It's perhaps better known as the homeland of the Paisley shawl and the Paisley pattern, which were key Victorian fashion trends. Today the vast weaving and cotton mills are quiet, but their conversion into luxury apartments means the town has kept its connection to its history.
The old industry may have gone but Paisley remains a lively town that has continued to benefit from its close connection to Glasgow, which sits just 6.9 miles to the east of the town. House prices are appealing – the present average is £138,000, which makes the town an attractive alternative to Glasgow where average values stand at £177,000. You can check the latest prices here.
Wishaw is another popular alternative for Glasgow commuters – find out more about it by reading our guide.
Living in Paisley: what to expect
The centre of Paisley is dominated by the spires of its churches and the narrow streets packed with sandstone terraces and townhouses. Some of the most iconic period structures can be found within several conservation areas.
Despite its proximity to Glasgow, you don't have to travel to the city for shopping or entertainment. The High Street is full of local and national shops and services, as well as a wide choice of cafés, pubs, restaurants and take-aways.
You can also enjoy having the wilderness of the Scottish countryside on your doorstep. The town sits on the edge of the large Gleniffer Braes Country Park, and the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park is only a half-hour drive away.
If, by contrast, the urban is desired, Glasgow can be reached by car in less than 30 minutes or just 10 minutes by train.
Where to start your property search
If you want a home in some of the most iconic buildings in Paisley, look to the former mills. These have now been converted into luxury contemporary apartments with one or two bedrooms. Take a look at Anchor Mill on Thread Street to see what's on offer. All rooms benefit from floor-to-ceiling arched windows but the best views are from the penthouses, which also have access to a roof terrace.
Slightly less imposing period properties can be found in the Oakshaw Conservation Area near the centre of the town. This conservation area covers the base of the original Paisley settlement and includes a host of large four-bedroom townhouses. These properties have kept many character features, including stained-glass windows, detailed cornicing and sweeping staircases. See Oakshaw Street West for examples.
The town centre itself, along with the Williamsburgh and Charleston areas, have many examples of Scottish tenement flats as well as terraces cut from blond and red sandstone.
Search Alice Street in Charleston for tall towers of modest flats, or seek a three-bedroom flat in a stone terrace on Glasgow Road in Williamsburgh. Close to the centre, look on Stock Street for flats in converted three-storey sandstone terraces.
Castlehead is another sought-after conservation area that has a wide choice of elegant Victorian villas. Take a look at Main Road for four- and five-bedroom detached townhouses that have large airy bay windows and extensive gardens. Low Road also has some fine period villas with feature fireplaces.
For something a little more modest, take a look at Thistle Street. Here you will find two-bedroom red-brick terraces with small rear gardens.
If you'd prefer an inter-war property, the conservation area of Thornly Park may appeal. It sits south of the town, just off Neilston Road, and has a range of housing from mock-Tudor to Art Deco. Check out Thornly Park Avenue to see what's available.
Post-war housing is predominately found outside the town in the Glenburn, Foxbar, Ferguslie Park, Gallowhill and Hunterhill areas. Take a look at some typical semis and terraces on Dundonald Road.
Ralston on the outskirts of the town is a great place to search for 1930s semi-detached villas. Look on streets such as Newtyle Road for roomy family homes with surprisingly generous gardens.
For new-build properties, take a look north of the town. The Donaldswood Park development has modern three- and four-bedroom semis and detached homes with paved driveways and modest gardens.
Getting around Paisley
By rail: Paisley is well supplied with train stations. Paisley Gilmore Street, Paisley Canal and Paisley St James stations all run services to Glasgow Central, with journey times of 10 minutes.
By car: By following the A726 north, you can hop onto the M8, which heads north towards Langbank by the River Clyde or east to Glasgow.
The M8 can also be used as a starting point to reach other routes – to the east it connects to the M77 and the M74. The former travels south to Kilmarnock and the latter heads south east past Hamilton.
By air: Glasgow Airport is only a 10-minute drive away from the town centre. From here you can fly to domestic and European locations, as well as a selection of long-haul destinations such as New York, Orlando and Vancouver.
Things to do in Paisley
History: The town's historical connection with the Paisley pattern can be explored at Paisley Museum. Unsurprisingly, it has the finest collection of Paisley shawls in the world as well as a large ceramics collection. Visitors can see how the cloth was made by visiting the Loom Gallery or see ever-changing exhibitions of contemporary and classic art in the attached art gallery.
The Sma' Shot Cottages include a fully restored and furnished 18th-century weaver's cottage and some mill workers' houses from the 1840s. You can tour the houses to learn how the families lived and worked and learn more about the town's cloth industry.
The Thomas Coats Observatory is the oldest public observatory in the country. It was built in 1883 and houses a range of telescopes for stargazing all year round. Regular free tours are available and telescope viewings require no booking. If the weather is cloudy, visitors can see a show in the digital planetarium.
Cultural: Paisley has its own independent music venues, which include The Bungalow. This venue prides itself on its ethical credentials – it hosts many free events and strives to make tickets as affordable as possible. Bands that have graced its stage include The Blockheads and The Quireboys.
The Spree is an annual music, arts and comedy festival over nine days. It's held in various locations around the town and includes regular performances and free daytime workshops.
Musical and theatrical performances are on offer at Paisley Arts Centre. This intimate venue seats just 158 people who come to see jazz, folk music, comedy and dance shows.
Outdoors: The Gleniffer Braes Country Park is mostly made up of moorland with sections of woodland. It covers 480 acres and its walks give visitors panoramic views. The park is home to plenty of wildlife, including roe deer and tawny owls, and its wild flowers include orchids.
Paisley's oldest park is Fountain Gardens. It was originally laid out in 1797 and has broad walkways that lead to its cast iron fountain at the centre. Look out for a statue of Robert Burns and other iron decorations scattered throughout the park.
Views over the town can be enjoyed from the top of Saucelhill Park. From the summit of its steep hill visitors can admire the spires of the town centre and, on a good day, the edge of the Highlands.
The Highlands can also be seen from Ferguslie Gardens. They were originally the private gardens of Ferguslie House and therefore include formal gardens with rare plants, woodland and a lake.
Shopping: The main shopping roads are High Street, Well Street, Broomlands Street and New Street. Here residents will find everything from McDonalds to independent jewellery shops.
A host of big name shops can be found in the town's two shopping centres. The Paisley Centre and Piazza Shopping Centre are the homes of well-known brands such as Boots, New Look and Marks &Spencers as well as some chain restaurants and cafés.
Local fresh produce can be purchased from the Paisley Farmers' Market. It's held twice a month and has stalls selling meat, fish, cheese, fruit and vegetables.
Food and drink: You can take your pick from a range of international cuisines in Paisley. Restaurants such as Little Steakhouse serve up rustic steaks of Scottish beef and Cardosi's has a menu full of Tuscan classics.
For something with a little more spice, try eateries such as the Multan Tandoori, which has specials such as Palak Murgi and Mirchi Garam Masala.
In 1697 seven witches were convicted and executed at Paisley, the last mass execution of witches in Western Europe. Their resting place at Maxwellton Cross is still marked by a horseshoe, which was believed to lock in the evil, but the original was lost and has been replaced with a modern version.
6 reasons to live in Paisley
- Within easy reach of Glasgow
- Affordable houses
- Excellent range of property
- Good choice of parks and reserves
- Plenty of history
- Great shopping opportunities
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