The Most Unusual Things to Do in Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow is brimming with attractions, from classics, such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, to more unusual options
Glasgow is brimming with attractions, from classics, such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, to more unusual options | © Amrit Silja Karau / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Tori Chalmers
20 July 2021

Glasgow’s rich history, storytelling tradition and creative flair have gifted it with a host of quirky attractions. Indeed, the biggest city in Scotland has a diverse choice of things to do that traverse the classic tourist trail. From St Valentine’s bones to the Glasgow Police Museum, these are our top picks.

Walk among fossils

Museum
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Petrified trees at Fossil Grove, Victoria Park Glasgow, Scotland GB UK
© Mike Booth / Alamy Stock Photo
This enchanting fossilised forest will stump you. It’s not every day you stumble across a kingdom of perfectly preserved fossil tree stumps. A site of special scientific interest since its discovery in 1887, the Fossil Grove lies within Victoria Park. The 11 petrified tree stumps (an extinct species called lepidodendron or giant club mosses) formed during the Carboniferous period 325m years ago, when they were petrified in their growing position.

See the box containing St Valentine’s bones

Church
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Behind the unassuming walls of Blessed John Duns Scotus Church in Gorbals sits a box adorned with the words “Corpus Valentini Martyris” or “the Body of Saint Valentine, Martyr”. The box holds the remains of a saint of this name (the Catholic church recognises several Saint Valentines). It’s decorated for Valentine’s Day each year, and its romantic connotations earned Glasgow the nickname the City of Love.

Experience the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

Art Gallery, Theater
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Small animated wooden painted figure of a man holding a winch that turns a selection of gears in the background
© Matt Smith / Alamy Stock Photo
A fantastical fusion of theatre, mechanics and moving art, Sharmanka (which translates as “barrel-organ” in Russian) began in Russia in 1989 before making its way to Glasgow in the 1990s. The kinetic sculpture is more of an art exhibition than traditional theatre – you move around rooms as hundreds of carved figures and creatures made from scrap move in wondrous ways, depicting the highs and lows of the human spirit.

Have a drink at the Hillhead Bookclub

Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, Pub Grub, British, $$$
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Hillhead Bookclub bar, Vinicombe Street, in the West End of Glasgow, Scotland, UK
© scotroots / Alamy Stock Photo

An ideal place to decompress, the Hillhead Bookclub is a happening spot in town – for those in the know. Like ping-pong? It has epic Balls of Fury-style sessions. Blast-from-the-past retro computer games? It has those too. Whether it be an extravagant vintage fair perfectly tailored to lazy Sunday wanderings or a hoot-worthy evening of Ball Drag Bingo, there’s always something going on in this desirable drinking den.

Explore the Glasgow Necropolis

Cemetery
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The Glasgow Necropolis , Victorian cemetery in Glasgow, Scotland
© Ian Rutherford / Alamy Stock Photo
Meandering through a historic cemetery can be a surprisingly life-affirming experience – especially at the atmospheric Glasgow Necropolis. More than 50,000 bodies have been laid to rest at this sprawl of tombs, monuments and mausoleums, which go back as far as 1833. Its vantage point above the city, on a hill adjacent to the Glasgow Cathedral, adds to the otherworldly feeling.

See a unique artefact at the Saracen Head

Pub, British
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The Saracen Head Public House Gallowgate near Glasgow Cross Glasgow Scotland
© William Arthur / Alamy Stock Photo

The Saracen Head, also known as the Sarry Heid, will send your head spinning. This age-old watering hole, popular with Celtic FC fans, has quite the artefact inside a glass case: the skull of Maggie Wall, who they say was the last witch burned at the stake. Of course, who can tell if the story is true – but the rickety pub is certainly ripe for a few twisted tales, especially as it sits on the site of an old burial ground.

Look around the Glasgow Police Museum

Museum
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Step inside the world of the oldest police force in the UK, the City of Glasgow Police (1779-1975). This collection of more than 6,000 artefacts is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the history of bobbies on the beat. A highlight is the marvellous array of helmets, including one that resembles a top hat. The staff are ex-policemen volunteers, and there’s no entry fee.

These recommendations were updated on July 20, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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