Looking for a change of scenery from the hustle and bustle of Glasgow?
Starting off more locally, situated on the outskirts of Glasgow in Pollok Country Park, Glasgow’s largest park, the Burrell Collection recently won the prestigious title of the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023 (the world’s largest museum prize) in which they were competing against many renowned museums including the Natural History Museum, London. Free to enter, you can enjoy wandering around the museum’s beautiful building, which reopened in 2022 after a six-year refurbishment. With over 9,000 objects and 6,000 years of history, there is something for everyone to enjoy – whether you’re an art expert or not – from Egyptian pottery and Roman sculptures to stained glass and tapestries. The collections hold many famous artworks including a 1400s stained glass window from Canterbury Cathedral which depicts Princess Cecily and French Impressionist Edgar Degas’ painting The Red Ballet Skirts. After exploring the museum, you can enjoy a walk through the park which has a number of walking and cycling trails as well as beautiful walled gardens. The highlight for most people who visit the park are the herd of 50 Highland cattle grazing in the fields!
Getting there: There is a direct bus service from Glasgow city centre to Pollokshaws Road (routes 57/57A) which takes around 20 minutes and drops you at a bus stop directly across from the entrance to Pollok Park. The museum can also be easily accessed by cyclists by following the Route 7 and 75 of the National Cycle Network.
Located just outside of Edinburgh, Jupiter Artland is a contemporary outdoor sculpture park in the grounds of Bennington House, a 19th-century Manor House. Student tickets cost £7 and it takes around two hours to walk around the garden which includes meadows, woods and indoor gallery spaces. The collection of art explores the link between art and nurture and features artwork from leading international artists. Some of the highlights of the Jupiter Artland collection include Love Bomb by Marc Quinn (a 12-metre-tall orchid) and the Cells of Life by Charles Jencks (eight landforms and a connecting causeway). Although the park is closed for the Winter, they have a Christmas weekend which is for photo opportunities!
Getting there: To get there, take the train from Glasgow Central to Kirknewton Station which is around a 30-minute walk away. There are also regular buses from Edinburgh city centre to Coxydene from where you can walk through the park.
Built in the 12th century, Kelburn Castle on the Ayrshire coast is a magical sight with its colourful exterior and is one of Scotland’s most unique castles. The famous graffiti that covers the castle was designed by four Brazilian graffiti artists to challenge people’s view of graffiti and in 2011, the mural was named as one of the world’s top 10 examples of street art. Entry to the grounds is free. Unfortunately, you are unable to go inside the castle as it is a private home for the Earl of Glasgow and his family.
Getting there: Take the train from Glasgow Central to Largs Station. From there, there are frequent buses running from Largs which will take you just a short walk from the castle.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
Famous for its breathtaking scenery, there are plenty of activities to take part in around Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Home to 21 munros, two forest parks, 22 locks and over 50 nature conservation sites, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Take a relaxing boat trip to take in the beautiful surroundings – Sweeney’s Experience Cruise from Balloch includes a close-up view of Inchmurrin, the largest island on the loch. Or, if you are more adventurous, you can try a variety of watersports such as water skiing, paddle boarding and kayaking in the nearby picturesque village of Luss. Another must visit is the Trossachs Visitor Centre which is home to three Highland Cows – Hamish Dubh, Honey and Holly – which you can feed with goodie bags available to purchase in their store.
Getting there: Trains depart regularly from Glasgow Queen Street to Balloch, with the journey taking less than an hour.