12 Free Things To See and Do in Glasgow

 Street art in Glasgow
Street art in Glasgow | © Mark Waugh / Alamy Stock Photo
You’ll never be bored on a budget with Culture Trip’s guide to the best free things do in Glasgow.

Get lost in the work of Vincent van Gogh and Salvador Dalí

Glasgow is praised for having one of the largest civic art collections in Europe, so set aside a few hours to explore part of it in the extraordinary Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. With 22 themed galleries, more than 8,000 objects and an abundance of masterpieces, the hours can fly by. Two of the most famous pieces in the collection are Salvador Dalí’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross and Vincent van Gogh’s portrait of Alexander Reid.

Van Gogh art work at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow © Thornton Cohen / Alamy Stock Photo

Explore the city’s art scene through a different lens

Embark on Glasgow’s Mural Trail and you’ll find yourself stepping into a new world – one where a taxi ascends towards the heavens via a bunch of balloons and a shark sips cocktails in a neon-lit bar. These graphic murals, created by renowned street artists such as Rogue One and Smug, offer an insight into Glasgow’s lively art scene outside of the galleries.

Street art in Glasgow © Mark Waugh / Alamy Stock Photo

Travel back to Glasgow’s past at the Riverside Museum

Designed by Zaha Hadid, this striking building can be found on Glasgow’s waterfront. Inside you’ll discover the full spectrum of transport and travel – the museum contains more than 3,000 objects and stores everything from skateboards and vintage buses to locomotives and motorbikes.

Riverside Museum Courtesy Of Glasgow Life

Stroll amid the splendour of the botanic gardens

A wander through the magical Glasgow Botanic Gardens will do anyone the world of good. With an abundance of flowers and plants including a rose garden, a herb garden and Scotland’s National Collection of tree ferns, there is always plenty to explore. The glasshouses alone make the gardens well worth a visit; they are some of the finest (and most unusual) architectural wonders in Glasgow.

Inside the Botanic Gardens © DGB / Alamy Stock Photo

Try to get a ‘Doctor Who’ TARDIS working

Although Doctor Who is more commonly associated with Cardiff, fans can travel through time and space on the Glaswegian Whovian Tour. This expedition across the city is a great way to see the sights while visiting locations associated with both the television series and the twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi.

This former police box has been turned into a coffee kiosk © anthony marsh / Alamy Stock Photo

Visit the world’s oldest surviving music hall

Built in 1857, the Britannia Panopticon is the oldest surviving music hall in the world. A tangible snippet of history situated in Trongate, this remarkably well-preserved listed building should be on every music or architecture enthusiast’s list. It may be free to enter, but a small contribution to its maintenance in the form of a donation is always appreciated.

Britannia Panopticon © Quillpen / Alamy Stock Photo

Grab a moment of calm in a Victorian cemetery

Around 50,000 people are interred in this Victorian cemetery, but a visit is far from ghoulish. Picturesque and serene, the Glasgow Necropolis has become a cultural and architectural landmark in the city. Don’t miss the grave of Glasgow’s chief constable in the mid-1800s, Alexander McCall, which was one of Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s first solo designs.

The Glasgow Necropolis © Arcaid Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Ascend the Carrara marble staircase in the City Chambers

A visit to Glasgow is not complete without stopping by the awe-inspiring City Chambers. A truly magnificent work of Victorian architecture, this exceptional building is used as the Glasgow City Council headquarters. No words can sum up the beauty of the Carrara marble staircase, accentuated with gold leaf, granite and a stained-glass dome. The Banquet Hall is particularly captivating, and free tours run daily.

Glasgow City Chambers. Scotland. © derek young / Alamy Stock Photo

Stretch your legs in Glasgow’s green spaces

The name ‘Glasgow’ is believed to have been derived from the Gaelic for ‘green valley’, and the city certainly lives up to its title. Have a wee stroll through some of the famous parks, from Bellahouston to Queens Park to Pollok Country Park. Make it your mission to traverse them all.

Pollok Country Park Courtesy Of Glasgow Life

Visit one of the oldest buildings in Glasgow

The Provand’s Lordship, with its impressive display of 17th-century Scottish furniture and magical St Nicholas Garden, dates back to 1471. It is one of only four Medieval buildings left in the whole city. See if you can spot all of the Tontine Heads in the garden cloisters – these mysterious stone faces were found scattered throughout the city and have been reunited here. A little pocket of calm within an urban jungle, Provand’s Lordship will make for an intriguing and informative visit.

Provand's Lordship, the oldest standing house in Glasgow © Iain McGillivray / Alamy Stock Photo

Gaze at hip modern art in GoMA

Perfect for a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off-style outing, the Gallery of Modern Art is an oasis of inspiration with its ever-changing exhibitions by local and international artists. From paintings and sculptures to photography, prints, videos and installations, there’s a wealth of styles and media to explore. Situated within an 18th-century Neoclassical building that’s as beautiful as the art inside it, GoMA is the perfect place to while away a rainy afternoon.

The Gallery of Modern Art © John Peter Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Appreciate the conical addition to the Duke of Wellington

Pause outside the GoMA to get an insight into the incorrigible Glaswegian sense of humour. The Duke of Wellington equestrian statue is an unmissable free tourist attraction (not to mention a great photo opportunity) due to the now-iconic traffic cone placed permanently on his head. When the council threatened to take it down, thousands of Glaswegians united in showing their unwavering loyalty to the cone with extensive petitioning and marches.

The Duke of Wellington and his traffic cone © Quillpen / Alamy Stock Photo