My Guide to Visiting Stirling, Scotland
by David Wheater of Tours of Edinburgh
Introduction to Stirling
Stirling has a very important place in Scotland’s history.
Its strategic location as the gateway to the highlands resulted in many battles for freedom and it’s no wonder that so many people visit every year to uncover its fascinating history. Visitors have plenty to see and do in Stirling itself, including visiting Stirling Castle, the National Wallace Monument, Argyll’s Lodgings, Bannockburn – and much, much more. Plan for at least a day in Stirling.
The Forth Valley is a wonderful region to tour, with lots of picturesque villages and great landscapes to explore. The region offers visitors a variety of attractions, including the rugged Ochil hills, the marvellous Falkirk Wheel and the Antonine Wall – to name but a few. The historic town of Falkirk should also be on every visitors list and in particular its magnificent Callendar House, which will entertain the whole family. A trip along the Union and Forth & Clyde canals is also very worthwhile, as is the town’s excellent heritage trail.
No tour of Scotland is complete, however, without a tour of lovely Loch Lomond and The Trossachs. Now a designated national park, this region contains some of the loveliest scenery and landscapes in Scotland. The stunning beauty of the lochs, glens and mountains will leave a lasting impression on you and have you coming back for more every year.
Over the years we’ve got to know Stirling pretty well, so here’s our lowdown on the best things to see and do in this historic Scottish city. From the best hotels to the best visitor attractions, cafes and shops, we hope you’ll find our Stirling guide useful.
Stirling is located in central Scotland where the River Forth meets the Firth of Forth estuary. It is the smallest Scottish city with a population of just 33,700, which is smaller than many major Scottish towns.
It’s uncertain where Stirling actually got its name from, but some believe it derives its name from the Scots or Gaelic terms for battle or struggle. Once the capital of Scotland, Stirling was given the formal status of being a city in 2002 as part of the Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
The city developed over many centuries around the large fortress we know today as Stirling Castle and the medieval town which sprung up around it. The city was strategically important over the centuries as the “gateway to the Highlands” and for its close proximity to the River Forth where a river crossing and busy port developed. Stirling’s strategic location can be easily appreciated by observing its surrounding geography. This is the point where the low lying and gently undulating Scottish lowlands meet the ascending slopes of the Highland hills and mountains at a point along the Highland Boundary Fault.
Major Battles took place in and around Stirling during the wars of Scottish Independence, most notably at Stirling Bridge in 1297 and at nearby Bannockburn village in 1314, involving the iconic Scottish warriors William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, respectively.
The second oldest building in Stirling, after the Castle itself, is the Church of the Holy Rude which dates back to 1129 and is thought to be the only existing church in the UK, apart from Westminster Abbey, to have held a Coronation Ceremony.
Economically the city’s port and harbour played a significant part in the good fortune of the city until its demise with the rise and dominance of the steam locomotive.
Stirling was primarily a market town and local farmers enjoyed being surrounded by some of the flattest and most agriculturally productive land in Scotland. Agriculture still plays a part in Stirling’s economy today, but in a much lesser way.
Financial services and the tourism industry are now some of the biggest employers in Stirling thanks to the Prudential Offices at Craigforth and the more obvious tourist attractions such as the castle and the National Wallace Monument. Other major employers in Stirling are the University of Stirling’s Innovation and Science Park which has encouraged around 40 different research and development companies to the city since 1993.
Stirling has an excellent and internationally well-regarded University which opened in 1967. Stirling University now attracts around 11,000 students yearly to study there from over 80 different countries around the world. The University and city are also a major centre for sports education and training, with the Scottish Institute of Sports headquarters based in the university campus. Similarly, the Scottish National Swimming Academy and the Grannochy National Tennis Centre are also located on campus.
Unknown to many even in the city itself, Stirling was home to brothers Frank and Harold Barnwell who in 1909 designed and flew the first powered aircraft in Scotland. A monument to their outstanding achievement exists to this day.
Stirling has an interesting reputation for large amounts of paranormal activity, the most famous ghostly sighting being of “the Green Lady of the Castle” who has been seen by many a startled soldier on night sentry. The nearby Settle Inn is also said to be highly active.
Transport in Stirling
Stirling has a bus station at Goosecroft Road, serving the local area and nationally. It is centrally located next to the railway station. The bus station is accessible from the Thistles Shopping Centre by an escalator near Debenhams. Facilities are good including a passenger waiting area, cafe and shop. For timetables and help with planning a journey visit Traveline Scotland at http://www.travelinescotland.com or telephone them on 0871 200 22 33.
There are two ‘Park & Ride’ schemes operating in Stirling: Springkerse and Castleview. Buses operate from these sites to the city centre every 15 and 25 minutes, respectively, between the hours of 7.30am – 6.30pm Mondays to Saturdays. Facilities include waiting areas and toilets. For more information on Stirling park & ride visit my.stirling.gov.uk.
If you are travelling elsewhere in Scotland try First Group, National Express or Scottish Citylink. The website Traveline Scotland can help you plan any Scottish bus journey and to other parts of the UK.
Stirling railway station is located in the centre of Stirling at Goosecroft Road. There are good facilities including a lounge, luggage lockers, cafe, newsagents and ticket office. There are regular daily services from Stirling to both Edinburgh and Glasgow and other major UK towns and cities including Alloa, Perth, Inverness, Aberdeen and London.
- Live train times and information: Stirling Train Station
- To purchase cheap rail tickets: thetrainline.com
- Regular service Stirl-Edin-Glas and throughout Scotland: Scotrail Trains
- East Coast (London, Aberdeen and Inverness): East Coast Virgin Trains
Visit the National Rail Enquiries website for help to plan your train journey.
