Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland and one of the friendliest, hasn’t always had such a positive reputation. Once a major shipping port and industrial center, Glasgow, like many big cities, had issues with overcrowding, sanitation and violence. Since then, Glasgow has gone through major positive changes and re-branding.
Fabulous shopping and restaurants, Glasgow University, and the School of Art have become major attractions to the city, boosting Glasgow tourism. In fact, in 2008 Glasgow was named UNESCO City of Music. There is so much do in Glasgow that it makes for a fantastic family vacation. We spent a month exploring Glasgow with our kids and are eager to share all the amazing things to do in Glasgow Scotland.
Here’s what’s in this article…
Unique Glasgow attractions
- Glasgow Science Center
- The Barras
- City Sightseeing Glasgow
- Downtown Glasgow
- Clockwork Orange
- SEC Armadillo
- SSE Hydro
Historic Sites in Glasgow
Kid-Friendly Glasgow Museums
- Hunterian Museum
- Riverside Museum
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
- Glasgow Museum of Modern Art
- People’s Palace & Glasgow Green
- Fossil Grove
- Tenement House Museum
Parks & Gardens in Glasgow
Glasgow Family Restaurants
- The Bothy
- Hanoi Bike Shop
- Grosvenor Cafe
- University Cafe
- Hillhead Book Club
- Old School House
- Drum & Monkey
- Cathedral House Hotel & Green Room Restaurant
- Curler’s Rest
- Oran Mor
- Willow Tea Rooms
Glasgow Family Hotels
Day Trips from Glasgow
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Unique Glasgow Attractions
50 Pacific Quay, Glasgow G51 1EA, United Kingdom
The Glasgow Science Center is a great place for all ages to learn about science in an exciting and engaging atmosphere. Here you can explore the many interactive exhibits and learn about everything from body works, illusion and perception, space, earth science, future technologies, physics and much, much more. They also have a cool IMAX theater and science show theater for entertainment. If you want to take your learning further you can join a workshop, project lab or the little explorers program.
242 Gallowgate, Glasgow G1 5DX, United Kingdom
The Barras is a famous secondhand and antique street and indoor weekend marketplace located on the East End of Glasgow. Interestingly, Barra is Glaswegian dialect for the word borrow, because back in the day it was a marketplace for traders. Now it is a fun collection of shops, vendors, pubs and even a ballroom for all to enjoy.
City Sightseeing Glasgow
George Square, Glasgow G2 1BA, United Kingdom
This is the best way to see the whole city in one or two days. I actually bought four days of passes, because it was so easy for me to take the kids around the various Glasgow points of interest. It is a hop-on hop-off bus with 28 stops and well worth it for the convenience, especially if you have a big group over 5 like we did (it is not always easy to hail a cab for 6+ in UK)!
St. Vincent Street and Buchanan St.
These streets are bustling with excitement and have great Glasgow shopping! This is an awesome place to listen to live street music, shop for souvenirs and grab a refreshing pint and a good meal. This is also the area that you will find some of Glasgow’s impressive arcades (indoor mall passages). The Argyll Arcade is a must as it sparkles from the many jewelers that have shops inside.
Ride Clockwork Orange
248 Byres Road, Glasgow, G12 8SH
The subway is a super easy way to take a full loop around the city of Glasgow. You can find stations all around the loop. We started at the Hillhead station on the West End and used it to go to Buchanan Street. We loved taking the Subway or as Glaswegians call it, Clockwork Orange, because it is always on time, it is orange and goes around the city in a circle. It was clean, really cheap and fast!
SEC Armadillo, Exhibition Way, Glasgow G3 8YW, United Kingdom
It is called the Armadillo, because it looks like an armadillo. However, it is actually a Scottish event campus. This where you would go to catch a concert or some other exciting live event. If you aren’t planning on going to an event at the SEC Armadillo, you might want to at least check it out for a cool photo opportunity. It is located right by the Science Center.
Exhibition Way, Stobcross Rd, Glasgow G3 8YW, United Kingdom
The SSE Hydro is a really cool looking all-purpose arena. Also located by the Science Center and SEC Armadillo, the SSE Hydro is another location for live events like concerts, political events, sporting events and more.
