It's almost impossible to visit Stirling and not feel awed by the town's history. This truly is the heart of Scotland, where the Wars of Independence were fought and won. Ancient castles, medieval mansions and traditional distilleries share cobbled streets with high-fashion retailers and award-winning restaurants. And all this takes place within walking distance of the majestic River Forth. No wonder Stirling is considered one of Scotland's cultural epicentres.
Every trip to Stirling should start with a visit to the Old Town. With roots stretching back as far as the early 1100s, this area of the city is a mix of ancient architecture and modern living, peppered with some of Scotland's most majestic monuments.
Stirling Castle, a fifteen-minute walk north of the station, is a great place to start. The former home to Mary Queen of Scots has stood firm through several sieges, and was one of Scotland's most robust strongholds during the Wars of Independence. Now a tourist attraction, the castle still looks down proudly on the town below.
There's more to do in the Old Town than sightsee, however. The Stirling Arcade on Baker Street, just down the hill from the castle, is home to the majority of the town's independent shops and boutiques - it's the perfect place to shop for vintage bargains.
If all that history and shopping has left you with a thirst, pay a visit to the Curly Coo Bar on Barnton Street, just five minutes from the station. It's Stirling's only whisky bar, and home to over 120 malt whiskies, plus local craft ales and Scottish gin and cider.
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