Stirling Taxis & Hire Cars
Hiring a car
Hiring a car in Scotland is easy and you may like to try the following car hire companies in Stirling:
4 Munro Road, Springkerse Industrial Estate, Stirling FK7 7UU
Tel. +44 01786-462666
Stirling Arnold Clark Car & Van Rental
Volvo Complex, Kerse Road, Stirling FK7 7RY
Tel. 01786 897 088
http://www.arnoldclarkrental.com/car-and-van-hire-locations/stirlingArnold Clark Car Hire
- Rab’s Taxis Tel. (01786) 812 909 – http://www.rabstaxis.com/
- Stirling Taxis Tel. (01786) 343434 – https://www.taxistirling.com/
- Braehead Taxis Tel. (01786) 445544 – http://braehead-taxis.co.uk/
- Goosecroft Taxis Tel. (01786) 472 220 – http://goosecroft.com/
Stirling Visitor Attractions
Stirling has some fascinating visitor attractions, contained within a compact old town, that makes it a must see for anyone visiting Scotland.
http://www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk Tel. (01786) 450 000
Stirling Castle is considered by many to be the most important castle in Scotland and is an absolute must-see for any visitor to Scotland. Highlights include The Great Hall – the largest medieval banqueting hall in Scotland and The Palace, which remains one of the most splendid Renaissance buildings in Britain. There is so much to see and do at Stirling castle that you must set aside plenty of time!
Stirling Old Town Jail
http://www.oldtownjail.com Tel. (01786) 450 050
Opened in 1996 and located in the city’s historic quarter, the Old Town Jail is an interesting insight into how prisoners were dealt with in Victorian times. The story of the prison is told through costumed actors and the view of Stirling from the rooftop viewpoint is not to be missed.
The Wallace Monument
http://www.nationalwallacemonument.com Tel. (01786) 472 140
Constructed in the 1860’s, this iconic national monument, dedicated to freedom fighter William Wallace, tells the story of his brave campaign for Scottish independence. Other Scottish heroes are also celebrated in the Hall of Heroes for their contribution to science, industry and the arts and the views from the top are stunning!
http://www.stirlingarcade.com Tel. (01786) 450 719
Stirling Arcade is a beautiful Victorian shopping arcade with a diverse range of independent retailers and cafes. Built in the early 1880’s, in the heart of Stirling’s old town, the arcade itself has some lovely architectural and decorative features that make it a very stylish and relaxing place to shop or have a coffee. Shops sell everything from musical instruments to jewellery, lingerie and furniture!
http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk Tel. (01786) 450 000
Located near Stirling Castle, Argyll’s Lodging is a fantastic example of an aristocratic 17th-century townhouse. As well as the impressive Renaissance architecture, highlights include the High Dining Room with its splendidly elaborate painted decoration and the Drawing Room with its amazing recreated tapestries.
Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum
http://www.smithartgallery.demon.co.uk Tel. (01786) 471 917
Established in 1874, this excellent gallery and museum houses an amazing collection of rare artefacts and fine art from all over the world, including a permanent exhibition on the story of Stirling and its earliest origins. The Smith hosts new and exciting exhibitions throughout the year and has an excellent cafe and shop for visitors to enjoy.
Bannockburn Heritage Centre
This excellent visitor centre tells the story of Robert the Bruce’s famous victory over Edward II’s English army on 23 & 24 June 1314 at Bannockburn. Despite all the odds, Bruce overcame a much larger professional army to win freedom from the English and the outcome changed the course of Scottish history forever. The exhibitions do a great job in explaining the importance of Bruce’s victory to Scotland.
http://www.stirling.gov.uk Tel. (01786) 27 4000
The Tolbooth is located in Stirling’s old town and is Stirling’s leading venue for the arts and live music. It re-opened in 2002, after extensive refurbishment, and is now home to many of Scotland’s best musicians and performers. For live music in Stirling it’s the place to go!
Stirling Ghost Walk
http://www.stirlingghostwalk.com Tel. (01592) 874 449
The Stirling Ghostwalk started life as a community project about 20 years ago. It’s still a hugely enjoyable way to explore Stirling’s old town and learn about some of its past colourful characters. Using professional performers, the old town becomes an atmospheric back drop for a brilliantly entertaining mix of drama, comedy and storytelling.
Blair Drummond Safari & Adventure Park
http://www.blairdrummond.com Tel. (01786) 841 456
Located a short journey to the north west of Stirling on the A84, Blair Drummond is a fantastic place to take the kids. With a zoo, boat trip and adventure playground, there’s no shortage of entertainment for all the family. On a more serious note the park has a worthwhile animal conservation and education programme that all visitors should support as much as possible. (Note: the Park is closed in the winter).
Spending a Day in Stirling
Stirling is a remarkably historic city for its size, but not for its location. It was geographically significant for many centuries as the nearest foot bridge crossing over the River Forth to the north and the Highlands. This strategic importance led to two famous Scottish battles being held here: The Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 when William Wallace defeated the English army and Bannockburn in 1314 when it was Robert the Bruce’s turn to overcome the English invaders.
Stirling, as a result of all this history, is a fascinating city to visit and is a small, compact place with most attractions within a short journey of each other.
Stirling Castle is undoubtedly Stirling’s most recognisable icon and is regarded by many to be the finest castle in Scotland – even better than Edinburgh. Surprisingly, the castle has some delightful gardens and lawns which really softens the old castle walls and battlements. It’s a very exciting castle to visit, with lots of hidden nooks and crannies to get lost in and it’s very easy to spend the best part of a day here exploring its many treasures.
There’s a very good exhibition telling the story of the castle’s unique history and the restored Great Hall, the Palace and the Chapel Royal are all some of the highlights of a visit. The Douglas gardens are a particularly lovely part of the Castle, offering superb views to the Highlands and a visit to the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum is also very worthwhile. Also worthy of note are the newly commissioned seven reproduction Stirling Tapestries of which four are being woven at the castle itself. You can see the tapestries being hand woven in a purpose built studio within the castle.
While visiting the Castle it’s also worthwhile visiting Argyll’s Lodging at the top of the Castle Wynd. This is an atmospheric renaissance townhouse built by Sir William Alexander in the 17th Century. Highlights of this impressive house include its spectacularly decorated High Dining Room and the Drawing Room with its specially recreated tapestries and chair of state.
