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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

What To Do in Glasgow For a Day

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

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Glasgow is a bustling city, known predominantly for its architecture, world-class museums, and its industrial past that’s still very evident today. Scotland’s largest city is often overlooked by tourists who have their sights set solely on Edinburgh but the good news is that just a short one hour train ride will get you from Edinburgh into the heart of Glasgow’s city centre where you can explore everything that Glasgow has to offer.

If you’re wondering what to do in Glasgow for a day or can’t decide whether the city is worth adding to your Scotland itinerary then you’re in luck because I’ve put together a quick guide covering things to see in Glasgow that are within walking distance of one another as well as where to eat in Glasgow’s city centre and where to stay in Glasgow in case you want to spend a little more time here. There are a lot of historic sites in Glasgow to visit so I’ve pointed out a few of the main ones that you shouldn’t miss too.

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What To Do in Glasgow For a Day

There are too many things to do in Glasgow to list in just one post so to make things easier I’ve outlined some places to visit in Glasgow’s city centre and the East End that are easy to get to on foot or by bus. If you’re planning on spending 2 days in Glasgow or more, or if you’re already seen Glasgow’s city centre, then I would highly recommend taking a full day to explore Glasgow’s West End and checking out some indoor activities in Glasgow too. The West End is where you can find attractions such as the University of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and a lot of great restaurants in Glasgow.

But for the purpose of this guide, and to help you plan what to do in Glasgow for a day, here’s a look at some of the best things to do in Glasgow (most of which are free) and some tips on where to eat in Glasgow too.

George Square and the City Chambers

View of a monument in the centre of big square in Glasgow.
George Square

One of the first things you should do if this is your first time in Glasgow is to take a walk around George Square. It was once designed to be a grand residential square in the 18th century but following redevelopment over the years it’s now one of Glasgow’s most well known public spaces. As well as the City Chambers, George Square also has a number of prominent statues such as the Sir Walter Scott Monument.

At the far end of George Square stands the impressive City Chambers building. It was built in the late 19th century and if you think the outside is nice then you definitely need to head inside for a look. The interior of the City Chambers is designed in an Italian Renaissance style and it’s incredible to walk around. One of the best free things to do in Glasgow is to take a guided tour of the City Chambers which takes place twice a day from Monday to Friday and tickets are issued on a first come first served basis.

Duke of Wellington Statue and Merchant City

Statue of man on horse with traffic cone on his head.
Duke of Wellington Statue

A very short walk from George Square will bring you to one of Glasgow’s most famous landmarks - the Duke of Wellington Statue. It sits next to the Gallery of Modern Art and was erected in 1844. While the statue itself is impressive, what most people come to look at is the traffic cone that’s sitting on its head. Even if it’s removed it magically reappears!

From Royal Exchange Square, if you make your way along Ingram Street, you’ll find yourself in what’s known as Merchant City which is one of Glasgow’s oldest districts and is now filled with unique shops, places to eat, and lots of historic points of interest.

Glaschu for a Sunday roast

If you’re looking for the best Sunday roast in Glasgow you’ll find it at Glaschu. Located in Royal Exchange Square, just behind the Gallery of Modern Art, this beautiful fine dining restaurant puts a Scottish twist on things in all of the right ways. I was fortunate enough to visit Glaschu on a Sunday when they feature a 2 or 3 course Sunday Market Menu with Scottish produce very central to the dishes.

They have a great selection of starters and desserts on the menu including some daily specials that the waiter will inform you about. The Sunday roast is fantastic at Glaschu, with the option of beef, pork, or chicken paired with seasonal vegetables, jus, and the biggest Yorkshire pudding I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely a great option for Sunday roast in Glasgow!

Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis

View of Glasgow Cathedral from the top of the Necropolis.
Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral is a must-see for any history lovers out there. The cathedral stands as one of Scotland’s most impressive medieval buildings and dates back to the 12th century. Like many medieval towns the cathedral was at the heart of Glasgow’s growth into a city and was the only cathedral on the Scottish mainland to survive mostly intact following the Protestant Reformation. It’s completely free to enter and you can also go under the cathedral to explore the 13th century crypt.

Statues in the Glasgow Necropolis on a cloudy day.
Glasgow Necropolis

After you’ve taken a look at Glasgow Cathedral I would recommend taking a short uphill walk to the Glasgow Necropolis. This Victorian cemetery is full of unique sculptures and architecture, so it's very interesting to walk through. You’ll also get incredible views over the city of Glasgow and the cathedral below.

Find some street art

Large street art of man with bird on finger.
St Mungo

One thing that Glasgow is very well known for is its street art. The street art in Glasgow is so popular in fact that there are dedicated street art walking tours you can join where you’ll be shown some of the most popular and impressive pieces around the city. Glasgow was named in the top 5 cities in the UK for street art so if you have the time I would recommend researching the City Centre Mural Trail and picking out some pieces to take a look at if you don’t want to join a guided tour.

