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Britain on a Budget: Free Things to do in Glasgow

Tuesday 07 February 2023

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At CrossCountry, we love to investigate the best ways to see Britain on a budget. Even when money is tight, and you can't stretch to a lavish weekend away, we believe that everybody should be able to see the sights around the UK and get to explore somewhere new! 

If you're looking for an affordable day out, look no further than a much-loved city in Scotland. Read on for our guide to free things to do in Glasgow, as well as affordable places to stay and eat.

Best of all, you can take a whole variety of CrossCountry trains directly to Glasgow Central train station from all over the UK. Explore routes here. In order to save more money, why not book your tickets in advance and check out our cheap tickets page?

McLennen Arch in Glasgow Green – a vast green space and perfect free thing to do in Glasgow.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

The Kelvingrove Museum opened in 1901 and is known for its beautiful architecture and 22 galleries. Described as a must see, the museum is a firm favourite for locals and visitors alike. The best thing? It’s completely free.

When: 10am-5pm Monday-Thursday & Saturday, 11am-5pm Friday & Sunday

Where: Kelvingrove Park

Botanic Garden

Escape the busy city and lose yourself in stunning gardens that are over 200 years old. The Botanic Gardens provide peaceful river walks, woodland trails and thousands of exotic plants to admire. You could easily spend the whole day here, but don’t forget there’s the rest of the city to explore!

When: 11am-5pm daily

Where: Kelvingrove Park

Glasgow Mural Trail

The city centre has huge pieces of street art dotted around, and a great free thing to do in Glasgow is to have a wander and appreciate them! You can do a and learn the history behind each mural, and it’s also a fab thing to do if you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy snap. Make sure to check out official information and maps to guide your trail.

When: Any time, better in daylight

Where: Around the city centre

Riverside Museum

Another free attraction in Glasgow is the award-winning transport museum. Visitors can explore over 3000 objects taken from Glasgow’s rich history, like vintage cars and skateboards. Perfect for children, the museum includes an interactive fire engine, sailing ship and under 5s play area.

When: 10am-5pm Monday-Thursday & Saturday, 11am-5pm Friday & Sunday

Where: On the River Clyde, Kelvinhaugh

Picnic on Glasgow Green

The oldest park in the city, Glasgow Green is a vast green space that also has a flower garden and games area. Grab a picnic and spend a sunny day on the green – you’ll not find anything else better to do in the city. 

When: Any time, better in daylight

Where: Along the River Clyde

Glasgow Cathedral

The cathedral was the birthplace of Glasgow, in fact, the whole city sprung up around it and it is very much still a focal point. The city is home to the only medieval cathedral on mainland Scotland to survive the Protestant Reformation of 1560 and remain completely intact. Entry is free for you to take in the beautiful interiors.

When: 10am-12pm & 1pm-4pm daily

Where: East of the city centre

Explore the lanes of Byres Road

Close to the University are some of Glasgow’s most famous streets. The area around Byres Road is home to windy hidden lanes full of shops, restaurants and pubs. Pop in for a drink, or have a wander and bag a bargain.

When: Any time, shops open during the daytime

Where: North West of the city centre

Go on a walking tour

There are multiple free walking tours available in Glasgow. Some ask for a tip and you can pay what you feel the tour was worth, so while it isn’t completely free, it’s pretty close. These tours take you to important landmarks and outline the history behind them. It’s also a great way to meet a local and get some more recommendations of what to see and do.

When: Check times for chosen tours

Where: All around the city

The stunning Glasgow Cathedral at dusk, in front of pink clouds and a blue sky.

Affordable Places to Eat in Glasgow

Sometimes the best thing about a city break is… the food! And the good news is that it doesn’t have to cost a bomb.

  • Babu Kitchen – Enjoy delicious homemade meals inspired by street food in Bombay. Co-owner Rachna grew up in Santa Cruz and rustles up traditional dishes as well as family recipes for visitors to enjoy.
  • Kimchi Cult – Perfect for lunch or dinner, Kimchi Cult has a vibrant menu packed full of Korean classics like bibimbap and bulgogi, as well as fusion dishes like Korean fried chicken and burgers. With mains starting at around £8, what's not to love? 
  • Paesano Pizza – Revel the prospect of 100% authentic Neapolitan pizza available from two locations in the city centre. Each week you can enjoy a seasonal Specials menu alongside their range of unique pizzas and desserts.
  • Bite Me – What could be better than building your own sandwich packed with killer ingredients? Bite Me's menu has pretty much anything you can imagine in a sandwich – so get creative! 

Affordable Places to Stay in Glasgow

To fully immerse yourself in the culture of the city, you’ll want to spend a few days here. Thankfully, there is affordable accommodation available – check out our favourites.

  1. easyHotel – Just a short walk from Glasgow Central and you’ll find the easyHotel.  This simple hotel has everything you need, plus lovely extras like a flat screen TV and complimentary toiletries. The premises are kept extremely clean and whilst it is classed as a budget hotel, it doesn’t feel like it.
  2. Euro Hostel – Whether you’re with a group of friends or your partner, Euro Hostel is a great shout as it has private rooms available as well as dorms. There’s a shared kitchen available for use, perfect if you want to save some pennies and prepare your own meal. The hostel also offers a games room – a chilled area where you can relax before a night out in town.
  3. The Victorian House – Situated near King’s Theatre and Charing Cross Station, this friendly B&B offers comfortable rooms with a traditional Scottish breakfast included. Rooms even include tea and coffee-making facilities, and all the bathrooms have a hairdryer, so you don’t have to bring your own!

We hope you enjoy your cheap weekend away in Glasgow. We also recommend checking the indoor ski track if you fancy it. If not, there are lots of other things to do in Glasgow suitable for all budgets.

Written by Seb

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