All you need to know before visiting Stirling Castle – our family review and top tips

All you need to know before visiting Stirling Castle – our family review and top tips

We review Stirling Castle in central Scotland to discover if it is a good day out for children

What is it?

Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s biggest and most famous castles. It was once home to Mary Queen of Scots and generations of royals.

Where is it?

In the centre of Stirling in central Scotland – midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh – it sits high on a hilltop, a steep walk from the city centre.

What did we think? 

This is a huge site with lots of nooks and crannies for children to explore.

Our children loved the castle walls, the various cannon battlements and exploring down staircases into random dungeons.

It is good for exploring but there are several formal sections which are great for children too.

Our highlights

*The Castle Exhibition – a good interactive section telling the history of Scottish kings and showing how skeletons discovered in the grounds were identified.

*The Palace Vaults – a series of rooms with animated games and hands-on fun. You can try on medieval clothes, learn about jester’s jokes and play ancient musical instruments. This section is very child-friendly.

*The Queen Anne Garden – a lovely formal garden with space to run around and sit, which has great views of the area.

*The Great Kitchens – discover the life of a cook and servant in the castle’s old kitchens. This is an entertaining area with a video and a recreation of the food on offer in the 16th century.

*The other areas are more adult-focussed but with huge historical value such as the Great Hall completed for King James IV in 1503.

Stirling Castle

In conclusion

This is a large, sprawling castle where children can really explore and embrace their imagination. 

Top tips

*There is an explorer quiz available for children to take round, which can keep them occupied even in the more adult-orientated areas

*There is a children’s tour every Saturday at 2pm for youngsters aged five to 12.

The view from Stirling Castle

The view from Stirling Castle

*Watch little ones closely around the castle walls, they are well signposted and fun to explore but there are some steep drops.

Stirling Castle information

Food: The Unicorn Cafe has a range of snacks and hot food with children’s portions. Children’s pick and mix boxes are also available. There is a lovely garden next door to eat outside.

Opening hours: 9.30am to 5pm in winter, 9.30am to 6pm in summer.

Cost: Adult £15, child (five to 15) £9, Under-fives free. Historic Scotland and English Heritage members free.

Best for: Ages four to 10

Time needed: Two to three hours

Access and restrictions: Free admission for carers, mobility vehicles available on site. Some areas not suitable for wheelchairs. The Access Gallery near the entrance allows those with mobility problems to discover the inaccessible parts of the castle.

Address: Castle Esplanade, Stirling FK8 1EJ

Have fun if you are visiting and let us know what you thought!