Glasgow is in an enviable position, within easy reach of many of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions. There are so many things to do within a day trip to Glasgow:
The Scottish Highlands, Robbie Burns’ country along the Ayrshire coast, Aran Island, even Oban and Loch Ness. The beautiful Loch Lomond is even closer, as is Stirling and a number of other castles and manors. So if you’re tired of Glasgow’s vibrant cultural and music scene, there are plenty of options for spending time outside the city.
Plan your adventures with this list of the best day trips from Glasgow :
1 Stirling en Stirling Castle
Only 30 minutes from Glasgow by car or direct train, the city of Stirling is famous as the site of the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn – when Robert the Bruce defeated the English invaders. It was also where the legendary William Wallace defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, a victory for Scottish independence. (Both battles are commemorated at the excellent Bannockburn Heritage Centre ). Between Stirling and the quaint village of Bridge of Allan stands the majestic Wallace Monument, a spectacular 246-step tower with stunning views of the surrounding area, as well as artifacts that belonged to Wallace. The spectacular 12th century Stirling Castle, built on top of a 76 meter high volcanic rock, has played an important part in Scotland’s rich history and is open to visitors. You can visit Stirling and its castle and also enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Trossachs on the Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle Tour from Glasgow. The lochs and mountains of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park have earned it the name “The Highlands in Miniature”.
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2 Isle of Arran: Little Scotland
The beautiful Isle of Arran is only 267 square kilometers in size but contains examples of just about everything that makes Scotland one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Arran is a 1 hour ferry ride from Ardrossan which is an easy train journey from Glasgow. Like the mainland, the island is characterized by beautiful mountains, moors, sandy beaches, abundant wildlife, castles, fishing ports and great golf. It is also a haven for walkers, and buses run regularly around the island from the ferry terminal at Brodick to the various tourist attractions.
Although the highlights – including Brodick Castle and Goat Fell Mountain (873 metres) – can be seen in a day (including the ferry), you’ll want to spend at least a few days exploring this beautiful part of Scotland.
Address: Tourist Office, Brodick Pier, Isle of Arran
3 Benmore Botanic Garden
Benmore Botanic Garden, set in spectacular rugged mountain scenery north of Glasgow on the south side of Loch Eck, is part of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden . The avenue of giant redwoods, planted in 1863, runs along the sweeping driveway to the grounds, where you’ll have the chance to wander through more than 300 different varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas.
Other highlights include Puck’s Hut, a wooden memorial to Isaac Bayley Balfour, who had the idea of creating the gardens, and an 1875 bronze statue (of a boy with two dolphins) donated by the owner of the adjacent Benmore House (now a outdoor learning center). nearby Argyll Forest Park is also worth checking out. Established in 1935, it was the first of its kind in Britain and boasts an impressive network of 186km of footpaths.
Location: Dunoon Argyll
Official site: www.rbge.org.uk/the-gardens/benmore
4 Loch Lomond and the Western Highlands
“Yon bonnie banks and yon bonnie braes” of Scotland’s largest freshwater lake are just half an hour from Glasgow, on the south side of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park . In addition to the haunting beauty and romantic vistas the song speaks of, Loch Lomond is a center for boating and other water sports. Golfers flock to the Carrick Golf Course at Cameron House , one of Scotland’s top championship golf courses, with views of Ben Lomond across the waters of the loch. Walking and cycling trails abound in the park, and Loch Lomond cruisesdepart from Balloch, on the south side of the lake. Although you can easily reach the loch by train, Loch Lomond is often part of tours of the West Highlands from Glasgow. The West Highland Lochs, Glencoe and Castles Full-Day Small-Group Guided Tour from Glasgow includes attractions such as Kilchurn Castle, the town of Inveraray and Castle Stalker on Loch Laich.
Official site: https://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/
5 Newark Castle
The 15th-century Newark Castle is located in the industrial town of Port Glasgow, 40 kilometers west of Glasgow city centre. The mansion, with a gatehouse and tower, was once the seat of the (sometimes murderous) Maxwell family. Although the rooms of the Tower House are not open to visitors, you can see the beautiful Jacobean exterior of the building and the fascinating “downstairs” rooms with exhibits on the working conditions and life of the family’s staff.
Another former industrial center is Greenock , the birthplace of engineer James Watt, who made the Clyde navigable. It is also known as the final resting place of ‘Highland Mary’, immortalized by Robbie Burns.
Adres: The Gilstrap Centre, Castlegate, Port Glasgow
Official Site: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/newark-castle/
6 The Ayrshire Coast: Robbie Burns Country
Fans of the poetry and songs of Robbie Burns, Scotland’s beloved national poet, will want to explore the places where he lived and the countryside he immortalized, while also seeing one of Scotland’s most beautiful coastal regions. Follow the Burns Heritage Trail from the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, on the outskirts of Ayr, where you’ll see the beautifully preserved thatched house where the poet was born and lived as a child. After visiting the 16th century Auld Kirk, where his father is buried, this tour heads south to Dumfries and the Robert Burns House, where the poet lived for four years before he died here in 1796, at the age of 36. The house is now a museum and gives a good portrait of his life. His grave is located in nearby St. Michael’s Churchyard.
Another highlight of the Ayrshire coast is Culzean Castle and Country Park , which features woodland paths and landscaped gardens with a Victorian walled garden. You can visit the Burns sites and Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire Coast Day Trip from Glasgow: Robert Burns Country and Culzean Country Park tour, with a guide who will explain more about Burns and Culzean Castle, including its connections to President Eisenhower at the end of World War II.
