- Enjoy the warm atmosphere of the tropical glasshouses, and check out unusual and exotic plants.
- Explore the beautiful Kibble Palace, and spot the 19th-century statues.
- Kids can learn all about growing and cooking seasonal veg at the Children's Garden.
- Head to the Tearooms for a spectacular afternoon tea on your day out.
One of the top attractions in Glasgow's creative and historic West End, the Botanic Gardens are a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of Glasgow city. Whether you've got the kids in tow or are just looking for your next adventure, this unique location is one of the most popular (and photogenic) places to come for a chilled day out.
Originally created in 1817 in order to supply the Botany school at the University of Glasgow, the Botanic Gardens were initially located close to Sauchiehall Street, now one of Glasgow's most popular shopping streets. As the city changed, the Gardens ended up being relocated to their current location in the West End, and became part of the city's parks and gardens. The Botanic Gardens are now home to a selection of different areas, including tropical plants, Scottish plants and a rose garden. Now, it's a great place to visit with all the family, with many nooks and crannies for children to explore, as well as designated children's areas and multiple glasshouses to explore.
The most famous glasshouse in the Botanic Gardens is known as Kibble Palace, a wrought-iron structure that is almost 150 years old. It was first created for John Kibble, a famous Victorian entrepreneur and creative, for his home in Loch Long all the way in Argyll and Bute. At his home in Coulport, was where John Kibble first erected the glasshouse, which was designed by architects James Cousland and John Boucher. Originally known as 'The Kibble Crystal Art Palace', which certainly has a ring to it, Kibble used the 'palace' as a conservatory at his home. Eventually, however, it was carried to Glasgow up the River Clyde by barge, and re-erected at Glasgow Botanic Gardens in 1873. While it was initially used as an events venue, Kibble Palace was soon used to house temperate plants, which can still be seen to this day. As you explore Kibble Palace, keep an eye out for some of the beautiful statues, that were made by a number of significant sculptors throughout the 19th century. Another feature of the Garden's history that adds an extra layer of interest is the mysterious Glasgow Botanic Gardens railway station. While it might not be immediately obvious, there used to be a railway line that ran through the Botanic Gardens, but the station was burned down in 1970, and has stayed derelict ever since. It is now hidden away behind trees in the Garden, and is considered to be dangerous to enter now.
As well as the impressive Kibble Palace, there are plenty of other things to do at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens that make it one of the top free things to do in Glasgow. The Old Nursery is home to the educational Children's Garden, where kids can learn all about growing and cooking with natural fruit and veg. The glasshouses are also wondrous places for kids of all ages, with lots of exotic and beautiful plants to learn about. Look out for goldfish in the pond, or kids can learn exactly why the 'look but don't touch' rule is so important at the cactus area. To get rid of some of that excess energy, you'll find a great children's adventure play area, which is complete with fun sensory equipment and lots of things to climb, slide and play on. There are lots of Glasgow Botanic Gardens events on throughout the year, including seasonal Christmas and Halloween events and 'GlasGLOW', an illuminated trail that is open after dark in winter. There are also lots of self-led trails that can take you through certain areas of the Gardens. The Minibeasts, Birds and Trees of the Botanics trail is particularly popular with families, and is a great way to spot some local wildlife.
Once you've taken in the history of these unique grounds, and enjoyed the Botanic Garden experience, head to the Tearoom near Kibble Palace to enjoy a sandwich, soup, or afternoon tea. There are also lots of great places in the grounds that are perfect for picnics, if you fancy bringing your own food. And, since the Gardens are located so close to Glasgow city centre, you're just a couple of minutes' walk away from the vibrant West End. Here you'll find lots more options for local cafes, restaurants and pubs. If you're looking for hotels near Glasgow Botanic Gardens, you'll find everything from the Hilton to local Airbnbs within walking distance.
If you had a blast visiting this Glasgow attraction and are keen to explore more of this area of Scotland, make sure to add Kelvingrove Art Gallery to your list of places to go. From Salvador Dalí paintings to a stuffed 100-year-old elephant, there are plenty of weird and wonderful things at Kelvingrove to keep the family entertained. Or, if you love a bit of transport history, check out Riverside Museum at Glasgow Harbour, a great spot for getting some fresh air and enjoying some unusual architecture.
What to know before you go
- Glasgow Botanic Gardens opening times are from 7am - dusk all year round. The glasshouses themselves, however, are open from 10am - 6pm in summer and 10am - 4.15pm in winter. The Tearoom opening times are from 11am - 4.45pm.
- Like most Scottish museums and parks, Glasgow Botanic Gardens are completely free to enter.
- There is access throughout the Garden, making it suitable for wheelchair users and buggies.
- There are accessible toilets on site, but no baby-changing facilities.
- If travelling by car, Glasgow Botanic Gardens parking is limited, with Queen Margaret Drive the best place to go to for on-street parking, as there is nowhere to park within the grounds. There are, however, a few limited Blue Badge spaces in the Gardens.
- The nearest train stations are Partick and Hyndland, or you can take the Subway to Hillhead, which is just a five minute walk away.
- If you are planning on walking, Glasgow Botanic Gardens are located on the Kelvin Walkway, a ten mile walk from Milngavie to Partick that includes some top locations in Glasgow's West End.