There are so many things to do in Stirling, a city in central Scotland. Stirling is famous for its medieval castle and a wonderful Old Town. Did you know that it was once the capital of Scotland? However, it was only granted city status in 2002 and is one of the UK’s most contemporary cities.
Today, Stirling has a population of fewer than 46,000, and the center is relatively small. However, this means it is a perfect destination to explore on foot, with only the Wallace Monument a little out of the city center. A fun fact about Stirling is that the British currency Sterling comes from this city! There used to be a mint in the town that produced silver coins!
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Why should you visit Stirling, Scotland?
Over half of Scotland’s population lives only an hour away from Stirling, which shows how easy it is to reach. The city is also full of history and the famous site where William Wallace defeated the English army. There is also beautiful countryside out of the city center if you like getting outdoors, but there are many exciting things to do in Stirling center to keep you busy.
The city is beautiful, easy to get around, full of history, and many wonderful attractions. It could be fun to combine your trip to Stirling with a Scottish road trip to the Isle of Skye or a day trip from Glasgow or Edinburgh. There is one thing for certain, don’t overlook the city on your next Scotland road trip, and certainly don’t underestimate all the fun things to do in Stirling.
How to get to Stirling
By air: To get to Stirling, you can fly into Edinburgh Airport, Glasgow Airport, and Glasgow Prestwick Airport. They all have bus or train services that depart for Stirling City with travel times of 20 minutes, 25 minutes, and 45 minutes respectively.
By train: you can reach Stirling Railway Station in 30-minutes from Glasgow and 50 minutes from Edinburgh by train. It also is well connected throughout the UK, with trains from London.
By bus: there are regular bus services to Scottish cities and towns, and there is an hourly direct coach service from Glasgow (40 minutes) and Edinburgh (1 hour).
By car: Stirling is 41km from Glasgow (30 minutes) and 58km (50 minutes) from the Scottish capital Edinburgh.
When is the best time to visit Stirling?
Arguably, the best time to visit Stirling is from the middle of June to early September. July is the hottest month with highs of 20°C and long daylight hours. Of course, this means that July is also the most popular month to visit. Due to its position, it can get cold in Stirling for most months of the year with a chance of snow and rain. The weather can be unpredictable – similar to the rest of Scotland.
How to get around Stirling
What is convenient about Stirling is that you can get to most places on foot! There is nothing better than walking around and discovering new places.
In the summer months, there is a hop on- hop off City Bus. This bus can take you to all of Stirling City’s top attractions! Also, if you have luggage and need a place to keep it for the day – the Willy Wallace Hostel will keep it for you for a fee.
How many days do you need in Stirling?
Many people come to Stirling on a day trip, and it is possible to see Stirling’s top attractions in a day. However, if you want to go on at a more relaxed pace or if you want to combine your Stirling trip with day trips to Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Loch Lomond, then you should consider staying longer (+ a day each trip). Therefore, 2-3 days would be ideal.
Use the list below to help you decide what you would like to do in Stirling and its surrounding areas based on your budget and preferences!
Top 10 things to see and do in Stirling
Undeniably, there are many exciting things to do in Stirling, and if you are planning to see the major attractions, then it is a good idea to purchase a Stirling City Pass. This pass includes entry to Stirling Castle, the National Wallace Monument, Stirling Old Town Jail, and Argyll’s Lodging. The pass costs 27 GBP and can be purchased online before arriving or from the Visitor Centre.
Stirling Castle is the place that tourists head to first when they visit the city and is one of the best things to do in Stirling. It is famous for many battles, and it was once the home of the Scottish royal family. Inside Stirling Castle, there is the Great Hall and the Renaissance Palace, which allow you to travel back in time. Adult tickets to go inside are 15 GBP.
Located nearby the castle, you can visit Argyll’s lodging, which is a 17th-century townhouse. It served the purpose of entertaining royal guests, and the architecture is divine. To visit, you need to have a Stirling Castle Ticket because it is included in the price.
Stirling Old Town Jail
The Victorian era jail is impressive as it allows visitors to understand what being a prisoner was like in 1800s Scotland. There are tours, with actors telling stories of the past prisoners, as well as prison cells to see at your own pace. An adult ticket costs 8 GBP and can be bought online or in person.
TIP: there is an Observation Tower where you can enjoy fabulous views of many of Stirling’s attractions. Including the castle and the Wallace Monument.
The National Wallace Monument
This 75m monument commemorates Sir William Wallace, a beloved hero for Scotland. The structure is out of the town center and is on the top of Abbey Craig. There is free parking at the bottom, and then you can either get a shuttle service to the top or walk up through the woods. When you arrive at the top, you can go inside the museum (10 GBP adult entry), and you can admire the panoramic view of Stirling, the castle, and the beautiful Scottish countryside.
The Old Town
Explore the history of Stirling by just wandering through its Old Town. The Old Town is where you will find many of Stirling’s attractions and is home to beautiful medieval buildings. You can opt to take a tour of the Old Town to learn about its history and stories.
Old Stirling Bridge
The Old Stirling Bridge is the site where Wallace defeated the British army in 1297 and got independence. Today residents use the bridge as a place to cross the river and go about their everyday lives, and you can wander over the bridge and take pictures.
The Church of the Holy Rude
Visiting the church is one of the unique things to do in Stirling. The church is still in use today and has been here since 1129. Today you can attend a service on a Sunday, and you can look inside. It is small and intimate, but arguably the biggest attraction is the graveyard that lies beside it.
Shopping at Independent Stores
Believe it or not, Stirling is a great place to go shopping. If you fancy retail therapy, you can head to Thistles for well-known brand names. Or you can head to the beautiful Stirling Arcade, a Victorian shopping arcade, which houses numerous independent shops and small businesses. It is worth a browse. Also, there are Stirling City’s Farmer’s Markets – where you can support local businesses too!
Visit a local Pub
You can go on a pub crawl in Stirling, and if you do – it will be a lot of fun. However, if you are going to go to one place, you should head to the Settle Inn. The Settle Inn is the oldest pub in Stirling and has been serving ale since 1733. This is one of the best things to do in Stirling.
Are you a fan of the popular TV show Game of Thrones? This 14th-century castle is the famous set of Winterfell. The castle is also featured in Outlander, Elizabeth the Golden Age, and other TV shows because it is one of Scotland’s most preserved castles. It is only a 15-minute drive away from Stirling city center!
Day trips from Stirling
- Glasgow – for a completely different feel. Do not miss George Square, The Mural Trail, Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis, the University of Glasgow, and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
- The Kelpies – to see the impressive 30-meter high horse heads next to Helix Park.
- Loch Lomond – to experience Scotland’s natural beauty. Don’t miss: Falls of Falloch, Luss, and Conic Hill.
- Edinburgh – visit the beautiful Scottish capital city. Don’t miss Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, Princes Street Gardens and Arthur’s Seat.
Where to eat and drink in Stirling
- The Burgh Coffeehouse – for coffee in an independent coffee shop.
- The Curly Coo – to try a range of malt whiskeys.
- Portcullis – to enjoy great pub food!
- Buttercup Café – for a filling and delicious breakfast.
Where to stay in Stirling
You will not have any issues finding accommodation to suit your style and budget in Stirling.
- Hotel: For a double room, the price is from 50-200 GBP a night
- Airbnb: The average cost for two people per night is around 99 GBP
- Hostel: Stay at The Willy Wallace Hostel from 10 GBP a night for a mixed dorm bed.