things to do in Stirling

Stirling is a historic city in central Scotland, located on the River Forth. The city is often nicknamed the ‘Gateway to the Highlands’ because of its close proximity to major Highland attractions like Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and Loch Lomond. Stirling is steeped in Scottish history for you to explore and was once one of the principal royal strongholds of Scotland.

Today, Stirling benefits from the buzz of a young population. The city is alive with energy and is a truly fantastic place to visit, with many fun things to do, including Stirling Castle, Church of the Holy Rude, and Doune Castle.

So fantastic, in fact, that we’ve put together a list of great activities to make your visit even more eventful.

Things to do in Stirling

things to do in Stirling

Stirling is a vibrant city with a lot to offer. From historical sites, outdoor activities, architecture, and family fun, there is plenty to do on your visit.

If you’re here with the family, with a partner, or solo travelling, Stirling has what you need.

Need some convincing? Take a look at our list of the top things to do in Stirling down below and get the most out of your holiday here.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is a stunning landmark that dates back to the Middle Ages.

The castle is visually dominating and a shining example of Renaissance architecture that’s located near the very heart of Stirling city centre.

The castle one of the largest and top attractions in Scotland sits atop a 250ft extinct volcano. Steep cliffs surround it on three sides, giving it a strong defensive position. From over the high stone walls, you can view the battlefields of Stirling Bridge, where ancient armies clashed. Its walls also have plenty of rooms to explore, including the Chapel Royal, the Regimental Museum, the Great Hall, and many attractions for young ones.

Several Scottish monarchs have been crowned at Stirling, and its Royal Palace, including Mary Queen of Scots, was crowned here in 1543 when she inherited the throne.

You can also see amazing views out to the River Teith and the city centre on your visit. Your visit to Stirling is not complete without seeing this incredible landmark of Scottish Independence up close. Be sure to pick up a little piece of memorabilia from the gift shop once you’re done!

The National Wallace Monument

National Wallace Monument

Another treasure of Stirling is the Wallace Monument a grand stone tower which overlooks the city.

This beloved landmark stands tall on a hilltop and commemorates Sir William Wallace. Here, the thrilling story of this 13th-century hero comes to life.

Staff at the Wallace Monument are passionate and really know their stuff. If you’re not impressed by the monument’s history (which we think you will be), the views from the top of the tower will take your breath away.

Another absolute must-see out of all the great things to do in Stirling for couples and families, so don’t miss out!

David Stirling Memorial

David Stirling Memorial

A memorial to the founder of the Special Air Service, David Stirling.

David was a fascinating and inspirational Scottish officer who saw active service during the Second World War.

The memorial stands on a bit of high ground and offers utterly gorgeous views from its peak. It’s one of the top free things to do in Stirling.

Church of the Holy Rude

Church of the Holy Rude

This medieval parish church was founded in 1129, during the reign of David I.

It is the second oldest building in Stirling, right after the castle. The church is located next to the castle and has a long history of hosting royal coronations and baptisms.

The church is beautiful, with its old stones and jewel-coloured stained glass windows. It has a lot of character, and the architecture is really something to see.

If you want to learn more, the guides are knowledgeable and happy to help.

Out of all the things to do in Stirling, an afternoon spent here will be among the most pleasantly peaceful.

Old Stirling Bridge

Old Stirling Bridge

A lovely 15th-century bridge that arches over the River Forth.

Located near where William Wallace fought in the Battle of Stirling Bridge, it is easy to reach. The bridge is beautifully designed and, unsurprisingly, has been photographed often.

If you’re looking for an impressive backdrop to your own pictures, consider visiting Old Stirling Bridge.

Mar’s Wark

Mar’s Wark

This now-ruined Renaissance townhouse was probably a very beautiful building in its day.

500 years ago, the keeper of the castle – John Erskine, the Earl of Mar – and his family lived here.

Wark is a Scots word for work, which here also means building. The house is also known as ‘Mar’s Lodging’.

Robert the Bruce Statue

Robert the Bruce Statue

Located at the entrance to Stirling Castle, the iconic Scottish figure stands tall in bronze.

The statue overlooks the Wallace Monument, which stands off in the distance on Abbey Craig.

Get a great photo of the statue and the monument together and soak in the history they represent.

Beheading Stone

Beheading Stone

An ordinary-looking stone with a rather sinister past.

High up on a hill looking out on the River Forth is the Beheading Stone. Local legend tells the tale of the 15th-century beheadings carried out upon it.

If you find dark histories fascinating and don’t mind the climb up the hill, it’s well worth a visit.

Star Pyramid

Star Pyramid

This unusual landmark – built by William Drumond in 1863 – really stands out from the rest.

The Pyramid is dedicated to the people who suffered martyrdom for the cause of civil and religious liberty in Scotland.

The odd shape and dark stones of the monument draw the eye. If you’re wandering around near the castle consider taking a minute to see it.

Doune Castle

Doune Castle

This magnificent 14th-century courtyard castle invites people of all ages to get imaginative.

