Glasgow with Kids

There are so many things to do in Glasgow with kids that we had trouble deciding. Family-friendly Glasgow tourist attractions include beautiful parks, lively buskers performing on vibrant pedestrian-only streets, many fun kid-friendly museums and great outdoor activities.

Did you know that Glasgow has been named the Friendliest City in the World? Why not plan a trip and enjoy their hospitality yourself!

This post contains compensated links.

Several of our Glasgow experiences were provided to us for promotional consideration. All opinions are our own.

Getting to Glasgow, Scotland

image of pathway along river in Glasgow

Our overnight flight from Canada arrived early morning at the Glasgow Airport (GLA). Knowing we’d be nicely jet-lagged we decided to take the easiest route possible to our Glasgow Airbnb. We don’t like to bring our own car seats on trips, so we pre-booked a private transfer with Taxi2Airport.

Booking through Taxi2Airport provided us safety (free child seats for both kids) and convenience (our driver met us at the gate). This service comes at a small premium to just taking a normal taxi or Uber, but when it comes to child safety we don’t mind paying a little extra.

Close up image of red poppies with buildings in Glasgow in the background

Where to Stay in Glasgow

Image of bridge over river in Glasgow Scotland

There are plenty of great family-friendly hotels in Glasgow, but we elected to rent an Airbnb in the Gorbals district. Gorbals is south-east of Glasgow city center, located just across the River Clyde from the popular Glasgow Green Park.

We chose Gorbals as it was very close to the historic city center, but far enough away that it provided much better value for our money. It’s a pleasant 15 minute walk along the River Clyde to the city center, has a large grocery store (for meals cooked at the Airbnb) and plenty of good restaurants to choose from.

With bedrooms, kitchens and laundry, we find Airbnb’s great for family travel. See the available Airbnb’s in Glasgow. If you are new to Airbnb, sign up with our link and get $35USD off your first stay.

Getting Around Glasgow with Kids

image of City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus in Glasgow Scotland

Glasgow was our first stop in our summer vacation to the British Isles. As mentioned, we flew into arrived in Glasgow without car seats and took a pre-booked Taxi2Airport private transfer to our apartment.

Getting around Glasgow without car seats was super easy. We ended up using a variety of methods:

Walking: staying in the Gorbals neighborhood made it convenient to walk to central Glasgow.

image of girl standing in front of mural in Glasgow Scotland
Image of mural in Glasgow Scotland

Hop-On Hop-Off bus: Many of the Glasgow attractions we visited were well outside central Glasgow. We didn’t have child seats, so taking a Glasgow Uber or taxi was out of the question, so we came up with a fun solution; a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus.

image of Glasgow city street from Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing bus

Despite seeing City Sightseeing buses in most of the cities we have traveled to, we had never actually tried one. We loved the vantage point from the open-air upper deck and felt it was a fun way to get introduced to a city on the first day.

image of buildings in Glasgow from Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus

Our kids thought it was super-cool and especially enjoyed the special audio commentary channel for kids; in fact our daughter kept asking to leave what we were doing so we could go back on the bus to listen to more of it. I actually changed my audio track to listen to hers as well, as it was fun to listen and laugh together.

image of two kids on City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus in Glasgow Scotland

We used the City Sightseeing bus to visit Riverside Museum, Kelvingrove Park and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

Ad for City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour

Subway: Glasgow has a small, but useful subway system. We used it to easily get the family to our bike rental shop north of Kelvingrove Park on our second day of the visit.

2 Day Glasgow Itinerary with Kids

We like visiting cities, but as outdoor enthusiasts, we don’t love visiting cities. With fun outdoor activities and plenty of kids activities, Glasgow is our kind of city.

image of boy on playground in Glasgow Scotland
image of kids on pedestrian street in Glasgow Scotland

We visited Glasgow in summer with our two kids aged 3 & 5. Here is what to do in Glasgow for two days with kids:

Day 1

Riverside Museum

image of kids in a trolley inside Riverside Museum in Glasgow Scotland

Named Europe’s Museum of the Year in 2013, the Riverside Museum is home to the Glasgow Museum of Transport is one of the fun things to do in Glasgow with kids. It’s a ways outside of central Glasgow, but our Ho-Ho bus dropped us right outside.

