Budget travel is such an important factor when it comes to fitting in (and affording!) more travel.
I’d be lying if I said that finding free things to do (or budget friendly ways of exploring the city) doesn’t give me happy feels when I’m on the road.
When it comes to Glasgow, because it’s not a super touristy city, you can get away with spending very little money when traveling here.
If you’re looking to visit Glasgow on a budget, read on for our tips and advice!
Accommodation when visiting Glasgow on a Budget
Accommodation can be cheap in comparison to the other major cities in the U.K. (looking at you London!!).
If you’re traveling on a strict budget, hostels are your best bet. If you’re not a fan of hostels, there are various cheap and decent options in Glasgow.
The Premier Inn chain! (no, I didn’t get paid for this… I genuinely love this chain as they are trustworthy and super affordable!)
If you’re traveling in a pair, depending on the day, the cost can end up being only 10-15 £ more expensive per person compared to a bed in a dorm!
Getting around when trying to save $$
Most of Glasgow is accessible on foot. Otherwise, the train is a great option.
We were lucky enough to be blessed with sunny skies and amazing weather, so never found the need to take taxis, Ubers or trains while we were there. If you’re staying in the city, most activities are within a 20min walk.
The only public transport we took was the airport transfers, which are about £10 per person return. The bus has plenty of rack space for luggage, isn’t super busy and drives direct from the airport to the Glasgow City Centre. There’s also USB charging points at every seat and free wi-fi (who doesn’t love free wi-fi??)
Eating when visiting Glasgow on a budget
Like many cities in the U.K., your best budget options are available at the local pub. If you’re after lunch, the soup of the day is a great budget option, and usually very tasty!
When we were in Glasgow, we’d fill up on a full Scottish Breakfast (with black pudding!) in the mornings. Usually, this was filling enough to last us til mid-afternoon, or if we needed a small snack at lunch time or a soup of the day at a local café (usually £ 3-4). We’d then fill up at dinner at a local pub.
Another thing to remember about traveling in Scotland is that you don’t need to tip for service unless you receive exceptional service. Unlike the US, hospitality workers do not rely on tips to make their wages. This difference can make your food costs considerably cheaper compared and is important to keep in mind if you are traveling in Glasgow on a budget.
Things to do for budget travelers
If you’re traveling to Glasgow on a budget, there are plenty of free (and fun!) activities for you. During our short time in Glasgow, we never had to pay entry fees!
1. The Glasgow Green & People’s Palace
The Glasgow Green is considered one of Glasgow’s oldest parks. It’s a great place to spend a sunny afternoon, and when we visited, we were lucky enough to spot some flowering cherry blossom trees in Spring.
Also located here is Peoples Palace, a free museum worth visiting if you want to learn more about Glasgow’s history. At the back of the museum is the Winter Gardens, a beautiful greenhouse which is a great place to warm up in the colder weather.
Entry to both the museum and the winter garden are free – perfect for those who are traveling to Glasgow on a budget!
2. The Kelvingrove Museum
The one thing that BLEW MY MIND when were in Glasgow was that many of the museums offer free entry… All the time. You heard that right. FREE. And we’re not talking like “oh here’s our one room museum with handmade signs.” We’re talking proper museums with exhibitions.
One of these museums is the Kelvingrove museum. This is worth visiting for the architecture of the building alone!
If you’ve got time, I’d highly recommend checking out the sections to do with local history and culture. It’s a great way to learn more about Glasgow and how the city came to be. There’s also a really cool section about wildlife in the Highlands – worth checking out, especially if you’re about to visit the Scottish Highlands!
The Kelvingrove is about a 20min walk from Glasgow city center, or if you have a car, they’ve got paid car parking (1 pound for 4hrs – make sure you have exact change!)
The car park can fill up in the afternoon, so make you come early or be prepared to do a bit of waiting.
3. Architecture at the University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow is a short 15min walk from The Kelvingrove Museum, so is worth a detour if you’re in the area. One of the coolest spot to visit?
This beautiful archway just outside the visitor’s shop in the main building… Doesn’t it give you Harry Potter vibes?
There are also tours available every Tuesday to Sunday at 2 PM for £10 per person.
4. Visit the Glasgow Botanic Gardens (kibble palace)
This has to be one of the more popular spots in Glasgow to Visit. Great for travelers who are on visiting Glasgow on a budget, as with most public gardens is free!
A must when you’re here is Kibble Palace, a beautiful greenhouse. If it’s a cold day the warmth is a welcome from the cold, but if you’re visiting on a hot day… Well, good luck!
5. Street art
It’s official. I’m obsessed with street art.
Glasgow while has an element of old school charm (think archways and harry-potter-esque buildings), you’ll be randomly wandering and BAM! You’ll spot street art. It’s hard to miss but oh-so-exciting when you do spot it.
I can’t for the life of me remember where I spotted this panda, but I guess that’s the wonderful thing about travel. You never know what you’ll come across!
Our budget breakdown for 2 people over 2 days
Accommodation: £ 146
Food: £ 122.55
Transport: £ 20 airport transfers return
Activities: £ 0
TOTAL for 2 people = £ 288.55 (pounds)
That’s about 70 pounds per person per day OR 90 USD per person per day
Which… In the scheme of things isn’t overly cheap, I hear you cry!
We stayed in a decent hotel, not a hostel, and ate 3 meals a day, with drinks and desserts. So in the scheme of things, is actually pretty decent. If you are on a tight budget, there’s definitely opportunity to make this cheaper – we didn’t need to order dessert and drinks (as always at a sit-down dinner) are always optional!
Glasgow is a great place to start any trip to Scotland. For those who are budget inclined, it can be even more budget friendly than Edinburgh.
Are you planning a trip to Glasgow? Make sure you download my Scotland Packing Checklist:
This has got everything you could possibly need for traveling to Scotland – regardless of the time of year!
Did you enjoy our guide to visiting Glasgow on a budget? Make sure to check out our other Scotland posts:
- How to spend 24hrs in Glasgow
- 7 must see locations on the Isle of Skye
- Everything you need to know about driving on the Isle of Skye