a lot of opportunities to check out museum and art exhibitions are accessible to everyone. As well as having festivals to celebrate art and culture, entry to our most popular art galleries and museums is free of charge (though donations are gratefully received!). Gallery of Modern Art, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and Riverside Museum are all excellent places to start.
Say hello to the coos. As well as attracting visitors to its woodland walks and the world famous Burrell Collection, the award-winning Pollok Country Park is also home to a rather special (and rather cute!) herd of Highland cattle. Huge, hairy and owners of the sassiest fringes on 4 legs, is it any wonder they have so many admirers?
See Glasgow’s story. The People’s Palace, located at Glasgow Green, is THE place to visit if you’re looking to get a close-up look at life in Glasgow through the ages. Using its collection of historical artefacts and a variety of mediums, the People’s Palace shares an insight into the city and its many residents from 1750 to the end of the 20th Century.
There are many other free activities and attractions in Glasgow, but these are (in my opinion!) some of the best ones to get a real flavour of what this vibrant and exciting city is all about without spending a single penny. If you’re joining us for the first time, you might just fall a little bit in love with this place, and if you’ve lived here forever, maybe you’ll discover something new about your neighbourhood.
I hope this little round-up of free things to do in Glasgow inspires you to get out and about, and let me know what you get up to if you decide to do any of them!