More people visit museums in Glasgow than in any other UK city outside London and the city is justifiably renowned for its remarkable offering. Brimming with exceptional, world-class museums and galleries and a host of fantastic family friendly attractions – many of which are free to visit - there really is something for everyone.
Riverside Museum and Tall Ship
The iconic and much loved Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is rated the city’s #1 attraction on Tripadvisor and is an absolute must see for anyone visiting Glasgow. With one of Europe's finest civic art collections, you'll find everything from dinosaurs to Dutch Masters. While the award-winning Riverside Museum houses the city’s vast transport collection and street scenes from a bygone era, in a state of the art building. Moored alongside the museum is the Tall Ship – an icon of Glasgow’s shipbuilding heritage. Both are great fun attraction kids will love!
Here we’ve outlined some of the other fantastic museums, galleries and attractions that should be on your itinerary.
ART & DESIGN
As a city of style, it is no wonder that Glasgow has many museums and galleries dedicated to the subject of art and design. Start with The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, which just so happens to be the first public commission completed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Located on a trendy city centre lane, The Lighthouse offers mix of permanent and touring displays across six floors and no visit is complete without scaling the stunning spiral staircase which leads to a viewing platform, offering grand sights of the dynamic city centre.
If The Lighthouse whets your appetite for all things Mackintosh then your next stop should be The Mackintosh House at The Hunterian Art Gallery, which recreates in beautiful detail the home that Charles Rennie Mackintosh shared with his wife Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. The Art Gallery itself is also home to the world’s largest permanent display of the work of James McNeill Whistler.
Next, move forward in time to the city’s buoyant contemporary art scene. There’s the Gallery of Modern Art, Scotland’s most popular modern art museum, which is located within a stunning Victorian city centre building.
And then there are the warehouses, former tram depots and reclaimed spaces across the city (Tramway, Whisky Bond, Glue Factory to name a few) which have been turned into some of the UK’s most important places for the creation and display of cutting edge art.
Glasgow has a rich history and Glaswegians pride themselves on being part of the story, and there are various attractions that bring the city’s unique cultural heritage and its people, to life.
The People’s Palace is set within the city’s oldest park, Glasgow Green. Here you can gain insight into how Glaswegians lived, worked and played in the period from 1750 to the end of the 20th century. The venue is also displaying three brand new portraits of comedian Billy Connolly to mark his 75th birthday.
The paintings have also been recreated as large scale murals at locations across the city!
Glaswegians are known for their passion for the beautiful game so a tour of one of the city’s iconic football stadiums is a must. Visit Scotland’s National Stadium, Hampden Park where you can explore the Scottish Football Museum to discover some of the oldest football memorabilia in the world.
Scotland Street School, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, is located on the Southside of the city and tells the story of education in Scotland through the ages. Within the three reconstructed classrooms, kids today can learn what it was like to be a pupil during WW II and in the 50s and 60s.
One of the latest attractions to open is the National Library of Scotland’s moving image gallery at the recently refurbished Kelvinhall. The vast digital resources on display offer footage of Scottish and Glasgow life, past and present.
Pollok House, Pollok Country Park
Glasgow is steeped in history from its medieval roots to the Victorian era.
Whilst you are here, you can also visit Glasgow Cathedral which originates from the 13th century and is the finest surviving Gothic building in Scotland. Cross the bridge from the precinct to Glasgow Necropolis, a spectacular Victorian cemetery that is also now home to many wildlife species.
Head to the Southside of the city to visit Pollok House, a grand Edwardian country house set in the stunning, tranquil surrounds of Pollok Country Park. The house, now run by the National Trust for Scotland, was home to the Maxwell family and gives a real taste of upstairs/downstairs life. From the lavish family rooms packed full of period furniture and furnishings to the vast servants’ quarters.
Other historic buildings to explore include Glasgow Central Station, the Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow City Chambers and the University of Glasgow. Some of these venues can only be accessed on a guided tour. Check out the tours section of our website, or direct with the venue, for more information.
There is also so much to see when walking through the streets, lanes and river walkways of the city. From the Cherub & Skull at the Tron Theatre to the miniature Statue of Liberty at the City Chambers– find out where to look at Glasgow’s Secret Sculptures Trail.
Natural history enthusiasts won’t be short of places to visit in the city. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has an impressive national history collection. The recently refurbished life gallery includes dinosaurs and other prehistoric mammals as well as new family focused displays highlighting the need to safeguard our natural habitats for future generations.
The Hunterian Museum,housed within the University of Glasgow, is Scotland’s oldest museum and one of the country’s most important cultural assets. Built on Dr William Hunter’s bequest, a pioneering obstetrician and teacher and student of University, the museum boasts extraordinary sights, includingscientific instruments used by James Watt and Joseph Lister, Hunter’s own anatomical teaching collection and objects from Captain Cook’s Pacific voyages.
Prepare to be wowed, whether you are a little or large explorer with a visit to the Glasgow Science Centreon the banks of the River Clyde. The futuristic looking building is home to an engaging Science Mall featuring hundreds of interactive exhibits, IMAX cinema, a planetarium where you can gaze at over 9,000 twinkling stars and the Glasgow Tower – the only fully rotating building in the world.
The Glasgow City Sightseeing Tour Bus is a great way to get around the city while learning some fun and fascinating facts from the expert guides. The buses leave from George Square regularly throughout the day.