The Riverside Museum is jam-packed with fun and interactive transportation themed displays. Immediately upon entering, our kids bolted and ran straight inside an old Glasgow street car. This set the stage for the rest of the visit, where the kids excitedly ran from one exhibit to another.

image of boy in Riverside Museum in Glasgow Scotland

The Glasgow Museum of Transport has it all for transportation buffs; massive locomotive engines, boats, planes, fire engines and much more.

Kids will enjoy playing imagination games as they explore many of the exhibits which allow them inside. There are also many special-built interactive displays for kids, such as a fire truck, a working fire truck ladder, a steam train engine, etc.

Docked outside the Riverfront Museum is The Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour. The 245 foot long Glenlee is a three-masted tall ship built in Glasgow in the late 1800’s. Exploring the multiple levels of this ship is super-fun for the kids, but funny enough, the activity the kids liked the best was scrubbing the deck! 

image of kids cleaning the floor of the Glenlee Tall Ship at Riverside Museum in Glasgow Scotland

Yup – you heard me right! The ship’s main deck has many pails of water with scrub brushes in them. The deck was filled with the hilarious sight of many little kids scrubbing the floor, yelling “Aye Aye, Captain!” Why can’t they do this at home?!?

As if the Glasgow Transportation Museum and tall ship weren’t enough, there is a huge sand box in front of the museum. What kid doesn’t love playing in the sand? This seasonal exhibit was filled with kids playing with the provided sand toys, having a ball.

image of girl building with sand at Riverside Museum in Glasgow Scotland

The Riverside Museum and Glenlee Tall Ship are both free to enter, but donations are gladly accepted.

Kelvingrove Park

image of kids walking in Kelvingrove Park Glasgow, Scotland

We rode the Ho-Ho bus for a few stops and got off at the Kelvingrove Park for a quick lunch. We didn’t spend much time in this beautiful, well-treed riverfront park, but in our short time we saw a skateboard park, a large playground, and a bowling lawn. There are lots of tables to stop and have a picnic.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Image of Kelvingrove Museum in Edinburgh

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a short walk from the park. Housed in a grand building in a beautiful setting along the River Clyde, this is another of the free museums in Glasgow which is fun for kids.

Although much of the floor space in this museum is dedicated to traditional art, a decent amount is dedicated to great stuff for kids.

image of girl looking at animal display in Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow Scotland

The West Court is filled with stuffed animals from every corner of the planet, with specimens ranging from kangaroos, elephants, orangutans, water buffalo, tigers, and even a duck-billed platypus!

And for some strange reason, there’s a WWII Spitfire airplane hanging from the ceiling of the West Court, right over the African animals. Very random, but kinda cool too!

In addition, there are sections dedicated to Scotland’s Wildlife, Creatures of the Past (including the skeleton of a massive Irish deer) and Ancient Egypt (where kids can wrap their own mummy!).

As we were leaving the museum, we were lucky enough to catch a pipe organ concert in the Centre Hall. The sound was so amazing, we just had to stop and listen for a while. The kids loved watching the man playing the organ and listening to its haunting sound filling the great hall.

Image of kids sitting on floor listening to organ recital at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow Scotland

Our first two attractions show that Glasgow museums don’t have to be boring for kids.

Glasgow’s Pedestrian-Only Streets

image of pedestrian street in Glasgow Scotland

We took the Ho-Ho Bus back to central Glasgow and had a very enjoyable walk down the pedestrian-only Buchanan Street, one of the fun places to walk in Glasgow.

Glasgow’s pedestrianized streets are alive with people shopping and meeting at restaurants. A wide variety of buskers entertained the kids, including a man playing the bagpipes (which actually sound kinda good while in Scotland!), singers, soccer-ball acrobats, and a very funny band of cats!

As parents we also enjoy pedestrian-only streets as you can let your kids go a little bit as you don’t need to worry about them getting too close to a busy street, etc.

The Lighthouse

Image of view of Glasgow from Lighthouse

We had a little time to kill before the kinetic theatre, so we decided to climb The Lighthouse. We always enjoy climbing stairs to get a view of the city we are visiting, especially when we are in Europe, so we were a bit bummed to find out the viewing platform was only reachable by lift. The views from the indoor viewing platform at the top were nice, but it’s not earth-shattering by any stretch.

