A 3-Day Itinerary for Glasgow and Stirling in Scotland
Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, is the perfect destination for families! Although often overshadowed by cosmopolitan Edinburgh, travelers “in the know” flock to architecturally stunning Glasgow. The city boasts more than 20 world-class museums and art galleries, and best of all many of them are FREE and indoors (in case of less than stellar Scottish weather)! You’ll easily fill your time meandering through this compact city’s beautiful parks, dining at delicious foodie spots, shopping in unique stores, taking a day trip to historic Stirling, and if you’re lucky, getting a glimpse of its red-hot music scene!
Fun Things to do in Glasgow, Scotland with Kids
DAY 1: Check Out the West End
Start at the center of Glasgow Harbor, in the city’s hip West End, at the jaw-dropping Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum. Riverside, a multi-award winning museum, houses over 3,000 objects tracing Glasgow’s time as a maritime powerhouse up through today. You can literally spend hours gaping at the various themed displays, including Transport & Leisure, Made in Scotland, Looks & Fashion and Disasters & Crashes. You can get an up close look at some vintage cars, bicycles, ship models, trams and locomotives. Interactive displays and the hugely popular historic Glasgow street scene will thrill your kids.
Docked right behind the Riverside Museum is the world famous Glenlee, one of only five Glasgow Clydebuilt ships still afloat. For those with small kids, there is a spectacular play area in the cargo hold and a mouse hunt.
Next up is the West End’s absolutely tremendous and amazing Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is home to one of Europe’s great art collections. Come see why it’s THE most visited museum in all of Scotland! Grab lunch at the café and explore this eclectic collection including art, mummies, arms and armor and so much more.
For a break from the museums, stroll around the gorgeous University of Glasgow campus or let your family loose in the classically designed 85-acre Kelvingrove Park, known as the nicest park in the city. Before dinner, take a stroll through the picturesque People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, set in the historic Glasgow Green.
After this whirlwind day, you deserve a true Scottish feast! Head to quaint Ashton Lane, a tiny backstreet running behind Byres Road which many consider Glasgow’s best kept secret. (Shh…don’t tell!) This narrow path is lined with hopping pubs, internationally inspired eateries, a popular cinema with sofas, and our favorite stop, The Ubiquitous Chip. This is the iconic spot to experience the pure genius of modern seasonal and regional Scottish cuisine. This restaurant’s lush courtyard dining room welcomes you in with its magical oasis atmosphere. Ubiquitous Chip has something for everyone with its fine dining menu, a lighter brasserie menu available in its bars, mezzanine and roof terrace, and an excellent kids’ menu.
DAY 2: Find Your Glasgow Passions!
Depending on your family’s interests, choose from any combination of the below attractions.
Start your morning at the spectacular Glasgow Science Centre. This collection of science based attractions is housed in a dramatic titanium covered building and includes a science mall, a revolving space-age 417-foot high tower, a thrilling planetarium and an IMAX theater.
Explore the charming, pedestrian-friendly district on Buchanan Street. Lonely Planet calls Glasgow a “shopaholics paradise,” and I agree!
Social media addicts
As you go about town, look out for some tremendous lifelike murals detailed in the City Centre Mural Trail. Your kids will flip for the great photo ops and Instagram-worthy posts.
Meander through the compact Modern Art Museum with exhibits which are sure to spark conversation.
Check out the Tenement House which provides a rare peek into early 20th century Glasgow life.
Visit the very tiny Bagpipe Museum at the National Piping Centre which introduces your family to 300 years of bag piping. Your kids will be able to learn from a volunteer how to play this unique instrument!
Follow in the path of Glasgow’s favorite native son, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, renowned for his turn-of-the-20th-century works, including the elegant Willow Tea Rooms and Queen’s Cross Church. Join the other tourists gawking at The Mackintosh Building. Currently closed for renovations following a 2014 fire, this late 19th century Mackintosh masterpiece at the Glasgow School of Art intrigues many with its castle-like appearance, detailed wrought iron work and intricate carved stones. Directly across you’ll find the brand new design school filled with locally handcrafted souvenirs.
After this marathon day of sightseeing, it’s time to eat! For foodie families with adventurous kids like ours, dine at the top-rated hip Finneston destination, Ox & Finch. With small plates, this upbeat, cozy spot is known for delicious tapas style dishes such as squid, prawns, chorizo and morcilla with smoked paprika on sourdough, and Earl Grey baked Alaska.
If your kids are craving more “kid-friendly” food, head to Hard Rock Cafe Glasgow. If you are able to explore the town without your kids, Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music exploding with pubs, bars and small venue music options! The city also has chic underground clubs and glitzy casinos.
DAY 3: A Royal Day Trip to Stirling
Just 28 miles from Glasgow, Stirling and its surrounding area is a delightful and easy day trip from Glasgow. We hopped a bus to Bannockburn Heritage Centre located at the site of a major victory for the Scots over the Brits in 1314.
After a quick lesson teaching you how to do virtual battle, head into a high-tech command room where children and adults alike will thrill in making decisions during the heat of attack. (This was so much fun and a wee bit intense.) Once you finish your war game, explore the museum which includes interactive exhibits for children enabling them to dress up in costume. Head outside and follow the path leading to a beautiful vista and statue of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, who led the Scottish forces. The Centre has a café for lunch.
Next, hop a bus to the center of Stirling, a quaint almost fairy tale like city. Stirling, the “Gateway of the Highlands” and one of Scotland’s most historic towns, provides your family with a relaxing look at small town life. Meander though charming stores, sip some hot chocolate on the pedestrian mall while listening to the talented buskers, and visit the well-preserved Stirling Castle, one of the great royal residences of this country.
For dinner, enjoy the delicious locally sourced, traditional and modern Scottish food at Brea. We loved their fresh mussels and huge…so big they couldn’t even fit in your mouth…burgers. Brea is very casual and reasonably priced!
Don’t overlook Glasgow, brimming with endless attractions for your whole family. Just an hour from Edinburgh, add this city to your family’s next Scottish vacation!
Where to Stay in Glasgow & How to Get Around
Hilton Glasgow is a family-friendly, centrally located base for your adventures. We loved our panoramic view from our guest room. A huge perk for fitness-minded families is the hotel’s LivingWell Health Club with its indoor pool and spa. Also a big plus is the Hilton’s location, just 20 minutes from Glasgow International Airport.
I highly recommend investing in a 48-Hour City Sightseeing Glasgow Hop-On Hop-Off Tour on one of its double-decker, open-top buses. Not only does the expert narration help introduce you to this glorious city, but it makes getting around town a breeze.
When planning your trip, check out People Make Glasgow, which is chock full of useful information and tips.
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A few of the museum admissions and a meal Lisa received were complimentary/discounted so she could share her experiences with you, however all opinions are her own.
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.
Lisa has been traveling all her life…and loving it! Leaving the sunny skies of Miami, Lisa traveled to Philadelphia where she attended the University of Pennsylvania…stayed for…