What to See and Do in Glasgow

By travellingwithmynikon | Jul 23, 2020
Europe > United Kingdom > Scotland > Glasgow

Today I was determined to get to know Glasgow, to learn what made it tick, and see as much as I could. Luckily there is a City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off bus operating here because if you want to see Glasgow, it is a big, spread out city. The commentary on the bus is either live or historical audio by Neil Oliver, who people that watch the History Channel may be familiar with. I would recommend a two-day pass as there is so much to see and do in Glasgow.

Start of Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

George Square

Named after King George III, this is the starting point for the Hop-on Hop-off bus. The square is from 1781 and has the Glasgow City Chambers at one end, and also includes the Glasgow Cenotaph and statues of Robert Burns, James Watt, Sir Robert Peel and Sir Walter Scott among others.

King George Square with the beautiful building of the City Chambers, Scott Monument and Glasgow Cenotaph

King George Square with the beautiful building of the City Chambers, Scott Monument and Glasgow Cenotaph

Tours of the City Chambers are held twice a day, 10.30am and 2.30pm. You can get tickets half an hour before the tour, but it is a first in first served system, and no pre-booking is available so get in quick.

Inside the foyer of City Chambers. The bust is of Nelson Mandela

Inside the foyer of City Chambers. The bust is of Nelson Mandela

Stop 2 of Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral and David Livingstone Statue

Glasgow Cathedral and David Livingstone Statue

A Christian mission built by St. Mungo is where Glasgow Cathedral now stands. Today his tomb in the lower crypt that you can visit. It is free to enter and look around the Cathedral although donations are appreciated for its upkeep.

Inside Glasgow Cathedral

Inside Glasgow Cathedral

St Mungo's Tomb and Chapel

St Mungo's Tomb and Chapel

Glasgow Necropolis

If you enjoy walking through cemeteries, then you have to see this one in Glasgow. At 37 acres in area, there are 50,000 people interred here since the Victorian times. Tours are on specific days which you can find here.

Crossing the bridge to the Glasgow Necropolis

Crossing the bridge to the Glasgow Necropolis

You are free to wander around whenever you want but make sure to leave time for what else there is to see in Glasgow.

St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art

I didn't go into this museum but remember that most museums in Scotland are free, it's only time that will dictate what you see. This one is across the way from Glasgow Cathedral.

St. Mungo's Museum of Religious Life and Art

St. Mungo's Museum of Religious Life and Art

Built on the site of the medieval Bishops’ Castle, the galleries have artefacts and works of art that show religion through time. There is also a cafe inside which opens onto a Zen Garden, the first in Britain.

Provand's Lordship

Provand's Lordship was built in 1471, making it the oldest house in Glasgow. This is somewhere you can look into the past for free again, and admire the 17th Century furnishings that make this house come alive.

Provand's House is just 100 metres up the road from the bus stop

Provand's House is just 100 metres up the road from the bus stop

The house was originally built as part of St. Nicholas's Hospital before becoming home to a Canon in the 19th Century. It has also been a sweet shop later in that Century. In 1978, the City of Glasgow bought it and they have restored it a couple of times since then, opening it to the people.

After you have explored the inside, there is St. Nicholas Garden to look through with herbs and tranquillity that makes you forget you're in the middle of a bustling city.

Police Box (tardis)

Across the road from the Provand's Lordship is a blue Police Box or TARDIS for all those Doctor Who fans. Not used as a Police Box anymore, it is a sometimes coffee place and there are three dotted throughout the city although this is the oldest as it was built in 1933.

Not open for coffee today

Not open for coffee today

At this bus stop, you can also see the St. Mungo Catholic Church, Tennent Caledonian Brewery and you could walk down towards stop 3 to see the wall mural of St. Mungo and the Robin. You can also see it from the bus as you go past, but you'll have to be quick.

St Mungo and the Robin on Main Street in Glasgow

St Mungo and the Robin on Main Street in Glasgow

Stop 3 and 4 Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

These two stops aren't compulsory, and I didn't get off at them. At stop three, you could find the Merchant City, an area of bars and restaurants that comes to life in the evening, and the Glasgow Police Museum. Another free museum, this is somewhere I would go back to see when I'm next in Glasgow.

