Paisley in Scotland is a modern town outside of Glasgow with a lot to offer its visitors. The home of iconic Paisley pattern design was recently named one of the runners-up for the UK City of Culture 2021. That’s one reason to stop by and experience the many things to do in Paisley!
The easily walkable historical centre has Scotland’s largest concentration of listed buildings. Paisley has a rich history filled with architectural treasures, art galleries, and religious sites, which harbours many historic structures and a vibrant cultural scene.
Although Scotland’s largest town missed out on being the UK City of Culture this time, it’s not stopping there. The people of Paisley plan want to continue their investment in its culture and promote the city as a place that has a rich history of design, innovation, activism, poetry, and song. Needless to say, there are tons of things to do in Paisley.
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Things to do in Paisley
Paisley is well known for its vibrant music and entertainment scene. The town hosts events throughout the year, including the Sma’ Shot, one of the oldest workers’ festivals in the world, which celebrates Paisley’s unique textile tale.
You can enjoy some time at the Lagoon Leisure Centre, visit the Paisley Farmers Market, or visit the many mills at the Threadmill Museum. This town on the northern edge of the Gleniffer Braes is undoubtedly the region’s cultural hub with many things you can do or see.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of activities, events, and sights that you can experience in Paisley, then worry no more! See our guide for the top things to do in Paisley.
Paisley Art Institute
Creatives had always flocked to the town of Paisley since the days when the Renfrewshire mill town needed highly educated artists and designers to create its famous paisley patterns.
Paisley Museum & Art Institute has been supporting local talent since 1876. It holds an annual exhibition of art galleries in the town centre to showcase some of the unique paintings and sculptures that some of Scotland’s top artists have created.
Make sure to allocate a day to enjoying and wandering through scenic art galleries and exhibits that this Institute holds, and be on the lookout for the fantastic events they have nearly every week.
Immerse yourself in the world-famous threads on display here at the Paisley Arts Centre!
Paisley Beer Festival
One of the top things to do in Paisley on the event calendar is the Paisley Beer Festival.
If you know your IPAs from your lagers and your shandies from your ales, then Scotland’s biggest beer festival is the place for you. Nowhere else will you be able to enjoy the variety and quality of beer in Scotland than here in Paisley!
Held annually in April at Paisley Town Hall, many come to Paisley to experience the festival and taste some of the best beers that the country has to offer.
This is a great day out for beer lovers. Make sure you get there early, as many of the beers sell out due to the popularity of this event.
The Bungalow is an ethical and independent music venue in the heart of Paisley.
Originally The Bungalow was based on Renfrew Road from the seventies to the eighties. Bands such as The Buzzcocks, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Jam, and The Clash all played here.
Flash forward to 2008, the venue was reborn at its current location on Shuttle Street. Famous scots have blessed its stages, having hosted everyone from Paolo Nutini to Kyle Falconer from the view.
Gigs are held here regularly, so keep your eye for the next Scottish star to join the list above!
One of our favourite things to do in Paisley is a trip to Paisley Abbey.
This stunning building is one of the first sites you will see when you enter the town from Glasgow.
Many legends have involved Paisley Abbey. William Wallace was said to have been educated by the monks of the Abbey, a credible claim considering the nearby Elderslie was where Wallace was born.
Similarly, the first Stewart King Robert II, Robert the Bruce’s son, was born inside Paisley Abbey! The Abbey honours these Scottish icons with monuments, like the Wallace Memorial Window.
Make sure to visit Paisley Abbey while in town; it’s one of the best things to do in Paisley!
Gleniffer Braes Country Park
Although Paisley has a buzzing town centre, 10 minutes away from it, you will find peace and tranquillity at Gleniffer Braes Country Park.
The wildlife of this woodland is abundant, home to everything from Scottish birds, wild voles, and shy roe deer. Those with green fingers will also enjoy the colourful wildflowers scattered across its grasslands.
This is the perfect place to take the family for a picnic and a Sunday stroll when visiting Paisley, Scotland. So make a day of it, bring a blanket and snacks, and spend a lovely morning with family and friends in gorgeous Scotland.
Thomas Coats Memorial Church
The Thomas Coats Memorial Chruch is considered one of the most stunning Baptist churches in Europe!
This Church of national significance is stunning inside and out, and you can’t help but admire the carved stone plinths and painted stone floors.
The Church is also a magnificent venue to host your grand celebrations, corporate events, or live entertainment. If you’re interested in churches, the St Andrew’s Academy is also worth visiting! It’s a stunning roman catholic school with an in-depth history.
While in Scotland, you won’t see a wonder quite like the Thomas Coats Memorial Church, so carve some time to see this fantastic attraction.
The beautiful extensive grounds of the Barshaw Park cover 55-acres and provide a staggering amount of things to do inside.
You can set sail on the boat pond, ride your bike along the biking trail, delight in the passing miniature railway, stroll through the walled garden, and even enjoy some time on the municipal golf course!
There are so many hidden gems within Barshaw Park and Paisley that it’s probably best that you explore through the scenic greenery yourself.
The Fountain Gardens in Paisley are nothing short of spectacular. Its pleasing geometric layout leads you to its central attraction – The iron-cast Grand Fountain with statutes of dolphins, herons, and walruses.
