10 Awesome Things to Do in Glasgow for Free

10 Awesome Things to Do in Glasgow for Free

It’s coming up on five years since we moved to Glasgow, and I’ve grown to love this city’s unique charm. It’s truly like no other place on Earth, and I think it may take me another 50 years to truly understand it. One of the things I love about Glasgow is that there are so many cool things you can do while visiting without paying a dime. Here are 10 awesome things to do in Glasgow for free.

Glasgow Cathedral

The beautiful Glasgow Cathedral dates back to the 12th century, and you can’t help but marvel at the architecture of this space that is still being used as a church today. There are lots of nooks and crannies to explore, and don’t forget to look up. You can also pop across the street to visit some of the graves at the Necropolis.

St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life

Just in front of the cathedral, the St. Mungo’s Museum is small but fascinating if you’re at all interested in spirituality. You can go through the whole thing in less than an hour, so if you’re planning to visit this area, definitely pop in here and check it out.

Provand’s Lordship

Across the street from the St. Mungo’s Museum is Provand’s Lordship, the oldest dwelling in Glasgow. This is a fascinating way to step back in time and see how people lived in 1471. Mind you head on the stairs. People were shorter back then. Also, be sure to take a stroll through the medicinal garden out back. It’s lovely.

You can easily combine all three of these sites in an afternoon, and when they’re all free, what’s stopping you?

The Lighthouse

I think the Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art is pretty boring. I suggest you skip it and instead visit The Lighthouse. This Charles Rennie Mackintosh building now highlights design and architecture through various exhibits and events. There are several floors with various exhibits, but the best part is the two lookout points. One you can access via an elevator, but the other is at the top of a beautiful wooden spiral staircase. The both give you a glimpse of Glasgow’s unique and varied architecture. Don’t miss it.

In the heart of Glasgow’s city centre, you can easily fit this in with a day of shopping or pub hopping.

Glasgow Green & People’s Palace

If you need a hit of trees and grass, Glasgow Green is a lovely little park near the city centre along the River Clyde. Take a nice long walk, and pop into the People’s Palace museum for an hour to get some history of what Glasgow was like for the working class. And be sure to check out the cool fountain in front of the museum as well.

Glasgow Botanic Garden

Heading into Glasgow’s West End, things get distinctly more posh. My neighorhood looks nothing like this. For a healthy dose of nature and some incredible exotic plants, explore the grounds and greenhouses of the Glasgow Botanic Garden. If you want to make it into a nice long walk, follow the Kelvin Walkway to Kelvingrove park and the next museum on the list.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum is one of the strangest museums I’ve ever visited. The collection varies from modern art to taxidermied animals to mummies. There’s a lot to see her, so luckily there are lots of restaurants nearby.

Riverside Museum

The Riverside Museum is Glasgow’s transport museum, so it’s filled with planes, trains, and automobiles of all sorts. There’s also a tall ship outside. I think this museum is especially fun for kids, but curious adults will love it, too.

Scotland Street School Museum

The Scotland Street School Museum is for all you obscure history lovers. We loved this museum that shows what life was like for Glasgow’s children way way back in the day. There was also an exhibit of old photos of Glasgow’s poorest neighborhoods when we were there, but I don’t know if that was a permanent exhibit.

Pollok Country Park

On the south side of Glasgow, there’s a massive expanse of green space called Polok Country Park. Explore the expansive grounds, have a picnic, and visit the Highland Cows. This park is also the home of another cool art and antiquities museum, The Burrel Collection. Unfortunately, it’s currently undergoing renovations and is not due to re-open until Spring 2021.

Maybe Glasgow doesn’t have quite the same reputation as Edinburgh, and when people visit Scotland, they tend to give it a pass. I assure you, though, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope you visit our quirky and vibrant city soon.

Exploring Chester On a Budget | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Exploring Chester On a Budget

Exploring Chester On a Budget | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chester is one of England’s coolest small cities. Packed with history stretching all the way back to the Roman era, exploring Chester on a budget is simple and awesome.

I’ve been to Chester five times now. My husband went to university there and still has friends in town, so when we want to get away somewhere familiar, this is where we end up.