While at the top, we were surprised to see there was actually a second tower with an outdoor viewing platform. Yeesh – this is the one we should have gone to! To access the outdoor one, go to the third floor of the building and look for the helical staircase to the top…

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

image Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre in Glasgow

When our Scotland Lonely Planet and Glasgow Life both recommended this quirky art show, we thought it looked interesting enough to take a closer look.

The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre is a small gallery filled with art by Russian sculptor/mechanic Eduard Bersudsky. Amazingly, Eduard has no formal art training, but has a great talent and even greater imagination.

The gallery is filled with sculptures created with nothing but old junk; built with parts from old bikes, Singer sewing machines, pipes, etc. Spectators are allowed to explore the gallery before the show, but the magic starts once the show begins.

We attended the 40 minute Promenade show. Once the lights go out, the sculptures come alive one-by-one, with lights and music drawing the small group of spectators to come closer. Each sculpture is mechanical in nature and tells a story set to music. I found the shadows creating by the amazing lighting to be every bit as interesting as the sculptures themselves.

The recommended minimum age for this show is 4 years old (our son was 3y11m). Kids must be able to sit still for a few minutes at a time and keep quiet. Many of the sculptures might be a bit scary (using skulls, etc.) for kids, have some exposed body parts, but never in a sexual context though.

Our kids were a little bit scared by some of the music, but never by the sculptures themselves. They have a pretty good 3 minute video on their webpage which will give you a good idea if it’s appropriate for your child.

image of boy at Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre in Glasgow

Our kids loved the show and it held their attention for nearly the entire 40 minutes, although they started to fade towards the end. I was very impressed at the creativity and showmanship which went into this kinetic art performance. I’d highly recommend this unique Glasgow experience.

Day 2

Cycling the Forth and Clyde Canal Towpath

image of cycling the Forth and Clyde Canal Towpath near Glasgow Scotland

We love to cycle when we travel, but we struggle to find bike rental shops which cater to families with small children, so we were very happy to find Gear Bikes.

Located near the River Clyde just north of Kelvingrove Park, Joe and his team were very helpful and eager to accommodate our needs. We were able to rent two high quality road bikes, with a chariot trailer for our 5 year old and a bike seat for our 3 year old. In addition to having all the equipment we needed, he also had great suggestions for our route.

image of kids on a bench with bikes parked nearby along Forth and Clyde Canal Towpath Glasgow Scotland

After properly sizing our bikes and getting the kids equipment all hooked up, we were on our way. Joe walked us to the nearby riverfront walkway and gave us directions to the Forth and Clyde Canal Towpath.

The Forth and Clyde Canal is an amazing engineering feat, connecting salt water from both sides of the island (basically from Glasgow to Edinburgh) via two canals. The two canals are connected by the Falkirk Wheel, a modern engineering wonder, which lifts boats (still floating in water) from one canal to the other, much higher one.

image of purple foxgloves growing alongside the river near Glasgow Scotland

The Forth and Clyde Canal Towpath allows walkers and cyclists to enjoy amazing countryside scenery along the banks of the canal, while passing through some quaint towns along the way; we enjoyed being a part of the quiet, simple country life for a little while. We passed many locals out walking their dogs, fishing, etc., while many long, narrow boats floated calmly down the waterway, adding to the country charm.

Much of the path is well-treed and given it follows a waterway, the amount of birdlife was incredible. We saw a wide variety of birds and the sound of them singing was virtually non-stop the whole way. We saw several swans, including a family with three adolescent swans swimming in a slow, straight line down the canal. In addition, we saw a Grey Heron and hordes of ducks.

image of highland cow standing in long grass

Perhaps the nature highlight of the day was our first sighting of a Highland Cow. With their long horns and woolly hair, these “hairy coos” are instantly lovable. Ours was eating grass on the banks of the canal and we couldn’t help but stop and admire him and his fuzzy cuteness for a while.

image of woman riding bike with toddler in bike seat on Forth & Clyde Canal Towpath near Glasgow Scotland
image of boy in bike seat reading a magazine and wearing a helmet

We didn’t make it all the way to the Falkirk Wheel as we’d hoped. The trail was nice and flat and therefore reasonably easy, but our jet-lagged legs were not feeling very strong and the wind was a bit of a challenge. But, we did make it all the way to Banknock, a mere 6 miles / 9.5km from the Falkirk Wheel. Our total distance cycled clocked in at 62km and took just over 5 hours.

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image of two kids laughing near a statue in Glasgow Scotland with text overlay of Glasgow Scotland with Kids