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First time must sees in Glasgow

Visiting Glasgow for the first time? We’ve come up with some ideas of things you can see and do while you are in the city - be sure to add them to your list!  

1. Visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum exterior with a blue sky and bowling green in the foregroundKelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum exterior with a blue sky and bowling green in the foreground.

No visit to Glasgow would be complete without a trip to one of the many museums and galleries, most of which are free to visit. Housed in an iconic red sandstone building that sits next to the beautiful Kelvingrove Park, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is arguably the top must-see attraction in the city. Book a free ticket on the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum website. 

2. Amazing architecture

Glasgow Cathedral exterior with leafy trees in the foreground and a person taking a picture on a mobile phoneGlasgow Cathedral exterior with leafy trees in the foreground and a person taking a picture on a mobile phone.

Glasgow has a rich and varied architectural heritage. The city's wealthy past has left a legacy of some of the finest Victorian architecture like the iconic City Chambers which sits majestically overlooking George Square – the civic heart of the city. While Glasgow Cathedral is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture that remains in Scotland. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the mesmerising Necropolis – a cemetery full of wonderful sculptures and fascinating stories.

 3. Explore the City Centre Mural Trail

St Mungo Mural which is featured in Glasgow's City Centre Mural TrailSt Mungo Mural by the artist Smug, which is featured in Glasgow's City Centre Mural Trail.

In recent years, many of Glasgow's lanes, buildings and streets have undergone colourful makeovers by talented street artists. And if it's your first time here, then exploring the city's vibrant urban art is a must. You can explore the urban works of art and learn more about the inspiration behind them on a Street Art Tour led by knowledgeable locals, find out more on the Walking Tours in Glasgow website. Or check out the City Centre Mural trail map and go on a self-guided tour.

4. Take a Glasgow Music City Tour

A Glasgow Music City Tour taking place outside of King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, GlasgowA Glasgow Music City Tour taking place outside of King Tut's Wah Wah Hut.

Glasgow was the first city in the UK to be designated a UNESCO City of Music and with so much variety it can be difficult to know where to start. So why not take a guided walking tour of the city’s top venues with the help of the team at Glasgow Music City Tours. These lively and informative tours bring to life the people, places and performances that have helped shape the city’s music scene. Book a tour on the Glasgow Music City Tour's website.

 5. Marvellous Mackintosh

Interior details of Charles Rennie Mackintosh furniture in House for an Art Lover, GlasgowInterior details of Charles Rennie Mackintosh furniture in House for an Art Lover.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a pioneering Glaswegian architect and designer and no trip to the city is complete without a visit to one of his magnificent works. There's so much to discover, from Mackintosh House to the stunning House for an Art Lover in its tranquil parkland setting. Be sure to visit Mackintosh at the Willow, Miss Cranston’s original Tea Rooms which have been beautifully restored to include a visitor centre, tea room and gift shop.  

6. Explore the city's quirky lanes

Ashton Lane, Glasgow, on a sunny day with people sitting outdoors at bars and restaurantsAshton Lane, Glasgow, on a sunny day with people sitting outdoors at bars and restaurants.

Glasgow has many quirky, cobbled lanes to explore. In the west of the city, Ashton Lane is lined with a mix of great bars and restaurants. The Hidden Lane in trendy Finnieston offers independent shopping and a quaint tearoom, with multi-coloured frontages. 

7. Hit the shops

Two people walking arm in arm down Buchanan Street, GlasgowTwo people walking arm in arm down Buchanan Street.

Buchanan Street is the main pedestrianised shopping area in Glasgow, connecting Sauchiehall Street and Argyle Street, all lined with the big names you’d expect from the great British high street. Ingram Street in the Merchant City is known as the designer boulevard while the city’s neighbourhoods are home to some amazing independent traders.

8. Dear Green Place

Highland cattle at Pollok Country Park, GlasgowHighland cattle at Pollok Country Park.

Meaning ‘Dear Green Place’ in Gaelic, Glasgow lives up to its name as the city has over 90 parks and gardens to choose from. Discover Pollok Country Park, one of the city’s best-loved green spaces, and take a wander to meet the Highland Cows. Visit the west of the city and enjoy Kelvingrove Park, set on the banks of the River Kelvin, or Glasgow Botanic Gardens, known for its impressive glasshouses and tropical plant collections. Visit our parks and gardens page to find out more.

9. Explore the city on two wheels

Bicycles owned by Glasgow Bike Tours Bicycles owned by Glasgow Bike Tours. © Dan Burman Photos.

Enjoy the fresh air and freedom of exploring Glasgow by bike. Check out Glasgow Bike Tours and take in iconic city sights like Glasgow Green, the River Clyde and the University of Glasgow. Or if you’d rather go at your own pace, visit Nextbike Glasgow's website to find out about their bikes and e-bikes for hire at convenient locations across the city, available 24/7.

10. Hop on the City Sightseeing tour bus

Three members of staff from Glasgow City Sightseeing, standing in front of a tour busThree members of staff from Glasgow City Sightseeing, standing in front of a tour bus. © City Sightseeing Glasgow.

What better way to get to know a new city than by joining a tour bus? The City Sightseeing Glasgow tour operates all year round and has 21 stops, with informative commentary about the city’s history, architecture and places to visit whilst on board. Visit the City Sightseeing Glasgow website to find out more.

 

Visit our Glasgow Now section for more inspiration on how to enjoy the city.

Article last updated: June 2021