At St John Street in the city’s historic quarter is a rather unusual attraction – Stirling’s Old Town Jail. This famous Victorian prison is great fun to visit, especially for children, and gives an interesting insight into what the poor Victorian inmates once had to endure. Costumed character actors do a great job of telling the story of the jail and its famous prisoners and you really do find yourself transported back in time. When you’ve finished the tour it’s very worthwhile heading up to the rooftop viewpoint which delivers amazing views across the city to the Trossachs, the Forth Valley and the Ochil Hills.
The Old Town Jails predecessor is also nearby – The Tolbooth which was once the city’s infamous court house and jail. Nowadays it’s the base for Stirling Council’s Arts & Events Team and is the city’s premier venue for live music and the arts. If you’re at a loose end in the evening it’s very worthwhile checking out what’s on in this very popular venue.
The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum, just outside the city centre, is an excellent place to visit to find out more about Stirling’s history and houses many rare and unique Scottish artefacts. It even has the world’s oldest known football! There’s also excellent galleries of local, contemporary arts, crafts and photography. The Stirling Smith also has a lovely garden in the grounds called Ailie’s Garden which aims to teach visitors about the Scottish countryside, biodiversity and waste management. If you get peckish here, there’s also a really good Gallery Cafe which offers home baking and light lunches.
A little further a field, around a mile and a half north of the city centre, is the instantly recognisable and iconic National Wallace Monument. Built in the 1860’s as a tribute to William Wallace the “freedom fighter”, the tower marks the spot and commemorates the scene of his most famous victory – The Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. Wallace’s huge broadsword is on display here and you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about his incredible campaign for Scottish freedom.
The tower also commemorates other Scottish giants in the fields of science, industry and the arts in the magnificent Scottish “Hall of Heroes“. The highlight of any trip to the monument, however, is the tremendous views at the top over to the Trossachs, the Forth Valley, the Ochil Hills and the Pentlands. On a clear day the views are some of the most impressive in Scotland. Being a little out of town, there’s also a very handy cafe serving all kinds of refreshments, light lunches and snacks.
No trip to Stirling, however, would be complete without a visit to the Battle of Bannockburn Heritage Centre. Located around 2 miles south of the city the heritage centre commemorates the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, when King Robert the Bruce famously overcame King Edward II’s English army, ultimately resulting in The Declaration of Arbroath and independence from England.
The centre has an excellent audiovisual presentation and teaches a lot about the battle itself and the Scottish Wars of independence. Bannockburn was an important and pivotal turning point for the Scottish nation and it still resonates down through the centuries in the Scottish psyche to this day. To understand this battle, the reasons for it and the consequences of the victory is to understand a great deal about the Scots as a proud and resilient nation.
Stirling is a great place to visit and should never be overlooked by those heading straight for the Scottish Highlands, Glasgow or Edinburgh. There is a wealth of history to discover here and a visit to Scotland would be incomplete without visiting this historic city.
Stirling Restaurants & Cafes
Stirling may be the smallest city in Scotland, but it still has a lot of good restaurants and cafes to offer the visitor.
Most restaurants and cafes in Stirling are located in and around the city centre, but there are a few very good ones, that are well worth a short journey to, on the northern outskirts of town. Three in particular – Clive’s Restaurant, The Birds & The Bees and the River House Restaurant are all well worth a visit.
The Birds & The Bees is located in Easter Cornton Road in a converted farmhouse steading that has a very cosy and welcoming interior. If you fancy a relaxed lunch or dinner then this is a great option and they also have some very nice outside beer gardens which are great on a sunny summers day.
Another popular option is Clive’s Restaurant in Bridge of Allan at 26 Henderson Street. Split over two levels this is a modern and funky restaurant with a good lunch and dinner menu, although it’s as popular for a coffee and cake, or a glass of wine, as it is for its meals.
The River House Restaurant is another popular restaurant in Stirling located close to junction 10 of the M9. It’s an unusually designed restaurant, based on a traditional Scottish Crannog, with its own small loch and is a very pleasant place to have lunch or dinner, or even just a drink. They also have a very good children’s menu.
Below are some of the best regarded restaurants, cafes and bistros in Stirling. We’ve tried to include a wide range of types of cuisine and places to suit all pockets.
L’ ANGOLINO – THE WEE CORNER
47 Main Street, Doune, Stirling FK 16 6BW
British and Italian cuisine. Great cooking in homely, family friendly restaurant, a short drive north west of Stirling.
2A Forthside Way, Stirling FK8 1QZ
Great place for breakfast or brunch, or just a coffee and some cake with friends. Burgers & Italian theme.
58 Broad Street Stirling FK8 1EF
An elegant Austrian restaurant, offering an interesting fusion of Scottish and Austrian cuisine, not far from the castle.
THE BRINDISI PIZZA PLACE
29 Upper Craigs, Stirling FK8 2DG
A terrific takeaway – the place to go for pizza in Stirling.
Albert Halls, Dumbarton Road, Stirling FK8 2QL
Wonderful fine dining in the heart of Stirling
THE HIDEAWAY CAFE
Fountain Mew, Fountain Road, Bridge of Allan FK9 4EN
Hidden away in Bridge of Allan, the Hideaway Cafe is an absolute gem of a place. Whether for breakfast, lunch or some amazing home baking, it’s the perfect place to meet family and friends.
Popular Bars & Pubs in Stirling
Stirling, as a small city, can’t compete with its bigger counterparts for choice and variety of pubs & bars, but it nevertheless does have a few very good ones.
Most of Stirling’s pubs are located in the city centre, particularly along Baker Street, but it’s also worth heading a mile or so north to the popular suburb of Bridge of Allan to visit The Westerton Arms, a traditional Scottish pub and restaurant. Also, north east of the city centre, is the popular The Birds & The Bees at Causewayhead which has a very cosy and welcoming bar and restaurant.
The Settle Inn, near the castle at St. Mary’s Wynd, is Stirling’s oldest alehouse (est.1733) and is definitely worth a visit for its warm and welcoming atmosphere. Also near the castle is Whistlebinkies, at 73 St. Mary’s Wynd, which is set over three levels with a restaurant and beer garden.
