The Blog

8 top tips for visiting Stirling

Miriam Brand-Spencer - View Comments

We asked people on Twitter and Facebook where they would take first time visitors to Stirling, and had a great response – thanks guys!

Here’s what you recommended:

Stirling Castle

1. Stirling Castle
This incredible historic building was high on the list, with highlights including the interactive and informative children’s entertainment in the Palace Vaults, The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum, and the Stirling Tapestries. You’ll be walking in the footsteps of the likes of Mary Queen of Scots as you explore the castle, uncovering what life was like in the Renaissance royal court.

National Wallace Monument

2.National Wallace Monument
For some of the best views over the city and the surrounding landscape, ascend the 246 steps of the National Wallace Monument – you won’t be disappointed as you take in miles upon miles of rolling countryside. The monument also has a fascinating exhibition, telling the heroic story of William Wallace, the Guardian of Scotland. Admire stunning stained glass windows and see medieval armoury and weaponry.

The Battle Game at the Battle of Bannockburn

3. Battle of Bannockburn
It’s one of the most famous conflicts to have ever taken place on British soil and now you can get a sense of just what happened on the battlefield over 700 years ago through state-of-the-art technology. At the visitor centre, immerse yourself in the 3D battle experience and meet characters who played a part during that fateful fight. Take command of soldiers and play the interactive Battle Game to see if you possess the skills to be a victorious warrior king.

The bell tower, Cambuskenneth Abbey

4. Cambuskenneth Abbey
Take a short walk from Stirling city centre and cross the footbridge over the River Forth to get to the quiet village of Cambuskenneth. Enter the abbey grounds, which are free and open between April and September, to admire the magnificent 13th century bell tower which remains intact. Explore the remains of the abbey’s church and monastery walls where monks once lived. From 1140 to 1560, the abbey played host to many important visitors, was the scene of Robert Bruce’s parliament in 1326, and the burial place of James III; a Victorian tomb to him and his wife Queen Margaret can still be seen.

One of the windows at the Church of the Holy Rude.

5. Church of the Holy Rude and Cemetery
With over 900 years of history, the Church of The Holy Rude at the top of Stirling Old Town makes for a fascinating visit. The infant King James VI of Scotland, who also later became James I of England, was crowned in 1567 at the church. There are even bullet marks on the tower which may have come from Cromwell’s troops in 1651 as they laid siege to Stirling Castle. Today the church is a peaceful place to visit, featuring great architecture and stained glass windows. The atmospheric cemetery with views across to Stirlingshire and the Trossachs, was a top reason to visit for many of you.

Stirling Old Bridge, image © Allan Jamieson

6. The Back Walk and Stirling Old Bridge
Follow the old town walls along the Back Walk to stretch your legs and discover Stirling’s Old Town. Flanked by trees and views of surrounding countryside on one side, and historic architecture built into volcanic rock on the other, there is plenty to see. Along the way you could stop off at Cowane’s Hospital, the Church of the Holy Rude or take the steps up to the esplanade of Stirling Castle.

Join on to the Gowan Hill Heritage Trail to admire views of the Ochils and Wallace Monument, as well as two historic cannons and the gruesome beheading stone, which is believed to have been used for capital punishment in the 15th century. Detour from the walk at the bottom of the hill by Customs Roundabout to find Stirling Old Bridge, another favourite with our Facebook fans, and a picturesque viewpoint.

Stirling city centre, image © Kenny Lam.

7. Historic shops
The Old Town and Victorian Arcade both offer a range of independent shops, restaurants and cafés in a historic setting, but you may find it surprising that even the modern Thistles Centre has a link to the past. Enter from the second entrance on Port Street, nearest Upper Craigs, to discover ‘The Bastion, Thieves Pot’. Between two ordinary shops you’ll find the entrance to this 16th century jail room, which once guarded Stirling on the old town wall. Enter if you dare, and find out more about this unusual shopping centre feature.

The Kings Knot beneath Stirling Castle.

8. The King’s Knot and King’s Park
In the shadow of Stirling Castle, the King’s Knot is a grassy parkland which features a knot-shaped earthwork said to resemble a cup and saucer. Once the playground of kings, it is now a great spot for a picnic. Further up the road, the larger Kings Park, which was a royal hunting ground, is great for a walk, has open playing fields, tennis courts, outdoor gym equipment and a fantastic play park.

Thanks again for sharing your ideas! Why not see what else you could get up to on a city break in Stirling?

Get in touch with us if you’ve got other tips for places to visit, and share your pictures with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.