If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we take the great outdoors for granted. Even before the pandemic, many of us spent far too much time indoors watching TV and playing video games at the expense of experiencing more of what outside has to offer. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the occasional series binge and PlayStation session, but leaving the house for some outdoor adventure is good for mind and matter, let alone a whole lot of fun.
We tend to think of outdoor activities as a walk around a country park followed by a visit to…another country park. But the list of fun things you can do outside is almost endless, from wakeboarding to BMX biking. If you’re looking to substitute your Netflix and chill with getting out for thrills, these are the best outdoor activities in Glasgow.
Watersports in Glasgow
Glasgow is brimming with lakes, canals and rivers, making it perfect for channelling your inner fish. Just a ten-minute walk north of Glasgow Central Station you’ll find Glasgow Wake Park, a wakeboarding park along the Port Dundas Canal. Here, boarders of all levels can try their hand at one of the UK’s fastest growing watersports, with the help of a cable system keeping them in place. Wakeskating and stand-up paddleboards are also available for those with a bit more experience.
Sharing the same facilities as Glasgow Wake Park, Pinkston Watersports offers its own stand-up paddleboarding, as well as open water swimming, canoeing and kayaking, and whitewater activities. Created as part of the city’s 2014 Legacy Project renovation, Pinkston Watersports provides high quality facilities, coaching, and clubs for those looking to take their new skills to the next level.
West End Adventure sits further out of the city but offers something a little bit different. Its kayaking and paddleboarding adventures are the perfect taster sessions for beginners, making it an ideal watersports centre for kids. It even runs after school clubs for children looking to make it a regular event. But that doesn’t mean parents have to wait around whilst the youngsters have all the fun; stand-up paddleboarding yoga is the perfect outdoor activity for the body and mind. Just make sure you can stand up without the yoga first.
If you want the adventure but without the exercise, there are dozens of boat trips that will get your adrenaline going. Seaforce is just one provider that can take you on speed boat trips to visit some of Glasgow’s most iconic locations, including the Erskine Bridge, Dumbarton Castle, the Isle of Bute, and even a shipwreck. For those who are better drivers than passengers, Seaforce even offers powerboat training sessions.
Skiing and snowboarding in Glasgow
We know what you’re thinking. Skiing in Glasgow? At any time of the year? It may not be the Pyrenees, but Glasgow has not one, but two places you can go to satiate your alpine addiction. Sitting in Bellahouston Park, just outside of the city centre, is Glasgow Ski and Snowboard Centre, an artificial slope that offers skiing and snowboarding all year round. You don’t need to be an expert; Glasgow Ski provides equipment for hire and lessons for the uninitiated. If you like the idea of sliding down a slope but the thought of doing it standing up terrifies you, tubes are also available.
Close by is Snow Factor, Scotland’s only real-snow slope open all year round. It’s separated by a beginner and more advanced slope, and gives you access to four ski lifts, an ice climbing wall, as well as several bars and restaurants. The tuition is high quality, with over half a million students (one in ten people in Scotland) having had at least a lesson. If you can’t get away this season, Snow Factor is by far the closest you’ll get to the real thing in the UK.
Cycling activities in Glasgow
Cycling and Glasgow have a history that goes years back. The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome – named after Britain’s joint most successful Olympian – was the venue for indoor cycling at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, while the Glasgow BMX Centre hosted the 2018 European Championships in 2018. Both are now open to the public, whether it be an advanced BMX rider looking to show off their skills or a beginner in need of a training session or two. The BMX Centre even provides all safety equipment and a BMX bike for each induction section.
If you prefer a gentle sightseeing cycle to a thrill-seeking one, there are plenty of tours and trails you can take in and around the city. Glasgow Bike Tours provides guided rides around this stunning and historic city, from the famous sights and hidden pathways to its most famous breweries and whisky distilleries. There are plenty of tours on offer, each taking a different amount of time and requiring various levels of fitness.
You can request a personal tour, but if doing your own thing and going off the beaten track is more your thing, the dozens of country parks outside the city are a great way to move away from the hustle and bustle but still get your legs pumping.
Climbing in Glasgow
If you’re anything like us, watching documentaries like Free Solo had you hooked and terrified of climbing in equal measure. Luckily, Glasgow boasts some of the best climbing facilities in Scotland for you to get your adrenaline fix.
Glasgow Climbing Centre offers lead, tight rope, and bouldering-style walls, all split into different difficulties to satisfy climbers of grades (3 to 8a). Routes are refurbished regularly, making them safe and keeping them interesting for regular visitors, with just under half less than a month old. For true beginners, there are even individual courses or group schools to give you the basics before you brave the climb.
In Kelvin Hall you’ll find Clip ‘n Climb. It doesn’t have the variety that Glasgow Climbing Centre does, but its single wall still caters for all skill levels. Kelvin Hall is also home to the National Library of Scotland, Glasgow Club, and several of the city’s most popular museums, so there’s plenty to do indoors if you run out of outdoor activities.
Scuba diving in Glasgow
If you’ve taken part in all the activities you can on land but still looking for another thrill, you might want to consider looking a bit deeper. Scuba Diving Scotland in Glasgow is Scotland’s largest diving centre, offering various courses to suit all skill levels. If you’re new to the diving world and looking to get sunk in for the first time, there are six courses to help you get started, from one-off pool sessions to a complete PADI open water course.
More experienced divers can take things to the next level with seven professional level courses and three rescue and first aid courses, all taught by some of the best PADI diving instructors in the UK. It’s an activity you can do now but a certification for life that can take you to some of the most stunning diving spots in the world.
Book a train to Glasgow
There are so many outdoor activities to do in Glasgow you’re probably wondering what to do next. If you find yourself spending a weekend in this fun-filled city, don’t forget CrossCountry runs services from all over the country.