Stirlingshire

Last updated:
Friday, 11 March 2022

Welcome to StirlingStirlingshire roof tops

Once the home of Scotland’s capital, the historic county of Stirlingshire has been the spot for some of history’s most remarkable battles and victories.

From its beautiful namesake city on the banks of the Firth of Forth to its stretches of countryside that are famously known as the gateway to the Highlands, any traveller would be amiss to skip this fantastic area of Scotland. Travelling through it won’t just give you a peek into centuries of history, but it’ll reveal a pocket of natural beauty and a historical city that’s easily accessible from Glasgow and Edinburgh – and something of a hidden gem for travellers.

Getting there

Wherever you might be, getting to Sterling is easier than you think. By train, Stirling is just 35 minutes from Glasgow and 50 minutes from Edinburgh, with direct services also running from Aberdeen and Inverness. These train services often cross some of Scotland’s most popular and exciting locations – only accessible by rail – so it’s worth exploring other stops you can make before you arrive in Stirling.

See & do in Stirlingshire

With such a storied history within its county lines, Stirling has plenty of things to see and do while you visit.

Come all ye, the country saysPlaces to visit in Stirlingshire

Walking distance from train station: approx 15 minutes.

Standing atop Mote Hill in the Royal Park that surrounds Sterling Castle, the Beheading Stone has a particularly gruesome history. Just a twenty-minute walk from the castle, it’s believed James I would send his enemies to be ‘taken care of’ at the stone – especially those who had committed treason against the King.

Walking distance from train station: approx 15 minutes.

One of Scotland’s largest and most historically significant castles, Stirling Castle has crowned and buried Kings and Queens and sits atop a steep hill. Dating back to the 15th century, the castle was sieged nearly eight times in its history, but is now one of Stirling’s most popular attractions, taking visitors back in time to the royal residence of Scotland’s monarchs.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 10 minutes.

This quaint shop in Stirling is one of the area’s leading sellers of traditional bagpipes. As well as handcrafted highland bagpipes, small pipes and border pipes, their collection of antique instruments attract buyers from across the world, with many famous pieces made by legendary craftsmen available in their shop.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 8 minutes.

If you wish it was Christmas every day – you’re not the only one. Tinsel and Tartan in the heart of Stirling sells Christmas souvenirs and décor, all handpicked by its owner Lyndsey. First opened in 2019 in the historic Athenaeum building, it’s the perfect place to pick up a festive Scottish bauble or a gift for your loved ones during the holiday season.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 40 minutes.

Bus: First Bus can take you closer to your destination.

Towering at one hundred feet tall, the mysterious Kelpies are the world’s largest set of equine sculptures. Overlooking the Forth and Clyde Canal, the Kelpies – who appeared as water spirits in Scottish folklore - were designed by Glaswegian artist Andy Scott, who captured the mythical beings in stainless steel.

Nearest Train Station: Falkirk Grahamston Railway Station.

Bus: First Bus can take you closer to your destination.

A once-grand stately home, only the ruins of Dunmore Park House remain – though carefully looked after and available for visitors to explore. Since falling into disrepair, the site has been used for everything from a WWII hospital to a film set. But its star attraction is The Pineapple, a uniquely shaped building with a roof moulded to look like the distinctive fruit – which was grown in Scotland as early as the 18th century.

Walking distance from train station: approx 22 minutes.

A homage to one of Scotland’s national heroes, the Wallace Monument proudly overlooks the battleground where William Wallace successfully led troops in the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Standing at 67m tall, intrepid visitors can climb the 246 steps up the tower to the observation deck, where the view over Stirlingshire stretches for miles.

Walking distance from train station: approx 20 minutes.

Sitting in the shadows of Stirling Castle, Cambuskenneth Abbey is the final resting place of King James III and his wife. Built in 1140 by King David I, the abbey became the location for Robert the Bruce’s parliaments. Its bell tower is unlike any other across Europe and a particular highlight of any visit to the abbey.

Walking distance from train station: approx 20 minutes.

Bus: First Bus can take you closer to your destination.

An award-winning immersive experience that will take you back to the Battle of Bannockburn, this digitally created experience will put you right in the heart of battle. Led by Robert the Bruce, whose statue stands outside, you’ll learn about the people who not only fought in the battle – but were key parts of the fight for Scottish Independence.

