Scotland Traveloholic

Rediscover Stirling With 10 Unusual Things To See And Do

The magnificent city of Stirling is mostly known from its fantastic castle which is the BIGGEST tourist attraction in the area, however, I would like to offer you more than you think.

This is our list of 10 unusual things to do and to see in Stirling. So get ready for spectacular views and outstanding ideas to spend the quality day in Stirling.

Nevertheless, when talking about Stirling, I must mention the castle! Stirling Castle is one of the greatest stone building in Scotland. This castle not only look grandiose outside but is also stunning inside!

The building was built around the 12th century on a rock that dominated the city, in the past guarding the easternmost bridge crossing over the Forth River, which crossed one of the main routes connecting the northern and southern parts of the country.

Over the years, the castle has passed from hand to hand in battles between England and Scotland.

The castle is magnificent and the story that accompanies it is remarkable. It is a place full of wonderful legends and myths. However, for the Scots, this is not just another castle of many that they have in their country but an important part of their struggle for independence and a symbol of national pride.

Anyone who visits Stirling must see this castle not only because it is the leading and most popular tourist attraction in Stirling but also to pay tribute to the extraordinary struggle of the Scots for their freedom which should be respected by every visitor to this place.

1. Visit The Sterling Smith Art Gallery and Museum

   When you are coming to Stirling, visit The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum is an absolute must if you would like to taste the feeling of an artistic flare. This beautiful place was formerly called The Smith Institute and created to honour the extraordinary Scottish artist Thomas Stuart Smith.

Nowadays the building not only functions as a museum, gallery and cultural centre of the Stirling area but also it is a place where you can sit down for a high tea or coffee and taste delicious cakes and sandwiches.

Moreover, a part of The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum is The Cunninghame Graham Library which is the only such library in the UK entirely dedicated to Scottish writer, politician, journalist and adventurer Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham.

A variety of attractions will surely keep you in this place for a good few hours. Furthermore, if you want to experience something other than beautiful exhibitions and literature, you can meet Oswald Clingan-Smith – a wonderful cat that in a certain way dominates this place.

So if someone says that visiting a museum is quite dull, it means that he or she has never been in The Sterling Smith Art Galery and Museum.

2. Explore the Bastion and Thieves Pot in Thistle Centre

When you think of the shopping centre, you probably imagine yourself a place with shops and food areas which is packed of people.

However what you say if I tell you that Thistle Centre in Stirling is not only the contemporary shopping mall but also a place where you can discover an exciting blood history of Sterling?

You may be surprised, I definitely was! I don’t know that anyone would like to experience the 16th-century jail underneath the shopping area. Nonetheless, in Stirling under the Thistle Shopping Centre, you can adventure the journey back in time.

The Bastion originates in the 1540s have a huge historical as well as architecture meaning to the people of Stirling.

This place has a circular structure and is a part of the larger formation hidden underneath the ground with a vast number of dark cells and corridors that which remind you of the dark history of crimes and punishments that were executed in this area.

The Bastion Jail and Thieves Pot was renovated at the beginning of 2018 and can now frighten you again with its gloomy history. This little museum really has its own unique atmosphere which is worth exploring. Oh, I need to add that is attractive is totally free of any charges!

3. Join walking tour at The Sruighlea Festival

The Sruighlea Festival is a fantastic Stirling’s Summers Festival which combines a lot of exciting attractions.

During one day you can take part of activities such as Foodie Fest with tremendous Scottish products, Highland Games with a battle of the Heavyweights as well as sports amusements such as Cycling, Athletics, Highland Dancing and many more.

This festival also has something for live music lovers with several concerts, shows and performances planned. You can choose some of those great attractions, however, I also left something unique to the end.

The incredible Heritage Tour is a walking tour that takes 1 hour and provides the unforgettable experience of the remarkable places in Stirling such as Ancient Old Town Cemetery, Stirling Castle and the National Wallace Monument.

However not only those place should persuade you to join this walking tour but also the remarkable stories which the guides can tell you and the glorious fact of this outstanding land in Scotland.

Walking tours are an excellent opportunity to gain a lot of interesting tales for free! It is an experience which you definitely cannot miss!

4. Run in the visitors’ race at the Stirling Highland Games

For those who prefer to run than walk, this activity will be a winner!

If you like to challenge yourself, you can try to win the visitors race which runs around the highland games track, or you can send your fussy buddy out of his or her comfort zone. It could be a great laugh!

There is never a dull moment in Stirling.

5. Walk over Stirling Bridge

To combine the sense of history with the fantastic views, I can offer you a visit to the Stirling Bridge. The walk over this great medieval stone bridge is an incredible experience itself.

It is one of the most significant crossing points in Scotland which traverse the River Forth.

I wouldn’t be myself as if I hadn’t added some information so I must mention that this bridge is 82 meters long, made of squared rubble formed in four semi-circular arches which are supported on three piers with triangular cut-waters.