If you’re after some live music in Stirling, it’s well worthwhile checking out the live music programme of The Tolbooth – Stirling’s best venue for music and the arts. Located in the heart of Stirling’s old town the Tolbooth also has a good cafe/ bar that’s open for events.
Also worth checking out is Stirling’s Albert Halls in Dumbarton Road, which has a regular programme of high profile concerts and live music events. There’s also a very good bistro here, called Henderson’s Bistro, which has a good bar and is open all day for breakfast and lunch, or even just a coffee or glass of wine.
Below are some of our favourite bars and pubs in Stirling. Please remember that Stirling is really quite small, so please don’t expect too much in terms of the variety and number of places to enjoy a drink. Having said that, it’s still a great place to enjoy a night out with friends.
NICKY-TAMS BAR & BOTHY
29 Baker Street, Stirling FK8 1BJ
Dating back to 1718, this is a small, cosy pub with good live music throughout the week.
91 St Mary’s Wynd, Stirling FK8 1BU
A great traditional style pub just a short walk down from the castle. Visit when the fire’s on and local musicians are in full flow.
9 Upper Craigs, Stirling FK8 2DG
For something a little different, why not try this Australian themed bar & grill house. With good pub grub and a beer garden it’s a cheerful place to while away a few hours in Stirling.
NO 2 BAKER STREET
2 Baker Street, Stirling FK8 1BJ
On the way to the castle, this is a great traditional pub serving good pub food. Try visit on a live music night.
Castle Wynd, Stirling FK8 1EQ
Located next to the castle, this is a great traditional pub with guest rooms above. There’s also a beer garden which is great for warm summer evenings. Good value pub food. If you’re staying make sure you get a ‘room with a view’.
Shopping in Stirling
Shopping in Stirling is excellent. Stirling has most of the usual high street shops and lots of really good independent retailers too – often you just need to seek them out.
The town centre; Murray Place, Port Street, Friars Street, Kings Street and Barnton Street have a wide selection of high street chains and independents and is the main shopping area in Stirling.
Around three miles north of Stirling city centre is lovely Bridge of Allan, which has lots of good independent shops, cafes and restaurants and is perhaps one of the best places to find unusual gifts in and around Stirling.
Another great place to find unusual gifts & products is the very attractive Stirling Arcade which houses an eclectic mix of independent retailers and services.
Our ‘Must Visit Shops’ in Stirling
House of Henderson, 6/8 Friars Street, 01786 473 681
One of the best kiltmakers & traditional outfitters in Scotland – since 1923!
The Honey Tree, 12 Friars Street, 01786 470 082
A great little independent children's clothing store selling designer brands & more.
Number 8, 8a King Street, 01786 461 166
A fantastic range of men and women’s designer brand clothing. Also online!
Betti Loves It, 30-34 Stirling Arcade, 01786 451 256
A seriously cool fashion boutique for the fashion savvy girl! Available online too!
Stirling Art, 5-7 Upper Craigs, 01786 465 384
A great gallery of original artwork and limited editions from some of Scotland’s best artists.
Connie’s Closet, 19-21 Stirling Arcade, 01786 464 669
A terrific variety of high quality ladies designer dresses and fashion.
Straitwurly Crafts, 14 Stirling Arcade, 01786 446 352
A great selection of unusual handmade gifts including retro BMX’s!
Europa Music, 10 Friars Street, 01786 448 623
A truly brilliant independent music store with thousands of Vinyls, CD’s & memorabilia.
Stirling Books, 18 Maxwell Place, 01786 461 816
A superb bookshop offering new and used books, prints & crafts. Good coffee too!
Olde Sweet Shoppe, 59 Port Street, 01786 358812
Fabulous range of retro sweets & confectionary that’ll take you back to your childhood!
Signature, 31 Allan Park, 01786 471 080
A lovely ladies fashion boutique offering a good selection of designer clothing.
Ruby Tuesday, 13 Fountain Road, Bridge of Allan, 01786 833 788
A great little shoe shop selling unusual shoes, bags and accessories.
The Fotheringham Gallery, 78 Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan, 01786 832 861
A wonderful contemporary art from Scottish artists.
Village Glass, 14 Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan, 01786 832 137
A great selection of designer glassware and stylish jewellery.
Wood Winters, 16 Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan, 01786 834 894
A superb wine and whisky shop with regular tasting sessions!
The Treehouse, 47C Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan, 01786 833 794
A unique furniture & home accessories – well worth a look.
Shopping Centres in Stirling
Stirling has a couple of good Shopping Arcades. There are also some excellent independent shops worth visiting in Bridge of Allan – details below:
Thistles Shopping Centre, Stirling
The Thistles Shopping Centre is an indoor shopping centre located in the heart of Stirling city centre.
The centre has a wide variety of well known high street shops such as Boots, BHS, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Next & Primark and a good number of speciality shops too.
Access to the centre is really easy being next door to the bus station and just a few minutes walk from the train station. For those with a car, there are two car parks offering 1300 car parking spaces.
If you fancy a coffee or a bite to eat the centre has a Costa Coffee and a Greggs the Bakers.
Opening times are generally 9am – 5pm, Mon – Sat, with late night shopping till 8pm on a Thursday.
Other shops include: Burtons, Clarks, Costa Coffee, Dorothy Perkins, Fat Face, H&M, Lush, Mountain Warehouse, Oasis, River Island, Thorntons, Topshop, Trespass, Zara, WHSmith and Waterstones – amongst others.
The Stirling Arcade, Stirling
The Stirling Arcade shopping centre is located in the heart of Stirling city centre, just a few minutes walk from the Train and Bus stations.
This lovely victorian arcade has had a long and varied history previously housing two hotels and a music hall which sadly no longer exists. The arcade has been recently refurbished and decorated and is a really beautiful place to shop and while away a few hours in Stirling.
The centre has a real mix of retailers including a comic shop (Bennjaxx Comics), fashion boutiques (Connie’s Closet & Betti Loves It), motorcycle accessories (Thunkit), furniture (Furniture Retail) and musical instruments (Andy Simpson Music), amongst many others.
