Quirky Glasgow City Guide: what to do, where to stay, where to eat

Necropolis Glasgow in the snow

Glasgow Necropolis in the snow (http://www.glasgownecropolis.org)

What to see in Glasgow

Looking for something unusual to do to get you out of the weather in Glasgow? (Well, there are a couple of outdoor activities as well – just in case you get a glimpse of sun).

Of course, I would recommend going to see Kelvingrove Museum, going to the cinema – try the Glasgow Film Theatre, buying some counterfeit cigarettes at the Barras market (just kidding), wandering up and down Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday night admiring the ability of Glaswegian females to brave the weather in shorts. But I also recommend these slightly offbeat things to see and do, and special Glaswegian places to eat, drink and stay in. Here’s the Quirky Glasgow City Guide:

Glasgow Necropolis

50,000+ bodies buried here since it first opened in 1832, this Victorian cemetery lies adjacent to Glasgow Cathedral in the East End and contains 3,500 monuments. Guided tours are held, run by the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis – here’s a list of Necropolis walking tour dates

As well as the gravestones, this second largest green area in Glasgow is home to roe deer, four different types of ladybird, drifts of bluebells in the spring and lots of different bird species. Interestingly, the necropolis is built on a “dolerite sill” formed by volcanic activity many, many years ago. It’s open from 7am to dusk daily.


70 Cathedral Square
Glasgow G4 0UZ

Website http://www.glasgownecropolis.org/


Sharmanka exhibition, Trongate, Glasgow

Sharmanka exhibition, Trongate, Glasgow

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre

Not as famous as it should be, this exhibition houses a myriad of kinetic (moving) sculptures that wouldn’t look out of place in a Tim Burton-run fairground (Sharmanka means “hurdy gurdy” in Russian). These very unusual artworks were mainly created by Eduard Bersudsky, a Russian emigrant who moved to Glasgow with the Sharmanka Theatre (formed as a collaboration between Bersudsky, theatre director Tatyana Jakovskaya, and light and sound designer Sergey Jakovskyin) in 1993 after having been banished from Russia.

Scheduled performances are held Wed-Sun and the audience walks around to watch each sculpture as it does its thing.


Glasgow G1 5HD

Website: http://www.sharmanka.com

South Rotunda Govan Glasgow

North and South Rotundas

These two circular brick buildings on either side of the Clyde contained entrances to three sixteen feet tunnels beneath the Clyde, the Finnieston tunnels. One of these was kept decent for pedestrian access and the other two for horses and carts. Hydraulic systems in both rotundas brought the cart traffic up and down. The North Rotunda is now the Yen teppanyaki restaurant with hot plate cooking as a form of entertainment (and gets very good reviews) and the southern one has been developed into office space. The two vehicle tunnels have now been filled in and the pedestrian one closed to the public in 1987 – it now houses a water mains.

There’s a lot more detail on the tunnels at Hidden Glasgow and this is where this quote comes from:

I was in the tunnel about 1985-6 it was derelict then but me and a friend had heard about it from relatives and as 2 curious teenagers wee set off to explore after a hard climb on the north rotunda we made our descent down a ramshackle cast iron staircase to the lower level and indeed the tunnel was there alongwith plenty furry inhabitants.

We then walked the tunnel in pitch blackness until my mate Brian found out the wooden beamed floor was incomplete i can still smell the mud he had up to his thighs to this day and had a chuckle when i found this page.


Billy Connolly's Big Banana Boots

Billy Connolly’s Big Banana Boots at the People’s Palace (http://www.bbc.co.uk)

People’s Palace

Social history is this museum’s raison d’etre – Glasgow leisure, people and places, education and working life, and more, are covered. The collection includes Billy Connolly ‘s big banana boots, Elton John’s just as over-the-top platforms (not really sure why they’re there) and an old Barrowlands sign. It’s actually quite difficult to find out what else is in their collection as for some reason Glasgow Museums have decided to lump all their museums together in one complicated website and their search engine doesn’t work if you’re looking only for exhibits from just one. (I’m hoping someone from http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk reads this.)

Here’s a nice story from Wikipedia about the Palace:

During the 1980s, one employee gained local fame when she became a member of the General, Municipal and Boilermakers Trade Union, after NALGO refused her admission as a blue collar worker. This was Smudge, the People’s Palace cat, who ensured the building did not become home to small, unwelcome visitors. Glasgow’s Lord Provost made press appeals and police searches were carried out when she disappeared for 3 weeks in 1987, eventually re-appearing none the worse for wear less than half a mile away.