Historic Sites in Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ, United Kingdom
Glasgow University was founded in 145, making it the fourth-oldest English speaking university in the world. It also resembles Hogwarts for those Harry Potter fans. It is a magnificent public space to wander around and take some epic photos, but it is nearby several museums, including the connected Hunterian Museum.
The Glasgow Cathedral
Castle St, Glasgow G4 0QZ, United Kingdom
Built in 1197 this is the oldest cathedral on the mainland of Scotland and truely not to be missed. The cathedral has many names and is also known as St. Mungo’s Cathedral, the High Kirk of Glasgow and St. Kentigern’s. There is so much history in and around the cathedral it is hard to comprehend it all. In fact, St. Mungo’s tomb is actually located in the lower crypt and can be visited by the public. Take some time to enjoy the breathtaking architecture.
Castle St, Glasgow G4 0UZ, United Kingdom
Necropolis is a massive victorian cemetery established in the 1830’s. At first it was the main burial ground for the rich tobacco lords of the city, but over the years has seen over 50,000 burials. Some of Glasgow’s most famous residents are buried here! Just a stroll across the giant and ornate stone bridge from the Glasgow Cathedral, Necropolis rises from the hill like a city for the dead. The elaborate tombstones and mausoleums are truly something to appreciate. You are free to wander through on your own or you can participate in a walking tour. There are even fun facts and print outs to help kids get most out of their visit to Glasgow Necropolis.
3 Castle St, Glasgow G4 0RH, United Kingdom
Provand’s Lordship is one of the oldest houses in Glasgow, built in 1471. Queen Mary of Scots even spent some of her days in this very home. It is now a medieval house museum, complete with 17th-century furnishings and located adjanct to the Glasgow Cathedral. There is also a lovely garden in the back to enjoy a quiet city break. You can just imagine what a true oasis this garden must have been to the residences in the 1600’s.
82 Hillhead St, Glasgow G12 8QQ, United Kingdom
From 1906 to 1914 this was the home of the famous Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It is open for tours and is interesting look at how his signature style was implemented in his own home.
Kid-Friendly Glasgow Museums
University of, 82 Hillhead St, Glasgow G12 8QQ, United Kingdom
Located at the University of Glasgow, The Hunterian Museum is the oldest museum in Scotland and contains a very unique collection of Roman ruins, geology, ethnography, ancient Egypt, scientific instruments, coins and medals, anatomy and more. The Hunterian Museum was my dad’s favorite. He loved the old Roman ruins, and the kids loved seeing the ancient mummy and dinosaur bones. My husband really enjoyed viewing the historical medical and scientific instruments.
100 Pointhouse Rd, Govan, Glasgow G3 8RS, United Kingdom
The Riverside Museum displays Glasgow transportation throughout the decades. There is a reproduction of an old Victorian street that you can wander down with period-style shops to explore. There are interactive displays throughout the museums, which is very engaging for the kids. Outside of the museum is a historic Tall Ship to check out too!
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG, United Kingdom
The Kelvingrove museum opened in 1901 and is relaxing with a great mix of exhibits to explore. They have 22 wonderful themed galleries with over 8000 objects on display. Everything from art to aircrafts can be viewed at Kelvingrove. And the reddish facade of this building is just fantastic!
Museum of Modern Art
111 Queen St, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow G1 3AH, United Kingdom
This is Glasgow’s main gallery for contemporary art. The museum is housed inside the former neoclassical home of Glasgow Tobacco Lord, William Cunninghame, built in 1778. GoMA has four galleries, a library, cafe and shop. However, it is most recognizable from the statue of Duke Wellington riding a horse with a bright orange traffic cone on his head.
People’s Palace & Glasgow Green
Green, Templeton St, Glasgow G40 1AT, United Kingdom
Opened in 1898, the People’s Palace Museum takes you on a journey through daily life through time in Glasgow. There are interactive exhibits, photographs, objects and film. The most fascinating for us was seeing the WWII bunkers. The infamous Glasgow Green outside the museum is where the Jacobites rested before their final defeat.
51 Victoria Park Dr S, Glasgow G14 9QR, United Kingdom
Located in Victoria Park a 330 million year-old prehistoric forest is preserved and open to the public to explore. Among the fossils discovered in 1887 are eleven fossilized stumps from extinct Lepidodendron trees.