River Clyde

View of the River Clyde with bridge crossing it.
River Clyde

If you’re only planning on spending a day in Glasgow don’t forget to take a walk along the River Clyde. The river has played an important role throughout Glasgow’s history, marking it as a major trading route for European voyages and beyond. As engineers started to deepen the riverbed, larger vessels could dock in Glasgow and by the 19th and 20th century the city played a big role in the shipbuilding industry and the development of the steam engine.

Both the Riverside Museum and The Tall Ship are free museums in Glasgow that you can visit to learn more about the history of Glasgow. They’re quite a distance from the city centre so you may not be able to add them to your Glasgow itinerary if you’re just spending a few hours here.

People’s Palace and Glasgow Green

Red brick building known as the People's Palace in Glasgow.
People's Palace

For those of you who are interested in learning more about the history of the people of Glasgow, a short walk to Glasgow’s East End might be something to consider. The People’s Palace is another free museum in Glasgow where visitors can look at objects and photographs from Glasgow’s past and it’s a great option for something to do during a rainy day in Glasgow. Across from the entrance to the museum you’ll find the Doulton Fountain which is the largest terracotta fountain in the world.

The People’s Palace is situated inside Glasgow Green which is a lovely park to walk around if the weather is nice. It’s also the city’s oldest park, dating back to the 15th century.

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

Kinetic sculptures lit up against red light in a theatre.
Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

Visiting the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre is easily one of the most unique things to do in Glasgow. The theatre opened in 1989 but has its roots in St.Petersburg, Russia which is where the artist Eduard Bersudsky first started carving. The theatre itself sits along Trongate in Glasgow’s city centre and consists of handcrafted kinetic sculptures made up of wooden figurines and salvaged scraps that come together to create an incredible choreography and each piece has been expertly paired with haunting music and a light show.

Sharmanka has two main shows, the Promenade and the Wheels of Life. We went to the Promenade show which was amazing and featured some of Bersudsky’s latest works that were made in Scotland as well as some of his most popular pieces. I would highly recommend taking an hour out of your evening to see this fantastic show in Glasgow.

Thundercat Pub and Diner

Looking for somewhere unique to eat in Glasgow? Thundercat Pub and Diner is an American-inspired diner in the heart of Merchant city with favourites such as deep dish pizzas, hotdogs, and some pretty tasty sandwiches on the menu. They had just launched a new cocktail menu when we visited so we had to give those a try as well. If you like American food then you really can’t go wrong here. We tried a variety of their popular menu items and two that I would definitely recommend trying are the Chicken Parm Sandwich and the Pepperoni Deep Dish Pizza Pie. Add a side of their homemade dips to your order as well and you won’t be hungry until the next day - that’s a guarantee.

Where To Stay in Glasgow

After you’ve decided on what to do in Glasgow for a day, you may come to the realization that it’d be worth your while to spend at least one night in Glasgow too. If you want to be close to all of the city centre’s main attractions as well as the central train station then there’s no better place to stay than Motel One.

Motel One

Motel One is a very budget friendly hotel in Glasgow’s city centre with all of the modern amenities and decor that you’d expect at a 4 star hotel. The lobby is extremely cozy with some additional Scottish decorations dotted around which is a nice touch. The lobby area is also where you’ll find the bar which seemed to be very popular with people heading out for a night in Glasgow. Depending when you visit the bar may also have a specialty cocktail on the menu.

I stayed in The One room which featured a large king size bed, a flat screen TV on the wall, a beautiful rain shower, and one of the best views of Glasgow you’ll ever get in a hotel. It was great to spend the evening working with a view of the city centre for a bit of a distraction. If you opt for breakfast at Motel One you’ll find the dining room on the main floor and it’s a traditional continental buffet with a great selection of items to choose from. I especially liked the eggs with faces drawn on them!

You really can’t beat Motel One in terms of value for money and the location is one of the best for hotels in Glasgow too. I’ve stayed in a few Motel Ones around the UK and so far this has been my favourite so I couldn’t recommend it enough to visitors.

>> Click here for the most up to date prices at Motel One Glasgow <<

This short guide covering what to do in Glasgow for a day has hopefully inspired you to visit Scotland’s biggest city in the near future. Whether you’re planning on spending 24 hours in Glasgow or want to have a weekend city escape, Glasgow has a lot to offer visitors in terms of bars, eateries, nightlife, events, and of course historic attractions. So, is Glasgow worth visiting? Come and see for yourself!

If you have any questions regarding Glasgow or you aren’t sure about how many days to spend in Glasgow please get in touch with me via email or on Instagram and I’ll be happy to help as much as I can.


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