Dominated by a medieval castle, Stirling City lies along the River Forth in the heart of Scotland. It once served as the nation’s capital due to its strategically important position at the lowest bridging point of the River Forth. Today, it is considered the “Gateway to the Highlands”, with an atmospheric old town and fascinating museums to explore.
Things to do in Stirling
Rising atop a craggy rock in the heart of Stirling is its centuries-old castle, which is one of the largest of its kind in Scotland. Most of its buildings date from the 15th and 16th centuries and it was here that Mary Queen of Scots was crowned in 1542. Costumed characters bring the castle’s history to life and guided tours are available through its Great Hall, Chapel Royal and Regimental Museum.
Nestled below the castle is the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, which was established by artist Thomas Stuart Smith in 1874. Today, it houses more than 40,000 pieces of art and objects that celebrate the heritage and culture of Stirling. Browse the Roman pottery, vintage records and exhibition about Robert the Bruce, then stroll through the vibrant biodiversity garden that surrounds the museum.
For elevated views across the city, visit the Stirling Old Town Jail, a Victorian prison that was once considered the worst in Britain. Self-guided audio tours introduce you to some of the jail’s most notorious characters and access the rooftop observation area, from where you can see the National Wallace Monument and Trossachs National Park.
Getting around Stirling
Stirling City is around 40 minutes’ drive from Glasgow and an hour from Edinburgh. Edinburgh Airport is 35 minutes away. Trains connect from destinations across Scotland to the Stirling railway station and buses travel throughout the city. Stirling’s old town is best explored on foot.