Stop Four has The Barras Market, which is open Wednesday to Monday. Here is a mixture of a street market, shops, pubs and indoor markets. Next door to the Market, is the Barrowland Ballroom, and in the area is also Glickman's Sweet Shop and St. Andrew's Square. It is also here on the Gallowgate near Barrowland Park that one of Billy Connolly's murals is. You can see it from the bus as it goes to stop 5.

Another one of the three Billy Connolly murals

Another one of the three Billy Connolly murals

Stop Five Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

Glasgow Green

Glasgow Green is a 136-acre park in Glasgow that has the People's Palace, Winter Gardens and Doulton Fountain. It also has a monument to Nelson and a Drying Green.

Glasgow Green with the obelisk Monument of Nelson

Glasgow Green with the obelisk Monument of Nelson

What is a Drying Green I hear you ask? Continuing up until the late 1970s, the people of Glasgow would bring their washing here to dry. Today there are still some of the poles showing where lines were raised every day as Glasgow did their laundry and if need be you have the right to hang your laundry still.

Poles sticking out of the ground showing where laundry was hung to be dried

Poles sticking out of the ground showing where laundry was hung to be dried

Across the road from the Drying Green is the old Templeton Carpet Factory. This beautiful ornate building dates from 1892 when it was modelled on the Doge's Palace in Venice. Over the years has been transformed into offices, apartments and the West Brewery bar and restaurant.

A female statue on top of the facade commemorates the women who died in the 1900 fire

A female statue on top of the facade commemorates the women who died in the 1900 fire

People's Palace, Winter Gardens and Doulton Fountain

The first place you see as the bus comes around to the bus stop is the People's Palace and Doulton Fountain.

The ornate Victorian ceramic fountain with the People's Palace behind

The ornate Victorian ceramic fountain with the People's Palace behind

The Doulton Fountain is the largest fountain ever constructed in ceramic. It was a very popular attraction during the 1888 International Exhibition that was held at Kelvingrove Park and was designed to commemorate the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 1887.

At the top is the figure of Queen Victoria, then the next tier down has four kneeling maidens emptying pitchers. Beneath them are sentries representing Scottish, English and Irish regiments, along with a sailor representing the Royal Navy and on the lower tier are representations of Canada, India, Australia and South Africa.

The People's Palace is another free museum for you to explore. With exhibitions on Glasgow's history, you'll definitely learn about the past here through old pieces, photographs and information boards.

Lots of objects and photographs give you an insight in Glasgow over the last 200 years

Lots of objects and photographs give you an insight in Glasgow over the last 200 years

Until further notice, the Winter Gardens are closed as they make necessary repairs. They are located at the back of the People's Palace.

The Winter Gardens behind the People's Palace building

The Winter Gardens behind the People's Palace building

Stop Six Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

This stop is for the St. Enoch Shopping Centre, bars and St. Andrew's Cathedral, none of which I stopped to see.

St. Enoch's Shopping Centre is another claim to fame is being the largest glass-covered enclosed area building in Europe.

Stop Seven Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

This is the stop for The Lighthouse, Princes Square, Willow Tea Rooms and other restaurants and shops.

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse is Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture. It also has the best views of Glasgow city which you will see from the top, you just have to go up the spiral staircase of 135 steps.

The 135 steps up to the top of The Lighthouse

The 135 steps up to the top of The Lighthouse

Once you're at the top of The Lighthouse, you have 360° views of the city centre.

The view from the top of The Lighthouse

The view from the top of The Lighthouse

You could see exhibitions on design and architecture on the ground floor, and then it's up the escalators to the spiral staircase.

Stop Eight and Nine Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

The Central Railway Station, Radisson Blue, Grand Central hotels, Motel ONE and Buchanan Street shopping precinct is at stop eight. There are also more Hotels like the Hallmark Hotel, Glasgow Hilton, Premier Inn Argyle Street and Hotel Indigo at stop nine.

Dr Connolly, I presume? One of three commemorative Billy Connolly works on Dixon street not far from the Glasgow Central Railway Station.

Stop Ten and Eleven Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

Stop ten has the Finnieston Crane and North Rotunda, which is an Italian restaurant. From here you can walk to stop eleven where you will find the SSE Hydro, SEC Centre, Armadillo, Crowne Plaza and Glasgow Science Centre.