Discover the new nature trail on this castle’s grounds. Enjoy the audio tour of the castle, narrated by none other than Terry Jones of Monty Python.

The tour teaches you all about the castle’s history and its past residents. As well as great stories about the making of Monty Python and the Holy Grail – which was filmed at the castle.

If Monty Python isn’t enough to draw you in, the striking 100ft tall gatehouse just might. It includes the grand Lord’s Hall, which holds a musician’s gallery and a double fireplace.

Lots to see here! No wonder it’s a favourite on our list of great things to do in Stirling.



Dumyat is a hill at the western extremity of the Ochil Hills.

It may be relatively small in size, but Dumyat forms an important part of the scenery of Stirling.

It also overlooks such landmarks as the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle, which makes it a popular climb.

Dumyat has two principal summits: Dumyat proper to the East and Castle Law to the West. Both walks offer stunning views and a pleasant yet challenging climb to the top.

Dunblane Cathedral

Dunblane Cathedral

This gorgeous old cathedral is a patchwork quilt of architecture.

The lower half of the tower is pre-Romanesque and dates back to the 11th century. It was originally free-standing and had an upper section added in the 15th century.

The rest of the building is Gothic and from the 13th century. In 1889-93. It was restored by Rowand Anderson.

A must-see for anyone looking to admire some architecture.

Bannockburn House

Bannockburn House

This 17th-century house has remained largely unchanged, with the exception of a Victorian extension.

In 2017, the local community bought the house and surrounding grounds after over 50 years of dormancy.

The house is being repaired and conserved for the enjoyment of future generations. Passionate volunteers run a programme of tours, events and open days.

Gillies Hill

Gillies Hill

This hill may look like any other at first sight – but it is a significant historical location for Scotland.

Gillies Hill is the hill from which Robert the Bruce’s camp followers descended to join the battlefield in 1314.

These brave fighters – known as the Gillies – fought in the historic Battle of Bannockburn.

This iconic battle was the turning of the tide for Scotland. It was followed by nearly 400 years of Independence.

Truly a must-see for the Scottish history buffs.

Carron Glen

Carron Glen

There are lots of things to do in Stirling that bring you closer to nature. Carron Glen is a particularly beautiful one.

The lush native oak and ash woodland are located along a steep-sided gorge carved by the River Carron.

The branches are bursting with woodland birds. The clear-flowing river offers prime fishing for dippers and kingfishers. The views of the gorge and ancient woodlands are spectacular.

What’s not to love?

Alva Glen

Alva Glen

A hidden treasure of natural beauty.

The tranquil quiet, the scent of fresh air and earth, and the stunning views of the glen – it’s captivating.

Alva Glen is beautiful, lush, and very romantic.

A walk here is one of the loveliest things to do in Stirling together.

Blair Drummond Safari Park

Blair Drummond Safari Park

If you’re looking for somewhere to spend the whole day as a family, this is the place for you!

Blair Drummond Safari Park is a place close to many hearts and the site of countless great family days. The spectacular visitor attraction opened in 1970 and has delighted kids and kids at heart ever since.

The park is home to over 350 animals many of which wander freely including giraffes, lions, elephants, tigers and meerkats.

You can walk with free-roaming lemurs in Lemur Land and watch the fantastic sea lion and bird of prey shows. Then hop on the boat to Chip Island – all included in the price of the ticket!

It’s no wonder this is one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions. If you want even more natural wildlife, the Trossachs National Park is a gorgeous place to enjoy Scotland’s countryside.

Cambuskenneth Abbey

Cambuskenneth Abbey

Another fascinating historical site in Stirling is this ruined Augustinian monastery, located not far from the River Forth.

Largely reduced to its foundations, the abbey had a distinctly eerie atmosphere.

Royalty has been known to pray regularly at the abbey on its hay day, including Edward Longshanks and Robert the Bruce.

Cambuskenneth Abbey is the final resting place of King James III and his wife Margaret of Denmark. This couple’s union resulted in Orkney and Shetland becoming part of Scotland.

Stirling Old Town Jail

Stirling Old Town Jail

Take a trip back in time and learn about the sinister history of crime and punishment in the Royal Burgh of Stirling.

The incredible live performances that take place here are interactive and deeply spooky. Not surprising for one of Scotland’s most haunted cities.

The characters are a brilliant blend of terrifying and fascinating – with figures such as ‘The Happy Hangman’, murderers, martyrs and more.

If you can keep your nerve long enough to reach the top of the Observation Tower, stunning views await.

Without a doubt, one of my personal favourites out of all the great things to do in Stirling. History buffs and lovers of all things macabre will not be disappointed!

Kings Park

Kings Park

This gorgeous green space is just a short walk from the town centre.

The park has a great little play area for young kids and a skate park for the older kids. There are tennis courts, a charming cafe, and plenty of open space for a stroll or a picnic.

With the beautiful backdrop of the castle, Kings Park is a particularly romantic spot.

The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre

The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre

If you’ve ever wanted to follow the footsteps of Robert the Bruce and experience Medieval combat, then look no further than the Battle of Bannockburn Experience. This digital recreation of this historic battle is one of the most interesting things to do in Stirling, Scotland.

