Holiday houses, tourist accommodation, and what to do in Stirling
History, and a beautiful medieval town and castle in a unique setting give Stirling its attractions
In Stirling you're in the heart of Scotland in countryside that has seen its fair share of turmoil and grand historic moments, particular in the Middle Ages when the battle for Scottish independence raged.
There are plenty of views of this small city you will recognise as iconic. Of Scots descent? Well, then, here is THE part of Scotland guaranteed to stir the blood. A city you say? Yes, there is a cathedral and a university qualifying this ancient settlement—evidence of human occupation dates back to about 2000BCE—as a city.
Stirling is 26 miles from Glasgow and 37 miles from Edinburgh, making the city an ideal place for a day trip from either location if you are based there.
Let's start our list of things to do in Stirling with the historic ...
Stirling Castle dominates the city's visuals. It is open throughout the year, although hours differ in summer and winter. Once a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who used the castle to show off to others how rich and powerful they were, the castle has survived with comparatively little damage. There are guided tours and members of staff dressed up in period costume happy to talk to you about everything that happened within the walls.
Don't miss the Great Hall, an atmospheric room where you can sense the smell of wood smoke and roasting meat as Scotland's great and good gathered to plot and plan.
The regimental museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders within contains exhibits and memorabilia from conflicts all round the world, and is well worth a visit too.
Desperate for a great selfie? You'll get a great pic next to the statue of Robert the Bruce on the castle esplanade. And the Unicorn Cafe is the place to visit for hot and cold drinks and food.
The Wallace Monument is another must-do Stirling experience. It has been in place for 150 years and it overlooks where the Battle of Stirling Bridge took place when William Wallace and Andrew Moray's forces defeated Edward 1's army.
Wood carvings, talks, galleries and exhibitions tell the story of Scotland's most famous warrior and patriot, and if you can climb the 246 steps to the top, you'll be afforded glorious views of the surrounding countryside (weather permitting!).
Hard to visit any castle or historic building in Central Scotland nowadays and not stumble across an Outlander film set...! Doune Castle, however, was not just the venue for Outlander Season 1 (Castle Leoch), but the Monty Python film, The Holy Grail, and the BBC production of Ivanhoe.
Built for the Regent Albany, the castle has one of the best preserved great halls in Scotland. The views from the ramparts are incredible—making it easy to see why the castle was built in this location where soldiers would be able to see for miles around.
The National Trust run Battle of Bannockburn allows you to experience what a Medieval battle would have been like, thanks to its 3D immersive experience. Watch out for the armoured horses that jump over you! Children can take sides on the virtual battlefield and deploy their soldiers as they see fit. A great attraction for adults and kids alike and there are commemorative monuments to admire outside. Because the attraction offers so much, you need to pre-book to guarantee entry.
Stirred by all that history and want to find out where your family fits in? Qualified genealogist Gary Lawrie can help you explore your Scottish past at Heart of Scotland Ancestry. You can find out where your ancestors lived, what they did and explore those places and graveyards.
Blair Drummond Safari Park is home to more than 350 rare and exotic animals. It is is here you will meet Scotland's only giraffes, say a close-up hello to the monkeys and stare in awe at the majestic birds of prey. And forget those terrible Compare the Meerkat adverts by seeing the real things. Meerkats are charming to watch and Blair Drummond's collection of them—far from ‘simples'—will keep you entertained for ages.
The safari park is part of worldwide network supporting endangered species and conservation projects. There is a petting farm, a restaurant and an adventure area—all you need for a great day out.
Women are often conspicuously absent from historical records and documents. Even up the inequality by visiting the Margaret Wilson monument in Stirling's Old Town Cemetery. Margaret Wilson was from Wigtown in Galloway and refused to swear an oath declaring King James VII head of the church. She was executed by drowning, becoming a martyr to the Presbyterian church.
Open in the summer months only, Stirling Old Town Jail gives you a feel for crime and punishment in days of old. If you want the authentic experience, the performance tour is a must, where you will hear all about the Happy Hangman...
In nearby Dunblane, you can spend a day learning how to blow glass where you will find out how to make a solid paperweight, a blown tumbler and a bauble. No previous experience is needed and you get one-to-one help in creating your craftwork.
And finally, refreshments. A trip to Stirling is not complete until you've eaten your fill of food. The Gallery Restaurant is part of the Forth Valley College and you can eat surrounded by views of the Wallace Monument, the River Forth and the Ochils. The menu includes twice-baked cheese soufflés, roast pork or cod and a selection of Scottish cheeses and oatcakes to finish your food off. (There are vegetarian options too.) Because the restaurant is staffed by students supervised by their tutors, expect exceptional quality from those learning their craft.
You can also check out Graham Grieve's excellent guide to the top things to do in and around Stirling at myvoyagesscotland.com