The Glasgow Science Centre was one of the highlights during our trip to Scotland – from seeing the aerial views of Glasgow to learning how to become a pilot in their flight school. A visit to a museum wasn’t high on the to-do list of a tween and teen, but a visit to the Glasgow Science Centre changed all that.
This is our review of the Glasgow Science Centre, where we will cover its cool, interactive exhibits and why you don’t need to be a lover of physics, biology or chemistry to have a fun here.
When we arrived at Glasgow Science Centre, you realise just how big this place is – with a variety of things to see and do within its three main buildings, the Science Mall, Glasgow Tower and IMAX cinema.
Being indoors, it is the perfect rainy day attraction which was perfectly apt for our visit as it started to rain heavily as we arrived at the science centre. We parked the car at the on-site car park (£3 charge) and made the short walk to the entrance – it’s a really impressive modern structure on the banks of the River Clyde.
It’s a big museum with lots of exhibits spread over its three floors, so to make the most of your visit needs a little planning.
Here are the top things to see and do at Glasgow Science Centre:
You start your science journey taking the escalators up to the first floor into the Science Mall. This is a huge bright hall filled with over 400 interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and live demonstrations. From virtual reality experiences to robotics displays, there was plenty here that kept the girls occupied over its three floors.
We learnt about the Solar system, played a tune on the walk on piano, took a spin in the hamster wheel, chatted to the Bird Bot and lifted our body weight using pulleys – it is the ultimate way to teach your children about science.
During our visit we skipped the live science shows opting for the more hands on experiments. I loved the fact that the centre had so many exhibits that were set up ready to enjoy and both the girls (and adults) learnt more from these interactive exhibits far quicker than reading a textbook.
There was so much to see and do here – this was learning through play at its very best and both Chloe and Holly loved it.
Have fun with optical illusions.
On the first floor of the science museum there are over 80 things to see and do. One of our favourites were the cool optical illusions located in the “a question of perception” zone which created some really fun family photos especially the floating head illusion and was a worthwhile stop. This section had very similar illusions that you would find in at Camera Obscura in Edinburgh.
The Whacky Salon in particular was a highlight – trying to walk in a straight line has never been so difficult. Another popular stop was the Ames Room where we all literally grew and shrunk dependent on where we were in the room.
Space Zone and the Planetarium
This area is great for anyone with an interested in space. It’s a really immersive walkway through our solar system, with lots of interactive exhibits and leads to the entrance of the planetarium at the science centre.
My husband and Holly are the real space buffs and really enjoyed this area of the centre which really gives you a taste of what it’s like in our solar system.
There are several immersive shows at the Planetarium that take visitors on journeys through space, exploring the wonders of the universe. The planetarium show is at an additional cost of £3.50 per person.
Powering The Future and Idea No59
The 2nd floor focuses on science and technology within our modern day lives. Chloe enjoyed testing her memory on the memory path game before taking on a robot at a game of noughts and crosses.
Other areas not to miss on floor 2 are racing cars on the Giant Scalextric track and the energy dance floor where you needed to dance and jump to generate enough energy to take a photo.
Bodyworks on the third floor has some of the best interactive exhibits for older children. This area is all about the human body cleverly explaining how our bodies work, from the skeletal system to the brain. There are over 100 interactive exhibits, games and challenges here to explore.
Some of the highlights for the kids were the hamster wheel, jump test and the sprint test which would show how quickly you could run. This brought out the kids competitive sides especially on the sprint track as they raced each other followed by the reaction timer.
Learn to fly at the Newton Flight Academy
This is what we were all most excited about before our visit and it didn’t disappoint, this is one of the very best experiences we have had as a family. Inside are Scotland’s only full-motion Boeing flight simulators – there are actually three of them at this state of the art facility.
We had a flight briefing where we were taken through the basics of becoming a pilot before stepping inside the cockpit. Inside the simulator is the closest thing you will come to actually flying a plane, with a realistic 180-degree view of landscapes generated from real map data.
