The site of the victorious Battle of Stirling Bridge, and home to a beautiful monument dedicated to Scotland’s most loved hero, the town of Stirling holds a place dear to Scotland’s heart. Full of historic treasures, you can spend a happy week exploring the rich history here. Whether you want to take in the natural beauty of the area by hiking beside Loch Lomond, visit a medieval castle and discover all its secrets, or prefer to spend a quiet afternoon exploring the beautiful stained glass in the cathedral, the best things to do in Stirling are hard to choose!
1. Dunblane Cathedral
Dunblane Cathedral is one of Scotland’s few remaining medieval churches and dates back to the 12th century. The original church and tower were left unfinished until the 13th century when the church was pulled down to make the larger cathedral that stands today. You can see the original tower and the charmingly obvious change in stone, where work re-commenced in the 13th century. Pay a quiet visit and take in the unusual animal carvings that you will find throughout the cathedral building. You will also see some striking stained glass windows. Free guided tours are occasionally scheduled and the details can be found on the cathedral’s website.
Dunblane Cathedral Guided Tours
Address: The Cross, Dunblane, Perthshire FK15 0AQ
Website: Dunblane Cathedral
2. Walk the Falls of Falloch
Falling down a straight 10 meters (30 feet), these ‘hidden’ falls are just a short half mile (0.6 km) walk from the car park. Reached via a well-marked path, easily navigated by all ages, the waterfall makes a perfect picnic spot. Cantilevered over the water you will find “Woven Sound”, a practical sculpture, designed to give visitors a sheltered vantage point to witness the thundering falls. If you fancy a longer hike, to see more of beautiful Glen Falloch, you can walk a section of the West Highland Way, from Inverarnan to Crianlarich, about 6.5 miles (10.5 km) and see the falls along the way.
The Falls of Falloch
Address: A82, Stirling, Scotland
Website: The Falls of Falloch
3. Visit Stirling Castle
Skeletons and secrets! Sitting imposingly on top of a hill, Stirling Castle is a world of intrigue and history. One of the most important castles in Scotland, it was once home to members of the Scottish royal family. Visit the opulent palace apartments and you will be transported back to an age of wealth and decadence. Free guided tours start every 30 minutes and there are also costumed explainers for each section of the castle, adding to the impressive atmosphere. Come face to face with some skeletons that were found buried in the castle grounds, and keep your eye out for the secret codes embedded into the castle walls. A visit to Stirling Castle will definitely leave a lasting impression. Be aware that you need to pay for parking, and it is cash only, so come prepared if you are driving!
Address: Upper Castle Hill | Old Town, Stirling FK8 1EJ, Scotland
Website: Stirling Castle
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4. Climb to the 'crown' of the Wallace Monument
Dedicated to Sir William Wallace, arguably Scotland’s most loved hero, this impressive monument can be found overlooking Stirling from the top of Abbey Craig. More like a museum than a monument, there are some important Scottish artifacts preserved here for you to see, including the Wallace Sword. You can reach the monument by way of a short walk through the woods on the Craig, or you can take a free shuttle bus from the car park to the foot of the monument - a perfect option if you want to save your legs for the serious amount of stairs involved in getting to the top of the monument! From the top, you will have one of the most impressive views in Scotland!
Address: Hillfoots Road | Abbey Craig, Stirling FK9 5LF, Scotland
Website: Wallace Monument
5. Stirling Old Town Jail
Experience life as a prisoner in the 1800’s, when you visit the Old Town Jail in Stirling. The guides are all actors who remain in meticulous character, throughout your visit, and will introduce you to the rules of your new “life”, before leaving you to explore the old cells and passageways. If you are lucky, you may find yourself part of an unexpected “prison break”! A hugely fun activity, it will appeal to visitors of all ages. Parking is not very well signed, but it is free!
Stirling Old Town Jail
Address: St John Street, Stirling FK8 1EA, 01786 450050
Website: Stirling Old Town Jail
6. Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum
A wonderful celebration of the history and culture of Stirling and the surrounding areas, the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum has some extraordinary artifacts from the area for you to see, including the world’s oldest football. The art galleries include ever changing exhibitions, from both local and national artists. A visit here is a somewhat eccentric experience and you will be greeted by Oswald, the gallery cat, who may (or may not) accompany you on your tour!
Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum
Address: 40 Albert Place | Dumbarton Road, Stirling FK8 2RQ, Scotland
7. Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum
Located in the grounds of Stirling Castle, the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum is a fascinating display of Scottish military history. The museum curators had the inspired idea of staffing it with former soldiers, who will happily and passionately answer all your questions. Exhibits include paintings, weapons, uniforms, medals, touching letters home written by soldiers away at war and many other unique, distinctly Scottish items. If you are at all interested in military history, this museum will be a highlight of your visit to Stirling Castle. It is not particularly well signed, so be sure to ask directions as it would be a shame to miss this treasure.
8. Blair Drummond Safari Park
If you are an animal lover, then this is the place for you! Unlike other animal parks and zoos, Blair Drummond Safari Park offers some unique opportunities to get up close to the animals with their ‘Animal Encounter Experiences’, and if you are super keen, you can choose to be a zookeeper for a day! There are junior and adult versions of this experience, but age restrictions do apply, so be sure to check, to avoid being disappointed!
The park also offers a habitat drive through, a boat safari, numerous keeper talks, and animal presentations. Once you have finished admiring the animals, there is a funfair for children to enjoy. If you are organized, pack a picnic for lunch. There are loads of picnic tables, and also barbecues for rent. The park’s open season usually runs from spring through to the end of October, but exact dates vary from year to year.
Blair Drummond Safari Park
Address: Stirling FK9 4UR, Scotland
Website: Blair Drummond Safari Park
9. Take a tour of Doune Castle
Built as a medieval strong hold, largely in the 14th century, this castle holds one of the best preserved Great Halls in Scotland. Visitors are encouraged to dress up in period costume and really get into the medieval spirit of things! Although very beautiful in its own right, Doune Castle has become a popular tourist attraction because of its starring role in several films and television series - if you are a ‘Game Of Thrones’ fan, you may recognize it as the set of 'Winterfell’. 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ was also filmed here, and some episodes of the hit series, “Outlander”.
You can avail yourself of an audio tour from the ticket office, or if you would like to make a day of it, you can book a tour, which incorporates some of the stunning scenery of Loch Lomond and the West Highlands, with your visit.
Doune Castle and Loch Lomond tour
Address: Castle Hill, Doune FK16 6EA, UK
Website: Doune Castle
10. Taste whiskey at the Deanston Distillery
You cannot visit Scotland without visiting a whiskey distillery! The Deanston Distillery, in Stirling, is a fine example of this Scottish craft. Housed in a building over 200 years old, that was once a cotton mill, the Deanston Distillery offers a variety of tours, ranging in duration. Shorter tours last approximately 50 minutes, and longer ones around 90 minutes depending on which one you choose. The Heritage Tour is perhaps the most interesting, as it includes some aspects of the village, but if you have a sweet tooth, the Whiskey and Chocolate Tour is a delight. Age restrictions apply, as there is some serious sampling involved!
Address: Doune FK16 6AG, UK
Website: Deanston Distillery
Stirling has a magnificently wide variety of things to do. Whether you are looking for a peaceful afternoon of walking in the Scottish Country side or are wanting a fully guided tour of the area and its historic landmarks, you will not leave this ‘bonnie’ town feeling disappointed.
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