However, the thing which I adore the most in it is the view. A view of the scenery surrounding the bridge will knock you off your feet. It is an amazing piece of history and nature.

6. Visit Cambuskenneth Abbey

Cambuskenneth Abbey was built on King David I command over eight hundred years ago which sound fascinating!

The unusual feature is that this building still looks fantastic maybe it is because the tower for ages served as a handy lookout over the Stirling Castle.

It is also a resting place of James III and Margaret of Denmark. Quite a nice bit of history is hidden behind this Abbey’s walls.

The view from the top of the bell tower is breathtaking, and the amazing ornamental arcades, as well as lacet window, are an outstanding example of the medieval architecture.

Abbey is open from April to last day of September.

7. Walk around Kings Park and end up at The Kings Knot gardens

If you like some outdoor beauties full of great facilities as well as history you should definitely take yourself for the nice walk around King Park and then end up at the Kings Knot gardens.

Photo by Edinburgh David

By visiting those two places, you can have great fun at the Tenis Courts of Kings Park or see the ancient part of the ground below Stirling Castle and discover the place where monarchs once partook in hunting.

Moreover, Kings Park is a fantastic place for kids, so if you have any you can let them loose and allow them to jump, climb, run and have a lot of fun! As a treat for adults, you can discover the history behind the circular features of King’s Knot.

Some say that the King’s Arthur’s round table could be hidden there or maybe not the literal table but the element of the King’s Arthurs stories.

Therefore I highly recommend the walk in those places, the number of interesting things to see and do there are huge!

8. Visit Cowanes Hospital and Church of the Holy Rude

Stirling is full of extraordinary buildings with a massive historical heritage which is significant to Scotland as well as to the United Kingdom.

Cowanes Hospital is a 17th-century building built with the money from the wealthy local merchant John Cowane. It is an almshouse located in the historic city of Stirling close to the Church of the Holy Rude.

I need to point out the interesting fact about the Church of the Holy Rude which is that this is the only church in the UK other than Westminster Abbey that has held a ceremony of coronation and is still standing today. The king who was crowned there was King James VI.

Cowanes Hospital, as well as Church of the Holy Rude, are fantastic places full of fascinating history.

Those places are worth to be discovered by you. However in case if you not a history fan you can still go to Cowanes Hospital which currently also serve as a nice and cosy coffee shop.

Moreover, the Church of the Holy Rude which name stands for Holy Cross beside its exquisite history is just a great place where you can admire beautiful stained-glass windows.

I think that this is an excellent site to which it is worth at least pop up for a moment.

9. Walk the Bannockburn Battle site

Some historic places where the big battles took place look very inconspicuous today, the beautiful lawn around the area where the Battle of Bannockburn took place does not arouse the fear that the participants of this remarkable event, so important in the history of Scotland, felt for sure.

Therefore, to be able to tell at least in part about the bloody battle, an extraordinary centre was created where visitors can using 3D visualisation, witness this great battle.

Photo by Joanna Paterson

If you don’t know anything about the history of this place and you’re not familiar with the Battle of Bannockburn, you at least should know that this battle is the one of great importance to the Scots.

It was one of a series of battles in the Scottish War of Independence that the Scots won.

This place is a massive part of the Scottish history and heritage, so I believe that exploring it is an absolute must while visiting Stirling.

10. Visit the National Wallace Monument

I don’t know why but whenever I look at this stunning monument I think of the Lord of the Rings. Do you remember the scene when Gandalf was trapped in the huge tower?

It seemed so similar to the Wallace Monument! However, this tower is dedicated not to Gandalf but to the great martyr Sir William Wallace and his fight for Scottish freedom.

William Wallace is called Scotland’s Braveheart due to his heroic acts.

The construction of the monument began in 1861, and the building was opened to the public in 1869. The 67.06-metre high tower stands at the highest peak of the Abbey Craig hill, 91.44 metres above sea level.

National Wallace Monument consists of four levels and halls such as The Hall of Arms, The Hall of Heroes, The Royal Chamber and the Crown.

It is a spectacular place not only because of the great history which its combines but also due to the breathtaking views from the top of the tower.

National Wallace Monument is a structure which is globally recognised as part of the Scottish landscape, not visiting this place during your stay in Stirling is simply disgraceful.

I hope that my list gives you some superb ideas which places are worth visiting and what to do while staying in Stirling.

I recommend you to come to Stirling for at least three days to have a chance to experience all of the magical places which this city has in its offer.

And if you have already been there, let me know if you love this city as much as I do for its extraordinary history, architecture and atmosphere.

I would love to read your opinion so please do share it with me.


2 comments

  • I loved the information you provided Alex. I can’t believe how much I missed seeing when I visited Stirling back in 2015. I will definitely have to return. Thanks. Del

    • I was the same, really! I remember my first visit to Stirling 10 years ago and it was far from this ideas haha!

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