Perched above the city of Stirling on a chunk of volcanic rock, this mighty Scottish fortress has seen it all, from attacks by Robert the Bruce to the coronation of the infant Mary Queen of Scots to the premiere of the movie “Braveheart” in 1993. In addition to the impeccably recreated Royal Palace interiors and the sheer amount of history held within its robust walls, the castle also offers superb views over Stirling and Scotland’s green hills and valleys.
Stirling Castle ranks high on the agenda for visitors to Scotland. Many visitors explore the castle on day trips from Edinburgh and Glasgow, which typically also visit other Scottish Highlands highlights such as Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Loch Ness, Glen Coe, and whisky tasting experiences. Travelers should book castle tickets in advance to avoid long lines and sold-out dates. Guided tours, which take place hourly between 10am and 5pm, are included with entry.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes as the castle features uneven, cobbled ground.
- Most, though not all, of the castle is accessible for wheelchair users.
- Costumed guides help bring the history of the castle to life.
- The Historic Scotland Explorer Pass includes skip-the-line access to both Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle, as well as more than 70 other Scottish attractions.
How to Get There
The easiest way to get to the castle is via guided tours from Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Greenock. During busy summer months, the parking lot at Stirling Castle often fills to capacity; travelers can also use the Castleview park-and-ride service (located on the western outskirts of town off junction 10 on the M9). Alternatively, ride the train from Edinburgh or Glasgow (both take under an hour). The 20-minute walk from the train station, though not long, is somewhat steep.
When to Get There
July and August attract the biggest crowds. Be prepared for varying weather, even in summer; rain and chilly temperatures are common, and parts of the castle complex, such as the Queen Anne Gardens, leave visitors open to the elements.
Stirling’s Links to Scottish Heroes
For “Braveheart” fans, Stirling Castle will be forever linked with one name: William Wallace. From the castle, you can see the National Wallace Monument on Abbey Craig hill, where in 1297, Wallace and his troops prepared to fight off the invading English army. Robert the Bruce, known for his decisive victory over the English at nearby Bannockburn in 1314, is also commemorated at Stirling Castle. Look for a statue of the sword-carrying King of Scots on the castle’s esplanade.