Glasgow has thousands of sights to offer, but how do you find the hidden gems? Around every corner, in every neighbourhood, there’s something special to discover, from parks to ruined houses to museums. Here are 50 hidden gems to find in Glasgow.
The Arlington Baths
Founded in 1870, this historic swimming club is housed in a Grade-A Listed building in Glasgow’s Charing Cross. Noted as the first-ever swimming club in the city, Arlington is inspired by the Roman baths, featuring a 21-metre skylit swimming pond, Turkish room, saunas, and a members-only relaxation room.
The Tenement House
From the outside, the Tenement House looks like an ordinary 20th-century house. But head inside and you’ll find a perfectly preserved time capsule. Possessions, furniture and even food have been frozen in time, providing a unique look into how one woman lived a century ago.
Mr Ben Retro Clothing
Proudly standing as one of Scotland’s longest-running retro clothing stores, Mr Ben sells unique clothing and accessories harking back to decades past. Opened in Virginia Galleries in the 1990s, this is a real treasure trove of vintage clothing just waiting to be explored by eagle-eyed fashionistas.
The Barras Market
The eclectic East End is home to the Barras Market, a world-famous melange of tastes, smells and designs. There’s nowhere better in the city to snap up a bargain each weekend – come rain or shine – the market has been showcasing the best of local creators and designers for more than a century.
If its distinctive architecture doesn’t draw you in, Glasgow’s multi-award-winning transport museum’s 3000 items just might. Celebrating the world of transportation and its ever-changing role in Glaswegian life, their space on the River Clyde features locomotives, prams, cars – and even a stormtrooper.
The Clydeside Distillery
At the Old Queens Dock, the Clydeside Distillery continues the legacy of whisky running through the veins of the city alongside the Clyde River. Producing single-malt scotch whisky since the 1920s, they exclusively use the pure waters of Loch Katrine in the Highlands and malted barley from the Lowland farms.
The Hidden Gardens
An oasis on the South Side, The Hidden Gardens offers a moment of calm in the busy city. Opened in 2003, the gardens exist as something of a meeting place, its doors open to people of all backgrounds and creeds, opening conversations between communities.
At the heart of Glasgow Green, the Doulton Fountain is a symbol of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. It became the focal point of the 1888 International Exhibition, marking Glasgow’s position as the ‘Second City of Empire’ through the 19th century. Standing at more than 40 feet high, the city crest adorns its basin.
Tennent’s Visitor Centre
More than 450 years of beer brewing tradition is housed in this visitor centre, telling the story of Tennent’s. A proud part of Scotland’s culture for generations, the centre charts the ever-evolving brewing at Wellpark in Glasgow’s East End in digital and physical media. The gift shop is also worth a visit for a souvenir from Scotland’s favourite beermakers.
St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art
One of the only public museums in the world devoted to such a niche subject, St Mungo’s Museum celebrates the depths and nuances of religious life. First opened in 1993 near Glasgow Cathedral, the museum holds many significant religious artefacts from all the major world faiths.
Pollok Country Park
The largest park in Glasgow, this extensive slice of woodland and greenspace is something of an oasis for visitors and local wildlife. Just three miles from the city centre, Pollok Country Park is home to a fold of Highland Cattle, the Clydesdale Horses and the grand Pollok House, owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
The Tall Ship Glenlee
A slice of Victorian maritime history, The Tall Ship sits on the water just outside of the Riverside Museum. Take a trip back in time to the era of sailing, exploring just how sailors lived on the ship as it sailed across the world. Now fully restored, the Tall Ship is also the only surviving Clydebuilt steel sailing ship left in the UK.
Crossing 91 acres, Tollcross Park in the East End is a beautiful green space, carefully looked after to showcase thousands of varieties of plants. Known internationally for its Rose Garden and Winter Gardens, its Glen Nature Walk is also one of the garden’s highlights – perfect for soaking up some Vitamin D.
A 200-acre park in Glasgow’s South Side, this beautiful slice of greenspace has been supporting the local community since the early 20th century. Linn Park is the third largest park in the city and houses the remains of Cathcart Castle, an 18-hole public golf course and an equestrian centre.
Home to the city’s second municipal golf course, Bellahouston Park is a 180-acre greenspace on the South Side. Since 2013, the park has played host to the Glasgow Summer Sessions, an annual concert series featuring some of music’s biggest acts – as well as hosting multiple Popes for open-air masses.
One of the city’s defining landmarks, Glasgow Cathedral was the heart around which Scotland’s largest city was built. Dedicated to St Mungo, whose tomb is found in the cathedral, it’s a significant pilgrimage point for Christians and is the most medieval cathedral found on the Scottish Mainland having survived the Protestant Reformation.
The resting place for more than 50,000 people, this Victorian cemetery bordering the Glasgow Cathedral features hundreds of statues and sculptures. Built in memory of its famous residents, it’s laid out like an informal park and celebrates those who have passed – leading Glaswegian Billy Connolly compares it to Nashville, Tennessee for its care of the dead.