If you fancy a coffee or a bite to eat there’s Ruby’s Cupcakes, a really lovely vintage tearoom, and the Italian Cafe & Delicatessen Cibo E Vino.
Services in the Arcade include a beauticians (Beauty at Ebu) and a hairdressers (Pretam Beau).
When in Stirling – please do visit this lovely arcade. It’s only by spending your money in these wonderful shops that they will continue to thrive and prosper.
The Arcade is pen 7 days a week, Mon-Wed 8am-5.30pm; Thurs-Sat 8am til’ late and Sunday 10am-4pm.
Bridge of Allan, Stirling
Bridge of Allan lies around 3 miles north of Stirling and is a great place to visit for its good shops, cafes and restaurants.
The majority of Shopping is found in Henderson Street in the centre of the village and is well worth a visit.
Some of the shops that are worthy of mention include: The Fotheringham Gallery, WoodWinters wine & whisky shop, The Treehouse furniture shop and Village Glass which offers great designer glassware and jewellery.
If you fancy a coffee and/or a bite to eat there are lots of great options in Bridge of Allan including: The Allan Water Cafe; Paparazzi and Clive’s, all of which can be found in Henderson Street.
Annual Festivals in Stirling
For such a small city, Stirling has quite an impressive number of annual festivals and cultural events running right throughout the year. Here’s a few annual festivals to get you started (dates are approximate):
Stirling Fringe Festival (Sept)
Doune the Rabbit Hole (Aug)
Off the Page (May)
The Scribblers Picnic (May)
Spirit of Stirling Whisky Festival (May)
Bloody Scotland (Sept)
Bridge of Allan Contemporary Arts Festival (November)
Callander Jazz & Blues Festival (Oct)
Stirling Festival of Cycling (Aug)
The Scottish Paranormal Festival (Oct/Nov)
Stirling Leisure Activities
Forest & Loch Ride
Aberfoyle to Callander
13 miles long; 2hrs to cycle
National cycle network route number: 7
North West of Stirling and following National route 7, this is a truly wonderful day out. Some of the highlights include the Queen Elizabeth Forest, Loch Venachar & Loch Drunkie. Mainly traffic free forest tracks, this is an absolute delight.
Carron Valley Mountain Bike Trails (near Denny)
10.5km of Mountain-bike trails
Purpose built for year round use, these trails are graded for novices and pros. In very attractive scenery, this is a great day out. Local shops and services are available in Denny about 7 miles away. Carron Valley Mountain Bike Trails, Tel. (01555) 660 190.
Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine Cycle Route
All the forests around Aberfoyle have great mountain-bike routes. The Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine route is around 28 miles and will take around 3 hours. Starting and ending at the Trossachs Pier Car Park this is a relatively easy cycle around Loch Katrine.
Stirling Golf Club
http://www.stirlinggolfclub.com Tel. (01786) 464 098
18 Holes, Par 72, Parkland, Length 6409
Known as “The Kings Park”, this lovely course lies at the foot of Stirling Castle which dominates the view. It’s easily accessible from the town centre (about a mile).
Callander Golf Club
http://www.callandergolfclub.co.uk Tel. (01877) 330 090
18 Holes, Par 66, Inland, Length 5185
Lying to the north west of Stirling, Callander is an attractive 18-hole course lying in Scotland’s first National Park.
Aberfoyle Golf Club
http://www.aberfoylegolf.com Tel. (01877) 382 493
18 Holes, Par 66, Inland, Length 5218
Lying 15 miles from Stirling at the foot of the Mentieth hills, this is quite an interesting and quirky course. There are some quite fabulous views which are reason enough to visit. It’s a short course and hilly which can make for some tricky golf!
Glenbervie Golf Club
http://www.glenberviegolfclub.com Tel. (01324) 562 605
18 Holes, Par 71, Inland, Length 6438
An excellent course in lovely parkland with great views to the Ochil Hills. A really lovely course that you should visit. Watch out for the 9th hole!
Bridge of Allan Golf Club
http://www.bofagc.com Tel. (01786) 832 332
9 Holes, Par 66, Inland, Length 2560
This is an excellent 9-hole course designed by Old Tom Morris when the club was founded in 1895. The 1st hole is an interesting and challenging one!
Popular Stirling Hotels
Stirling is a firm favourite for many travellers to make their Scottish base, being conveniently placed between the highlands and lowlands of Scotland.
Accommodation in this ancient and historic city is plentiful, with a diverse range of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs available to both visitors and those on business in the city. Visitors have no end of choice with hotels to suit all tastes and budgets from charming country house hotels like the Park Lodge Hotel, to more contemporary modern hotels like the Barcelo Stirling Highland hotel in the city centre and the wonderful Kilronan Guest House in Bridge of Allan.
Just a short drive away, Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray has just opened his new 5 star hotel, Cromlix, at nearby Dunblane, which looks absolutely lovely. The restaurant is being run by Albert Roux and first reports are very good.
Stirling has some wonderful guest houses and bed and breakfast accommodation, often in the most handsome, characterful and elegant of Victorian and Georgian mansions, which are always hugely welcoming and comfortable. Wherever you stay you’re sure to enjoy this most fascinating of ancient cities.
Park Lodge Hotel (3 star)
32 Park Terrace, Stirling FK8 2JS
http://www.parklodge.net Tel. (01786) 474 862
This Georgian house (1825) is a charming country house hotel near to Stirling city centre. It has a lovely green and open outlook over The Kings Park with great views of Stirling Castle. All rooms are traditionally decorated in keeping with the house and have en-suites. Rooms offer TV’s and tea/coffee facilities. The hotel has a lovely walled garden which guests are free to enjoy. The restaurant is excellent, offering Mediterranean influenced cuisine using fresh local produce and the lounge bar is very comfortable and elegantly furnished. This is a great 3* hotel and well worth a visit.