If you walk, you'll be going past the Finnieston Crane, a heritage-listed giant cantilever crane beside the Clyde.

The SSE Hydro is the arena for singers, comedians and acts. The SEC Centre is an exhibition centre, and the Armadillo is an Auditorium where Susan Boyle was discovered, as both Britain's Got Talent and The X-Factor were filmed here.

The Armadillo and SSE Hydro and Science Centre behind them

The Armadillo and SSE Hydro and Science Centre behind them

The Science Centre

The Science Centre is actually across the Clyde that you access from the Millennium Bridge. I didn't go across to the Science Centre but wish that I had, as there are plenty of interactive activities and exhibitions to see in this attraction in Glasgow.

Glasgow Tower and IMAX are also at this complex. Check on the Science Centre website for details if the Tower is open because if the winds are too high, it will be closed. You can visit it as a standalone attraction or an add-on to the Science Centre. Be warned that in the event of an emergency, visitors will be evacuated via the 523-step spiral staircase. You do have a lift to get you up there though, which takes 2.5 minutes, but once up there, you'll be rewarded with 360° views of not only Glasgow but beyond.

Stop Eleven a And Twelve Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

Stop eleven A has just one attraction, The Clydeside Distillery.

The Clydeside Distillery with the Glasgow Tower behind

The Clydeside Distillery with the Glasgow Tower behind

If you love Whisky, then this is the place for you. You can learn all about the Clydeside Distillery, on a guided tour, before enjoying a tasting.

Riverside Museum and Tall Ship

Stop 12 is another free museum, the Riverside Museum, which is well worth the visit.

The entrance to the Riverside Museum with sandpit and picnic tables for families

The entrance to the Riverside Museum with sandpit and picnic tables for families

It holds over 3000 objects including trams, trains, buses, motorbikes and cars. The second level is dedicated to ships of Glasgow that have been built or taken emigrants across the world.

Inside the Riverside Museum with some of the 3000 objects

Inside the Riverside Museum with some of the 3000 objects

The Tall Ship

The Tall Ship which you can explore is behind the museum

The Tall Ship which you can explore is behind the museum

Once again, you can go aboard and explore for free. You can see how the men lived on board, from their sleeping and living conditions to the "head" and learn how it got its name.

There is also a cafe and gift shop below decks

There is also a cafe and gift shop below decks

The Cafe and Gift Shop below deck on the Tall Ship.

Stop Thirteen, Fourteen and Sixteen Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

Stop thirteen is Kelvingrove Park but you can also get off here for attractions at stops fourteen and sixteen. Walking through Kelvingrove Park will take you to Glasgow University, which houses the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, The Mackintosh House and Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery.

The University of Glasgow

The University of Glasgow is a great place to wander around. Although it wasn't the inspiration for Hogwart's, you can certainly imagine it could be.

Glasgow University is standing tall at the top of Kelvingrove Park

Glasgow University is standing tall at the top of Kelvingrove Park

The Hunterian Museum is located at the far end of the cloisters

The Hunterian Museum is located at the far end of the cloisters

Inside the Cloisters of the University, you will find the entrance to the Hunterian Museum, another free museum to explore. This holds a collection of many varied exhibits from around the world.

The main exhibition room in the Hunterian Museum

The main exhibition room in the Hunterian Museum

The staircase up to the Hunterian Museum

The staircase up to the Hunterian Museum

Across the road is the Hunterian Art Gallery. The Mackintosh House is also in this building, but admission is required. This is a re-creation of the principal interiors of Mackintosh's Glasgow home.

Within the University grounds is also the Hunterian Zoology Museum. All information on these Hunterian Museums can be found here.

The Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery is a beautiful piece of architecture, and what it has inside will astound you.

Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery

Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery

It opened in 1901 and is still a very popular place to visit today, especially between 1.00-1.30pm when there is an Organ Recital. The sound is incredible as it travels around the main hall and into the left and right exhibition wings. Check that it is on the day you're there by clicking here.

