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Discovering Glasgow’s Hidden Gems: Unique and Off-the-Beaten-Path Attractions

Discovering Glasgow’s Hidden Gems: Unique And Off-The-Beaten Path Attractions

The bustling city of Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city, renowned for its warm and welcoming people and cultural attractions, from world-class museums and art galleries to beautiful country parks and fine dining. 

However, like many cities, if you head off the beaten path you’re sure to find some wonderful hidden gems among the usual places to visit in Glasgow. In this article, we explore some of the lesser-known best things to do in Glasgow. 

Subterranean Secrets

One of Glasgow’s most iconic landmarks is actually hidden under the city’s surface. The Glasgow Vaults is a winding underground network of tunnels and vaults, many of which have long been abandoned. In fact, many people believe some areas of the old vaults to be haunted.

Take a step back in time with a behind-the-scenes tour of the catacombs underneath Glasgow Central Station, where you’ll learn about this intriguing subterranean world and listen to paranormal stories and chilling tales about the various people who travelled the tracks. If you choose the Visit Scotland Vaults Tour, your guide may even be in costume!

Street Art and Murals

If you’re looking for things to do in Glasgow city centre, there’s a vibrant street art scene in Glasgow, offering a plethora of unique murals to explore on your travels. Glasgow has even become known as Scotland’s mural capital in recent years, with Glasgow City Council actively encouraging new additions to its walls, gables and shutters. 

The art is free to view, so why not take a stroll through the city at your leisure and spot work by top street artists like Rogue-one, Ejek and Art Pistol, as well as Australian artist Sam Bates, otherwise known as Smug. Smug’s ‘Streets of Glasgow’ and ‘Saint Mungo’ are particularly iconic pieces.

You can use the Glasgow Mural Trail map to ensure you don’t miss a single piece, which passes through hot spots like the Barras Market and the Barras Art & Design Centre. Alternatively, Visit Scotland offers Glasgow Street Art Walking Tours with expert local guides. 

Hidden Green Oases

When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, relax in the peace and quiet of some of Glasgow’s lesser-known parks and gardens, such as Victoria Park and the Botanic Gardens.  

Victoria Park was named after Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and is one of the city’s most beautiful natural spots. As well as an impressive range of flower displays, rock-walled walks and pretty ponds, there is even a secret ancient forest located in a quiet corner of the park. You can find Victoria Park in the Scotstoun area in Glasgow’s West End.

The Botanic Gardens is another spectacular example of Glasgow places to visit, plus it’s free! In the Gardens, you’ll find over 9,000 different plant species, tropical glasshouses, trees and landscaped grounds, with stunning views over the River Kelvin. 

Necropolis: A City of the Dead

Cross the poetically named Bridge of Sighs and you’ll reach the tranquil Glasgow Necropolis, a hauntingly beautiful Victorian cemetery located to the east of Glasgow Cathedral. One of the most popular Glasgow tourist attractions, the 37-acre cemetery features some breathtaking architecture, mausoleums and sculptures, as well as panoramic views over the city. 

You can book a guided walking tour of the Necropolis to hear fascinating tales about the 50,000 people who are buried there, such as Major Archibald Douglas Monteath, who has an entire ornate mausoleum dedicated to his life. 

Pollok House and the Burrell Collection

Museum buffs and history aficionados will enjoy Glasgow’s lesser-visited museums, such as the People’s Palace and the Burrell Collection.

A great place to learn more about Glasgow, the People’s Palace is an ornate building that houses the Glasgow Museum of Social History. Located in Glasgow Green, the museum contains hundreds of fascinating artefacts, photographs, prints and paintings that tell stories about the people of Glasgow and how they lived, from the past to the present day. 

Located in Pollok Country Park is the Burrell Collection, one of the largest art collections ever amassed by one person. Donated by Sir William Burrell, the collection comprises more than 9,000 historical objects, including artwork by Cézanne, late mediaeval art, and Chinese and Islamic art. 

Restaurants and Bars

Among the Glasgow city centre attractions, you’ll find some top dining spots to rest and recharge while exploring. 

Of all the restaurants in Glasgow, Gaucho is surely one of the best. Just a stone’s throw from the station, you can sample mouth-watering sustainable steaks and delectable Argentinian wine at Gaucho Glasgow. From leisurely lunches to light dinners and Sunday roasts, Gaucho also offers supper clubs and fun immersive events to elevate your dining experience. 

Glasgow certainly isn’t short of bars either – there are lots of must-visit traditional pubs and bars in the city, where you’ll be regaled with stories and facts about Glasgow’s world-famous distilleries and whiskies. The Merchant City is one of the most popular spots for a drink, with many lively bars and restaurants.

The Britannia Panopticon Music Hall

Another of Glasgow’s city centre attractions is the Britannia Panopticon, Glasgow’s oldest surviving music hall. Situated on Glasgow’s historic Trongate, the Panopticon is a remarkable piece of Victorian and Edwardian architecture dating back to 1857. Today, it is protected by The Friends of the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall Trust (SCIO).

For a truly authentic experience, why not attend a performance? There’s plenty of choice, from silent films and comedy clubs to Drag and Burlesque shows and even traditional old time music hall shows.

Glasgow’s Music Scene Beyond the Mainstream

If you’re interested in learning more about Glasgow’s renowned indie music culture, there are a variety of intimate live music venues and gigs to be found around the city.

You’ll find both cover groups and traditional bands at Waxy O’Connor’s Church bar, a beautiful Irish pub in the city centre, as well as the Clutha Bar, a true Glasgow institution with over 200 years of musical history and live music every night. Just over the road, no musical tour of Glasgow would be complete without a drink at Glasgow’s oldest pub, The Scotia, which has hosted musicians like Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty.

If traditional fiddles and singalong guitar choruses are more your thing, head to The Snaffle Bit on Sauchiehall Street for a warm welcome, while the Ben Nevis Bar on Argyle Street offers traditional music sessions every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.  

Transportation Tips

When it comes to getting around, Glasgow is the only city in Scotland with a metro, which consists of 15 different stations. There are also plenty of local buses to take you where you need to go.

For a more immersive experience, there’s no better way to explore Glasgow than on foot or by bike, to take in the city’s stunning architecture and dazzling street art. There are plenty of cycle hire schemes and neighbourhood guides available online to help you plan the best routes. 

We hope you enjoyed our guide to places to visit in Glasgow and have been inspired to start planning your next trip! 


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