There are plenty of awesome things to do in Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland. Numerous fascinating museums, quirky street art mural trail, vast open green spaces and a diverse food scene make this city one of the best destinations in Scotland.
Also, this city is a perfect base to explore Scotland. There are many lovely day trip destinations from Glasgow.
However, for travellers who want to explore this bustling city more deeply, there are plenty of lesser-known sights to explore. From secret viewpoints to magnificent architectural gems, it’s easy to get off the beaten track in Glasgow.
And so, whether it’s your first or umpteenth time in this vibrant city, here are the top hidden gems that you won’t want to miss on your next trip!
If you make an effort to add a few of the places to your Glasgow itinerary, they will show you a different side of the city.
Hidden Gems in Glasgow, Scotland
1. Ashton Lane
Located at the West End, Ashton Lane is a charming cobbled street with plenty of pubs, restaurants and a movie theatre. This bohemian hideaway is a secret gem in Glasgow. Decorated with beautiful fairy lights, Ashton Lane is a great spot for a night out.
Watch a movie at Grosvenor Cinema, located in this area. They show a mix of blockbusters and cult classics. Dine in the famous Ubiquitous Chip restaurant – a firm favourite with locals and visitors.
For a drink, head towards Jinty McGuinty’s Irish Bar or the Innis & Gunn Brewery Taproom. For some tasty Japanese food, pop into Ramen Dayo.
2. Fossil Grove
Sitting inside Victoria Park, Fossil Grove is a museum containing plant fossils from the Carboniferous Period. It is one of the most unique museums in Glasgow.
Can you believe these fossil tree stumps are about 330 million years old? They were discovered in 1887 during an ongoing construction in Victoria Park.
Opened in 1890, Fossil Grove is one of the oldest tourist attractions of Glasgow. Visiting this museum requires a bit of advanced planning as it is not open every day.
Usually, Fossil Grove is open only on Saturdays and Sundays 12 pm – 4 pm from April to September. Also, you can visit the museum on special occasions, like the Doors Open Days.
3. Glasgow Necropolis
Derived from an ancient Greek word, Necropolis literally means “city of the dead”. Modelled after Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, Necropolis is a Victorian burial site in the city. Spread over a small hill, this is the final resting place of about fifty thousand people.
This atmospheric cemetery was founded in 1831 by the Merchants’ House of Glasgow. The 37-acre large cemetery is full of historic statues and sculptures. Many prominent Scottish personalities were buried here.
Also, from the top of the Necropolis, you will get a sweeping panoramic view of Glasgow. The grassy slopes are perfect spots for a picnic on a warm summer day.
4. The Cloisters
Located inside the University of Glasgow’s West End campus, The Cloisters are one of the most photogenic places in the city and an architectural gem. They are also known as the Undercroft and connect the East and West Quadrangles.
Ramble around the distinctive fluted columns with grand archways. The Cloisters got featured in the popular historical drama television series, Outlander. Therefore, it’s a must-visit for all Outlander fans visiting Glasgow. It also appeared in various movies, like Outlaw King and Cloud Atlas.
The doorway leads to the beautiful Bute Hall, where the graduation ceremonies take place.
Also, the cloisters are only a few minutes walk away from the Hunterian Museum, Scotland’s oldest public museum.
5. Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre
Originally founded in St Petersburg, the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre moved to Glasgow in the 90s. It is one of the most unique attractions in the city.
This mechanical theatre is the brainchild of Russian sculptor and mechanic Eduard Bersudsky, theatre director Tatyana Jakovskaya, and Sergey Jakovsky.
It displays hundreds of hand-carved metal figures synchronising with atmospheric music and lighting. There are a variety of different thought-provoking shows celebrating the cycles of life and death.
These shows are popular with all ages. Promenade and Wheels of Life are Sharmanka’s two main shows, and they run for around 45 minutes.
You can find Sharmanka on the busy Trongate in the heart of Merchant City.
6. Queen’s Park Viewpoint
Located on the south side of the city, Queen’s Park is a well-known place with local walkers, runners and dog walkers. There are various nature trails around the park.
Climb to the flagpole to admire the extensive view over the city rooftops.
