Glaswegians take great pride in their city’s ‘open doors’ policy. There are several world-class museums and galleries across Glasgow, most of which are completely free for locals and visitors to enjoy. Combine this with an abundance of green spaces and you can have an action-packed day in Scotland’s largest city without spending a penny. Here are our top 10 free things to do in Glasgow.

Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery, a beautiful baroque building on a sprawling green lawn from the vantage point of a park bench.
Admire Kelvingrove Art Gallery from the inside or out © benedek / Getty

1. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

The jewel of Glasgow’s west end, it’s worth taking a trip just to admire the grand Victorian sandstone building alone. Inside Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, you’ll find a treasure trove of over 8,000 objects in 22 different galleries, with the most famous works including Salvador Dali’s 'Christ of St John of the Cross', Sir Roger the Asian elephant and Sophie Cave’s now iconic 'Floating Heads'.

The facade of Glasgow Cathedral, a stone Gothic structure, after rain.
Glasgow Cathedral is lovely and, best of all, free to visit © Natakorn Sapermsap / Shutterstock

2. Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis

Arguably the country’s most majestic medieval building, Glasgow Cathedral is the only one on the Scottish mainland to survive beyond the 1560 reformation act intact. Found within the magnificent Gothic structure in the east end of Glasgow is the crypt which houses the tomb of St Kentigern, or Mungo, the city’s founder and patron saint. The adjacent Necropolis, inspired by Paris’ revered Père Lachaise, is the site of around 50,000 burials and 3,500 tombs, and a spot that offers a unique look over Glasgow from its hilltop position by the cathedral below.

An ornate building on Glasgow's George Square with people milling about.
Wander George Square during a festival or on an ordinary day © theasis / Getty

3. George Square and City Chambers

The city’s focal point, George Square is not only a place for Glaswegians to gather: it’s also a celebration of some of the country’s historical figures, with several statues depicting notable Scots including poet Robert Burns and playwright Sir Walter Scott. A regular stage for high-profile music events and festivals, George Square featured in Hollywood blockbusters World War Z and, more recently, Hobbs & Shaw. The eastern edge of the square is dominated by the prestigious City Chambers, which you can wander around on a free guided tour.

Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art, a neoclassical building with columns and a statue of a horseman in front.
The Gallery of Modern Art is free to visitors © gmsphotography / Getty

4. Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)

Located in the heart of the city centre, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is the most visited gallery in the country; works from local and international artists are all housed within the striking Royal Exchange Square building, the former townhouse of a Glasgow tobacco merchant. On GoMA’s front doorstep you’ll encounter the statue of the Duke of Wellington – never seen without a traffic cone on his head – a landmark that has become almost as notable as the gallery itself.

A footpath in Kelvingrove Park with fallen yellow leaves and autumnal trees.
Have a coffee and stroll through Kelvingrove Park © Melissa Rynn / EyeEm / Getty

5. Kelvingrove Park

An oasis of calm in the middle of the city, Kelvingrove Park is Glasgow’s most popular green space. Surrounded by Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and Glasgow University, the park offers raw beauty throughout every season of the year. Expect to be greeted by cheeky squirrels and dogs out for a stroll with their west end owners. Make your way north to Gibson Street for a fine row of coffee shops and restaurants including the superb Stravaigin.

Glasgow's striking modern Riverside Museum building with its jagged glass facade, and the three-masted Tall Ship in front.
The Riverside Museum with the Tall Ship in front © jewhyte / Getty

6. Riverside Museum and The Tall Ship

Replacing the much-loved transport museum at Kelvin Hall in 2011, Zaha Hadid’s fine feat of architecture has helped to transform the look of the Clyde, while reflecting the river’s storied shipbuilding past. Artefacts on display at the Riverside Museum – illustrating transport and travel through the ages – range from skateboards to stormtroopers, while the Tall Ship – saved from ruin and sailed back to Glasgow from Seville in 1990, over 100 years after its maiden voyage – remains a major draw. 

A glass gazebo surrounded by a sidewalk in the middle of a garden
The People's Palace sits pretty in Glasgow Green © theasis / Getty

7. People’s Palace

Look no further than the People’s Palace for an interactive history lesson on the city and its people. The stunning 19th-century building, which sits proudly in the vast, lush Glasgow Green, is home to hundreds of paintings, prints and photographs illustrating the life of Glasgow from 1750 until the present day. A trip here will also see you marvel at the incredible five-tier Doulton Fountain and the former Templeton Carpet Factory, modelled on Venice’s Doge’s Palace. 

A mural of a blonde girl blowing a dandelion on a Glasgow wall.
Vibrant street art is found on the Mural Trail © Gary Armstrong / Lonely Planet

8. City Centre Mural Trail

Over the past decade, run-down and hidden areas of Glasgow in need of some TLC have been transformed by bright and beautiful murals thanks to an ever-growing local street art scene as well as vibrant contributions from overseas. The City Centre Mural Trail, a self-guided walking tour, takes in 25 such sights, many of them depicting the story of Glasgow and its people. The much-Instagrammed spots are easy to track down thanks to a straightforward mural map you can find on the trail website.

The face of an Egyptian mummy at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow.
The Hunterian Museum is located inside Glasgow University and yes, there is a mummy © jekjob / Shutterstock

9. The Hunterian Museum

A stay in Glasgow wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Glasgow University, described by many as a real-life Hogwarts and not one for Harry Potter fans to miss. Within, you’ll find the fantastic Hunterian, Scotland’s oldest public museum, which features an eclectic array of items such as an Egyptian mummy, objects from the voyages of Captain Cook and the largest body of work from famed Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

View of Glasgow's grey stone buildings and rooftops from The Lighthouse.
Your trip isn't complete without a view of Glasgow from The Lighthouse © twarunyou / Getty

10. The Lighthouse

Found just off Glasgow’s busiest shopping strip, Buchanan Street, Scotland’s national centre for design and architecture is the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his gift to the city’s present-day creatives. Hosting regular events and exhibitions showcasing the best in modern Scottish design, visitors are encouraged to climb The Lighthouse’s helical staircase for an uninterrupted panoramic look across the city, arguably the best viewpoint in the whole of Glasgow.

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