One of the reasons I love Glasgow is the vast amount of free things to do. From attractions to tours, there is always something to do and it is the perfect city for those on a budget
Widely advertised are the big museums and parks which offer amazing experiences and there is a reason that they are so popular. However, there are also plenty of lesser known gems in the city that are equally deserving of a visit and offer a more unique experience.
If you are looking for something alternative to do in Glasgow, then this guide lists ten places and tours that are free and in my opinion worthwhile. As with everything in my travel blog I have visited them all and I'm happy to provide any more information you need although I've included all the links to the appropriate websites.
Although everything listed here are free things to do in Glasgow, I've noted ones that are grateful for donations to help maintain their attraction so please consider this if you enjoyed your visit. I could easily have included another ten so maybe I'll have to work on part 2!
If you're looking for something different to do in the city this is a good place to start.
1. Go on a free walking tour of the Necropolis
Friends of the Necropolis run free walking tours around Glasgow's most famous graveyard. Pointing out monuments of interest and telling the real stories of some of the people that are buried here brings this city of the dead to life. The views at the top are some of the best in Glasgow.
The volunteer guides are very knowledgeable and passionate which really adds to the experience. Tours last approx 2 hrs (mine was almost 2 1/2), wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. The walking tours are free but donations welcome which help towards restoration projects, you also need to book in advance.
2. Visit the Glasgow Gurdwara
The Glasgow Gurdwara serves the Sikh community in the city and beyond. However, it also extends a warm welcome to anyone wishing to visit and free tours can be booked.
Lasting approx 45 mins, tours take in the various areas of the Gurdwara, explain about the Sikh faith and there is the opportunity to enjoy a free meal from the community kitchen.
Glasgow is a mulitcultural city and a visit here helps you understand more about one of the many faiths that make up modern day Scotland.
Shoes should be removed within the Gurdwara and scarves are provided to cover your head.
3. Take a free tour of Glasgow City Chambers
Glasgow City Chambers is the headquarters of Glasgow City Council. Free public tours take place weekdays at 10.30am and 2.30pm, there is no need to book just arrive at the reception.
Tours last approx 40 mins and take in the working area, opulent banqueting hall, marble staircase and portrait gallery. There is even the opportunity to sit in the Lord Provost's chair, an ideal photo!
As the City Chambers is a working building access to some areas may be restricted at certain times.
I highly recommend a visit here as the architecture, artwork and decor are pretty impressive, and in my opinion it is the best free tour in Glasgow!
4. Visit the Glasgow Police Museum
Glasgow Police Museum tells the story of Britain's first police force from 1800 - 1975.
It is worth seeking out this small museum packed full of interesting memorabilia including uniforms, medals and photographs.
The eclectic exhibition also includes a display of over 2000 items from international police forces including uniforms and badges.
The guides are retired police officers from Glasgow City Police and have a wealth of knowledge about the history of the force.
Admission is free but donations are welcome.
5. Visit St Andrew's Cathedral
St Andrew's Cathedral may not be as ornate as Glasgow Cathedral but it has a calming simplicity and beauty.
Built in 1816 it was completely restored in 2011 with modern artwork added.
Outside the modern Italian cloister garden features mirrored plinths and the story of the Cathedral. There is also a memorial plaque to Scots-Italians drowned in the sinking of the SS Arandora Star and a 200 year old olive tree gifted by the people of Tuscany.
This is a Roman Catholic Cathedral and regular mass is held here although all are welcome to visit.
6. Take a tour of the Glasgow Museum Resource Centre
Only about 2% of Glasgow's public museum collection is on display. Most of it is kept at the Glasgow Museum Resource Centre in Nitshill.
Free tours take place most days although you need to book in advance. They also run themed events throughout the year and you can make special requests if there is something particular you want to see on your visit.
I joined the general tour which lasted an hour and got to visit several of their pods containing art, natural history, transport and world cultures. The amount of objects here is just astounding!
Sited in an unassuming industrial estate it is real hidden gem.
7. Visit the Govan Stones
The Govan Stones are housed in Govan Old Church and are free to visit although donations welcome. A stunning collection of early medieval stones carved in the 9th - 11th centuries to commemorate the rulers of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. The collection includes crosses and hogback stones of significant historical importance. You can book a tour but I just turned up and one of the volunteers happily showed me around. I highly recommend a visit here.
To add to your experience you can get the Govan ferry across the Clyde running between here and the Riverside Museum for FREE until 21/9/14. This is Glasgow's last remaining river crossing ferry.
8. Follow a trail around the Merchant City
The eastern quarter of Glasgow city centre is known as the Merchant City. Full of popular bars and restaurants it is also steeped in history with beautiful architecture. This is my favourite area in the city centre and a must visit.
There are some great free walking trail leaflets that you can follow at your own pace to find out more about the artwork and history. They will really open your eyes to places and buildings you would normally walk past that have fascinating tales to tell or interesting works of art that you might have missed.
Pick up a leaflet locally or download one from the website.
9. Visit Glasgow's Oldest House
Built in 1471, Provand's Lordship is the oldest house in Glasgow. Now i have to be honest and say that I think this museum could be better but there are some things worth seeing.
The video at the beginning is well worth watching and shows the history of the building, there is a nice collection of 17th century Scottish furniture and make sure you visit St Nicholas Garden at the rear of the house. The Garden is full of medicinal herbs but my favourite thing is the Tontine heads above the cloistered walkways, a collection of stone masks found across the city.
10. Take a walk along the Clyde at night
For me the riverside area of Glasgow is most beautiful at night. Over the years it has gradually become a place of mutli-coloured lights, with bridges and buildings lit up in range of alternating vibrant shades.
Take a stroll along the Clyde walkway and look out for the music venues and squinty bridge that have become well photographed by locals and tourists.
The riverside has also become home to some amazing street art that is hard to miss.
Although the walkway is adjacent to the road and is frequented by joggers and cyclists as with any big city it is best to stick to busier areas, especially at night.
So that is my list and hopefully it will give you some alternative ideas of free things to do in Glasgow. If you know of any other free gems in the city please get in touch and share them.
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