For photographers, this viewpoint is a real treat. On a clear day, the Campsie Fells and Ben Lomond are clearly visible from here. You can also spot the grand tower of Glasgow University and several other city landmarks from this viewpoint.
If you are visiting in winter and it’s snowing, you can find the locals skiing and snowboarding on the slopes.
7. Britannia Panopticon
Founded in 1857 in the Trongate area of Glasgow, Britannia Panopticon is one of the world’s oldest remaining music halls.
This building was also used for early cinema, a freak show and carnival amusements. It even had a zoo in the basement. One of the first moving pictures in Scotland was shown at Britannia in 1896.
Many comedians, musicians and dancers have performed in this historic hall. At the age of sixteen, Stan Laurel, of the comic duo Laurel and Hardy, made his debut performance on the stage of Britannia.
Today, this historic hall is taken care of by a trust, and it hosts silent movies, comedy and drag shows, festivals and other events. It is also open to visitors.
8. Tenement House
Located at Buccleuch Street in the Garnethill area of Glasgow, The Tenement House is a preserved house and museum showing middle-class Glaswegian life dating back to the early 20th century.
From the outside, it looks like any other building in the neighbourhood. But inside, you will find carefully restored rooms, which will take you back in time.
This house belonged to shorthand typist Miss Agnes Toward, who moved here in 1911 with her mother, Mrs Agnes Reid Toward and continued living here until 1965.
The museum is filled with her furniture and a remarkable collection of everyday objects, including black horsehair reclining chairs, a longcase clock made in 1790, many ordinary household objects even a jar of plum jam made in 1929.
The house displays what it was like living as an independent career woman in Glasgow in the early 20th century. Today the house is owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
9. The Hidden Gardens
Located in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow, The Hidden Gardens is an urban oasis of tranquillity and nature. It’s a great place to relax and reflect and a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the busy city streets.
Opened in 2003, The Hidden Gardens was founded by NVA Europe. Its goal is to encourage local community development and to promote inclusivity of people of all cultures, faiths and backgrounds.
Take a wander around the well-maintained garden filled with a variety of plants. Also, they frequently host various exhibitions, lectures and events.
10. Glasgow Women’s Library
Established in 1991, Glasgow Women’s Library is the only accredited museum dedicated to women’s history in the whole of Britain.
It works as a library and hosts various events and workshops. There is an impressive collection of objects about women’s lives and their histories.
You will see Suffragette memorabilia, 1930s dressmaking patterns, and Scottish Women’s Liberation newsletters in this museum. They also host a guided walking tour to educate about the history of women in this city.
11. View from Glasgow Tower
Glasgow Tower is an innovative engineering structure and part of the Glasgow Science Centre complex. This 127 metres high tower is the Guinness World Record holder for being the only freestanding structure in the world that can rotate 360 degrees.
It is also the tallest tower in Scotland. Shaped like an aerofoil, it has a viewing platform at the top. From there, you can see a cracking panoramic view of the city.
During high winds, the tower gets occasionally closed for safety. So, check their website for the latest information about its opening before your visit.
Opening Hours: Only in the summer months. Opens at 11 am, and the last entry is at 4.30 pm.
12. Forth and Clyde Canal
The 35 miles long Forth and Clyde Canal flows through the heart of this industrial city. It was opened in the late 18th century to connect the Firth of Forth and Firth of Clyde for navigating commercial vessels. This canal starts at Bowling at the west of Glasgow and ends in Edinburgh.
With the advent of Railways, it lost the commercial usage. Today, this canal is quite popular with canoe and kayak enthusiasts. There are almost 39 locks over its course of 35 miles. The towpaths are used by walkers and cyclists.
Forth and Clyde Canal is home to various wildlife like Beaver, Heron, Kingfisher, Otters etc. You can also attend the Glasgow Canal Festival that takes place in summer on its bank.
13. House for an Art Lover
Situated inside Bellahouston Park on the outskirts of Glasgow, House for an Art Lover is a must-visit for all Mackintosh fans.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in this city. He is the most celebrated architect and designer in Scotland. House for an Art Lover was built in 1996, taking inspiration from the design drawings he had submitted for a competition held by a German magazine in 1901.
This house opened to the public in 1996. The entire layout of the rooms follows the original design.
While you are here, take a stroll around the Victorian walled garden and the sculpture park outside.