Once the capital of Scotland, Stirling was the seat of power for some our greatest monarchs and the backdrop to epic battles fought and won by heroes like Wallace and Bruce. It was strategically and spiritually the heart of Scotland.
Today Stirling is still a great city with so much to see and do, only now the heart comes from the pride and passion that people in the area put in to welcoming visitors from near and far. If you are planning a visit to the castle this summer why not make a day of it or even plan a break to Scotland’s Heart and experience everything that this historic and vibrant city has to offer. You won’t be disappointed!
Check out our guide to some of the other attractions and events in the area.
1. Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre
The brand new Battle of Bannockburn experience puts you in the heart of the action. With cutting edge 3D technology, you can experience medieval combat like never before and learn about this crucial event in Scottish history.
2. The National Wallace Monument
Recently refurbished, Stirling's renowned landmark, commemorating the life of Sir William Wallace, is a must. See Wallace’s sword, listen to his trial and climb to the crown where you can enjoy magnificent views. Show your castle ticket for 10% discount on entry.
3. Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park
Spend an exciting day at Scotland's Safari Park. Drive through animal reserves, take a boat trip around Chimp Island or watch amazing sea lion shows and bird of prey displays. The park also has a pet’s farm, adventure playground and pedal boats. Fun for all the family guaranteed!
4. Whisky Galore
Stirling is lucky enough to have two fantastic distilleries. Deanston Distillery started life as a cotton mill before being transformed into a distillery in 1966 where, to this day, it produces an outstanding Highland single malt whisky using traditional methods. The history of Tullibardine as a location for brewing and distilling is one of the oldest in Scotland. Located in Blackford, the gateway to the Highlands, it was here in 1488 that the young King James 4th of Scotland stopped by on his way to his coronation, to purchase beer from the local brewery. This is recorded as the first public purchase of beer. In 1503 the brewery received the first Royal Charter issued by James IV, in recognition of the fine beer produced at Tullibardine.
5. Old Town
A quick stroll from the castle, Stirling’s old town boasts the finest concentration of historic buildings in Scotland. See the remains of Mar’s Wark or visit Scotland’s oldest living Church to have held a coronation (James VI), the Holy Rude. The Tolbooth, now an arts and live music venue has served as a jail, courthouse and even hosted a parliament while Cowane's Hospital, a 17th century almshouse was converted into a guild hall and is currently home to a delightful café. Add some excitement to your visit by joining a Stirling Walking Tour or Ghost Walk.
6. The Macobert Centre
Based at Stirling University, the macrobert is the premier arts centre for Stirling and the Forth Valley and a cultural hub for Scotland. It offers a huge variety of activities with over 400 live performances of drama, comedy, opera, dance, music, musical theatre and art exhibitions. Their cinema – The Norman McLaren filmhouse – screens a year-round programme of blockbusters, arthouse movies, classics, documentaries, world cinema and children’s films.
7. Highland Fling
Stirling is a magnificent setting for some fantastic events including the ancient pursuit of a Scottish Highland Games. See how far competitors can toss the caber, enjoy some highland dancing and listen to the stirring sounds of a traditional pipe band. Also on offer crafts, trade stalls and plenty of fine food and drink. Bridge of Allan Highland Games takes place on Sunday 3rd August with Stirling Highland Games following a few weeks later on Saturday 16th August.
8. The Smith Art Gallery and Museum
If Stirling is Scotland’s heart, the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum is its soul. All of the special objects and paintings relating to the history and culture of Stirling are gathered here, with the purpose to collect, record, interpret and show the story of Stirling to the world, and the world to Stirling. On permanent display is the burgh seal of Stirling dating back to 1286, the town’s weights and measures and the oldest football in the world found in the rafters of Stirling Castle.
9. Other Historic Scotland sites
Stirling Castle isn’t the only historic Scotland property in the area. Doune Castle is just a few miles down the road. A magnificent monument that has been used as a film setting for Monty Python and the Holy Grail and more recently Outlander. Meanwhile Castle Campbell is a proper fairytale castle. Set in the stunning surrounds of the Dollar Glen, it transports you to another time. Consider investing in an Historic Scotland Explorer Pass or Membership if you want to save some money.
10. Loch Katrine Experience
Loch Katrine, from the gaelic for “highland thief or robber”, is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s special places. Set against the backdrop of the Trossachs, the loch is surrounded by hills, mountains and woodlands. A favourite tourism destination for avid adventurers, international tourists and families throughout the year, many of whom come for a cruise on our famous steamship, Sir Walter Scott.
Destination Stirling has a very good website where you can find out all about Stirling from accommodation to eating out and what’s on.