Car-free adventures aroundGlasgowGreater Glasgow
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.
1. City sights car-free
Glasgow is a great place to explore car-free with a busy network of public transport and some scenic walking routes. Transform Scotland have very detailed instructions for reaching Glasgow’s top visitor attractions by train, bus, bike or foot. They also suggest a range of enticing options for getting by bike from both the main (Central and Queen Street) stations; Nextbike offer 500 cycles for hire outside both stations and across the city.
- The kid-friendly Science Centre is a traffic-free, fifteen-minute stroll from Exhibition Centre railway station, along the waterside Clyde Walkway and over the Millennium Bridge.
- The award-winning Riverside Museum, full of all kinds of transport from tall ships to skateboards, is a half-mile, off-road walk away from Partick station. Follow Good Journey’s directions.
- The wonderful Kelvingrove Gallery is a twenty minute walk away from Exhibition Centre station. This world-class free museum is un-missable for art lovers. There are paintings by all kinds of old masters from Rembrandt to Van Gogh as well as galleries devoted to the Scottish colourists, the Glasgow boys and more. There are also buses nearby and Kelvinhall subway station just down the road. Or you can combine it with a trip to the university (see 2 below). Follow Good Journey’s directions.
2. Glasgow University
The area around the university has several amazing museums, a hilly park, some distinctive architecture and great cafés. Wander past turrets and crow stepped gables – iconic features of the Gilbert Scott Building, named after the gothic revivalist architect who designed it. Walk through the university quadrangles and the beautiful vaulted arcade outside the Hunterian Museum.
- There are lots of ways to get here. One of the simplest is catch the subway to Hillhead station. Turn left down Byres Road and left along University Avenue to reach the museums on the left and university buildings on the right.
- Don’t miss the Hunterian Museum, Scotland’s oldest public museum, with dinosaur skeletons and remnants of the epic Antonine Wall. Across the road, the Hunterian Art Gallery and Mackintosh House are equally magnificent. The Mackintosh House is the only one that charges, but for fans of the elegantly minimalist art deco style that characterises much of Glasgow, it’s worth every penny.
- Dine like a student (weekdays during term times) in the crypt café of the neoclassical Wellington Church on University Avenue. Their homemade soups or macaroni cheese are cheap and delicious; banana and chocolate muffins are often fresh from the oven.
- Alternatively, seek out the Òran Mór at the top of Byres Road. This theatre bar offers a pie, a pint and a play at lunchtimes.
- Walk through out onto South Road for the iconic university view. Leave the campus down steps in southeast corner. Cross Kelvin Way and continue left through a gate to the pedestrian bridge in Kelvingrove Park. Turn right and follow the river to find Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
- Continue along Argyle Road to Kelvinhall subway.
3. Dead Victorians and cold beer
The area around Glasgow’s imposing cathedral is packed with interesting sights: the city’s oldest house, a museum of comparative religion, an atmospheric necropolis, and a very popular brewery.
- It’s fairly straightforward to walk the mile along Cathedral Street, with crowds of students from the nearby colleges, or take bus 38 or 57 (frequent) from Waterloo Street outside Central Station to Glebe Street. Turn right at the infirmary onto Castle Street.
- As you turn left to reach the cathedral, you’ll see ahead of you Provand’s Lordship (Glasgow’s oldest house) and the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life – lovely café overlooking the Zen garden.
- The cathedral itself has a beautiful vaulted lower church, colourful stained glass and more. When you’ve finished exploring inside, climb up among the Victorian tombs of the necropolis to get great views of the city.
- On the way down, head for the metal tanks of the brewery, exit through the gate onto Wishat Street, turn left and left again to reach the entrance to Tennent’s Brewery. This Glasgow institution hosts “Scotland’s most popular brewery tour” and has a great retro bar, where you can sample a cheeky pint or two.
- From the bus stop opposite the brewery, the 41 bus runs back into the centre of town every ten minutes.