A stunning, ornately created building that houses the Glasgow Museum of Social History, the People’s Palace tells the story of the people of the city. Found in Glasgow Green, the museum is packed with artefacts, paintings, prints and digital media about the people of Glasgow and how they lived.
Head for the trendy West End and you’ll find the cobbled street of Ashton Lane, a hidden gem within the city. Internationally renowned for its collection of bars and restaurants – including Grosvenor Café, Chip and Jinty McGunitys Irish Bar – it’s the boutique heart of Glasgow’s most fashionable district.
Five miles west of the city centre stand the ruins of Crookston Castle, a medieval castle. Sat atop a hill overlooking the Levern Water, it remains the only surviving medieval castle in the entire country. Featured in the works of Robert Burns and Robert Tannahill, it’s now cared for by Historic Environment Scotland and is proudly Glasgow’s second-oldest building.
St Aloysius Church
One of many significant buildings in the Garnethill neighbourhood, St Aloysius is a Catholic church that, when constructed, was the only Catholic church in the city with a tower. A Category A listed building, the church was opened in 1910 and is the home of only the second statue of Our Lady of Montserrat outside of Catalonia.
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Best known for its multiple glasshouses – including Kibble Palace – this West End favourite holds hundreds of varieties of flora and fauna. With the River Kelvin running through it, the gardens were first opened in 1842. Now, it features tropical and temperate plants, the UK’s largest collection of tree ferns and a rose garden with varieties from across the globe.
Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre
Based in the city since 1995, the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre in Merchant City was originally founded in St Petersburg decades ago. Now, it displays thousands of pieces dedicated to the art of movement, where sculpture is woven with light and sound to create moving art celebrating the cycles of life and death we all experience.
Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
Ever wondered where collections go when they’re not on display? Now you can find out. Free to visit, thousands of pieces are on display here from galleries across the country. Their 17 purpose-built ‘pods’ hold over a million objects – and you can tour collections from fine art to historical artefacts to armour from centuries past.
7 Arches Gorbals
A piece of permanent public artwork created by artist Liz Peden, the seven arches celebrate seven incredible Glaswegians who were significant in the Laurieston and Gorbals area. Found in the Cleland Street underpass, notable figures include Allan Pinkerton, artist Hannah Frank and Benny Lynch, Scotland’s first world flyweight champion.
The oldest surviving music hall in the world, the Britannia Panopticon champions the past and future of the music hall tradition. Famed as the place where one Stan Laurel made his entertainment debut, the beginning of its conservation started in 1997 and now hosts screenings, parties and even weddings.
Bud Neill Memorial
Found across the street from the Finsbay Flatiron Bar, the Bud Neill Memorial is a bronze statue commemorating the life of Glasgow cartoonist, Bud Neill. Best known for his cartoons printed in many Glasgow newspapers from the 1940s to the 1960s, his commemorative statue was opened in 1992 and Lobey Dosser and Elfie – two of his most beloved characters – are often found with a traffic cone on their head.
Though not as famous as the cobbles of Ashton Lane, Cresswell Lane is nevertheless a charming spot to wander down. If you’re not enchanted by the unique melange of architecture here, the many boutiques, bars and restaurants are Glasgow’s version of Edinburgh’s famous Rose Street.
Found on the banks of the River Clyde, Cuningar Loop is a multi-activity woodland park on the outskirts of Glasgow. Packed with woodland and wildlife, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a riverside walk, get cycling on their dedicated bike tracks for beginners or learn how boulder climb at Scotland’s first outdoor bouldering park.
A part of the University of Glasgow in the West End, Hunterian is the oldest museum in Scotland. Dedicated to anatomist and physician William Hunter – and featuring much of his personal collection – the central gallery features displays of scientific instruments, artefacts of geology and ethnography, as well as Roman Scotland and Ancient Egypt.
The Cup Tea Lounge
Harking back to the bustling city of the Victorian era, the Cup Tea Lounge is an ornate spot for a cup of something warm. With two locations – one in Merchant City and one in the city centre – the incredible architecture of the surroundings is a fitting compliment to their famous Afternoon Teas, as well as brunches and breakfasts.
Found in the centre of Victoria Park, this incredible feat of archaeology was first discovered in 1887. Opened to the public in 1890, the site is the most ancient visitor attraction in the city, showcasing the fossilised stumps and roots of eleven trees from an extinct species on the floor of an old quarry.
The steepest street in the West End, Gardner Street is often described as a ‘postcard view’ of this corner of the city. Found in Partick, the rolling hill of the street is quite a thing to see – and an even trickier thing to drive along.
The oldest sweet shop in all of Glasgow, Glickman’s has been satisfying the sweet tooth of the city since 1903. Their home on London Road in the East of the city continues to handmake and produce the nostalgic sweets that made it so popular a century ago. They’ve even got celebrity fans – the shop was featured on a Jamie Oliver programme in 2011.
