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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 13 December, 2022
Expert travel writer: Lucy Gillmore

This dramatic fortress hunkered into a volcanic crag and appearing to glower down on the town below, has real castle wow factor.

There’s no missing its might and impregnable magnificence – of key importance in medieval times. Set in a strategic location, two game-changing battles in Scotland’s fight for independence took place near here; Stirling Bridge in 1297 when William Wallace routed the English and Bannockburn in 1314 when Robert the Bruce did the same.

A painstaking restoration project recently focused on the castle’s centrepiece, a glorious 16th-century Renaissance palace.

Don't miss

The Stirling Tapestries on the wall of the Queen’s Inner Hall in the Royal Palace were created as part of the £2million project and took seven years to complete.

While you're there

The Church of the Holy Rude, dating back to the 12th century, has elaborate stained glass windows. It’s the only church in use today to have hosted a coronation (James VI) apart from Westminster Abbey.

Price from: £17
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Stirling is 45 minutes’ drive from Glasgow, an hour and a quarter from Edinburgh. There are regular direct trains and buses to the centre. From both the bus and train station you walk up to the castle – but it’s up a steep hill.

Booking tickets online and in advance is recommended to guarantee entry. Audio tours are available for a small fee to use on your mobile phone and can be pre-booked or join one of the guided tours every half hour, included in the ticket price.

When to do it

The castle is open all year round, seven days a week. As with most major attractions the summer months are the busiest. Try to avoid weekends if you want to escape the crowds.

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Region, United Kingdom (UK)

An overview of Old town Edinburgh and Edinburgh castle in Scotland. thousands of buildings covering the ground with on a blue sunny day with a scatter of white clouds

Capital treats abound, from mighty castles and royal palaces to gourmet restaurants and arguably the world’s best performing arts festival.