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You might be surprised to learn that a trip to Glasgow does not mean you have to empty your pockets to have a good time. A lot of the major museums and galleries around the city centre are completely free! Not to mention all the free parks and lively events.
When it comes to free things to do, Glasgow does not disappoint. Couples, solo travellers and families will have an amazing time in this Scottish city without doling out hundreds of pounds.
Free Museums and Galleries
Scotland Street School Museum
The Street School Museum was still a working school until the 1970s, but since it has been transformed into an amazing, free museum.
During your visit, you will learn more about the history of schooling in the city. From Queen Victoria’s days at school to the tough days of attending school during World War II, history buffs will love this museum.
The architecture of the school building is also significant. It was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the most famous Scottish architect.
Both children and adults will enjoy this museum – children because they can still relate, and adults because they can appreciate the historical significance.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
A short distance from Glasgow’s city centre in the West End is the grand Victorian architecture building of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
This museum consists of 22 galleries housing 8,000 objects from Scotland’s history as well as Scottish art.
Of note are artworks by Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet. There are also pieces from famous Scottish artists.
Kelvingrove Museum and the neighbouring Kelvingrove Park are considered some of the best attractions in Glasgow, and people come from all over Europe to visit these free attractions.
Gallery of Modern Art
The Gallery of Modern Art is the most visited gallery in Scotland. Some people find traditional portraits a bit stodgy, which is what makes this gallery unique.
Exhibits covering modern art and contemporary sculptures from local and international artists can be found here. Exhibitions are regularly changed, so each time you visit, you will discover something new.
The four galleries are located in a gorgeous building on the Royal Exchange Square. Even without going inside, you can still appreciate the neoclassical architecture of the building.
Right outside of the gallery is the famous Duke of Wellington. This icon has been the victim of pranksters since the 1980s and currently has a traffic cone on his head.
The Glasgow Cathedral has a history stretching back more than 800 years. The cathedral was consecrated in 1197 and has been seen as a pivotal place of worship since then. It is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland and was constructed on the place where St Mungo (the patron saint of Glasgow) is said to be buried.
Of course, the building did not look the same as it does today back in 1197. Visitors to the cathedral will get to see the evolution of this place of worship and how the architecture changed over the centuries.
Of note are the stained glass windows. The Millennium Window was unveiled in 1999, and there is also the Great West Window from the 20th century.
Simply join one of the free guided tours to learn everything there is to know about this imposing cathedral.
The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens
If you feel like you want to learn about local history when visiting Glasgow, then you should stop in at The People’s Palace. This attraction uses interactive exhibits, photos, video and a variety of objects to tell the story of Glasgow and the people who lived there.
The museum has information dating back to the 1700s all the way to modern times.
Outside of the museum are beautiful gardens. The Winter Gardens houses plenty of unusual plants, as well as the largest terracotta fountain ever made.
Both of these attractions are located in Glasgow Green Park, the oldest park in the city.
If you are lucky, you may stumble upon some live music and sports at Glasgow Green, or some nights you can enjoy a romantic firework display.
Glasgow City Chambers
The Glasgow City Chambers were completed in 1888. Lovers of Victorian architecture will love seeing these beautiful buildings.
It is considered one of the most beautiful governmental buildings in the United Kingdom. With a carving of Queen Victoria on the frontage, marble staircases inside, and delicately decorated interiors… it is easy to see how it got its status.
Either you can walk around the Chambers by yourself, or book a guided tour – both options are completely free!
Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel
The Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel is unlike your usual Glasgow museums.
This museum is set on a modern building located on the banks of the River Clyde. You do not have to be a lover of cars to appreciate the museum’s exhibits.
There are over 3,000 vehicles to appreciate, as well as the world’s oldest bicycle, steam engines and skateboards.
This museum takes a modern twist on history. It has recreated old-timey storefronts and streets, allowing you to take a step into the past lives of Glasgow’s citizens. There is even an old-school pub where you can sit down for a pint!
The exhibits are interactive, and even young children will have a great time climbing on objects in this museum.
Free Outdoor Attractions
Pollok Country Park
Pollok Country Park is great for any kind of traveller. Kids will love running around here, while adults can soak in the sun or go for an easy hike.
Although the park is located a little way out of the heart of the city, it is well worth the trip. More than just your average grassy park, Pollok contains gardens, waterways, a waterfall and woodland.
For families, there is also the wildlife garden and a play park. Pack a picnic and head off to explore everything this park has to offer.
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Lovers of all things nature will adore the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Here visitors can enjoy local and exotic plants, a herb garden, relaxing strolls and the occasional live music event.
The gardens have been bringing nature to the residents of the city for more than 200 years.
There are themed gardens to explore, as well as the Kibble Palace, a large restored curvilinear glasshouse. When you get snacky, you can wander over to The Tearoom to indulge in some British cuisine.
Are all major museums free in Glasgow?
Believe it or not, all the major galleries and museums in Glasgow are completely free! Apart from the museums and art galleries, you can also enjoy free access to parks, gardens, and religious buildings or stumble upon free events throughout the city.
Is a one-day trip to Glasgow enough?
One day is not nearly enough time to visit Glasgow. There is so much to do and see across the city. It is recommended that you spend at least three days in Glasgow to enjoy all the free excursions and sites so make sure to look into accommodation around central Scotland. Even if you don’t enter any museums, just walking around the city and admiring street art and architecture will keep you busy for days!