5 TIPS for visiting Stirling Castle, Scotland
Out of all the castles we visited on our road trip around Scotland, Stirling Castle stands at the top of the list for being one of the favorites. We are so glad that on our way to The Highlands we stopped in Stirling to tour the castle! We arrived in the early afternoon to see this castle sitting atop what is known as Castle Hill, surrounded by tall cliffs on three sides. We spent some time viewing it from the road down below where the highland cows were roaming in the field before making the drive to the top.
Sarek walking into Stirling Castle.
The Official Map of the castle premise.
The Queen Anne Gardens: There may have been a royal garden here since the 1400s and the flat lawn was turned into a bowling green in the 1620s. Beech tree in the gardens is over 200 years old.
The view from the wall at the back of the gardens.
Once you've entered the castle through the main gate, it's located through the next archway and to the left.
We learned that, it's strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification from the earliest times. Castle buildings are dated from the 14th - 18th centuries and several Scottish Kings and Queens were crowned at Stirling as it used to also be a royal residence.
The French Spur:
The Great Hall: A magnificent banqueting hall is the largest of its kind ever built in Scotland and was used for feasts, dances and pageants. Completed for James IV in 1503 it has four pairs of tall windows at the dais end, where the king and queen sat, and was heated by five large fireplaces. The exterior walls are a distinctive colour, rendered in Royal Gold harling, as they would have been in the 1500s.
Stirling Castle was the key to the kingdom of Scotland, dominating a vast volcanic rock above the river Forth at the meeting point between Lowlands and Highlands.In times of peace Scottish royalty came to Stirling to enjoy its comforts, the superb hunting and to hold court, the castle was often the center of government. Later it became an important military base and eventually home to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Stirling Castle. Compared to the large crowds at Edinburgh Castle, we were pleasantly surprised by the whole experience of Stirling Castle and could have spent even more time here than the two hours we did.
5 TIPS for visiting Stirling Castle
1) Arrive in the early afternoon or mid-afternoon to enjoy the castle premise as it tends to be less crowded. The mornings and opening times tend to be very busy and the parking lot may fill. We came later and got a parking spot right out front. After the large crowds at Edinburgh Castle we welcomed the castle being much less crowded at Stirling at that time of day.
2) On a nice summers day you will see a Scotland Ice Cream truck on the property, a great place to enjoy a treat! They have a great big lawn space and wall with views into Stirling, pack or bring a lunch or picnic on the wall before exploring the castle.
3) Go into The Queen Anne Gardens (A peaceful and pretty garden on the sunny south side of the castle) and walk all the way to the back wall behind the large tree, it is there you will see one of the best views of the lands from a high look out point.
4) If you are going to be visiting at least 3 castles, you should opt to purchase The Explorer pass at the castle. We found out about the pass after we had already visited two other castles, but this pass will help save $ and it's a cost effective way to see more sites.
5) They offer a Great FREE Tour to learn about the castle. Ask when you purchase your tickets for the next tour meet location.
• 15 £ GBP per person for tickets.
• Tickets are valid all day from 9:30am.
• Last entry is 45 minutes before closing.Closing time varies seasonally.
• Address: Address: Stirling Castle, Castle Esplanade, Stirling, FK8 1EJ
• Tel: +44 (0)1786 450 000