7 Dumbarton Castle
Dumbarton Castle sits dramatically on a basalt rock on the north bank of the Clyde opposite Port Glasgow. This strategically important stronghold began in the 6th century and was central to the Old Kingdom of Strathclyde’s rule of the surrounding area until 1018. Only the dungeon and 12th-century gate remain of this medieval building where Mary Stuart left for France at the age of five. Other highlights include the beautiful views, the Georgian artillery fortifications and the Governor’s Mansion with its interesting artifacts from the castle.
Adres: Castle Rd, Dumbarton, Dunbartonshire
Official Site: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/dumbarton-castle/
8 Oban and the Western Highlands
Beautiful Victorian Oban, Scotland’s seafood capital , sits on the coast and is the main port for the ferries connecting the south of Scotland with the islands of Mull, Skye and the Hebrides. For a view that encompasses the city and harbor and reaches all the way to the Isle of Mull on clear days, climb to the top of McCaig’s Tower , a Victorian monument built to resemble the Colosseum in Rome. The route to Glasgow from Oban passes through some of Scotland’s most scenic landscapes, a land of mountains, moors, lochs and castles. The Oban and West Highlands Day Trip from Glasgow takes you through this scenic country, along the shores of Loch Fyne, Loch Awe , andLoch Lomond , where you stop in the village of Luss.
9 Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands
What trip to Scotland would be complete without a visit to Loch Ness, home of the legendary sea serpent, Nessie? The 23-mile deep body of water fills the geological gorge known as the Great Glen , whose sheer green walls make it one of Scotland’s most beautiful sights. Hours of boat trips from Fort Augustus or drives along the lakeshore reveal stunning rocky peaks of the Scottish Highlands. Tours to Great Glen, such as the 12-hour Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Highlands Small Group Day Trip from Glasgow, stop in the remote and atmospheric area of Glencoe, scene of the historic massacre of the MacDonald clan in 1692. The entire region is filled with breathtaking scenery of lofty mountains, rocky ridges, rushing rivers and tumbling waterfalls.
10 The Hill House, Helensburgh
Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts enthusiasts will not be disappointed with a visit to Hill House in Helensburgh. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh after plans were drawn up for him Art Lover’s House, Hill House was built in 1904 overlooking the Firth of Clyde. Surrounded by a beautiful garden, the house is somewhat reminiscent of Scottish fortified mansions, while the figural elements, rounded corners, bay windows and small chimney stacks bear all the hallmarks of the gifted designer. In the wide hall, the dark wood panels contrast with the light wallpaper, complemented by abstract patterns and delicate pastel shades, while Art Nouveau patterns in pink and light green soften the effect of the walls, windows and lamps. The bedroom on the first floor above the lounge is considered the most successful of Mackintosh’s ‘White Rooms’. Mackintosh also designed the furniture, and his wife, Margaret Macdonald, designed and made many of the textiles and a beautiful fireplace panel.
Adres: Upper Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh, Greater Glasgow en Clyde Valley
Official site: www.nts.org.uk/property/the-hill-house/
11 The Forth and Clyde Canal and the Falkirk Wheel
Built in 1790, the Forth and Clyde Canal winds its way through the Strathkelvin district north of Glasgow. The fully restored 35-mile waterway was an important link for seagoing vessels between the Firths of Clyde and Forth, which is at the River Clyde at Bowling and the River Forth at Grangemouth. Today you can enjoy a very enjoyable outing from Kirkintilloch aboard one of the Forth and Clyde Canal Society’s vessels. Be sure to leave time to explore the spectacular Falkirk Wheelat the eastern end of the channel. Part sculpture, part boat lift, this unique piece of modern engineering can accommodate up to eight boats and connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal near the important industrial town of Falkirk. Visitors can experience the hour-long journey aboard special boats and learn more about its operation at the visitor center.
Official site: www.forthandclyde.org.uk
12 Summerlee – The Museum of Scottish Industrial Life
The Museum of Scottish Industrial Life is based on the site of the 19th century Summerlee Iron Works – opened in 1836 and once one of the region’s largest employers. The sightseeing trip is fun for kids and adults alike, with Scotland’s only still-operating vintage tram line, a mock mine, workers’ cottages and several Victorian steam engines. Guided tours of the abandoned mines are also available.
Adres: Heritage Way, Coatbridge
13 Paisley Abbey and the Thomas Coats Memorial Church
Some surviving parts of Paisley Abbey date from its construction in 1163. Highlights of a visit include the choir stalls and a 197-step walk to the tower. Another Paisley landmark is the ornate Thomas Coats Memorial Church. Funded by one of Scotland’s leading textile manufacturers and completed in 1894, the intricate stonework was the product of numerous apprentice stonemasons. While you’re in the area, pay a visit to Paisley Museum and Art Gallery , with its interesting displays relating to the development of the textile industry and the story of the distinctive “teardrop motif” on the world-famous Paisley pattern. Exhibits include the ancient looms on which the best-selling designs were produced, as well as original woven and embroidered shawls from Kashmir, the inspiration for Scottish production.
Adres: Abbey Close, Paisley, Renfrewshire
Official site: www.paisleyabbey.org.uk
14 Gourock: Granny Kempock’s Stone
On the coast at Gourock (28 miles west of Glasgow) is an interesting six-metre slate monolith known as a meeting place for Druids. Fishermen also made a small sacrifice in exchange for good weather and good catches, and it is still customary for local newlyweds to circle the stone to bring good luck to their marriage. The views across the Clyde Estuary towards the South West Highlands make the journey to this seaside town worthwhile. The Gourock Highland Games are held here in May.