How to Spend 24 Hours in Glasgow, Scotland on a Budget

You might think that 24 hours isn’t enough time to really appreciate a new city. And in most cases, you would be right. But even with only one day to explore a city like Glasgow, Scotland, you can hit a surprising number of highlights. Best of all, you can see a lot of sights here without spending a dime, other than transportation!

Getting Around Glasgow

There are a couple of ways to maximize your time in this historic city. The first option is by using Glasgow’s public transportation system, which includes buses and a subway. You can purchase individual tickets or a day ticket, with various price points, depending on how far you expect to travel. You can check out the current fare pricing on the SPT website.

Or, you can take advantage of City Sightseeing Glasgow‘s open-top bus tour. This option offers 21 stops and hits all the major attractions in an 80-minute loop. The price of a one-day pass is pretty reasonable at £14.00 for an adult fare. The audio portion of the tour is helpful in giving the Coles’ Notes version of Glasgow’s history. But the downside to this option is that the buses stop running at 4:30 pm, so keep that in mind when planning your day.

The following attractions can easily be done in a day. Most importantly, these, and all the other major museums and galleries in Glasgow have free admission!

Glasgow Necropolis

We started our day in Glasgow with a walk through the Glasgow Necropolis. It opens at 7 am, so it’s a leisurely way to start your day before the other attractions and churches open for tours. I would recommend starting your tour here, so you have enough time for the other sights. (Most attractions close by 5 pm).

Historically, the parish church was fully responsible for burying the dead. But as Glasgow’s population grew and demographics changed, fewer people were attending church. Subsequently, residents sought out alternatives to a church burial.

A feasibility study was conducted in 1828 to convert a local fir park into an interdenominational cemetery. In 1831, the newspapers advertised a design competition for the new cemetery. The timing was in anticipation of the proposed Cemeteries Act, which was passed in Britain in 1832. The act allowed burial for profit. The necropolis officially opened in 1833, and was designed by a landscape gardener, rather than an architect.

Glasgow Necropolis

The necropolis is designed after the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. You can definitely see similarities in the style and layout:

Glasgow Necropolis

This is the Bridge of Sighs, at the main entrance to the cemetery. The name is an allusion to the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, and was so-called because this was part of the funeral procession route.

Glasgow Necropolis Bridge of Sighs

Burials for profit became big business, as families used burial plots as another way of showing off their wealth and status.

This is the Monteath Douglas mausoleum. This is the resting place of James Monteath Douglas of Rosehall and Stonebyres, and his brother, Major Archibald Douglas Monteath. Archibald served in the East India Company, and presumably made his fortune after “relieving” an elephant of its load of precious gems belonging to a Maharajah.

The circular mausoleum is designed after the Knights Templar Church of the Holy Sepulchre 8. Interestingly, despite its elaborate decoration, there is no plaque or inscription to indicate its occupants.

Monteath Douglas mausoleum

The cemetery now contains over 50,000 burials, and has expanded to 37 acres. It was one of the few cemeteries to keep records of the dead, including age, occupation, and cause of death.

Glasgow Necropolis gravestones

Guided tours are also available free of charge, but donations are appreciated!

Address: Castle St, Glasgow G4 0UZ

Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral is just west of the necropolis. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Kentigern.

Glasgow Cathedral

Saint Kentigern, also known as Saint Mungo, was the first bishop within the ancient British kingdom of Strathclyde. He founded numerous churches during his lifetime, and it’s believed that he founded the original cathedral on this spot sometime in the 6th Century. His exact date of death is not clear; the Annales Cambriae gives the year 612 as his date of death, but other sources give the year as 614 or 603. When he died, he was  buried here. He later became the patron saint of Glasgow.

Glasgow Cathedral Scotland

Glasgow Cathedral was built around 1136, and was dedicated to Saint Kentigern. It’s said that his tomb lies in the centre of the lower choir of the cathedral. Although a tomb exists, there’s only circumstantial evidence to confirm the occupant, or that the original church Saint Kentigern built once stood here.

Glasgow cathedral interior

Most of the current cathedral building is from a lengthy series of reconstruction and expansion projects which took place between the 13th-15th Centuries. The cathedral suffered a lot of damage after a lightning strike in 1406. The central tower and spire and chapter-house block all had to be rebuilt.

Glasgow cathedral scaffolding

Today, the cathedral is the oldest and most complete medieval cathedral in Glasgow, as well as the oldest on mainland Scotland.

Opening Hours: 
April to September: Monday to Saturday  – Admission between 9.30 am and 5 pm
October to March: Monday to Saturday – Admission between 10 am and 3.30 pm

Address: Castle St, Glasgow G4 0UZ

Provand’s Lordship

Just across Castle Street from Glasgow Cathedral is Provand’s Lordship.

Provand's Lordship sign

Built in 1471, this is Scotland’s oldest house. Andrew Muirhead, the Bishop of Glasgow, originally built it as part of Saint Nicholas’s Hospital. It also most likely housed the clergy and support staff for the Glasgow Cathedral in later years.

Provand's Lordship building

The building is restored to what it may have looked liked in the 1600-1700s, complete with 17th-century-era furniture and decor.

Saint Nicholas’s Garden and cloisters are at the back of the house, offering a nice little sanctuary in the middle of this bustling city.

St. Nicholas Garden and cloisters Provand's Lordship

Provand's Lordship back of house

The Saint Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art is across the street from Provand’s Lordship as well. (Admission is also free)!

Opening Hours:
Monday – Closed
Tuesday-Thursday – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Friday – 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday – 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Address: 3 Castle Street, Glasgow, G4 0RB

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is another attraction you can spend the better part of the day exploring. This museum opened in 1901, and has 22 themed galleries of fine art, archaeological finds, ancient weaponry, armour and more. Architects John William Simpson (1858-1933) and Edmund John Milner Allen designed the museum in Spanish Baroque style, utilizing beautiful red Locharbriggs sandstone.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

The museum closed between 2003-2006 for major renovations. When it re-opened in 2007, it quickly became the most visited museum in the United Kingdom outside London!

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

The museum is also adjacent to Kelvingrove Park, and a short walk to the University of Glasgow main campus.

Opening Hours:
Monday – Thursday – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Friday – 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday – 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Address: Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8AG

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