The experience allows you to experience how the two kings of the battle strategised and how the warriors and knights of the battle became embroiled in the conflict. Come and experience a crucial combat of Scottish history at its very heart.

While the Battle of Bannockburn is a thrilling endeavour, it’s not one we’d recommend for all the family.

Macrobert’s Arts Centre

Macrobert’s Arts Centre

This excellent multi-arts venue is situated in Stirling University’s main campus.

They offer a range of experiences and events. Including cinema, comedy, dance, exhibitions, music, opera, theatre and more.

This thriving arts centre is for everyone, so make sure to stop by on your visit to Stirling.

The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum

The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum

This is a budget-friendly and knowledge-packed day out. With free admission and a chance to explore the rich cultural history of Stirling.

This Victorian museum and art gallery is home to more than 40,000 objects and art pieces. They celebrate the people, heritage and culture of the city.

A truly impressive collection ranging from prehistoric whale bones to Roman pottery and much more.

Learn about great figures, including William Wallace, Bonnie Prince Charlie, King James VI, and Robert the Bruce. Dress up with the kids in costumes. Explore the wonderful garden and outdoor exhibits.

There’s plenty to see here!

Cambus Pools

Cambus Pools

This lush wetland reserve is located on the Inner Forth estuary in the surrounding countryside. The area of land may be small, but it is a vital habitat for local wildlife.

The grassland and clear open waters attract waders, warblers and wildfowl (oh my), as well as reed buntings.

The Cambus Pools also offer stunning views of the Upper Forth River and the Ochil Hills.

Of all the great things to do in Stirling for lovers of nature, this one is probably my favourite.

Plean Country Park

Plean Country Park

This beautiful parkland is located in the ground of the now-ruined Plean House.

Highly recommended for all those who like to wander. There are some enchanting trails, some which weave through the parkland and others which lead to treasures.

Treasures like an old house and stables, an adventure playground, ponds, and even some WW1 training trenches.

One of the trails leads to somewhere the locals have nicknamed Heart Attack Hill. The climb is a steep one so the hill is pretty aptly named. But it’s doable!

At one point, the forest opens up onto an open paddock where deer graze. If you can stay nice and quiet you can admire them from afar.

This beloved park is one of the most lovely and tranquil of all the things to do in Stirling on our list.

Kidz Town Role Play Centre

Fun for the kids that’s a little bit outside of the box.

Kidz Town is a children’s play town with 14 incredible role play locations. There’s a fire station, a police station, a hospital, an old town market and more.

Here, the kids can play while they learn. Let their imagination fly free.

There are also mermaid and pirate-themed party rooms and a lovely sensory room.

Plenty here to keep them occupied while you relax in the cafe.

AMF Bowling Stirling

Unwind and have a ball with family and friends at AMF Bowling Stirling.

The bowling lanes are fantastic, there’s food and drink to satisfy everyone and a thrilling amusement area.

The atmosphere is electric – you and your group will have a brilliant time here.

The Stirling Mystery Treasure Trail

These incredible themed trails are a perfect fun-filled family day out.

A Murder Mystery-themed walking tour/treasure trail around Stirling that’s guaranteed to keep you invested. It’s the perfect way to find out more about the fabulous city of Stirling.

The trail is around two miles long and takes about two hours to complete. But don’t worry, the trail can be done in your own time and at your own pace.

Opportunities to win some REAL treasure too! Each of the correct answers gets entered into the monthly draw. A £100 prize up for a draw!

Laigh Hill Park

Looking to get the kids out for a bit of fun and fresh air? You really can’t go wrong with Laigh Hill Park.

Laigh Hills is a sprawling park with a fantastic play area. It was all upgraded and refreshed in 2018, so everything is brand new.

Your little adventurers will love the multi-unit climber, springies, dutch disk, twisted slide, helter-skelter and swings. There’s even a little sand pit and a rope climber!

Keep them happy and get them nice and tired right here.

Jump N Joy Trampoline Park

Get the kids good and tired with all the airborne action at this stellar trampoline park!

With 35 performance trampolines and a Slam Dunk zone, your children will have heaps of high-flying fun at the Jump N Joy Trampoline Park. The team at Jump N Joy have put together an urban playground. Here, anything and everything is made to clamber over, jump on, climb and bounce off of.

Anyone with enough nerve is invited to try out the toughest challenge in the place: the Gladiator Beam. This is one of the best things to do in Stirling to make sure the kids are in bed nice and early!

Briarlands Farm

Fresh air and family fun are what’s on offer at Briarlands Farm, something in short supply if you’re used to exploring the bustling cities of Scotland.

At the Briarlands Farm, kids can pet and feed the animals, jump on the jumping pillows, and drive tractor go-karts. There’s also a zip wire and a maze!

Mini diggers and a sand bit for the littlest kids. Plus, in the strawberry season, the whole family can come together to collect the best strawberries.

Make the most of the great outdoors with a day trip to this fun-filled farm.

More Things to Do in Central & West Scotland

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