Glasgow on a budget: the top five things to do

Jenai Laignel / 07 December 2015

The city of Glasgow has emerged from Edinburgh's shadow over the past couple of decades, evolving from an earthy, industrial location to become one of Scotland's most vibrant cities.

At first glance, the Victorian architecture of the city might evoke the sombre days of the past when the trade and manufacturing industries characterised the landscape, but look a little closer and you will discover a city dotted with picturesque green spaces, fantastic shopping and a thriving cultural scene begging to be explored.

What's more, a visit to Glasgow is surprisingly affordable – the city offers plenty for those travelling on a shoestring – here's our top pick of things to do in Glasgow that won't burn a hole in your pocket:

Related: Things to do in Edinburgh on a shoestring


#1. Explore the Gothic quarter

Proving that there are sights to see in Glasgow that pre-date the Industrial Revolution, the cathedral precinct located in the city's East End offers a fascinating glimpse into the past. Glasgow Cathedral and the nearby Necropolis (inspired by the famous Pere Lachaise in Paris) are achingly beautiful examples of Scottish Gothic architecture and the city's rich history.


#2. Take a Mackintosh tour

The architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh is inextricably associated with Glasgow – his creative designs can be seen scattered throughout the city and make for an excellent walking tour as you tick them off your sight-seeing list.

Queen's Cross Church, the Willow Tea Rooms and Scotland's School of Art (pictured) are some examples of his work – visit the Glasgow Information Centre for more on available tours of his buildings.


#3. Become a culture vulture

One of the most popular of Glasgow's galleries and museums is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (pictured). Its vast collection, housed in a gorgeous Baroque building, includes a Salvador Dali masterpiece and Sir Roger the stuffed elephant.

Other great options include the Riverside Museum's transport and travel exhibits; the archeological world finds at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery; the Centre for Contemporary Art; and the Gallery of Modern Art. All are free or offer concessionary rates, so the price is certainly right.


#4. Watch a play with a pie and a pint

Theatre-goers on a budget might want to check what's on at arts venue Oran Mor (pictured).

Based in Glasgow's West End in an atmospheric Victorian church, the venue hosts a regular lunchtime slot where a ticket buys you a play with a pie and a pint, wine or soft drink. Writers range from well-known Scottish playwrights to newcomers.


#5. Relax in Glasgow's green spaces

Take a break from the city streets and relax in a green Glaswegian oasis. Pollok Country Park (pictured) offers 146 hectares of parkland just a ten minute train ride from the city centre, with a grand 18th century home and the nearby Burrell art collection to enjoy.

Kelvingrove Park offers nature trails and a picturesque, riverside setting whilst the Botanic Gardens boasts an opulent Victorian greenhouse as well as dazzling Winter Gardens filled with exotic plants. Alternatively, just out of town, ramblers can enjoy miles of woodland walks along the River Avon.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.