The Portcullis Hotel (3 star)
Castle Wynd, Stirling FK8 1EG
http://www.theportcullishotel.com Tel. (01786) 472 290
This is an interesting and historic hotel (built 1787) located, rather conveniently, right next door to Stirling Castle itself (a bit of climb though!). It is essentially a ‘no-frills’ hotel that is really quite charming. It was originally a school for boys and was also a military store for the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders – lots of history that you can feel! With the trend towards luxury, boutique-style accommodation, there’s something quite refreshing about its honest simplicity. However, don’t be fooled, each of the 4 comfortable rooms (en-suite) comes well equipped with central heating, TV, telephone and tea/coffee facilities. It is essential that you ask for a room to the front, as these have fantastic views over Stirling to the Ochil Hills. There is an atmospheric lounge bar with a lovely open log fire in the winter. Lunches and dinner are available in the bar too, which has a traditional Scottish tavern feel. This is an informal relaxed hotel that you will enjoy for its honesty and authenticity.
Adamo Hotels Stirling (4 star)
78 Upper Craigs, Stirling FK8 2DT &
http://www.adamohotels.com Tel. (01786) 430 890
Adamo has two luxury boutique hotels, one in Stirling and the other in Bridge of Allan. Both offer a range of individual boutique style rooms with original design and contemporary conference facilities. The Stirling city centre hotel has a very stylish interior and is close to all the city centre amenities and facilities. The hotel is a popular place for having a drink and/or a meal with friends. The Bank Restaurant in the hotel provides excellent meals using the best of Scottish produce.
Stirling Highland Hotel (4 star)
29 Spittal Street, Stirling, FK8 1DU
http://www.barcelo-hotels.co.uk Tel. (01786) 272727
This lovely hotel dates back to 1854 and was formerly the high school of Stirling. It is a beautifully furnished hotel with first class accommodation, a restaurant, private function/conference suites and a luxury leisure club making this an ideal hotel for business or leisure. It’s situated close to Stirling castle and the town centre.
The Golden Lion Flagship Hotel (3 star)
8-10 King Street, Stirling FK8 1BD
http://www.thegoldenlionstirling.co.uk Tel. (01786) 475 351
The Golden Lion is located in Stirling city centre next to the best shops, restaurants and bars. The hotel was built in 1786 and is one of the main focal points of historic Stirling. The hotel has a traditional character with many of its 67 bedrooms recently refurbished to a very high standard. This is a very comfortable hotel where you can enjoy good food, fine wines and great Scottish hospitality.
King Robert Hotel (3 star)
Glasgow Road, Stirling FK7 0LJ
http://www.kingroberthotel.co.uk Tel. (01786) 811 666
King Robert Hotel is situated near the site of the Battle of Bannockburn, next to the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, on the outskirts of Stirling. This is a friendly and excellent value family hotel with 52 en-suite bedrooms which are well equipped with all the usual modern amenities; Free WiFi access, colour television and tea & coffee making facilities. The recently refurbished Bruce’s Bistro is open daily for lunch and dinner and the lounge is open daily for light meals, snacks and a relaxing evening drink.
Premier Inn Stirling (3 star)
Glasgow Road, Stirling FK7 8EX
http://www.premierinn.com Tel. (0871) 527 9038
Although one of hundreds in the Premier Inn chain, this is an excellent budget hotel for those wanting to make their money go that bit further. It’s 3 miles from Stirling city centre and provides the usual spacious, clean and comfortable en-suite rooms that we’ve become accustomed to. There is a good quality restaurant serving a variety of food at reasonable prices, and you can opt for the Premier breakfast where you can eat as much as you like from a cooked and continental selection – and don’t forget that children under 16 eat breakfast free!
Holiday Inn Express Stirling (3 star)
Springkerse Business Park, Stirling FK7 7XH
http://www.expressstirling.co.uk Tel. (0871) 902 1628
This excellent budget hotel is located on the outskirst of Stirling and is a convenient low cost option to explore Stirling or stop over on the way north to the Highlands. There’s plenty of free parking and it’s very easy to access from the M9 motorway via the A91. The rooms are modern, well equipped and comfortable and even have air conditioning which is great in the summer. It’s a short drive or taxi ride to the centre of Stirling. Alternatively you can get the park & ride bus which runs nearby. There’s a good bar and vending machine, but no restaurant. The restaurant next door, however, is very convenient and family friendly. There’s a free self service hot breakfast. Ask for the rooms with a view of the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle. Dog friendly and free in room WiFi.
Stirling Bed & Breakfast
Kilronan House B&B ****
15 Kenilworth Road, Bridge of Allan, Stirling FK9 4DU
http://www.kilronan.co.uk Tel. (01786) 831 054
4 Star. Free Wi-Fi. 3 rooms.
Kilronan House is located close to Stirling University, the castle and the Wallace Monument and is one of the oldest houses in the area (1853). Bridge of Allan is a leafy and attractive suburb and was once a popular Victorian resort and spa. This is a very handsome and attractive Victorian villa with lovely gardens. There are 2 spacious en-suite rooms available and a standard single with a private bathroom. The rooms are absolutely lovely, very comfortable, elegant and tastefully decorated. There is also a very lovely guest sitting room. A very lovely place to stay.
5 Dumyat Road, Causewayhead, Stirling FK9 5HA
http://www.abbeycraig.com Tel. (01786) 463 174
Free Wi-Fi. 4 suites.
The Abbeycraig is a first-class B&B. There are many hotels that would be put to shame by this wonderful accommodation and hospitality. It’s conveniently located in the heart of Stirling within walking distance of the city centre. A modern, detached villa, all en-suite rooms come with flat-screen TV, tea/coffee facilities, fridges and power showers. The rooms are outstanding for a B&B, beautifully designed and furnished and overall are great value. One of the rooms has a great view of the Wallace Monument. There is a self contained studio room available which would be ideal for a long stay. There is good private parking. A great B&B that’s just a lovely place to be.
