Travel: Stirling, Scotland’s Heart

Once the capital of ancient Scotland and the site of many important historical events, these days Stirling sometimes gets overshadowed by Edinburgh and Glasgow on the tourist trail. Stirling is a compact city but it’s certainly not lacking in unique experiences for all the family.

Here are my recommendations on the best things to do and places to visit in this historic city.

Visit:

Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle was once the key to the kingdom of Scotland. Dominating a vast volcanic rock above the river Forth and serving as a meeting point between the Lowlands and the Highlands, it was once said that whoever held Stirling Castle held Scotland. Its origins are ancient and over the centuries it grew into an inortsnri royal residence and powerful stronghold. Stirling Castle was also the childhood home of some of the most famous people in Scottish and British history, including Mary Queen of Scots and James VI and I.

Stirling Castle offers free guided tours, exhibitions aimed at both adults and children and a fantastic cafe with the best view in Stirling!

Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre

In 1314 the Battle of Bannockburn saw Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots, face down King Edward and the English army. The eventual defeat of the English was a landmark event in Scottish history. The 3D Battle of Bannockburn experience allows you to take part in a medieval combat like no other. You can join the battle yourself and help determine how it plays out or watch from the safety of the gallery as friends and family battle it out.

The National Wallace Monument

Built high on Abbey Craig in Victorian times as a tribute to Sir William Wallace, this wonderful landmark is visible from almost anywhere in the city. The monument tells the story of Wallace’s victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge and what it meant for Scotland. Featuring lots of activities for children, the monument is a great family outing. The view from the top of the monument is spectacular as the city of Stirling and the river is Forth spread out beneath you – a definite must see!

Blair Drummond Safari Park

Another great fun-filled option for families, the Blair Drummond Safari Park is the only one of its kind in Scotland. It’s home to 350 species of exotic animals and Scotland’s only giraffes. You’ll also get a chance to experience the monkey drive-thru, sea lion and bird of prey shows, a boat trip to Chimp Island and the giant, adventure play area – there’s truly something for everyone.

See:

Old Stirling Bridge

Located just a few minutes walk from the train station, the current bridge dates from the 1400s or 1500s and replaced a succession of timber bridges. One of these was the famous bridge where Sir William Wallace defeated Edward I’s forces at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.

The bridge today remains one of the best medieval masonry arch bridges in Scotland. The bridge is incredibly picturesque and makes for great photos, or why not walk across it and experience some history first hand.

Church of the Holy Rude

This is the second oldest building in Stirling, after the castle, and is one of three churches still in use in Britain to be the site of royal coronations. King James VI was crowned King of Scotland in the church on the 29th July 1567. There is also a historic graveyard alongside the church with gravestones dating from the 16th century.

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