The Govan Stones
Govan Stones are a collection of medieval carved stones now on display at the Govan Old Parish Church. Believed to have been built to commemorate the rulers of the Kingdom of Strathclyde centuries ago, many of the stones were destroyed in the late 20th-century. The ones that remain have been connected with the Scandinavian influence over Scotland between the 9th and 11th centuries.
A unique feat of Grecian-inspired architecture, Holmwood House was a family home that is now cared for by the National Trust of Scotland. Designed for a paper magnate by architecture Alexander Thomson, this South Side spot is regarded as one of his greatest works. While touring it, you’ll be able to take in the incredible Greek colour and temple design.
House for an Art Lover
Tucked in the beautiful Bellahouston Park, House for An Art Lover was a labour of love for architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Using his original designs from 1901, the exterior has been carefully restored – and its interiors expertly preserved as Mackintosh and his wife designed it, which visitors can explore.
The Knitted Bench – Botanic Gardens
One of many sculptures in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, The Knitted Bench is a memorial for a local legend. Rita McGurn was a designer for TV and film – as well as a lifelong knitter. When she passed away, her daughter decided to turn their favourite bench into a memorial for her, transforming the bench with bright colours, knitting and small birds. You can only see it from March to September.
Glasgow’s hub of architecture and design, The Lighthouse is the remaining symbol of the city’s 1999 run as UK City of Architecture and Design. The building itself dates back to the late Victorian era and offers uninterrupted views over the city of Glasgow – if you can make it up the helical staircase leading up to the platform.
A Category B listed building, Mosesfield House in Springburn Park was designed by David Hamilton in 1838. Designed in the traditional Gothic style that Hamilton pioneered in his work, the house was the site where George Johnson created the Arrol-Johnson motorcar prototype – which would come to dominate Scotland’s motor industry.
The Mural Trail
Glasgow is full of public street art, bringing colour to the city – and this mural will take you on a walking tour of the best. First opened in 2014 to promote the growing number of works available, the trail includes ‘Wonderwall’ at the University of Strathclyde, “Saint Mungo” on the High Street and “Badminton” in Merchant City, celebrating the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The Piping Centre
Dedicated to the unique Scottish art of the bagpipes, The Piping Centre has its home in the Cowcaddens district of Glasgow. Found in a Category B Listed building, the centre is dedicated to preserving the history and present playing of the bagpipes. It includes the Great Highland Bagpipes, Irish uileann pipes, Scottish small pipes and other traditional instruments.
A small part of Glasgow’s Rottenrow street in the University of Strathclyde, the gardens were created in the ruins of a former maternity hospital. A peaceful oasis for students and locals, the name comes from the Gaelic meaning “road of kings”. Though it is a beautiful spot in the summer, a crisp walk during the gardens in the winter is arguably when it’s at its most spectacular.
Rouken Glen Park
Just south of Glasgow is the 143 acres of Rouken Glen Park. The area was gifted in the 16th century by James V, before being transformed into a park in 1904 as a gift to the people of the city. It was awarded Green Flag status, the park was also voted the UK’s Best Park in 2016.
The Sixty Steps
A seemingly innocuous staircase in Glasgow’s West End, the Sixty Steps were designed by architect Alexander Greek Thomson – and is something of a neighbourhood landmark. Initially providing an access point to the now-demolished Queen Margaret Bridge, the steps were one of Thomson’s last creations as an architect.
The Snuff Mill Bridge
The unique entrance to Linn Park on Glasgow’s South Side, the Snuff Mill Bridge is a picturesque spot beloved by the local community. Many have likened it to a ‘fairytale’, as the bridge crosses over the water and is surrounded by beautiful former mill buildings. It dates back to the 17th century and sits just beside Lindsay House, one of Glasgow’s oldest tenement houses.
St Nicholas Garden
A greenspace at Provand’s Lordship, the garden surrounding this medieval house and museum sits just next to Glasgow Cathedral. One of only four remaining buildings from the medieval era in Glasgow, the garden grows a range of herbs that are used for culinary and medicinal purposes, as well as a knot garden and a variety of trees.
The Templeton Building
Alternately known as Templeton on the Green, this building was the former site of the Templeton Carpet Factory. The building’s distinct and ornate design in the Victorian gothic style has been carefully preserved and was inspired by the Doge Palace in Vienna. Now, it houses small businesses, as well as 143 private apartments.
The University Cloisters
Connecting the East and West quads of the University of Glasgow, this unique space is one of the most famous at the university. Not only does it hold all of its graduation ceremonies here, but the domed arches have also featured in many TV programmes and films, including Outlander and Cloud Atlas.
Otherwise known as Auchinleck Well, this particular Glaswegian landmark is tied to Scottish hero, William Wallace. Found in the suburb of Robroyston, the well marks a spot where Wallace is believed to have drunk from when he visited this area. It’s fabled that this was where he took his last drink of water before he was captured by English troops.