West Plean House ****
Denny Road, Stirling FK7 8HA
http://www.westpleanhouse.com Tel. (01786) 812 208
4 Star. Visitor lounge. 3 rooms.
West Plean is a country farm house of real character which, in its present form, dates from 1803. It is situated about 3 miles outside Stirling in the middle of a mixed arable and livestock farm. The house is set slightly apart from the farm steading and is surrounded by extensive lawns with mature trees and a lovely walled garden, which guests are free to explore. If you don’t fancy the hustle and bustle of the city of Stirling then this may be the quieter alternative you’ve been looking for.
The Old Tram House ****
42 Causewayhead Road, Stirling FK9 5EY
http://www.theoldtramhouse.com Tel. (01786) 449 774
4 star. Free Wi-Fi.
The Old Tram house is a lovely Victorian stone villa offering comfortable en-suite rooms that are beautifully furnished and decorated (The villa used to form part of the Stirling Tram company depot). It’s close to Stirling University on a main bus route and near to railway and motorway links. It’s also handily located close to local restaurants, bars and shops. All rooms are private ensuite with flatscreen tv, dvd player, tea and coffee facilities, hairdryers in all rooms and use of an iron. There is a lovely ground floor guest room which has a notebook with internet access for guest use which is a nice touch. A really lovely guest house.
Firgrove B&B ****
13 Clifford Road, Stirling FK8 2AQ
http://www.firgrove.stirling.co.uk Tel. (01786) 475 805
4 Star. 3 suites. No Children under 16.
Firgrove is an elegant and spacious 1895 Victorian villa, situated in spacious gardens, just 10 minutes from Stirling town centre. The deluxe en-suite bedrooms are large and spacious and you can expect an excellent standard of service and accommodation, with convenient private parking within the grounds.
Quarter, Denny, Stirlingshire FK6 6QZ
http://www.quarterstirling.com Tel. (01324) 825 817
Free Wi-Fi. 3 Rooms.
Quarter is a beautiful Georgian country house (c1753), in a secluded peaceful location, set in 60 acres of parkland gardens and just 10 minutes from Stirling. They have 3 rooms available: 1 double, 1 double/twin and a twin, which are all en-suite. Quarter is also next door to a riding stables, fishery and a fitness gym, so there’s plenty of things to see and do during your stay. The gardens and parkland have been planted with trees, shrubs and rhododendrons over the generations which you can walk through, taking in the wonderful views in this peaceful location. In the evening you can sit in the lovely comfortable sitting room relax, read or watch the television. In the winter there is a wonderful log fire that heats up the room – bliss!
Number 10 ****
10 Gladstone Place, Stirling FK8 2NN
http://www.cameron-10.co.uk Tel. (01786) 472 681
4 Star. Free Wi-Fi. 3 en-suite Rooms.
Number 10 is a Victorian house of great character situated in a quiet residential area of Stirling city centre, with ample on-street parking. All the bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms and free WiFi is available throughout the house. Number 10 is close to all the historic sites and amenities of Stirling and is within walking distance of the train and bus stations, shopping centre and many restaurants. The bedrooms are large and spacious and have central heating, televisions with Sky Sports, hospitality trays and hairdryers.
16 Allan Park, Stirling FK8 2QG
http://www.georgian-house.com Tel. (01786) 462 115
Wi-Fi. 3 Rooms. No children under 16.
The Georgian House is a very handsome B listed Georgian villa situated in the centre of Stirling overlooking Stirling Castle. It’s close to restaurants, shops, the Museum & Art Gallery, the Albert Hall and a host of other historical attractions that Stirling has to offer. The Georgian House offers three large luxurious en-suite rooms with self-service continental breakfast, complimentary tea & coffee tray, Wi-Fi, LCD TV & DVD player, hairdryer and ironing facilities. Private parking is available and it’s a short walk from the Train & Bus stations and most amenities.
26 Causewayhead Road, Stirling FK9 5EU
http://www.argyllhouse.com Tel. (01786) 478 864
Free Wi-Fi. 3 Rooms.
Argyll House is a comfortable guest house overlooking the Wallace Monument and close to the city centre with excellent restaurants nearby. All the rooms have central heating, free WiFi, remote control TV/DVD, hairdryer, radio alarm clock and hospitality tray with tea, coffee, hot chocolate and homemade shortbread. The front bedrooms have a wonderful view of the monument which is spectacularly lit at night. There is also private parking.
24 Linden Avenue, Stirling FK7 7PQ
http://www.neidpath-stirling.co.uk Tel. (01786) 469 017
3 Star. Wi-Fi. 3 Rooms.
Neidpath guest house is an attractive Edwardian home in a lovely tree lined avenue only five minutes walk from Stirling town centre. The comfortable rooms include 1 Double Room, 1 Twin Room and 1 Family Room. All rooms are en-suite and include a TV, hairdryer and hospitality tray with tea and coffee and an extensive breakfast menu. There is free on street parking and a private driveway.
Hogmanay Parties in Stirling
The following venues usually host a good Hogmanay party in Stirling. Please, however, check with the organiser or venue before making any plans to visit Stirling!
Stirling’s Hogmanay Concert (Stirling Castle Esplanade)
circa 31 December annually, 8.30pm
One of the best Hogmanay concerts in Scotland. Past years have seen Deacon Blue, Dougie MacLean, The Waterboys and Skerryvore in the line-up. Usually hosted by DJ Steve McKenna with Fireworks at midnight. Tickets from http://www.stirlinghogmanay.co.uk or telephone: 01786 274 000.
The Albert Halls’ Hogmanay Ceilidh
circa 31 December annually, 7.30pm
One of the best annual Hogmanay ceilidhs anywhere in Scotland! You’ll enjoy a great Hogmanay dinner with plenty of entertainment from a live ceilidh band. There’s also a fully licensed bar.
Popular Districts of Stirling
Bridge of Allan, Stirling
Bridge of Allan lies around 3 miles north of Stirling city centre lying on a tributary of the River Forth called “Allan Water”.
The town was originally just a small rural village with the main industry being textiles and copper mining. In the 1800’s, however, the Airthrey estate owner Sir Robert Abercrombie expanded the town into a successful Victorian spa town after the discovery of “health giving” mineral springs in the then closing copper mine.
