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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

Fantastic Indoor Activities in Glasgow From a Historical Perspective

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Glasgow may not get the attention that Edinburgh does among tourists but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things to do in Glasgow to fill an itinerary. Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, with a rich industrial history that dates back hundreds of years. Today the city is known for its many museums and art galleries, incredible dining scene, and of course the nightlife which is famous for being the best in Scotland. Any time of the year is a great time to visit Glasgow, though chances are you’ll get at least one rainy day if you’re planning on spending more than a day in Glasgow.

So, what are some indoor activities in Glasgow that you can do if it starts to rain? Well, from a historical and cultural point of view there are almost endless options, and there are many modern activities such as escape rooms to take part in as well. One of my favourite activities in Glasgow to do is to eat, so I've included a few tips for where to eat in Glasgow and where you can rest your head for the night if you’re planning on spending a few days exploring this incredible Scottish city.

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Indoor Activities in Glasgow

Glasgow isn’t known for having the best weather so it’s important that you have a few indoor activities in Glasgow on your list just in case you happen to visit on a rainy day. The following activities are mostly centred around historic places to visit in Glasgow with a few unique alternative ideas added as well.

Crossbill Distillery Gin School

Gin school set up inside distillery in Glasgow.
Crossbill Gin School

Scotland may be world famous for its whisky production but gin distillation is picking up steam across the country and there’s no better place to go for gin lovers in Glasgow than Crossbill Distillery. You’ll find this small batch distillery where the Barras Market is and they offer guests the chance to distil their own gin at the Crossbill Distilling Gin School! It’s a very unique indoor activity in Glasgow to partake in which lasts for 3 hours and costs £110.00 for two people.

During the class you’ll receive a fantastic history lesson about the origins of gin as well as gin production in Scotland. You’ll then get to choose your own botanicals for your gin creation and distil them using a copper pot still while you munch on some much needed snacks following an extensive gin tasting session. Finally, you’ll label and seal your bottle to take home and if you run out you can always get in touch with the distillery again and they’ll distil another bottle for you. Even if you aren’t a big fan of gin this is a very fun experience in Glasgow that you won’t find anywhere else.

Barras Market

Inside the Barras Market in Glasgow's East End.
Barras Market

The Barras Market is one of Glasgow’s most popular and oldest markets, located in the East End. What started out as a small local market in 1921 quickly grew in size and it now attracts people from far and wide every weekend and since a lot of it’s covered you can happily visit even in the rain. Visitors can expect to find everything from antiques to handmade goods and vintage clothing for sale here.

Riverside Museum

Riverside Museum in Glasgow with old street and cars.
Riverside Museum

There are a lot of free museums in Glasgow to visit but one that really stood out to me was the Riverside Museum. You’ll need to hop on a bus or taxi to get here if you don’t want to walk because it’s quite a long distance but it’s worth the trip. Although the museum is housed in a modern building it features an incredible collection showcasing the history of transport and technology in Glasgow. Just outside of the Riverside Museum is The Tall Ship which is a restored Victorian cargo vessel that now sits docked as a museum (also free).

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Inside a greenhouse in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.
Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Botanic gardens might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of indoor activities in Glasgow but the Glasgow Botanic Gardens has a few indoor spots you can hide in when it’s raining or very cold outside. Kibble Palace is very nice to walk around and if you want to get lost for a while with some exotic plants you can always walk over to the Glasshouses. The gardens were first opened in the 19th century and are a main attraction in Glasgow’s West End.

Princes Square

Inside a Victorian shopping centre with wooden escalators.
Princes Square

Glasgow is a great city for shopping, with places such as Buchanan Street, Argyll Arcade, and the Barras Market all popular options with both locals and visitors. One of my favourite indoor activities in Glasgow to do is to step inside the Victorian arcades - even if I’m not planning on buying anything. Argyll Arcade is a popular one which dates back to 1827 making it Scotland’s first purpose-built arcade. I would also recommend popping your head inside Princes Square which was first built in the 1840s and is now home to a number of popular high street shops.

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

Kinetic sculpture of mannequin inside a car.
Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

One of the most unique things to do in Glasgow is to visit the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre in the city centre. The shows consist of a series of kinetic sculptures designed by a Russian artist who moved to Glasgow in the 1980s, and as these sculptures move they are complimented by a light and sound show that makes the sculptures eerily come to life. The show lasts just 45 minutes and takes place in the evening so it’s a great indoor activity in Glasgow to add to your list.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

Small fighter plane hanging from ceiling in Kelvingrove Museum.
Museum side of Kelvingrove

If it’s raining in Glasgow then chances are the museums are full. One of Scotland’s most famous and popular museums is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and it just happens to be free to enter too. It’s located in Glasgow’s West End, near the University of Glasgow, and was opened in 1901. There’s a lot to see here with everything from famous paintings from world renowned artists to armoury and a natural history exhibition. There’s a reason that the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum is the most visited museum in the UK outside of London.

Glasgow Cathedral

Interior of Glasgow Cathedral made of stone with wooden ceiling.
Glasgow Cathedral

If you’re looking for free things to do in Glasgow I would highly recommend making your way over to Glasgow Cathedral. It’s one of the most impressive religious medieval buildings in Scotland that survived mostly intact following the Protestant Reformation. It has a history dating back to the 12th century and its interior is beautiful to walk around. Surrounding the cathedral are various small museums as well as the Necropolis which is a good place to visit if the weather is nice.

