Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most impressive castles in Scotland, found atop Castle Hill in Stirling. Visitors can step back in time and explore the Castle grounds, the Royal Court, and walk in the footsteps of knights, nobles, and foreign ambassadors.
Here’s a complete guide with information about Stirling Castle for visitors, including entrance fees, tickets, opening hours, history as well as photos and useful info before your visit.
Stirling Castle entrance fee
|Ticket Type||Gate Price||Online Price|
|Adult (16-59 years)||£16||£15|
|Child (5-15 years)||£9.60||£9|
|Concession (60 years +)||£12.80||£12|
*Note that admission prices are subject to change.
Ticket Info & Opening Hours
Stirling Castle tickets are valid for the specified entry time you’ve chosen and visitors must arrive during the window of time given and can stay until closing.
To guarantee entry on a specific day, tickets must be booked online in advance and those who do so will enjoy a discounted price.
The castle opens daily (see below exemptions*) at 9:30 am. However, the closing time varies depending on the season. See below for the winter and summer hours:
Summer Opening Hours
- 1st April – 30th September: Closing 6pm (last entry at 5:15pm)
Winter Opening Hours
- 1st October – 31st March: Closing 5pm (last entry at 4:15pm)
*The castle is closed on the 25th and 26th of December and has restricted opening hours on January 1st (11 am – 5 pm).
History & more information
Stirling Castle and its refurbished Royal Palace is the former childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots and one of the most important stone structures in the country. Set high above the former capital of Scotland, the castle boasts three steep sides and enjoys a strong defensive position atop a crag.
The castle is one of the few in the country that hasn’t had a constant occupancy over the years, which worked to King Edward’s benefit when he invaded Scotland in 1296 and found it empty.
Back in the 16th century, knights, nobles, and ambassadors once flocked to the castle to enjoy lavish celebrations including christenings and coronations. Today you can explore the castle at your leisure and meet the costumed characters, court officials, and servants who roam the grounds and take you back into the 16th century.
Visitors are invited to explore three main enclosures that have been recreated and adapted to reflect how it would originally have looked when Scottish King’s walked the halls.
Make sure you stand in the Great Hall (the largest medieval banqueting hall ever built in Scotland), admire the ornate facades of the Royal Palace, and view the medieval tapestries in the Queen’s Lodgings.
Points of Interest
The Great Hall
The Great Hall was built for James IV around 1503.
The Royal Palace
Experience the astonishing richness of royal life in the 1500s.
The Great Kitchens
Rub shoulders with the busy kitchen staff preparing for a banquet.
Queen Anne Gardens
Beautiful gardens on the south side of the castle.
The Stirling Tapestries
Impressive tapestries based on Reinassance work.
The Palace Vaults
Interactive exhibitions beneath the palace.
The Royal Chapel
The last royal building to be built at Stirling Castle.
How to get to Stirling Castle
The closest train station to Stirling Castle is found close to the city center on Goosecroft Road. From here, the castle can be reached on foot in 20-minutes, by bus in 15 minutes, and by taxi in 10-minutes.
From Stirling Station, exit the train station and walk 3-minutes to Stance F. Board the P2 bus and alight at Bow Street. From here the Castle is just a 7-minute walk away.
Parking on Stirling Castle esplanade is currently restricted and often reaches capacity quickly. Those planning on visiting on the weekend, or in the afternoon, you might want to find alternative car parks in the town center. Forthside Way Car Park offers £2 for a day of parking and can be found at FK8 1QZ.
Park and Ride
Castleview Park and Ride is open Monday – Saturday and visitors can leave their cars here and take the bus to the castle. You’ll be dropped off at Broad Street and from here it’s just a short walk to the castle.
There are bicycle racks at the castle.
As the castle is found in Stirling’s city center, there’s a handful of attractions, restaurants, and cafes close by including:
- The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum
- The National Wallace Monument
- Stirling Old Town Jail
- The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre
- Church of the Holy Rude
- Cisco’s Cafe
- The Greengrocer & Cafe
- The Ground House Coffee Company
- Napizza Stirling
- Brea Restaurant
- The Gallery Restaurant
Best time to visit
While it is usually quite a busy attraction, especially at weekends and during school holidays, you can still avoid the crowds if you time your visit right. The best time to visit Stirling Castle is when the doors open, and in the late afternoon, an hour or two before closing.
Facts about Stirling Castle
- Mary Queen of Scots spent much of her life here.
- Stirling Castle was abandoned for many years.
- The parade ground outside the castle has been used as an open-air concert venue over the years and artists including R.E.M and Bob Dylan have performed here.
- In 1507, the very first record of an attempted flight took place on the castle walls.
- In 1314 The Battle of Bannockburn took place very close to the walls of Stirling Castle. In this conflict, the Scots led by Robert the Bruce defeated Edward II’s army and eventually captured the castle.
- The War Office owned the castle from 1800 until 1964. It was used as a barracks. The Great Hall became an accommodation block and the Royal Palace became the Officer’s Mess.
- The castle is visited by more than 300,000 people every year.
- Stirling Castle was used to representing the outside of Colditz Castle in the ColditzTV series.
- After the Battle of Bannockburn, King Robert the Bruce regained control of the castle and destroyed all the defenses so that it could never be used against his efforts again.
- The oldest football in the world was discovered in the chamber of Mary, Queen of Scots. It was hidden behind paneling and nobody knows how it got there.
FAQ’s (Things to know before you go)
How long do you need at Stirling Castle?
Allow yourself from one hour (enough time to quickly view all the main highlights) to three hours (to discover the site at a regular pace).
Is there parking at Stirling Castle?
Parking on Stirling Castle esplanade is currently restricted and often reaches capacity quickly. Allow plenty of time to park, and consider using alternative parking options.
Are dogs allowed inside the Stirling Castle?
Assistance dogs are permitted in certain parts of the castle. It’s best to ring ahead before booking to check what you can and can’t access.
Does it cost money to enter the gardens of the castle?
Once you’ve paid entry to the castle, you are free to explore the gardens at no extra cost.
Can I book online?
Yes, tickets can also be purchased from the ticket office during castle opening hours.
How do I get my Stirling Castle tickets?
Tickets can either be printed at home from your confirmation email or opt to collect your ticket from the Ticket Office on the day.
Are there any dungeons in Stirling Castle?
There are dungeons and underground vaults at the castle, which are open for visitors.
Do you have more questions before visiting Stirling Castle in Scotland? Leave a comment below!