20 things to do near Glasgow
20 things to do near Glasgow
Fancy exploring beyond the city? Glasgow has a back garden full of excellent outdoor spots, attractions and events. Here's our top pick of trips that are under an hour away.
The Great Outdoors
1. Whitelee Windfarm
Explore over 130km of trails and admire over 200 wind turbines at Whitelee Windfarm. The largest onshore windfarm in the UK, Whitelee also has an onsite visitor centre and is only 20 minutes from Glasgow. Activities including mountain biking, cycle hire and bus tours are available too. Visit scottishpower.co.uk for more info.
2. West Highland Way
The West Highland Way is one of Scotland’s most iconic long-distance walking routes. At 96 miles, stretching from Fort William to Milngavie, it’s a challenge that can take around a week to complete. But if you’re looking for a day trip closer to Glasgow, how about walking the first section from Milngavie to Drymen? It’s around 12 miles and is relatively flat with a footpath. Plan your trip at westhighlandway.org.
3. Mugdock Country Park
Crossing paths with the West Highland Way is Mugdock Country Park. Here you'll find an expansive green space with two castles, a loch, stables and a walled garden. The park also has some gift shops and eateries, so it’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Visit mugdock-country-park.org.uk to plan your visit.
Conic Hill. Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
4. Conic Hill
Not far from the lochside village of Balmaha, you can climb 361m to the summit of Conic Hill. You'll enjoy beautiful views over Loch Lomond and the surrounding National Park. A steep but short ascent, it’s a great option if you only have time for a morning or an afternoon in the great outdoors. Find out more at lochlomond-trossachs.org.
5. Lyle Hill
At the west end of Greenock you'll find Lyle Hill. Climb to the top and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over the River Clyde, the Cowal Hills and on a clear day, even the Isle of Arran!
6. Falls of Clyde
Next to the New Lanark Visitor Centre, the Falls of Clyde is a lovely spot for a stroll along the River Clyde. Enjoy the natural beauty of woodland and waterfalls, and keep an eye out for wildlife. You can often spot badgers, otters and even kingfishers. Visit scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk for more info.
7. Balloch Castle Country Park
Visit Balloch Castle Country Park which spans over 200 acres of woodland. It offers gardens, nature trails and a great vantage point for views over Loch Lomond. See if you can spot the fairy houses carved from stumps of fallen trees in the park’s fairy trail. Plan your visit at west-dunbarton.gov.uk.
Credit: Scottish Canals
8. The Bowline
The Bowline at Bowling Harbour in West Dumbartonshire is billed as Scotland's answer to the New York Highline. A disused viaduct has been transformed into a linear park and walking & cycling route. It offers off-road access from Glasgow to Loch Lomond with beautiful views en route. Find out more at scottishcanals.co.uk.
New Lanark Visitor Centre. Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
9. New Lanark Visitor Centre
Less than an hour from Glasgow, New Lanark Visitor Centre tells the story of the 18th century cotton mill village. It's also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of only 6 in Scotland. Learn about the lives of those who lived there by visiting reconstructed homes, a village shop and a school. Visit newlanark.org to plan your trip.
10. Paisley Abbey
Paisley is rich in architectural history and heritage. In fact, the town centre has the second-highest concentration of listed buildings in Scotland. One of its most striking buildings is Paisley Abbey, which offers informative guided tours and has a café and shop too. Find out more at paisleyabbey.org.uk.
The Antonine Wall. Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
11. The Antonine Wall
Built by the Roman Empire, the historic Antonine Wall spans around 37 miles from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde. The remains can still be seen today. Visit the New Kilpatrick Cemetery in Bearsden to see 2 visible sections, or the fort at Bar Hill Fort near Twechar to take in some great views. Visit antoninewall.org to find out more.
12. SEA LIFE Loch Lomond
A great day out for the little ones! Spend an afternoon exploring the aquariums and discover a huge variety of sea creatures. You'll find everything from otters to native species of shark, and seahorses to rare albino dogfish. Go to visitsealife.com to plan your visit.
13. Auchentoshan Distillery
Auchentoshan Distillery is a Lowland Distillery that sits on the banks of the River Clyde. Through tours and whisky masterclasses, you can learn all about Scotland’s national drink. Visit auchentoshan.com for more info.
14. Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life
A brilliant (and free!) day out for all the family is the Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life. It has exhibits with working machinery, electric trams, guided tours of an underground mine, and miner’s cottages. Don't forget to visit the super play park. Visit visitlanarkshire.com for more info.
15. The Hill House
Located in the town of Helensburgh, The Hill House was designed by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh as a home for the future. The house is surrounded by a protective box for conservation reasons. However this mesh box provides visitors a unique chance to view the attraction from walkways above and around the house. Visit the National Trust for Scotland’s website to find out more.
16. The Time Capsule Waterpark
Aquatic fun for big and little kids alike, this waterpark is jam-packed with flumes, waterslides, a wave pool and areas for toddlers and babies. It’s a brilliant day out for the family – especially if it’s raining! Go to nlleisure.co.uk to plan your visit.
17. Snow Factor
Located at XSITE in Braehead in Renfrewshire, you can ski, snowboard and sledge at Snow Factor on their indoor slopes, with real snow! This is a great one for the whole family and they even offer doggie friendly sessions. Visit Snow Factor's website for more information.
Dumbarton Rock. Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
18. Dumbarton Castle
Situated on a volcanic rock, Dumbarton Castle overlooks the Firth of Clyde. It was an important royal refuge, once sheltering Mary Queen of Scots. Whilst you’re there, climb to the top of the White Tower Crag for spectacular views. Visit historicenvironment.scot to plan your trip.
Summer events near Glasgow
19. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition
See some of Michelangelo's most famous works at Braehead, in Renfrewshire, this summer. The internationally touring exhibition allows people to view these masterpieces up-close as the artworks are reproduced photographically. Visit sistenechapelexhibit.com for info on tickets.
20. Wizard School at Kelburn Estate
Learn how to wield the magic of the elements at Wizard School this summer. The school will run from July 30 to Aug 7. Kelburn Estate in Ayrshire has lots of events on throughout the year as well as year-round fun at their secret forest, play areas, grafitti castle and walks. Find out more at kelburnestate.com
Article last updated: July 2022