The Tenement House Museum
145 Buccleuch St, Glasgow G3 6QN, United Kingdom
This is a historic house museum from 1892 that has been preserved in time to reflect the living condition of a typical Glaswegian in the early 1900’s. It was the home of Miss Agnes Toward who lived there from 1911 to 1965. Everything from furniture to quirky early 20th century objects were kept in pristine condition and preserved as a wonderful time capsule that you and your family can explore today.
Parks & Gardens in Glasgow
Glasgow Botanic Garden
730 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 0UE, United Kingdom
The Botanic Garden is located on the West End of Glasgow. Since it was really close to our hotel we frequented the gardens often. The grounds are gorgeous and feature several greenhouses like the Kibble Palace. There are many tranquil trails that wind through the lush foliage, making for a lovely afternoon. There is also a tea house onsite, perfect for a lunch or a snack break and a playground that our kids really enjoyed!
6 Professors’ Square, Glasgow G3 6BY, United Kingdom
Also located on the West End, this park is along the Kelvingrove River right by the Kelvingrove Museum. This space was established in 1852. The park has a lot of activities beyond just its natural beauty including a skate park, a bowling and croquet green and a several interesting monuments.
Mugdock Country Park
Milngavie, Mugdock, Glasgow G62 8EL, United Kingdom
This made the list, because this park contains castle ruins!! Yes, castle ruins. Located on the North side of the city on land that was once home to Clan Graham, now the ruins for Mugdock Castle sit right in the middle of the park. As if it isn’t exciting enough to roam around ancient woodlands, the visitor center has a cafe and shops to enjoy. Your kids can also participate in the park run children activities.
Glasgow Family Restaurants
11 Ruthven Lane, Hillhead, Glasgow West End, G12 9BG
Located down a quiet alley on the lovely West End of Glasgow, The Bothy is a beautiful and cozy Scottish restaurant complete with lush décor and a kilted staff. The food at The Bothy is amazing. They are known for traditional Scottish cooking with a modern twist. This was where the kids and I tried Haggis for the first time and loved it! My daughter was also obsessed with the fish and chips and melted Brie and cranberry sandwiches.
Hanoi Bike Shop
8 Ruthven Ln, Glasgow G12 9BG, United Kingdom
Really delicious and authentic Vietnamese cuisine can be found at the Hanoi Bike Shop restaurant in Glasgow’s West End. The décor is funky with lanterns, tools and bikes hanging from the ceiling. We ordered family-style and I got a little excited and went a bit overboard.
61 Ruthven Ln, Glasgow G12 9BG, United Kingdom
DiMaggio’s was one of the Italian restaurants in Glasgow that became the kids’ favorite. They loved the macaroni and cheese and pizza, as well as the play room. We were even lucky enough to get an impromptu magic show from a professional magician disguised as a balloon animal maker during dinner here. You can watch a video of our magic show experience on our HotMamaTravel YouTube channel HERE.
37-43 Ashton Ln, Hillhead, Glasgow G12 8SJ, United Kingdom
Brel is a Belgian restaurant with great outdoor seating right on Ashton Lane as well as magical garden seating in the back with fairy lights and canopies! They have a huge selection of beers from all over the world as well as over 21 Scottish Gins. It also happens to be the premiere place in Glasgow to get fondue!! Who doesn’t like fondue?
24 Ashton Ln, Hillhead, Glasgow G12 8SJ, United Kingdom
Connected to the Grosvenor Theater, the Grosvenor Cafe is perfect for dinner and a movie. When we were there, when you see a film at the theater you receive 50% off your tab at the restaurant. It is the perfect after-movie dining spot, because the whole place is designed to feel like you are on a movie set.
87 Byres Rd, Glasgow G11 5HN, United Kingdom
Established in 1918, it is somewhat of an institution and attracts many famous customers. If you want nostalgia this is the place to get it as the interior is trapped in time in a very good way. It is the iconic place in Glasgow for deep-fried Mars bars and deep-fried pizza.
