Stirling Castle doesn’t get as much attention as Edinburgh Castle, but after visiting both, I have to say that I really enjoyed my visit to Stirling Castle more. First off all, it is one of the largest castles in Scotland with a very colorful history, but without the touristy crowds of Edinburgh Castle. In fact, Mary Queen of Scots was crowned at Stirling Castle in 1542. It is also the site of the 1297 Battle of Stirling Bridge, where William Wallace took back Stirling Castle from King Edward in a bloody battle. A year later King Edward gained control of the castle again, but it wasn’t long before he was pushed out by King Robert the Bruce (my ancestor) in 1299. There was no rest for Stirling Castle, the sieges continued from years to come.
Now, the only sieges are by tourist, eager to get their hands on some history. I am one of them! Stirling Castle did not disappoint! It was gorgeous, reasonable and easy to maneuver around with kids (and Papa).
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It was an easy 30 minute train ride to Stirling from Glasgow Queen Station. You can read more about our railway journeys through Scotland, HERE. To make things even easier, buy your train tickets in advance. Get ticket here.
Money Saving Tips
Tickets are very reasonable. Thankfully, my kids were still under 5 at the time of the visit, so it was even cheaper. See? Traveling with small kids does have it’s benefits.
- Adults (16-59) 14.50 GBP
- Children (5-15) 8.70 GBP
- Concession (60 & over): 11.60 GBP
- Kids under 5 are FREE!
These tickets also gives you access to Argyll’s Lodging Tour, which is open from 1:00pm-4:00pm daily.
Explorer Pass is the way to go if you are planning on visiting more than one Scottish castle or historical property. Not only does The Explorer Pass reduce the ticket prices it also gives you access to various selections of the 78 Historic Scotland paid properties and their daytime events, depending on the pass you choose. The Explorer Pass also allows you to avoid the long queues into the castles. In addition, you will receive a souvenir passport to document all your adventures as well as 20% off audio guides at Edinburgh Castle. Get Your Pass!
Fun Things to do at Stirling Castle with Kids
When you first approach the castle you are immediately greeted with the amazing Robert the Bruce monument, standing nobly in front of the castle. Get a little closer and notice that the Robert the Bruce Monument is overlooking the William Wallace Monument and the site of the famous Battle of Stirling Bridge.
Exploring the castle is breathtaking. The grounds are gorgeous! I could have stayed there all day. Seeing Queen Mary of Scot’s childhood bedroom was a highlight. I imagined her playing as a little girl, not knowing what heaviness her future would hold. As a mother, it made me sad to think of such weight and danger on my children. I learned so much and gain so much respect for Queen Mary of Scot’s mother, Mary of Guise.
Kid-Friendly Stirling Castle Activities
At Stirling Castle there is a whole section devoted to kids with interactive activities for the kids to play and explore. Some castles can get boring for little kids, because they can’t appreciate the history and touring decorated room after room is…YAWN. But, at Stirling Castle kids are encouraged to learn about daily life at the castle through activities and games. My kids had a blast at Stirling Castle!
Ghosts!! Most places in Scotland claim to be haunted, especially the castles. I don’t doubt it, but it is really something to see it yourself! Check out this photo I snapped at Stirling Castle. Do you see what I see???
Just steps from Stirling Castle, is the Church of Scotland, with an old cemetery to explore. If you have read my post HotMama Diaries: Scotland (HERE), you can read about how we lost Grams in the cemetery. Spooky.
Next to the church is an old hospital, which is now a coffee shop and the old Bowling Green that my kids enjoyed playing on until it rained again.
Argyll’s Lodging tour is included with your ticket to Stirling Castle. It was awesome! Castles can feel a little depressing after awhile, but Argyll’s Lodging was absolutely pleasant. I could totally see myself living here! Hello, Christmas Party!!!
Where to stay near Stirling Castle:
Stirling Castle was only a 30 minute train for us in Glasgow, so it is not necessary to stay in Stirling to visit the Castle. However, if you do want to stay in Stirling, I recommend The Stirling Highland Hotel and The Portcullis. Both hotels are walking distance from the castle, which is really nice. Check rates and availability.
The town of Stirling is much smaller than that of Edinburgh, which I liked. It made it more manageable. Finding a restaurant was not difficult either. There were a few really nice places walking distance from the castle, but nothing beat the convenience of The Portcullis. Built in 1787, it was originally a school for boys and where King James VI was educated! It was the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a delicious and reasonable lunch after an exhilarating day of castle exploring.
Where to Grab a Pint
Uhm whisky and beer of course!!!
Stirling Castle was an amazing experience and one I’m glad I didn’t pass up on. Everyone is always raving about Edinburgh Castle, but I have to honestly say that we enjoyed Stirling Castle much more. It is reasonably priced, less crowded and easier to explore with kids. If you want an amazing castle experience I would go to Stirling Castle first! You won’t be disappointed!
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Have you ever been to Stirling Castle? What did you think?
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