City Chambers

Inside the Glasgow City Chambers with marble stairs and pillars.
City Chambers

The City Chambers building is one of the most prominent buildings in Glasgow’s city centre and twice a day from Monday to Friday visitors can join a free guided tour of its stunning interior on a first come first served basis. The building officially opened at the end of the 19th century and it’s famous for its incredible marble interior that’s unlike anything you will have seen before. It’s even said to be home to more marble than the Vatican! Make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes before the tour to ensure you don’t miss out on a spot.

Catch a show at the OVO Hydro

View of the stage at the OVO Hydro during S Club concert.
S Club at the OVO Hydro

What better way to spend an evening than catching a show at the OVO Hydro in Glasgow? I’ve been here a number of times, most recently to see S Club again, and it’s still one of my favourite venues in the UK. They’ve recently added a reusable cup initiative to the stadium so you get money back for every cup you return to the stalls which is a fantastic way for such a big venue to be more sustainable - plus you can make money collecting people’s cups! Take a look at their official website to see what shows are on when you plan on visiting Glasgow next.

Where To Eat in Glasgow

If there’s one thing that Glasgow isn’t short on it’s places to eat. Whether you’re planning on staying in the city centre or want to explore Glasgow’s West or East End you’ll have no problems when it comes to eateries. We spent a week in Glasgow so we were able to try out a number of restaurants around the city that offered different types of cuisines. Here are some of our top picks for where to eat in Glasgow.

111 by Modou

If you’re looking for an affordable fine dining restaurant in Glasgow you can’t go wrong with 111 by Modou. Their £40 five course menu offers diners three options per course (except for the first course), including a vegetarian one. Each of the dishes on the menu tells the story of the head chef through the ingredients and flavour combinations. When we visited in October they had just launched their latest menu and every single course was fantastic and beautifully put together. I especially loved the cauliflower dish that presented the vegetable in ways I had never tried before. 111 by Modou is definitely a must-try restaurant in Glasgow.

Commons Club

Located inside the brand new Virgin Hotels Glasgow is the Commons Club. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel I would highly recommend dining here because the menu is fantastic. Their contemporary menu uses seasonal Scottish produce and ingredients to create bold flavours and imaginative dishes, and the relaxed yet elegant atmosphere of the dining room really helps to bring the entire experience together. They have a number of tasty seafood options on the menu that are very popular but I would suggest trying the hand rolled gnocchi - it’s one of the best I’ve ever had. Their dessert menu is just as impressive as the main menu so make sure you leave a little room for a sweet treat too.

Pizza B.Goode

If you’re looking for somewhere trendy to eat on the weekend in Glasgow then you need to check out Dockyard Social. This food court requires a ticket to enter (available online) and inside is a big selection of local street food vendors and themed bars.

Everyone likes pizza, right? Well if you love it as much as I do then your first stop should be Pizza B.Goode. They serve up some tasty Napoli-style pizzas with flavours such as traditional Margherita and Meat & Spice available which are always great options. You’ll also find a weekend special which for us was one of my favourites - Prosciutto Ham & Mushroom. The pizzas are very affordable and a good size for one person or to share so you really can’t go wrong here!

Durty Dogs

Durty Dogs is also located inside Dockyard Social and if loaded hot dogs and fries are your thing then you’ll love the food here. This is classic American street food at its finest and there are some very tasty options on the menu. I opted for the Crispy New Yorker which was topped with lots of crispy onions, pickles, and condiments. I’d recommend pairing your choice of hotdog with one of their loaded fries options because there’s no better pairing than a hotdog and fries!

Where To Stay in Glasgow

Glasgow is full of beautiful hotels to stay at but if you want to stay somewhere with all of the modern amenities and furnishings that you can imagine there’s only one place to be - the new Virgin Hotels Glasgow. This is Glasgow’s newest hotel and you’ll definitely be in for a treat if you choose to stay at this stunning 5 star hotel.

Virgin Hotels Glasgow

Before I get to the details about our room, I wanted to point out some of the many features that Virgin Hotels Glasgow provides. Their new restaurant, the Commons Club, offers diners a beautiful seasonally inspired contemporary menu with Scottish produce fully on display. There’s also a bar area in the restaurant where you can relax with a drink, and extra seating in the hotel lobby area.

Upstairs guests can take advantage of the Highyard with views over the River Clyde and ample seating for working or relaxing. The Highyard is also where breakfast is served with guests getting to choose from a hot menu as well as a continental buffet which we really enjoyed and would recommend adding to your booking.

Our room was absolutely perfect and full of modern amenities which really added to our stay. We booked the Chamber King room which featured a dressing room separated from the bedroom by a sliding door. The smart dressing room included a make-up desk with lighting, bathrobes and slippers, and lots of storage space. This is also where access to the toilet and separate walk-in rainforest shower was. The bedroom itself was incredible with a comfortable hybrid king bed, mood lighting, a large flatscreen TV, a signature SMEG fridge and luxury mini bar, and the option to fully control the room using an app!

We really couldn’t fault this luxury 5 star hotel in Glasgow. This was our first time staying at Virgin Hotels and we were blown away by not only the amenities in the hotel and our room but also the attentiveness of the staff and how great its location is in Glasgow’s city centre.

>> Click here for the most up to date prices at Virgin Hotels Glasgow <<

Hopefully the next time you visit Glasgow the weather cooperates with you, but in the event that it doesn’t these indoor activities in Glasgow are sure to get you through the day. And it wouldn’t be a trip to Scotland’s largest city without trying out some of the amazing places to eat in Glasgow either. Not everyone associates Glasgow with having a lot of history but that’s not the case and there’s certainly a lot of amazing historic attractions to visit in and around the city which is what makes Glasgow so interesting to explore.

If you have any questions about Glasgow or want some advice about where else you should visit while you’re in Scotland please feel free to reach out via email or through Instagram and I’d be happy to help as much as I can.


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