Paisley First Attractions

Heritage Attractions

With its countless listed buildings standing as testament to the town’s industrial heritage and entrepreneurial spirit, Paisley is unlike any other town in Scotland.

Coats Observatory

Coats Observatory is Scotland’s oldest public observatory. Located in Oakshaw Street West, the observatory has been operational since 1 October 1883, offering visitors the opportunity to view the night sky through the powerful telescopes housed within the building. The observatory is currently closed due to refurbishments works at Paisley Museum.

Paisley Abbey

Paisley Abbey was founded when Walter Fitzalan, the High Steward of Scotland, signed a charter at Fotheringay for the founding of a Cluniac monastery on land he owned in Renfrewshire, approximately seven miles from Glasgow. Thirteen monks came from Much Wenlock in Shropshire to set up the priory on the site of an old Celtic church founded by St. Mirin in the 6th century. In 1245, the priory was raised to the status of an Abbey, answerable only to the pope in Rome. The Abbey was dedicated to St. Mary, St. James, St. Mirin (the ‘local’ saint who had first brought Christianity to this part of Scotland in the sixth century) and St. Milburga (the ‘local’ saint of Wenlock).

Under royal patronage, the Abbey became wealthy and influential and evidence exists of extensive trade between Paisley Abbey and commercial centres throughout Europe. The Abbey was also a centre of learning and it is believed that William Wallace, who played a prominent part in the Wars of Independence in the 13th century, was educated by the monks of Paisley Abbey.

Much of the original building was destroyed by fire in 1307 and restored during the fourteenth Century. The sixth High Steward, Walter, married Marjory Bruce, the daughter of the famous Scottish king Robert the Bruce (who had defeated an English army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314) in 1315. In the following year, Marjory died at the Abbey following a tragic riding accident nearby, but the baby in her womb was saved and he became King Robert II of Scotland, the first of the Stewart monarchs. For that reason, the Abbey claims to be the ‘cradle of the Royal House of Stewart.’ Our present Queen is descended from him. In fact, the Abbey is the final resting place of six High Stewards of Scotland, Princess Marjory Bruce, the wives of King Robert II and King Robert III.

Paisley Arts Centre

Situated in the centre of Paisley and tucked neatly behind the Paisley Shopping Centre on New Street, Paisley Arts Centre is one of Scotland’s most vibrant and exciting venues with a year-round programme of comedy, dance, drama, music, theatre and family events.

The café bar is a great place to enjoy a pre or post-show drink or nibble, with a beer garden perfect for those summer days and nights.

Formerly the Laigh Kirk ( built by the town council nearly 250 years ago as Paisley’s first post-Reformation church), the building has played host to arts events since 1987.

On arrival, why not take a self-led tour of the centre? Discover the history of the silk merchants and manufacturers buried within the grounds.

Paisley Museum and Coats Observatory

Paisley Museum and Coats Observatory are now closed as part of a four-year long £42m transformation of the venue. The new-look museum will showcase its outstanding art, science and natural history collections, along with telling the story of the Paisley pattern, the town’s famous weavers and being at the centre of the global thread-making industry. The redevelopment will include a contemporary addition to the existing Victorian-era building, major revamps to all four museum buildings including Coats Observatory, and a complete internal redesign reimagining the visitor experience and doubling the number of objects on display.

Paisley Town Hall

Paisley Town Hall has now closed its doors as part of Renfrewshire Council’s £100m investment in Paisley town centre venues and cultural infrastructure over the next few years.

A sell-out Festive Family Ceilidh on 28 December was the last event before the doors closed until the Town Hall reopens in 2021 as a major venue attracting events and people to the town.

The building will receive a £22 million internal refurbishment to become one of the landmark entertainment venues in the West of Scotland. The redesign will broaden the range of events the town hall can offer, and transform the performance facilities and visitor experience, as well as improved catering and conference facilities, better physical access, and replacement of the mechanical and electrical systems.

Paisley Town Hall has been at the heart of life in the town for the past 140 years – this revamp is aimed at keeping it that way for the future.

Russell Institute

Be greeted by distinctive stone and bronze sculptures upon your arrival – this architectural treasure stands tall on the corner of Causeyside Street and is another iconic landmark in the town.

The building was commissioned by Miss Agnes Russell to provide child welfare as a memorial to her two brothers, Thomas and Robert Russell, who died in 1913 and 1920 respectively. and now acts as a skills development hub.

Opened in 1927, the masterful building oozes history and fine craftsmanship. Internal viewing is possible every year during Doors Open Day in September.

Sma’ Shot Cottages

The Sma’ Shot Cottages are a major attraction in the Renfrewshire area, providing visitors with an insight into two distinct periods of Paisley’s weaving history.

On entering from Shuttle Street, visitors immediately step back into the 18th century into a typical weaver’s cottage which was originally built in the 1750s.

There are fantastic local guides who accompany you on a tour of our attraction and will provide a fascinating insight into how a typical weaving family lived and worked during this important period of Paisley’s history. Within the weaver’s cottage, you will find the original weaving looms and learn about the origins of the Sma’ Shot Day celebration held in July each year.

On crossing the yard, you will discover the house of a foreman of a nearby mill in the mid-19thcentury. Within this house, visitors can experience what family life was like within the kitchen/living area, bedroom, children’s room and parlour – each room is decorated to represent various time periods from the late 19th into the early 20th century. Admission is free; however, all donations toward the upkeep of the cottages are gratefully accepted.

There is also a tea room and gift shop on site.

Last day of the summer season is 30th September 2023  – 12 noon until 4pm.  

Book now for their Halloween Experience from 26th – 31st October – book tickets HERE 

Christmas Open Day is Saturday 25th November 2023 12 – 4pm.

St Mirin’s Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of Saint Mirin in Paisley, dedicated to Saint Mirin the patron saint of Paisley, is the mother church of the Catholic Diocese of Paisley and is the seat of the Bishop of Paisley. The cathedral was completed in 1931 close to the site of the original church of the same name which dated from 1808. The original building was the first stone built Catholic church in post-Reformation Scotland.

The building is neo-Romanesque in style with a plain sandstone exterior and an airy arched interior and the church, which is the largest in the diocese, can accommodate around 1300 worshippers.

Opposite the cathedral, at the junction of Incle Street with Gauze Street and Glasgow Road, stands a bronze statue of St Mirin by Norman Galbraith which was completed and unveiled in 2007.


Thomas Coats Memorial Church  – now Coats Venue

Coats Venue, formerly Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church, is transitioning to a landmark entertainment venue in the West of Scotland providing a multifunctional entertainment hub, with a grand opening scheduled for spring 2020. This magnificent building, often referred to the exclamation mark in Paisley’s skyline, is more than 125 years old. The venue will undergo a schedule of work to upgrade facilities in preparation for a grand opening in Spring 2020, however with minimum disruption, the building remains in excellent condition to host events with immediate effect. Email  to arrange a visit, discuss your requirements and receive a quote for your next event.