Hillhead Book Club
17 Vinicombe St, Glasgow G12 8SJ, United Kingdom
The Hillhead Book Club has really cool décor, a great cocktail list, cheap beer and a playroom for the kids! The interior design is like a wacky craftsman style with everyday items re-purposed as something else. The eclectic mix of plush velvet tufted chairs, leather belts used as backings to booths, old suitcases under the bar, delicate floral china, iron stools and exposed pipes, make this old theater house an exciting and eccentric place to grab a meal in Glasgow. We liked it so much, we actually ate here twice in the same day, which we have literally never done anywhere else!
Old School House
311 Woodlands Rd, Glasgow G3 6NG, United Kingdom
Once an actual old time schoolhouse, the Old Schoolhouse pub has really reasonable food and drink with huge portions! I mean the fish & chips were crazy!! This place is definitely a popular college hangout, but we enjoyed the exuberant atmosphere.
1 George Square, Glasgow G2 1DY, United Kingdom
Brown’s is a very elegant British restaurant with a grand cafe vibe. It has lobster nights, high tea and a fun cocktail hour for 5 GBP. The location was great, right off of George Square, near the bus stop and Queen Street Train Station. It was a perfect place to stop after a long day of touring Scotland by train, because it was right off the platform. Also, see Life with Frills suggestions for two more great restaurants in Glasgow nearby.
Drum & Monkey
91 St Vincent St, Glasgow G2 5TF, United Kingdom
This grand pub, built in the 1920’s is located in downtown Glasgow. We visited based on a recommendation from a Glaswegian friend, as it is his favorite pub when visiting home. We also fell in love with the atmosphere, the deals and the food! There is a meal and a pint menu that is really awesome and a great value.
Cathedral House Hotel & Green Room Restaurant
28-32 Cathedral Square, Glasgow G4 0XA, United Kingdom
The Cathedral House Hotel Green House Restaurant is located right by the Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis. Built in 1896, this is where my Kevin’s favorite Haggis was located. He loved the fried haggis balls. The meat pie was amazing and I loved the goat cheese salad! The atmosphere in the old stone building was not too fancy, but made us feel a bit like we were dining in a castle.
256-260 Byres Rd, Hillhead, Glasgow G12 8SH, United Kingdom
Curler’s Rest was our favorite place for a night cup (or a before 8:00pm drink haha). It is a fun, casual and lively pub where the decor is old-meets-new. It is the oldest pub on Byres Road and also said to be haunted! During the week they have $1 off beers and drams of really nice whisky were inexpensive. I loved ending my day at Curler’s with a pint of Innis & Gunn and a dram of Oban.
Top of, Byres Rd, Glasgow G12 8QX, United Kingdom
Built in 1862 Oran Mor is an old church with a really cool bar and dining room! We went once toward the end of the trip because it was right next to our hotel. I wish we would have visited more often. It is open pretty late and visited by a more upscale crowd when we were there. Oran Mor is also a live music and arts venue, so be sure to check out their events list. Age requirements vary depending on the event.
Willow Tea Rooms
97 Buchanan St, Glasgow G1 3HF, United Kingdom
Enjoy a fun afternoon tea at the famous Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street, inspired by the famous Kate Cranston tea rooms designed by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh from the early 1900’s. The atmosphere is artsy, elegant and playful. Our kids loved the experience and I think yours will too.
Family-Friendly Hotels in Glasgow
Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor Hotel
1-9 Grosvenor Terrace, Glasgow G12 0TA, United Kingdom
Located in a historic building on the West End of Glasgow right on the corner of Byres Road and Great Western Road, this hotel has an onsite restaurant and is walking distance from all the fabulous Glasgow West End attractions. They don’t have huge rooms, but a family of four can fit in a two double family room.
Radisson Blu Hotel
301 Argyle St, Glasgow G2 8DL, United Kingdom
If you would like to stay in the City Center, a great option is the Radisson Blu Edwardian. Located in the Financial District, it is mostly designed to accommodate business travelers, but it works for families too. I like that it has great access to Glasgow transportation, like the bus, railway and subway systems. It is even a stop on the City Sightseeing tour bus.
The Belhaven Hotel
15 Belhaven Terrace, Glasgow G12 0TG Scotland
Located on the West End of Glasgow off Bryers Road, it looks over the beautiful botanical gardens and is near all the West end attractions It is also one of the few Glasgow hotels with large family rooms available.
