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Right in the centre of Scotland, the city of Stirling is ideally located as a base from which to explore the stunning surrounding scenery. But first, check out the impressive array of sights the city has to offer. It's packed with historic attractions and bordered by postcard-worthy landscape and distant mountains at Loch Lomond. The city's filled with legends of battles and famous characters (William Wallace's story inspired the film Braveheart), as well as regal architecture and plenty of friendly pubs.
Hostels in Stirling are often found in unusual places, like an ornate Victorian house or one that overlooks the city from the grounds of Erskine Church. There's also a Stirling hostel inside a converted 19th-century church with original stained glass windows. You can expect quirky extras too, like an outdoor hot tub or a restaurant in a refurbished attic space serving home-cooked favourites. Most Stirling hostels have free Wi-Fi, shared kitchens and common rooms for socialising over a game on the Wii or PlayStation.
Stirling's centre is the old town, where most of its ancient architecture is found, such as the Old Town Jail, among the cosy pubs and cafés. Across the river to the east is the quaint village of Cambuskenneth, where a collection of white painted houses surround the historic Cambuskenneth Abbey. For a break from the city, head to the Kings Park district, which has open grassy parklands that were once used as royal hunting grounds.
To get your bearings, you can climb the town's cobbled streets to visit the iconic Royal Palace of Stirling Castle and take in panoramic views from the top of the National Wallace Monument's tower. This is also home to the legendary sword thought to have belonged to the well known patriot William Wallace. At the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre, you can learn about one of Scotland's most famous battles. Stop by the elegantly restored Victorian Stirling Arcade for shops and coffee.
Stirling's central location makes it easy to reach from both Edinburgh and Glasgow airports. Trains from Edinburgh take less than an hour and trains from Glasgow under 30 minutes. The city centre's easy to get around on foot and there's a good bus network, plus a tour bus linking all the key sights. There are also kilometres of cycle tracks, so you could hire a bike from the train station to explore.