Glasgow subway

“Clockwork Orange” Glasgow Subway train in 2010. Newer stock has stripes of grey and white in the design. (http://www.glasgowroadclub.co.uk)

Glasgow subway system

Glasgow’s subway system is the third oldest in the world after London and Budapest, opening up in December 1896. Also known as the “Clockwork Orange” due to its very cute, formerly all orange carriages, the track is just 6.5 miles long (London has 250 miles of track) so it is quite small, as are the carriages. It runs from north to south in a loop and someone’s even come up with a pub crawl, with one pub at each of the stops Glasgow Subway Pub Crawl

In common with underground transport systems the world over, there are a good range of ghosts to be seen or heard in Glasgow’s subway, including a child ghoul and a blue, blind beggar. Lots more information on those and more at British Paranormal Watch your back!

Tenement house museum, Glasgow

Tenement house museum

Tenement House Museum

Owned by the National Trust but too small to have been National Trustified, this is a 19th century tenement flat which was owned by a lady, Miss Agnes Toward, who didn’t do anything very much to it and didn’t throw anything away: gas lamps and an beautiful old range are still present.  There are two parts to the place – the flat itself on the ground floor, and an exhibition on the floor above.


145 Buccleuch St
Glasgow, G3 6QN

Website: http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Tenement-House/

Exterior of the Ben Nevis pub, Glasgow

Ben Nevis pub (http://www.twofatladdies.co.uk)

Where to eat and drink

Ben Nevis pub

This dark wood, fire-lit cosy pub sells around 180 different brands of whisky as well as a decent range of beers and a multitude of Sunday papers (if you’re in there on a Sunday …) They have live traditional music sessions on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 9pm. I’ve seen it described as having a “hip Old West Saloon vibe” by a Texan on yelp.co.uk.


1147 Argyle Street
Glasgow G3 8TB

Website http://thebennevis.co.uk/

Interior of Mother India, Glasgow

Mother India (http://glasgowfilm.org)

Mother India

Glasgow is big on curry restaurants and Italian restaurants and you’ll find plenty of both. A special mention goes to  Mother India, however, even though it’s a bit out of the quirky remit. Simply because  they make the best curry myself and husband have ever had (we haven’t been to India yet).  They’re now a small chain, and have a cafe branch which serves Indian tapas style meals, but if you’re in the original then try their chicken spinach leaf  – best ever and I’ve tried many, believe me.  Don’t go if you fancy an insipid chicken korma – Mother India doesn’t serve them.


Mother India

28 Westminster Terrace
G3 7RU

Mother India’s Cafe Glasgow

1355 Argyle Street
G3 8AD

Website: http://www.motherindiaglasgow.co.uk

Cafe Cossachok

Cafe Cossachok

Cafe Cossachok is an excellent little Russian restaurant cum entertainment venue cum art gallery. I very nearly bought a quite expensive painting of a lost girl in snowy woods here and have always regretted not doing it – or maybe it was just the frozen vodkas tempting me! From their own website, they serve:

Borscht – Russian country soup, Golubtzi – Ukrainian stuffed cabbage, Chakhokhbili – Georgian spicy chicken,Musaka – Armenian vegetarian oven-baked dish, Tzimes– traditional Yiddish duck with apricots, carrots and dumplings, Plov – Uzbek lamb pilaf, Gouvetch – Moldavian vegetable ragout …

… plus they’ve a great range of those frozen flavoured vodkas. The decor is primarily a rich red and the music can be violins, jazz accordions or more, all with an Eastern European twist.


10 King Street Merchant City,
Glasgow G1 5QP

Website: http://www.cossachok.com/

Where to stay

Cathedral house hotel, Glasgow

Cathedral House hotel

Cathedral House Hotel

Some of the rooms in the Cathedral House Hotel overlook the aforementioned Necropolis, and ghost tours take place that end with a meal in the hotel. Great for a spooky evening. Even if you’re not interested in all things ghostly, this is an atmospheric, cosy hotel that’s full of history and character. If you’re not enamoured with looking out onto a graveyard, there are other rooms with a view to the Cathedral square. Food is very good and of reasonable value.


28-32 Cathedral Square,
Glasgow, G4 0XA

Website: http://www.cathedralhousehotel.org/Pages/default.aspx

Any recommendations for off the beaten track things to do in Glasgow? Add them below!


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