Student Guide to Stirling
“Never let your schooling get in the way of your education.” That’s one of mighty Mark Twain’s many zingers, and while we always urge every student to work hard, we do agree that there is more to life than academia. And that is where our quick Stirling Student Survival Guide comes in.
A few minutes studying the guide can reap great results in things to see, do, eat, drink and otherwise enjoy – a lot of it at not much cost at all. Take time travelling, for example. Even the youngest fresher can easily relive centuries at three of this ancient city’s major attractions: at Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument and the Battle of Bannockburn Experience there are things you can do for free. Seen from the outside, at no cost, the Wallace Monument is supremely impressive and the views are memorable. At Bannockburn, again for nothing, you can get up close to Robert the Bruce’s statue and view the battlefield where Scottish history was resolutely forged in steel, blood and courage.
If you are into more of Stirling’s top attractions, the City Pass can save you quite a bit on a great selection of them, with discounted entry – up to 30% off – and bonuses such as fast track entry, free audio tours and more than £50 in discounts locally.
Another inexpensive key attraction has to be the Old Town Jail, where you can explore the murky, murderous malarkey of grimy crime and purgatorial punishment in the historic Royal Burgh. Hear gory, grim and gobsmacking tales of Stirling’s heroes and villains. Award-winning performance tours bring it all vividly to life, for £4.50 per student per full tour.
That’s before you get to the view from the Jail’s Observation Tower – genuinely sensational, the overview of the surrounding district helps you get your bearings and make more of your whole Stirling experience. Also free is a simple wander around the hundreds of leafy acres of Stirling University Campus, regarded as one of the most scenic in the world.
Another memorable free attraction is The Church of the Holy Rude., and you’ll be keeping esteemed company: Kings James IV and James VI were crowned here. The Smith Museum & Art Gallery is also free and is home to the world’s oldest football, along with Scottish history collections, fine art and archaeological artefacts.
The Allanwater Brewhouse in the nearby, picturesque town of Bridge of Allan is a working micro-brewery where you can meet the brewer and learn the secrets of making a traditional hand-brewed Scottish pint. Entry and samplings of Allanwater’s cask ales is free. Pubs are very much a personal choice, but popular local bars include the Curly Coo in Barnton Street, known for its 120 malt whiskies, and the Settle Inn in St Mary’s Wynd.
As the name suggests, the Kilted Kangaroo provides Australian culinary favourites with a Scottish slant – hop in for lunch or dinner at about £7 for most mains. The Gallery Restaurant at Forth Valley College is an enjoyable way to eat sophisticated food that your wallet will like too. All cooked by chefs in training, this makes for top-class economics at £10 for three courses. The Green Gates Indian is good for take-away dinner and you can sit in too. They also offer half portions, which when you add rice or a naan bread, is a filling meal for a reasonable price. For lighter meals The Ground House Coffee Company is perfect – you’ll find everything from nachos to pizzas and you can take advantage of free Wi-Fi while you eat.
The word ‘breakfast’ should be on every student’s lips every day and at just £2 for toast and beans and a refillable cuppa, City Walls’ brekkie is definitely worth a mention. If you prefer to eat on the move (also known as getting to your lecture on time) then a coffee and breakfast roll to go from Ciscos will hit the spot without hurting the purse.
At the end of the day though, everyone needs somewhere to rest their head. Stirling Youth Hostel is in the Old Town, offering 4-star budget accommodation with 92 beds in a range of multi-share and private rooms, all en-suite. Facilities include self-catering kitchen, dining room, two separate common areas and a meeting room for private use. This licensed youth hostel also offers meals to guests. The friendly Willy Wallace Hostel is an independent, family-run hostel with well-run budget accommodation close to the town’s train and bus stations. Twin and double rooms are available, as well as dormitories of various sizes.
Further budget accommodation options include a Camping/Caravan/Wigwam site at Mains Farm, or the student accommodation at Stirling University if you’re staying here outside term time.