There’s so much to do in this small city, and the architecture and atmosphere is just oozing with history. Particularly if you’re from a part of the world where nothing was there before the 1950’s. This means that if you’re up for a walk, you can see some incredible sights without spending any money.

St John the Baptist Church | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Free Sights

Chester is completely surrounded by Roman walls, and you can walk all the way around the ancient border of the city. Spend a few hours taking in the river, the cathedral, and the Tudor architecture. You can also explore the Roman Gardens and visit a creepy old church, St. John the Baptist, where a man was buried alive in a wall.

In the heart of the city, you can stroll along the Chester Rows and seek out the small, family -owned businesses amongst the chain shops. There’s something lovely hiding in just about every corner.

They also have a small local museum, The Grosevenor Museum, that’s free if you need a break from the weather. Also, Chester Cathedral is stunning and free to visit.

Exploring Chester On a Budget | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Worth the Money

If you’re up for a bit more walking after dark, I’d also recommend a ghost tour. You’ll learn a lot and have a totally different perspective on the city in the morning. Some tour companies advertise free walking tours, but you should definitely leave a generous tip at the end.

Chester Zoo | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

If you have a full day and a bit of cash to spare, the Chester Zoo can’t be beat. Tickets are pricy (we’re lucky to have a connection for free tickets), but you’re also making a contribution to support animal conservation which is something we’re deeply passionate about. You can save some money by booking tickets online at least a week in advance. By far my favorite part is the free-flying butterfly house. It’s absolutely magical. But they have all the cool animals in a beautiful environment. Check it out if you can.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of expensive hotels in Chester. We even splashed out and stayed in the Chester Grosvenor on our last visit, using my husband’s student discount. While it was certainly luxurious, I’ve been just as happy staying in smaller inns and guesthouses. We’ve stayed at Lloyds of Chester Hotel in the past, and while not exactly glamorous, it was clean and comfortable. It’s just a short walk from the train station and another short walk to the heart of the city.

Exploring Chester On a Budget | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Where to Eat & Drink

You know eating is my favorite thing to do, so you’d think we’d have tried more restaurants in Chester. To be honest with you, some of the best meals we’ve had have been at chain restaurants. On our last visit I had an absolutely delicious carbonara pizza at Pizza Express. I was a little drunk, but I think it’s still pretty awesome. We also had the best nachos I’ve had in the UK at Firejacks which is a chain but was new to us. Good nachos are hard to find in Scotland, so I couldn’t resist.

Burger Shed 41 is a local place with a killer chipotle peanut butter burger. Skip the shakes, though. They were thin and disappointing.

If you’re looking for a cool place for a drink, I’d recommend the Marlborough Arms for a quiet week night drink or Alexander’s for a bit of music with your booze.

For tea and cake in the afternoon, we enjoyed Bridge Street Roastery. They had a great selection and weren’t super pretentious like some coffee shops can sometimes feel.

Exploring Chester On a Budget | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Guidebooks might suggest you go to The Boot Inn, supposedly the oldest pub in Britain or something like that. Current management is puritanical and takes all the fun out of the simplest things. I’d also give Hanky Panky Pancakes and Hickory’s a miss. I was disappointed by both.

My favorite thing to do in any city I visit is just be. Walk around, explore, get lost. Chester is an ideal place for this. I’ve been several times and still haven’t gotten bored. Get yourself to Chester. It’ll be awesome.

Glasgow Botanic Garden | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Explore: Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Glasgow Botanic Garden | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’ve been preaching the picnic gospel a lot lately, and we’re carrying on today. I’m a total girl when it comes to flowers. I find them absolutely beautiful, so if a city’s got a garden, I’m there.

Glasgow Botanic Garden | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

One of the first places we explored when we moved to Glasgow nearly three years ago now was the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, and I assure you, it’s a gem.

Glasgow Botanic Garden | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

In addition to vast grounds with a variety of flowers, trees, and other plants that ramble through the West End, there are two main glass houses full of interesting plants and sculptures. It feels quintessentially Victorian to my American brain.