Bus: First Bus and Bay Travel can take you closer to your destination.

First built in 1908, this peaceful oasis is considered the only one of its kind designed by a woman – Japanese architect Taki Handa. Crossing several acres of Cowden Castle, it is still considered one of the most important gardens in the West, with a Japanese influenced landscape surrounding a small loch.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 50 minutes.

Bus: First Bus can take you closer to your destination.

A distinctive piece of working architecture, the Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat-lift built where the Union Canal and Forth Canal meet. The only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, it was first opened in 2002 following decades of design and discussion and has a specially built visitor centre for the architecturally curious to discover just how this feat of engineering was made.

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Just eight miles from Stirling is the historic Deanston Distillery. Born out of an old cotton mill in the 1960s, the distillery’s enviable location alongside the River Teith – whose water is one of the core ingredients of their whisky – their doors are open for tours of the factory and regular tasting sessions of their signature blends.

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Taxi: approx 35 minute drive.

Running east of the Finnich Bridge and dropping nearly 70ft deep, Finnich Glen was carved from red sandstone by the Carnock Burn. Not only is it a popular spot for lovers of the TV show ‘Outlander’ – who used it as a filming location – but it’s also home to a circular rock known to locals as the Devil’s Pulpit.

Walking distance from train station: approx 3 minutes.

Opened in 2017, The Scottish Gantry aim to bring you the best drink you’ll ever have. Thanks to their team of experts and a large selection of wines and spirits sourced from all over Scotland, they offer over 100 sampling bottles for visitors to try. If anyone can help you find your new favourite tipple – it’s these guys.

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Championing incredible local produce, this farm shop is a food hub for the local community. Here, you’ll find local meat specially prepared by the on-site butchers, fresh bread, fruit and vegetables, locally made cheeses, cakes and pastries – and so much more. They source locally wherever they can, so you know whatever you’re buying is celebrating the producers and craftspeople nearby.

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Stirling is both historical and contemporaryAn unmissable part of the country

Eat & drink in Stirlingshire

With a thriving foodie scene – especially in the city – Stirlingshire has plenty of diverse, delicious spots to find something to eat.

Delicious freshly baked breadFabulous local products to buy

Walking distance from train station: approx 5 minutes.

Established in 2017, Bob & Berts has locations all over Northern Ireland and Scotland – and its spot in Stirling is hugely popular. Alongside their varied menu of dishes inspired by the UK and USA, their highlight is perhaps their coffee – whose beans are all roasted in Northern Ireland and selected by their expert team.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 5 minutes.

A cosy spot on King Street, Victoria’s Coffee Shop has been voted Stirling’s Best Coffee Shop three years running and is one of the city’s most beloved spots. Opened in 2000 by a mother-daughter team, all of the cakes are homemade, the coffee beans specially sourced – and famous lentil soup still made from the same recipe that was used 22 years ago.

Walking distance from train station: approx 8 minutes.

One of Stirling’s most popular Asian restaurants, Bite East is a Japanese and Asian Fusion restaurant whose focus on bringing traditional, delicious dishes to Stirling has kept customers coming back time and again. Whatever your experience with dishes from Japan and China, their extensive menu of hand-prepared dishes will always give you something new to try.

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Bus: First Bus can take you closer to your destination.

If you’re visiting the famous Kelpies or the Falkirk Wheel, you’ll want to stop into The Shore, a charming restaurant that promises good food, good service and a good atmosphere to dine in. Serving both traditional Scottish dishes and international meals, The Shore is perfect for every meal – from casual brunch to romantic dinner.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 5 minutes.

King Street has a small slice of Italy with Caffee Pompei, a charming spot that serves its coffee Italian-style. The Winner of Best Regional Café at the 2021 Scottish Business Awards, it offers a tempting collection of cakes and pastries, as well as sandwiches, paninis and daily changing specials.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 5 minutes.

A 2021 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice, Mint is perhaps best known for its incredible desserts and breakfasts. Having graced many an Instagram feed, this spot in Stirling’s Old Town, near the castle, offers gorgeously presented dishes and are particularly famous for their crepes and waffles.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 5 minutes.

