10 Best Things to Do in Stirling City, Scotland

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There are so many things to do in Stirling, a city in central Scotland. Stirling is famous for its medieval castle and 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’s population is 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, the 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?

This is a guest post by Rachel and Nico from Average Lives. They are passionate travelers who run a travel blog promoting affordable travel, outdoor adventures, and road trips.

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.

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The city is beautiful, easy to get around, full of history, and many fantastic attractions. Combining your trip to Stirling with a Scottish road trip to the Isle of Skye or a day trip from Glasgow or Edinburgh could be fine. There is one thing for sure: 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 to 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. Buy tickets here.

By busthere 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). Buy tickets here

By car: Stirling is 41km from Glasgow (30 minutes) and 58km (50 minutes) from the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Rent a car here.

Stirling travel planning essentials

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, Stirling can get cold for most months of the year, with a chance of snow and rain. The weather can be unpredictable—similar to the rest of Scotland.

things to do in stirling

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 for each trip). Therefore, 2-3 days would be ideal.

Use the list below to help you decide what to do in Stirling and its surrounding areas based on your budget and preferences!

Where to stay in Stirling 

If you’re planning a trip and looking for the perfect place to stay, you’ll find a wide range of hotels in Stirling that cater to all tastes and budgets. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best hotels in Stirling.

The Stirling Highland Hotel: Located in the heart of the city, the Stirling Highland Hotel is a luxurious four-star hotel that offers a wide range of amenities, including a spa, a fitness center, and an indoor swimming pool. The hotel’s elegant rooms are tastefully decorated and offer stunning views of the surrounding hills.

Hotel Colessio: This stylish boutique hotel is housed in a beautifully restored Victorian mansion and features 40 well-appointed rooms that blend modern comforts with traditional charm. Guests can enjoy a delicious meal at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, which specializes in contemporary Scottish cuisine.

The Golden Lion Hotel: Dating back to the 18th century, the Golden Lion Hotel is a historic landmark that has been beautifully renovated to provide guests with modern comforts and conveniences. The hotel offers a variety of room types, ranging from cozy single rooms to spacious suites, and features a popular bar that serves a wide range of beers and spirits.

The Old Tramhouse: If you’re looking for a cozy and intimate place to stay, The Old Tramhouse is an excellent option. This charming bed and breakfast is located in a converted tram depot and features just three cozy rooms that are decorated with a mix of vintage and contemporary furnishings. Guests can enjoy a delicious breakfast each morning, and the hotel is just a short walk from Stirling Castle.

→ None of them suit your needs? Here are more Stirling hotels for you to choose from.

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. 

Top 10 things to do in Stirling

Undeniably, there are many exciting things to do in Stirling, and if you plan to see the major attractions, then purchasing a Stirling City Pass is a good idea. 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

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 are the Great Hall and the Renaissance Palace, which allow you to travel back in time. Adult tickets to go inside are 15 GBP.

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Argyll’s Lodging

Located near 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.

Recommended tours:

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 past prisoners and prison cells to see at your own pace. An adult ticket costs 8 GBP and can be bought online or in person.

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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.

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When you arrive at the top, you can enter the museum (10 GBP adult entry) and 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.

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Old Stirling Bridge

The Old Stirling Bridge is the site where Wallace defeated the British army in 1297 and gained 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.

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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.

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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 that 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 served ale since 1733. This is one of the best things to do in Stirling.

Doune Castle

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!

things to do in stirling, scotland

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.
  • Edinburghvisit the beautiful Scottish capital city. Don’t miss Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, Princes Street Gardens, and Arthur’s Seat.

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