Car-free adventures aroundGlasgowGreater Glasgow

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Tall ships and towering monuments, hands-on science museums and world class art galleries … Glasgow is an extraordinary place. Daniel Defoe, who wrote Robinson Crusoe, called it the “beautifullest” city in Britain. With rolling parks full of highland cattle and day trips to coast, castles and waterfalls, a visit to Glasgow is not just an urban experience. There’s plenty here for walkers and cyclists, poets and painters - and no need to bring the car.

  • County: Greater Glasgow
  • Great for: animals | arts | birds | castle | culture | family | literary connections | museums | parks |
  • Refreshments: Cafes in most of the museums, around the university and all over the city.
  • Please note: researched/updated November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch:
Glasgow car-free adventures
  1. 4. Pollok Country Park

    You really can feel as if you’ve got away from it all in Glasgow’s largest park. Highland cows roam through the water meadows; herons stand among the willows and tiny, white-bellied tree creepers dart through the ancient woods. Pollok Park has patches of early spring snowdrops and then banks of daffodils, and is particularly colourful in April and May, when the rhododendrons are in bloom.

    • Get one of the regular trains from Glasgow’s Central station to Pollokshaws West station. Exit left, over the river, and left again under the railway viaduct straight into the park.
    • Fork left soon after and follow the riverside path with the water on your left to Pollok House. This landmark National Trust mansion (NT Scotland’s first property), full of mid-18th century grandeur, has a fine collection of paintings by Spanish and Scottish artists. And the formal gardens are full of geometric hedges, terraces, gazebos and balustrade steps.
    • The Edwardian Kitchen café in Pollok House offers afternoon tea, featuring finger sandwiches and home made cakes.
    • From behind the house, you can pick up the red cow waymarks, leading past ponds with wooded islands and the site of an iron age fort, to the Burrell Collection. This impressive collection of 9,000 incredible artefacts, from Egyptian pots to Impressionist paintings, recently had a major refurbishment and is free to visit. The building, designed so that the trees outside are visible, is made from wood, glass and local red sandstone.
    • Stroll past the Highland cattle in the fields nearby – distinctive cows, with long horns and shaggy coats. If you’ve had enough walking, there’s a new electric shuttle bus that can take you back to the park entrance.
  1. 5. Spectacular train rides

    Glasgow is a major hub for beautiful railways. Check out Scotrail’s guide to Great Scenic Rail Journeys.

    • The famous West Highland line, heading for Fort William and Mallaig or Oban, leaves from Queen Street Station and takes you past Rannoch Moor.
    • Trains to Stirling, Perth and Aberdeen also leave regularly from Queens Street, along with trains to Edinburgh, passing the lovely town of Linlithgow.
    • The coastal railway from Glasgow Central Station to Ayr takes you to the Burns birthplace museum, a lovely half-day trip from Glasgow; there’s more information in our car-free guide. The regular 361 bus from Ayr railway station takes you to the village of Alloway, packed with poetic sights. Transform Scotland have walking directions.
  1. 6. Bus to Dean Castle Country Park

    Although the castle itself is under restoration, the park surrounding it is an unexpected rural delight in urban Kilmarnock; it’s a worthwhile trip from Glasgow and family-friendly day out, with a countryside trail past animal enclosures.

    • Catch the frequent bus X76 from Buchanan bus station in Central Glasgow and hop off at Beansburn in Kilmarnock, opposite Burns Avenue.
    • Turn left into Dean Road and you’ll see the visitor centre on your left (open 10am-4pm Wed-Sun).
    • Collect a map from the desk and follow one of three trails round the park, highlighting historical and natural treasures. The wooded hills are steep in places with great views of the castle.
    • The Centre for Rural Life has animal enclosures around the site with fallow deer and their bambi-like fawns,Hebridean sheep and Eriskay ponies.
    • Kilmarnock water, a pretty river the colour of irn bru, runs over falls and under bridges between fern-covered banks, through the middle of the park.
    • The visitor centre has a great café for when you’ve finished, serving up giant plates of nachos or hearty sandwiches.
  1. 7. Day trip to New Lanark

    A train and bus ride from Glasgow brings you to the New Lanark, with its World Heritage industrial history and thundering waterfalls.

    • Trains run twice an hour from Glasgow Central Station and take under an hour to reach Lanark.
    • Step out of the station and turn left to find Stance D at the bus station. Twice an hour, bus 135 makes the eight minute trip down to New Lanark, stopping outside the visitors’ centre. Follow Good Journey’s directions.
    • This 18th-century mill village on the banks of the Clyde is one of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
    • A ticket gets you in to several different attractions, including the Annie McLeod Experience, where the ghost of a young mill worker takes you back to 1820.
    • Make sure you leave time for a riverside walk to marvel at the foaming Falls of Clyde. The Scottish Wildlife Trust, who manage this reserve, have produced a map of the woods and waterfalls.
    • Two miles of the 40-mile Clyde Walkway, which leads all the way from Glasgow run past all four falls (or “linn”, which is Scots for waterfalls). Corra Linn, about a mile from the visitors’ centre, is 26m high and an exhilarating sight from the viewpoints nearby.
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