The Gardens are the perfect place for a summer’s day picnic with the family and should be one of your go-to local attractions when the weather is on your side. You won’t regret a visit when you see just how beautiful the rolling countryside can be.
Fountain Gardens are an example of the marvellous blend of nature and design that Paisley offers, so don’t miss your opportunity to see this attraction next time you’re in town.
The town centre reveals Scotland’s oldest public Observatory, the Coats Observatory, when you take the time to explore Paisley.
The Observatory’s domed roof is instantly recognisable. If you choose to voyage inside, you’ll be greeted with many fascinating facts about the cosmos and worlds beyond our own; Marvel at stunning photographs taken of nebulas, planets, and other astronomical objects in the nearby museum.
The 100-year old bronze telescope is the main attraction of the Observatory and offers an otherworldly perspective.
Paisley Thread Mill Museum
The Paisley Thread Mill museum tells the story of the paisley thread industry in Paisley from its humble beginnings in 1772, its boom during the industrial revolution, to the closing of the last thread mill in 1993.
The world’s largest thread manufacturer and distributor started from Paisley with several exhibits like working looms, pattern books, rochet cotton and Paisley shawls. There are even display cases and virtually interactive archives that will make you feel like you’re back in the 19th-century!
This Paisley Museum is one of the most informative and fascinating things to do in Paisley.
Paisley Town Hall
Paisley Town Hall is the town’s beating heart and is a great attraction to visit while combing through things to do in Paisley. This beautiful administrative centre shows a gorgeous architecture that you can’t see anywhere else in Scotland.
The Town Hall is within walking distance of other major attractions like Paisley Abbey and the Coats Memorial Church. This is one of Paisley’s many magnificent civic buildings that you can fit into an afternoon of sightseeing!
You can also find the Sir Peter Coats statue at Paisley Town Hall, which is a great spot to take a picture within the town!
Sma’ Shot Cottages
One of the most popular things to do in Paisley is the Sma’ Shot Cottages. This significant tourist attraction offers an insight into the two distinct periods of Paisley’s textile history.
Step back in time to the 18th-century and explore how the weavers of Paisley lived and worked. You can take a tour through these fantastic cottages with the local guides that dish the secrets of the Cottages and reveal hidden histories unlike anywhere else.
The Sma’ Shot Cottages are a great place to enjoy while in town and are the best place to explore if the history of Paisley’s textiles interests you.
St Mirin Cathedral
Dedicated to St Mirin, the stunning spires of this Catherdral populate the skies of Paisley and are one of the finest attractions you can see. The St Mirin Cathedral’s architecture is Romanesque and is one of the largest Cathedrals in the region, able to host nearly 1300 people!
The St Mirin Cathedral is also quite close to many of the other beautiful attractions in Paisley, so don’t miss out on stopping by the stunning sandstone interior of this gorgeous Cathedral as you’re checking out the other sights in Paisley.
Robert Tannahill’s Cottage
You can dive into the history of one of Paisley’s national heroes at Robert Tannahill’s Cottage. This Cottage was built in 1805 and is one of the oldest Robert Burns Clubs worldwide!
But ‘Paisley’s Son’ is not to be outmatched, and you can explore hundreds of the poems left by this illustrious poet when you visit the Cottage. Keep in mind that the Cottage is not open to the public, but you can arrange a viewing of some of the most well-preserved Tannahill and Burns memorabilia!
You’ll likely see statues and tributes to Robert Tannahill throughout the town of Paisley but if you’re interested in more history, take a visit to Robert Tannahill’s Cottage.
Standing as a testament to the threading history of Paisley, the Anchor Mill is one of the stunning A-listed buildings in Paisley. The anchor mills produced the excellent and recognised collection of Paisley thread that the town is known for!
This particular building has incredible architecture and is one of the last of the many anchor mills that made the paisley pattern an economic powerhouse during the 18th and 19th-century and brought vast wealth into Paisley. The Anchor Mill is the perfect spot to take a picture and is well-known for its sunset views.
The building will soon go under refurbishment and be transformed into a collection of livable spaces for the people of Paisley, so don’t miss out on your chance to see this attraction.
Oakshaw Trinity Church
The Oakshaw Trinity Church is a beautiful building with a rich history tucked away in the centre of Paisley. Out of all the churches in Paisley, this one certainly has the best architecture and grounds.
You can spot its uplifting spire as you approach the Church and explore its immaculate garden while admiring the sustained glass windows that rest within the Church. Inside, there’s a peaceful atmosphere that gives respite from the busyness of the town.
The Church also maintains a community outreach program and destination called the Wynd Centre. This community hub is home to a coffee shop and counsellors and provides various facilities and services for the town members.
Whether you’re interested in attending the evening mass, this stunning Church is an excellent place to visit while in Paisley.
Queen Victoria Statue
The statue of Queen Victoria is thoroughly crafted and immaculately designed, giving those who visit this attraction a deep feeling of pride.
The Queen herself visited the town of Paisley in 1888 and on several occasions after that. The statue was unveiled in 1901 and now has attracted visitors worldwide to gaze upon the remarkable statue.
You can find the Queen Victoria Statue in the middle of Paisley, so it’s easy to make the short trip to see her!
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