Day Trips from Glasgow
Glasgow is close to other points of interest outside the city and makes for fun day trips. If you are going to be in Scotland for a few days and plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, I recommend getting the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass. It is the most cost effective way to see some of the best Scotland attractions. You can customize your itinerary into 3 to 7 day passes.
Kintyre House, St Andrews Cres, Glasgow Airport, Paisley, PA3 2TQ
Discover Scotland is a fabulous tour company that takes you all over with set itineraries that make it easy to see a lot of stuff in one day. They even offer three day tours that take you out to the islands. We booked a highland tour which took us up to Oban. Along the way we saw Inveraray Castle, Bruce Cathedral, Kilchurn Castle, Oban for lunch, Castle Stalker, Glencoe, The Drover’s Inn and Luss on Loch Lomond. Discover Scotland is a small family owned business, so availability may be limited. It gets cold in the Scottish Highlands, even in the summer. So be sure to dress in layers and keep warm. Might as well look cute too!
Glasgow Central Station or Queen Street Station
Scotrail is simple, efficient and inexpensive. It only took us 45 minutes by rail to get to Edinburgh and only 30 minutes to get to Stirling. The tickets are easy to purchase online and the trains leave out of Glasgow Central or Queen Street, but both are very close to each other. It is a lovely journey along with wonderful views of the Scottish country side. Some cars even have coffee and snack service, which we all enjoyed. If you like mores information on riding Scotrail, please see our detailed guide HERE.
Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, United Kingdom
If it is your first time to Edinburgh, chances are you came to see Edinburgh Castle. Over a thousand years old, this castle was recently declared “the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world” and was one of Scotland’s most significant royal centers. The history is truly fascinating, but I can’t talk about all that now. However, if you would like more information about Edinburgh castle and to read about our experience in Edinburgh with kids, click HERE.
Castle Esplanade, Stirling FK8 1EJ, United Kingdom
Stirling Castle is one of the largest castles in Scotland. Just as important as Edinburgh Castle. This is the castle that Queen Mary of Scots was crowned as well as the castle that William Wallace famously took back from the English in the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Again, sooo much history. If you like more juicy Stirling Castle details, please head to our post HERE.
If you are a fan of the fastastic book series and Starz show, like me, then you definitely want to take part in an Outlander Tour. Filiming for the show has taken place all over Scotland, but many sites are in or just minutes from Glasgow. You can even find self-guided driving tours if you prefer.
That’s a Wrap!
All in all, Glasgow is an amazing and complex city! It will take me a few posts to cover everything we learned and did during our stay, but I can honestly say it is a wonderful place to visit. The people are friendly, the food is to die for and the options for fun are endless!!!
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those little ones are such good travelers love them so much
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Very good post, after reading it we can’t wait to get back there to see more of it than we did in 2014. We are visiting friends in Edinburg this year so hopefully, we can persuade them to take us there.
Yeah, just a quick train ride away!
Wow that’s a comprehensive guide to Glasgow! You are a foodie family 🙂
Thank you for sharing all those tips and glad you managed to enjoy another family vacation together!
Oh yeah, we love to eat! Our favorite aspect of travel.
The Hanoi bike shop looks cool. I saw Glasgow twice before seeing any other parts of Scotland. Since I write about train travel, I regret not getting to use the subway. I mostly walked around the center.
Hanoi Bike shop was really good and the decor was just so interesting. We didn’t use the subway until the end of our trip, but it was so nice I wish we would have used it sooner.
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Castles, palaces and amazing food and drink. You’ve won me over on Glasgow!
I see you feel the same as me! Glasgow love be strong.
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Glasgow seems like an awesome travel destination which I would love to cross off my bucket list soon! When’s the best time of the year to visit it?
Thank you. You will have the “best” weather during summer although travel rates are higher at that time. Plus there are a lot of events and festivals going on in summer that are fun too. You definitely should go the next time you have a chance. I am craving to go back.
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Ooooh, I’ve always wanted to go to Glasgow! It will be on my to-visit list once this pandemic is gone!
It is a great city. We can’t wait to go back. Once this pandemic is over we will definitely be planning another trip.