The village became a highly popular Victorian spa town with hundreds of lodging houses and today still attracts many visitors to it’s charming Victorian architecture and excellent speciality shops.
The main street has some lovely little gift shops, glass shops and galleries along with good cafes, restaurants and hotels.
Bridge-of-Allan has many fine Victorian villas and buildings dating back to the spa town’s expansion in the late 1800’s. There are, however, a large range of property types available, both modern and old, to suit most pockets.
For visitors, there’s an 18-hole golf course (Bridge of Allan Golf Club), a working brewery and visitor centre (Bridge of Allan Brewery), a Gallery with paintings, local crafts and jewellery and a glasswork studio where you can blow your own glass.
Every August the town plays host to the Strathallan Games which began in 1852. The games is a popular annual event attracting hundreds of athletes, pipers and highland dancers.
A popular walk is the “Darn Walk” which takes you 3 miles along the river to Dunblane. It is believed that Robert Louis Stevenson included this route in his novel Kidnapped and a cave along the route is now known locally as “Stevensons Cave”.
Bridge of Allan has an excellent library at Fountain Road and is served by excellent local amenities. The Bridge of Allan Sports Club at Mine Road offers some wide-ranging facilities including tennis courts, squash courts, a gym, snooker tables and a bar and sauna room.
Bridge of Allan is the location for the world renowned Stirling University (built around Airthrey Castle in 1967) and the Scottish Institute of Sport.
Bridge of Allan has its own railway station on the Perth/Dunblane – Edinburgh/Glasgow line, with around 3 to 4 trains per hour to Glasgow and Edinburgh (please check for services).
Local Schools: Bridge of Allan Primary School.
Bannockburn is located just a few miles south east of Stirling city centre. The town is steeped in history, but perhaps most famous for being the site of the Battle of Bannockburn.
In past centuries, Bannockburn was a thriving weaving town making and supplying, amongst others, clan tartans. The mills relied on the strong flow of the Bannock Burn and even today evidence of the mills can still be seen in the old town.
Bannockburn provides many local amenities including local convenience shops, a Royal Bank of Scotland, a Pharmacy, Post Office, medical centre, dental surgery and a good sized central library.
Property in the area generally comprises ex local authority houses and small modern houses and bungalows. The town centre and old town do, however, offer more period stone built terraces and villas, some of which are substantial.
The Bannockburn Heritage Centre commemorates Robert the Bruce’s victory over Edward II’s much larger army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. This excellent visitor centre really brings the battle and the Scottish wars of independence to life. The battle memorial cairn, erected in 1957, and the monumental statue of Robert the Bruce provides a great centrepiece to this battle site (although no one is really too sure exactly where the battle took place).
Bannockburn has its own Health Centre, a community centre and community library and is well served by it’s own primary and high school.
A popular venue in the area is the Brucefield Family Golf Centre which has a 9-hole flagship course, a children’s course, driving range and restaurant.
Local Schools: Bannockburn Primary School & Nursery & Bannockburn High School.
Kings Park, Stirling
Kings Park is a very fashionable, green and leafy part of central Stirling with some lovely, grand Victorian houses and flat conversions.
The area is well known for its magnificent and historic park, “King’s Park”, which was reputed to be the hunting grounds for the Royal Court at Stirling.
The park is widely used for recreation and offers many facilities including a golf course (Stirling Golf Club) playing fields, superb children’s play park, skateboard park and BMX tracks and tennis courts.
There are some great views from the park over the fine Victorian villas of the area and to Stirling Castle itself. The facilities in the park are particularly good for children and toddlers and it’s a great place for a family picnic in the summer.
The King’s Park area is a very convenient place to live being only a few minutes walk away from the shops and amenities of the city centre.
Housing in the area is particularly grand with many fabulous (and expensive) Victorian and Georgian villas and upper and lower conversions that will set you back anything from £200,000 for a flat to around £700,000 for a very fine large detached villa.
St Ninians, Stirling
St Ninians is located approximately a mile southwards of Stirling city centre. The area used to be known originally as “Eccles” (meaning church) and the remaining tower of St Ninians Church is a well known landmark – the former part of the church having been destroyed by Bonnie Prince Charlies retreating army.
St Ninians main industry during the 19th Century was making nails and bolts with many also employed in the woollen industry. The site of the Lidl supermarket is where the nail factory once stood, which is still often referred to by locals as “Nailworks corner”.
The area has a small collection of shops and other amenities at the Borestone Roundabout (“the Toll”).
Housing in the area is mainly ex-local authority terraced houses and flats. The area used to contain many older houses, but many have not survived, although there are some very attractive older houses at the corner of Main Street and Kirk Wynd.
St Ninians Primary School is located at Torbrex Road and includes a Nursery class within the school. The area also has a very good community library at the Mayfield Centre.
The area has good facilities including a medical practice, community centre and post office.
Local Schools: St Ninians Primary & Nursery
Riverside is a very pleasant district located to the north of Stirling city centre and is notable for being bounded on three sides by the River Forth.
The area has a really good park – Waverly Park, which is widely used by the whole community and offers particularly good play facilities for children.
There is a very good primary school – Riverside Primary School which offers Gaelic Medium classes and a good nursery.
The area has a very popular football club – Riverside FC which is dedicated to helping local youngsters become professional footballers.
There are good facilities in the area including an AMF ten pin bowling club, a large Tesco Supermarket at Burghmuir Road (the A9) with good parking and it’s a short journey to the city centre and the popular Thistle March shopping centre.
Stirling railway station and the bus station are also just a short journey away.
Being almost surrounded by the River Forth, there are really great river side walks around the whole district.
Local Schools: Riverside Primary School.
Book a Private Photography Tour of Stirling With Us
If you would like one of our guides to take you on a private photography tour of Stirling please Email us for a quote.
Book One of Our Edinburgh Tours
We offer several different private tours of Edinburgh, including a Photography Tour, a tour of Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town and a Hidden Gems Tour - all of which can be booked online, or by telephoning us on +44 (0) 7400 705 357.