Glasgow Botanic Garden | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I love that in one building, you can go from dessert to jungle just by opening a door.

Glasgow Botanic Garden | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

They also have a tearoom, which I haven’t visited, as well as a cute little coffee stall if you want an ice cream or a hot drink, depending on the weather.

Glasgow Botanic Garden | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

It wasn’t this time, but the Glasgow Botanic Gardens also regularly hosts a book fair, about every other weekend. I’ve gotten some great bargains on used books here.

There are lots of shops and restaurants nearby, so it’s easy enough to get something to go, spread out a blanket under the shade of a large old tree, and enjoy the blooms and sunshine. You can lie back and look through the leaves and imagine ladies strolling through in big hats, long skirts, and high-heeled boots. It’s absolutely lovely.

Glasgow Botanic Garden | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

And did I mention it’s free? There’s really no excuse not to visit. If you find yourself in my city, make sure you check it out.

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

We’ve had nearly constant snow fall for the past 22 hours, so this seems like the perfect time for me to finally share some photos from our visit to Brussels over the summer. 

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is chock full of historical architecture, and the Grand Place is pretty spectacular. We had fun going around and checking out all the old guild halls trying to decipher their names and figure out which guild they represented. There’s also no shortage of chocolate shops to pop into if only to dream about tasting the expensive Belgian chocolate.

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Majestic churches were absolutely everywhere, and they’re usually free to go inside and gawk at.

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

My future U.S. Congresswoman definitely had to visit the EU Parlaiment site. This is also free to go inside and have a look around when not in session. They even give you a free audio guide. Just make sure to bring your passport with you. We also got to walk through a pretty park to get there. Bonus!

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is big, so if you plan on getting around on foot, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and bring water with you. There’s not a shop on every corner like there might be in other places. Food is also pretty expensive in restaurants, so I recommend carrying some snacks with you for hangry emergencies. 

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

We did hop on the subway to venture a little further out of town to visit a park that was once the site of a world expo. They have a giant model of an atom and a few other random structures still standing. It was also nice to spend half a day in a wide open green space after being in cities for so long.

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

The architecture of Brussels is pretty unique. Belgium is a French/Flemish/Dutch mash up, and that’s very evident in Brussels. Some streets were reminiscent of Paris while others reminded us strongly of Amsterdam. These all exist side by side in this big, beautiful, crazy city.

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Brussels was interesting, and I’d definitely visit again. I can never get enough of waffles and chocolate. 

Explore: Luxembourg City

Explore: Luxembourg City

Before we went to Luxembourg City, I didn’t know anything about it. It seemed like a logical stop on our Belgium trip, and I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful and interesting it was. 

The city is full of contrast which is most notable in the stark levels it’s built upon. Dramatic architecture can be found atop the cliffs the city is built around, and down in the valley, there are quaint homes and lush parks. There’s definitely plenty to explore just wandering the steep and curvy roads, but we also visited a couple of interesting and enjoyable museums.

Explore: Luxembourg City

If you’re visiting Luxembourg City with your family, I definitely recommend getting a Luxembourg Family Card. For a flat and reasonable fee, you can get access to quite a few museums as well as public transport. We used the app and had an issue at one museum where the person working there didn’t seem to know how it worked, but hopefully that’s been taken care of. It definitely saved us money.

Explore: Luxembourg City

While we were there we visited the huge National Museum of History and Art. It’s five floors and goes right underground showing you the rock that it’s embedded in. You’ll find everything from modern art to ancient artefacts here. The cafe wasn’t half bad, either.

We also explored the Luxembourg City Museum which was intriguing and interactive. We learned a lot about a place we had never really given much thought to. Bonus for being nice and cool on a really hot day.

Explore: Luxembourg City

Luxembourg is a very wealthy country, and it shows in the shops and restaurants, but most especially in the cars you can see driving down the road. This can be a hindrance, though, if you’re trying to eat on a budget. One of the major drawbacks is that restaurants are quite expensive, and shops are hard to find and close early. 

I’m so glad we decided to explore Luxembourg City. It was absolutely beautiful, and I’ll never forget it.

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