The girls went first and took off and successfully landed at Glasgow airport under the expert guidance of the flight staff in the academy – the look on their faces was priceless, they loved it.
Next up were Ian and I, flying out of JFK in New York and into Newark airport across the city – every slight adjustment we made from the controls we could feel as the simulator cabin moves. It was so good and under the guidance of our flight instructor we managed to land successfully.
Visit the Glasgow Tower
A must do when visiting the Science Centre is to take a trip to the top of the Glasgow Tower. Built in 2001, it’s the tallest fully rotating freestanding structure in the world, standing at 127m tall and the tallest building in Glasgow.
It’s also the only structure on earth capable of rotating 360 degrees into the prevailing wind using its four 6kw motors at its base. It’s often closed because of maintenance, mechanical issues or the weather, it has to close when winds reach 25mph and because of its waterside location on the Clyde this I am told happens quite a lot.
The tower reopened to the public in June and we were lucky to experience this unique piece of architecture and views of Glasgow. The tour guide explains the engineering behind the tower before taking you on the 2.5 minute journey in a glass-walled lift to the viewing platform at the top, which we could feel move slightly in the wind. It’s certainly worth paying the small additional fee to experience the Glasgow Tower because the views are so good.
At the top you can see up to 20 miles on clear days with breathtaking views of Glasgow and its most famous landmarks. We could see Glasgow University, Ibrox Stadium, Hydro, the city of Glasgow and the landscape beyond.
Luckily the winds didn’t pass 25mph as the tower would close and we would have to walk back down the 523 step spiral staircase to the ground.
See an IMAX Film
The IMAX screen here is Scotland’s largest cinema screen at 18 metres high and 24 metres wide. Older kids and adults in particular will enjoy the IMAX 3D and 2D shows here on this immersive screen, which can be added onto your ticket to the science centre costing £3.50 per person.
We didn’t have enough time this visit to experience this, but it was highly recommended to us. The cinema also shows the latest IMAX movies, such as Oppenheimer which was running during our visit.
Food and drink options
There is a large café here serving a wide range of hot and cold snacks along with a coffee shop in the IMAX building. There were also plenty of space here if you brought a packed lunch with you, although prices at the café were pretty reasonable for a visitor attraction.
Ages most suitable for?
Glasgow Science Centre caters to children of all ages with literally hundreds of child (and adult) friendly exhibits to experience.
For families with younger children, they will love the Big Explorer section, designed for ages 7 and under. For older kids will love the Bodyworks section and the paid for experiences such as the Imax cinema, Glasgow Tower and the Newton Flight School.
How long does it take to go around Glasgow Science Centre?
You’ll need at least 3-4 hours here to see the exhibits, if you are also visiting the Glasgow Tower, IMAX or Flight School you could easily spend a full day here.
Cost and Opening Hours
The general entry ticket for adults start from £12.70, children 3-15 from £10.00 and under 3’s are free. The IMAX 3D Cinema £3.50, flight simulator £50.00, Glasgow tower £9.50 and planetarium £3.50 do cost extra and should be booked in advance.
For the latest opening hours and to book tickets visit the Glasgow Science Centre Website
The Glasgow Science Centre is located in the heart of the city on the banks of the River Clyde (G51 1EA)– more or less opposite the SECC.
We arrived from Edinburgh by car, from the M8 east or west take junction 24 and follow the brown tourist signs and there is parking on-site at a reduced £3 per car.
From the city centre if you are feeling energetic you can walk here in 30 minutes but you can take a train from Glasgow Central to the SECC station, which will be a 12-15 minute walk.
It’s also easily reachable by bus using the following services X19, No90 and 23 and 26 along with the Glasgow Sightseeing tour hop-on hop-off bus, which stops at the SEC (stop 11) across the river.
Also in the area
Recommended attractions near the Glasgow Science Centre are the Tall Ship, the Riverside Museum, and Kelvingrove Museum.
There is so much to discover at the Glasgow Science Centre and we merely scratched the surface of what is on offer here, which makes a return visit a certainty during our next visit to Glasgow.