Yesterday we visited the famed Stirling Castle and had the first opportunity to use our Historical Sites Membership card so entry was free, or included in the cost of the pass. There are a number of ways to save money on entrance into the historical sites, the best option depends on your travel scenario.
How to save money on Historical Site Entrance Fees;
Entrance to Stirling is £14.50 per adult, Edinburgh Castle is £16.50…so if you plan to visit more than three sites the costs can add up quickly and a pass starts to make sense. We opted for the Historical Scotland Membership Pass at £49.50 per adult. You can purchase it at most of the larger historical sites, we got ours in Glasgow at the Glasgow Cathedral or you could pick it up at Stirling or Edinburgh Castles. This pass offers unlimited, multiple entrance to over 70 historical sites in Scotland, over 400 events, includes many sites in England, 20% off at the gift shops and 10% off at the cafes. Being that we are here for 6 weeks and then plan to spend some time in England we will get to visit a number of sites and hope the investment will pay off but there are other options.
Another option is the Explorer pass (3 days of usage within 5) for £30.00 or (5 days usage within 7) for £40.00 which again can be purchased at any of the sites. The few downfalls are this pass provides only single entrance to each site and once activated expires in either of the 5 or 7 days with only 3 or 5 days of usage. If you plan to see a lot of sites in a short period of time (3 or more) this pass makes sense, otherwise just stick with the single entrance fees. If you have a longer tour as we do then purchase the one-time annual membership and visit many sites, for residents they can sign up for monthly payments on an annual pass that renews each year at a 5% discount as indicated by the different fee structures.
Now off to the Castle…….
which is located in Stirling and is one of the largest and most important historical castles in Scotland. The Castle sits on a steep hill top, apparently a long dormant volcano that made it difficult to penetrate by being surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs. Its strategically located on the River Forth and building began as far back as the 14th century with subsequent expansions over the centuries. Several Kings and Queens where crowned here including Mary Queen of Scots who was crowned shortly after her father King James V died six days after her birth, her mother was Queen Mary of Guise. The castle has seen many battles, at least eight sieges including several during the wars of Scottish Independence and last when Bonnie Prince Charlie made an unsuccessful attempt to take the castle. You can easily Google for more historical information on the castle and surrounding area. As you tour the grounds you’ll be taken back in time where you can imagine daily life within the castle walls, if only these walls could talk…but with the exhibits they sort of do!
Plan for at least a few hours here and maybe another hour to wander the village below; Argyll’s Lodging, The Holy Rude, the cemetery and the old hospital. You could pack a picnic lunch, have lunch at one of the restaurants or cafes in the village or lunch at the castle cafeteria-it’s a bit expensive but good and remember to use your pass for 10% off!
I forgot to mention parking-it’s limited and they charge £4, we parked below the castle walls and took a 15 min path through the park to the front gate which I’d recommend. The castle is easy to reach by other means, click here for options and information.
For more pics of the castle, click here.