Nestled on the west central Lowlands of Scotland, Renfrewshire boasts a fine combination of city convenience, countryside beauty, and rich historical legacy. Just a stone's throw from the vibrant city of Glasgow, Renfrewshire offers a range of locales from bustling towns to serene villages.

Our area guide will steer you through the history-soaked lands of Renfrewshire, bringing you closer to its landmarks as well as local life. Whether you're drawn by the excellent schools, reliable transport links, or the range of things to do, we will also provide important practicalities for settling down in Renfrewshire.

History of Renfrewshire

Renfrewshire’s history is etched in its picturesque landscapes. It was established in the 12th century, named after the town of Renfrew that was the historical county town. Renfrewshire was an industrial powerhouse during the 19th and 20th centuries, playing a vital role in the textiles industry particularly in thread manufacturing. Besides its industrial significance, Renfrewshire claims a firm place in Scotland’s monastic history with the founding of Paisley Abbey in the 12th century, now a prominent historic landmark.


First, the Paisley Abbey - a gothic architectural marvel that dates back to 1163. This place not just pulls history enthusiasts but also commands interest for its gargoyle that resembles the xenomorph from the movie 'Alien'. Secondly, the Coats Observatory, the oldest public observatory in Scotland that still fascinates astronomers and stargazers. Last, but not least, the Sma’ Shot Cottages showcasing the life of 19th-century weavers. It's a tribute to Renfrewshire’s rich textile heritage.

Landmarks we love

  • John Neilson Institution: Located in Paisley, this grand neo-classical building has served various purposes from a school to an office space, embodying Renfrewshire’s resilience and adaptability.
  • Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church: Also known as the Baptist Cathedral of Europe, it stands tall in Paisley with a stunning gothic revival architecture that is hard to miss.
  • Paisley Town Hall: This Victorian-era marvel is currently undergoing refurbishment to emerge as a leading entertainment and events venue.
  • Barshaw Park: Spread across 55 acres, this recreational space offers a serene escape with ample family-friendly activities in the heart of Paisley.
  • Stanely Castle: Though in ruins, this 15th-century fortification in Paisley's Stanely Reservoir hides numerous tales intense battles and noble families.

Top 10 things to do in Renfrewshire

  • Visit the Gleniffer Braes: Soak up panoramic views across Paisley, Glasgow and along the Clyde from this country park situated on the edge of the Gleniffer Braes.
  • Stroll around Lochwinnoch: This nature reserve is a heaven for bird watchers and offers excellent walking routes.
  • Explore the Weaver's Cottage: A typical 18-century handloom weaver's home in Kilbarchan that provides insight of Renfrewshires's textile history.
  • Visit the Paisley Museum and Art Gallery: A hub of culture, it is expected to reopen in 2022 after a massive redevelopment.
  • Attend the Paisley Halloween Festival: One of the largest festivals of its kind in the UK, complete with parade and fireworks.
  • Explore the Erskine Bridge: This cable-stayed bridge offers breathtaking views of the River Clyde.
  • Experience the Barshaw Gala Day: A highlight of summer in Paisley with funfair, live music and children’s activities.
  • Visit the White Cart Water: Enjoy a tranquil walk along this river in Paisley and take in the natural beauty.
  • Go to the Renfrew Victory Baths: This Edwardian era public swimming bath can evoke nostalgia in every visitor.
  • Visit the Bishopton Art Group Gallery: Browse and buy from a wonderful selection of artworks from this talented local community.

Our recommended areas to live in Renfrewshire

  • Paisley: This is the largest town in Renfrewshire and offers a vibrant mix of cultural events, historical landmarks, and shopping outlets.
  • Ralston: A suburb of Paisley, Ralston provides a peaceful living environment with easy links to both Paisley and Glasgow for work and leisure.
  • Erskine:Known for its community spirit and green spaces, this town is perfect for families looking for a quiet life with essential amenities nearby.
  • Johnstone: Another bustling town in Renfrewshire, Johnstone boasts of its own collection of services, shops, and community facilities – not to mention a rich industrial heritage.
  • Lochwinnoch: If a countryside setting is what you seek, this village on the Castle Semple Loch could be your idyllic home. Renowned for its nature reserve, wildlife and community-led events.

Best schools in Renfrewshire

Renfrewshire boasts a strong educational infrastructure, with a mix of well-regarded primary and secondary schools. Paisley Grammar School and Renfrew High School have earned accolades for their commitment to student success. The University of West Scotland in Paisley is known for its innovative courses and strong links to local businesses. On top of that, Renfrewshire is home to multiple specialised institutes including West College Scotland and The Royal Alexandra Hospital, offering promising opportunities for higher education and professional development.

Transport links in Renfrewshire

Renfrewshire benefits from a robust transport network. Be it by road, rail, or air, travelling to and from Renfrewshire is a breeze. The key motorway M8 provides a convenient link to both Glasgow and the rest of Scotland. It’s well served by train services, with multiple stations across its towns offering accessible transport to Glasgow and beyond. For international travelers, the Glasgow Airport located just on the edge of Renfrewshire makes national and international travel easy.

In conclusion, Renfrewshire offers a pleasing mix between a tranquil life dotted by rolling hills and lakes, and urban conveniences its towns have to offer. Its rich history, unique landmarks, and vibrant cultural events are something to be truly cherished. The strong education options and easy transport links further its appeal for families and professionals alike. Whether you're exploring the Gleniffer Braes, attending the Paisley Halloween Festival, or contemplating the Paisley skyline from your window, life in Renfrewshire is likely to be enriching.

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