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Glasgow is one of the United Kingdom’s loveliest cities, but it has a reputation for being chilly at certain times of the year. Luckily, there are plenty of indoor activities for visitors to enjoy in Glasgow when skies are cloudy and grey.
Following are seven top choices.
Buchanan GalleriesIf you are looking for a souvenir of your trip to Glasgow, there is plenty to choose from at Buchanan Galleries, the largest shopping center in town. Much of the gallery is taken up by John Lewis, the beloved department store, but visitors should give the smaller shops a peek as well. Local stores include Jones Bootmaker and The Whisky Shop, but you can also find European chains including H&M, Mango, Boots and Next.
Glasgow Botanic GardensWhile you might think this attraction is strictly outdoors, there are plenty of things to see at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens that involve a roof over your head. Several glasshouses that include indoor plants, as well as glass art and other design features, are open to the public.
The jewel of these is Kibble Palace, which was built on the grounds of a Scottish aristocrat’s home and opened in its current location in 1873. This large glasshouse is home to a collection of ferns from New Zealand and Australia and is an occasional venue for classical music performances.
Admission to Glasgow Botanic Gardens is free. Once you have checked out the plants and design, enjoy the gardens’ famous afternoon tea.
Glasgow Cathedral Depending on who you ask, this magnificent building is known as either Glasgow Cathedral or St. Mungo’s Cathedral. The church dates to the 12th century and is one of the largest gathering places for Church of Scotland’s members.
St. Mungo is the patron saint of Glasgow, and his tomb is in the church’s lower crypt, near other Scottish luminaries. The cathedral is famous for its stained glass windows. One highlight is the cathedral’s Millennium Window, a blue-and-white window dedicated to the topic of “growth” that was commissioned for the year 2000 and dedicated by Princess Anne.
Glasgow Royal Concert HallA visit to the “dear green place” — the translation of the Gaelic word “Glasgow” — would not be complete without visiting the Royal Concert Hall. On any given night, there’s classical music, modern dance, independent film or a lecture series. Check out the hall’s website ahead of time, as shows and events often sell out. Take note of the building’s rubber-lined floor, which was specially designed to create better acoustics (and to block out the noise of the subway train line running beneath it).
Hunterian MuseumHunterian Museum is Scotland’s oldest museum, and there is something of interest for everyone here. The museum belongs to University of Glasgow and comprises a number of different buildings, including the Zoology Museum, the Anatomy Museum and several art galleries.
If you’re interested in Roman and Egyptian history, the main Hunterian Museum is the place for you. If you prefer more recent artwork, try the Hunterian Gallery. Don’t miss the Mackintosh House, which was once the residence of beloved Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and MuseumThis Argyle Street museum, which was refurbished in 2006, is the most-visited art museum in the entire United Kingdom outside of London. Kelvingrove Art Museum’s rich permanent collection includes works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet.
Probably the most famous work in the museum is Salvador Dali’s Christ of St. John of the Cross, which a former curator of the museum bought personally from the legendary Surrealism artist. There’s also a section dedicated to artists of the Glasgow School, an art movement that began in the late 19th century. In addition to the art, you can learn about early Scottish history and check out the museum’s vast display of arms and armor.
People’s Palace and Winter GardensSome museums tell stories of ancient kings and generals who shaped history, but People’s Palace and Winter Gardens focuses on what ancient life was like for everyday citizens. Using everything from artifacts to hyper-modern video technology, this museum gives a sense of Glasgow’s “social history” and insight into the lives of everyone — from cooks to maids to schoolteachers — who made the city what it is.
Your admission pass will also give you access to the beautiful on-site gardens, where you can enjoy lunch or get a cup of tea. If the weather does warm up, you’re right in the center of Glasgow Green, the city’s oldest public outdoor gathering space, as well as the famed Royal Doulton Fountain, the world’s largest terracotta fountain.