The Organist across the other side of the building entertaining the crowds below and around the balcony

The Organist across the other side of the building entertaining the crowds below and around the balcony

The Heads at Kelvingrove at one of the wings of the building

The Heads at Kelvingrove at one of the wings of the building

There are numerous works of art including paintings and sculptures as well as an exhibition on Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvatore Dali is a popular piece in the art gallery

Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvatore Dali is a popular piece in the art gallery

The sculpture "Motherless" is one of the most popular moving pieces

After enjoying some time here, you might want to relax, and there are no better places than Mother India's Cafe and the Islay Inn.

Mother India's Cafe, is a very popular Indian restaurant across the road from the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. It is especially busy during university terms. You could also try the Islay Inn, on the corner up from the Kelvingrove Museum. It's a traditional Scottish bar with regular live music and a selection of whiskies to try.

Stops Fifteen, Seventeen and Eighteen Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

You can get off at stop fifteen for a 10-minute walk to the Botanic Gardens and see a quieter side to Glasgow.

The gardens are another place where I just ran out of time to visit, but it's at the top of my list when I return.

Stop 17 is in the heart of Finnieston. Along with its pubs and restaurants, it has Gurdwara Singh Sabha, the place of worship for the Sikh community of Glasgow.

The Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum and Tenement House are at stop eighteen. These are two other places that I didn't get to as they were closed by the time I got around to them.

The Royal Highland Fusiliers holds the usual firearms, uniforms over the years, paintings, medals and archives showing their history in over 300 years. Again this is a free museum for you to learn about this Scottish regiment.

The Tenement House is a time capsule of life in Glasgow a hundred years ago. It is run by the National Trust of Scotland and does have an admission fee.

You have a self-guided tour of the house where you will find original fixtures and fittings, including working gaslights. The home is also bought to life by the original products of the time with their original packaging.

The Mitchell Library is also in this area for anyone wanting to trace their Scottish roots while in Glasgow. As anyone who has done their family tree will tell you though make sure you put aside at least a day for this as it can be addictive and time will pass in a blink of an eye.

Stops Nineteen, Twenty and Twenty-One Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Glasgow

These last three stops take in the theatre district with the Theatre Royal, Pavillion Theatre, Glasgow School of Art and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Hotels like the Novotel, Blythswood Square Hotel, Double Tree by Hilton and more are in this area of the city.

Back at George Square, there is more to find in the area, including the Gallery of Modern Art (another free museum) and the Duke of Wellington statue in front of it.

The Duke of Wellington with a traffic cone on his head

The Duke of Wellington with a traffic cone on his head

Yes, that is a traffic cone on the head of the Duke of Wellington and this tradition seemed to start back in the 1980s as a drunken prank.
Over the years the cone has gone up, and the cone has been ordered down by Council. Fines were increased and the plinth lifted by 6 feet to try and stop this unceremonious act, but that didn't stop them.

10,000 signatures and a Facebook campaign finally put an end to the Council's plans of keeping him coneless. He now sits proudly upon his steed, his head under a traffic cone.

Now I don't like modern art much, I just don't get it, but I went into the Gallery of Modern Art and looked around. If you enjoy contemporary art, I am sure this will impress you if you don't, it's free and doesn't take up much of your time to take a look anyway.

Now you can see why I recommended getting a two-day pass on the sightseeing bus, and it's only a £1 more than the one-day pass.

More to See

There is so much more to see in Glasgow that I didn't get to see. The Botanic Gardens, Glasgow Science Centre, Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum and exploring the streets and alleyways of Glasgow for street murals, are amongst my must-sees next time.

The Tiger mural on Canal street alongside the Clyde

The Tiger mural on Canal street alongside the Clyde

One of the must-dos to see in Glasgow is as many murals as possible and you can find a trail map here.

There are a few murals dedicated to the Commonwealth Games which were held in Glasgow in 2014

There are a few murals dedicated to the Commonwealth Games which were held in Glasgow in 2014

With so much left to see in Glasgow, you have the perfect excuse to come back one day.

Hop-on Hop-off Bus Architecture University of Glasgow Things to do Science Museum History Street Art Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Art

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Written by travellingwithmynikon
Hi. My name is Kim and I love to travel especially getting about in nature. I have only really started this seriously at the end of 2018 but I'm loving the lifestyle and community.

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