Having spent ten months exploring the coffee bean producing regions of South America, the team at Unorthadox Roasters would contend they know a little about good coffee. At their cafe on Friars Street in the Old Town, they serve not only their namesake brewed coffee but a menu of sweet treats that are exclusive to Stirling.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 10 minutes.

Darnley Coffee House is located at the very top of the town – and one of its most popular cafés. Their relaxed, casual atmosphere is matched by a variety of dishes and drinks that have all been homemade. Darnley’s is perhaps best known for their homemade soups, which are well worth tackling the hill for.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 15 minutes.

Just steps from the National Wallace Monument, this cosy café proudly serves Scottish dishes to the visitors who make the trek up. Whatever time of the day you visit this Stirling landmark, Legends have something delicious to try – from homemade cakes to sandwiches to a hot bacon bap to start your day.

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Bus: First Bus can take you closer to your destination.

Serving delicious, fresh and local food, the Mhor Bread and Store is a café and speciality shop focusing on celebrating their own produce – and the producers around them. Everything in their café is made with their own eggs and bread, and you won’t want to miss out on one of their award-winning pies either.

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Bus: First Bus can take you closer to your destination.

A family-run spot in the Ochil Hills, overlooked by the Wallace Monument, the Hollybank Blairmains Farm Shop was one of the first farm shops in Scotland. Selling an array of Scottish produce from the local area, they also have a Coffee Bothy on-site, selling cakes, sandwiches and an ever-changing selection of soups.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 5 minutes.

Scotland is one of the UK’s great lovers of Indian food – and Stirling’s own Indian Cottage was the first restaurant to introduce Punjabi cuisine to the region. A popular spot among Stirling’s restaurant scene, their menu of traditional dishes with contemporary twists have made the city a top contender for the curry capital of Scotland.

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Stay in Stirlingshire

With plenty to explore across the region, some of Scotland’s best accommodation can be found in the hills and storied streets of Stirlingshire.

The Portcullis Hotel, StirlingshireThe Golden Lion, Stirlingshire

Walking distance from train station: approx 15 minutes.

Set just steps away from Stirling Castle at the top of the hill, The Portcullis was built inside a former boy’s school from the 18th century. Retaining much of the building’s original features, the hotel offers comfortable bedrooms with an unrivalled view over the Stirlingshire countryside right from your window.

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Walking distance from train station: approx 5 minutes.

Having welcomed guests for over 200 years, The Golden Lion has been visited by royalty and Scottish royalty Robert Burns alike. Now a contemporary, comfortable hotel in the city centre, the hotel is watched over by a Golden Lion statue that sits outside, protecting those inside from the wiles of the world.

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Nearest Train Station: Dunblane Railway Station.

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An elegant Victorian mansion has been transformed and renovated into a luxurious hotel by none other than Dunblane’s very own Andy Murray. Opened in 2014, the world champion tennis player’s hotel is set in over twenty acres of tranquil woodland with a house loch and a Chez Roux restaurant, watched over by renowned chef Michel Roux Jr.

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Nearest Train Station: Gleneagles Railway Station.

A five-star playground for golfers, walkers and anyone who wants to relax, Gleneagles is a sprawling country estate fit for a King. 205 bedrooms and 28 suites welcome you to the height of luxury, alongside ten separate restaurants – and several world-class golf courses; some of the best you’ll find outside of Fife.

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Extra time

If you find yourself stuck for a longer trip, but still want to make the most of your time in Stirlingshire, the area has two excellent day trips that thousands of visitors take each year.

Constructed in the 14th century, this fortified castle towers over the countryside at over 100ft tall – and carries with it one of the best-preserved great halls in all of Scotland. Believed to have been built – and promptly damaged – around the Scottish Wars of Independence, the castle had been left to deteriorate until an intrepid group of volunteers restored it for visitors. It’s also been a popular spot for film crews – not only have Game of Thrones and Outlander filmed here but the castle was prominently featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

More than 300 animals from across the world call this part of Stirlingshire home. Spread across a 160-acre estate in the countryside, the Blair Drummond Safari Park has plenty to see and do. Enter your very own Jurassic Park and see life-sized dinosaurs come to life. Or drive through the spaces where Blair Drummond’s African Lions keep their homes, as well as cheeky monkeys, rhinos and antelopes. Plus, dozens of animals to see being well taken care of – anteater to zebra.

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