Scotland’s largest city and arguably its most exciting (depending on who you ask!), Glasgow combines its rich history with a distinctly modern and cosmopolitan edge. From world-class museums and art galleries, to grand squares and elegant city gardens, there’s no end of things to take in as you stroll the city’s famously grid-planned streets.
While the centre of Glasgow is a fantastic place to visit in its own right, the city’s surrounding landscape of rolling peaks and alluring lochs only adds to the appeal. And if you’re able to get around by car while on your Glasgow city break, the neighbouring area contains a superb lineup of attractions you won’t want to miss.
To give you some inspiration, we’ve put together just a handful of our favourite things to do within an hours’ drive of Glasgow.
Suitable for: history lovers of all ages
How to get there: drive north east out of Glasgow along the M80 before merging onto the M9, exiting at junction 10 and turning right towards the centre of Stirling
Price: £16.00 for adults, £9.60 for children, under 5s go free – reduced price family tickets are also available
With its imposing position high above the streets of this charming Scottish town, Stirling Castle is among the country’s best-loved historic sites. This fortified keep was the retreat of Scottish kings and queens through the ages, with magnificent craftsmanship on show just about everywhere you look. From the castle’s Great Hall – built in 1503 and used for grand banquets and dances – through to the peace and quiet of the Queen Anne Gardens with its 200-year-old trees, there’s so much to see. Don’t miss the Castle Exhibition, an interactive experience which charts the history of this famous keep, as well as the Palace Vaults with its child-friendly displays.
Suitable for: party groups of adults, or kids aged 10+
How to get there: head north out of the city on the A809, then take a right just after Craighat and join the A81 running north, until you reach Aberfoyle and take a left onto the A821
Price: varies depending on date and activity, but usually around £35.00 per person
Scotland is home to some of the finest forests in all of Europe, and you can make the most of these with a trip to Go Ape, with the nearest of the centres being around 35 kilometres north of Glasgow. At the foothills of the beautiful Trossachs National Park, you can look forward to soaring through the tree canopies with lochs and mountains as your backdrop. With two of the UK’s longest zip wires (including one that’s 426 metres long!) and three thrilling courses, there’s no better place to enjoy an adrenaline rush while taking in some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery.
Suitable for: inquisitive young minds
How to get there: drive north west out of Glasgow sticking along the A82, taking you all the way into Balloch and right up to the shores of Loch Lomond
Price: £15.95 for adults, £10.95 for children and under 3s go free – with discounts available for booking online in advance
Sitting where the waves lap the shore on one of Scotland’s most spectacular waterways, SEA LIFE Loch Lomond is an exciting aquarium that’ll thrill guests of all ages. Combining usual favourites like sharks and rays with specialist exhibits that reveal some of the species you can find in the depths of Scotland’s lochs, every member of the family will come away having learned something new. From the incredibly rare albino dogfish to adorable Asian short-clawed otters, there are so many fascinating creatures to see.
Suitable for: lovers of the great outdoors
How to get there: catch the ferry from Ardrossan, which you’ll reach by leaving the city westwards on the M8 and joining the A737 for around half an hour, switching to the B714 as you approach town
Price: return tickets start from £8.00 for adults and £4.00 for children – with an additional £30.00 - £40.00 if you choose to bring your car on board with you
Scotland is famous for its isles, and you could get a taste for island life during your break in the country’s largest city. With the coast not too far away, you can venture towards the Firth of Clyde and hop on a ferry over to the beautiful Isle of Arran. Almost entirely surrounded by the mainland, this tranquil retreat is characterised by sweeping peaks which appear to glide down into gentle waters. However, you choose to spend your day here, from trekking up mountains to chatting away with the locals in a cosy pub, you’ll find every visit to the island is a charming experience.
Suitable for: anyone looking to stretch their legs
How to get there: journey north out of Glasgow on the A809, switching for the B837 as you come through Drymen village and turning off to the right after you pass Milton of Buchanan.
Surrounded on almost all sides by soaring peaks and spectacular lakes, Glasgow might be the UK’s most impressively-set city. You can make the most of this beautiful backdrop with a trip out to Conic Hill. Though a considerable climb, the gentle gradient of this walking route means it’s suitable for even the most inexperienced of ramblers. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over the shimmering surface of Loch Lomond and back down towards the bright lights of Glasgow.
Suitable for: art and architecture fanatics
How to get there: go west out of Glasgow on the A82, then switch to the coastal A814 as you pass through Milton and follow this road all the way into Helensburgh
Price: £12.50 for adults, £5.50 for children, £28.00 for families
The work of one of Scotland’s most famous ever architects, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, this former family home is considered a masterpiece. Designed on behalf of the Blackie Family and completed at the turn of the 20th century, its every detail is the genius of Mackintosh and his wife Margaret, from bricks and mortar through to the furniture and fabrics. The damp and harsh Scottish climate has not been kind to the home over the years, so today you’ll find it partially encased in a protective steel structure. Nevertheless, this spectacular home remains an icon of its era and an experience art and design lovers won’t forget.
With so much to pack into your Glasgow trip – both inside the city and far beyond – you’ll need somewhere comfortable to call base. Our Jurys Inn Glasgow hotel is conveniently located at the heart of the city and metres from the banks of the Clyde. With on-site facilities including a stylish bar and seasonal restaurant, as well as an all-day Costa Coffee where you can pick up that morning perk before each adventure, our cosy rooms are the perfect place to put your feet up afterwards.
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