For anyone interested in Scottish history, a visit to the National Wallace Monument is a must. Located in the historic city of Stirling, the memorial is dedicated to one of Scotland’s most famous heroes, William Wallace. Visitors to the monument will learn all about Wallace’s life, including the famous at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. If you are a history buff like me, here are a 5 Simple Tips for Visiting the National Wallace Monument to help you make the most of your visit!
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The National Wallace Monument is located in Stirling, Scotland, in the United Kingdom about an hour drive northeast of Edinburgh. Built in the mid-19th Century, on Abbey Craig, a hill on the outskirts of Stirling, the monument an homage to national hero William Wallace. Wallace was a Scottish knight who led a resistance against the English occupation of Scotland in the late 13th century. Hollywood captured Wallace’s story in the 1995 film Braveheart.
The monument is open year-round. For the most up-to-date information, including hours, admission prices, and special events, visit the website. Also, there is a coffee house and gift shop at the monument. For more information about the coffee house, including menus and hours, visit the Legends at the Monument website.
Where is Buddy?
I visited the National Wallace Monument with Sal on our road trip to the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands. It was the first, of two stops on this very scenic drive. The other stop was at a scenic point along the highway.
Unfortunately, Buddy did not visit the National Wallace Monument during his choir’s trip to Scotland. In fact, while we went north to visit the Scottish Highlands, Buddy and his choir traveled south to perform in venues in England and Wales. However, Buddy and his choir did take a Scottish Highlands tour from Edinburgh to Glencoe and Loch Ness. He took a Loch Ness cruise and got to see the famous highland cows!
So, this post will not share a teenager’s perspective about the monument. However, I will say that I think he would have liked some of the exhibits, like the hands-on design your own coat of arms display. However, I think he would have been less enthusiastic about William Wallace given that he did not grow up with the movie.
5 Simple Tips for Visiting the National Wallace Monument
1. You can walk up the hill, or not
When you arrive at the car park (or parking lot) of the National Wallace Monument, there are two ways that you can get up to the monument on the top of Abbey Craig. The first is to take a small shuttle bus from the car park to the top of the hill. The second is to walk up the hill.
Pro tip: There is free parking at the Wallace Monument!
Given that we were going to be sitting in a car for the next 5 hours on a road trip to the Isle of Skye, we opted to walk. We took the yellow hiking path, The Wallace Way, which was quite a climb! Lined by cute wood carvings, the path was cute! I enjoyed stopping at the wood carvings to catch my breath and take some pictures.
In addition to The Wallace Way, there are two other walking paths that take you to the top of Abbey Craig, The Stirling Trail (color coded red) and The Abbey Trail (color coded blue). These paths went around, stopping at several viewpoints. We chose The Wallace Way because we were pressed for time and the other paths took longer. If we had more time, we would have opted for The Abbey Trail so we could experience both the Stirling and the Ochils Viewpoints.
2. Be prepared to climb a lot of stairs
Once you get up Abbey Craig, you may think your climb is over. It is not! To access the National Wallace Monument’s three exhibition galleries, visitors need to ascend a 246-step spiral staircase. And it is a lot of steps!
The trek up is divided into different platforms where the galleries are located. If you feel winded, you can stop at each level and explore the galleries. The staircase is quite narrow. So, if you are claustrophobic or if climbing stairs is not your thing, this site may not be for you.
While we were already a bit winded from the trek up Abbey Craig, we did not mind the spiral staircase. In fact, I found the staircase a bit more spacious, and the steps more evenly spaced, than other stone staircases than we have climbed in Europe. It was also fun to emerge from the staircase into the galleries on the way up.
3. Be prepared to take photos
The top of the National Wallace Monument is The Crown. This is the top level of the building that features a platform with stunning architecture. Even more stunning are the views 360-degree panoramic and stunning views of the land of the Forth Valley below. There are signs throughout The Crown explaining where some of Scotland’s famous battles took place, such as the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
My favorite part of the National Wallace Monument was The Crown where I could admire up close the Wallace Monument’s Victorian Gothic Style. Equally stunned by the architecture and the landscape, I could have stayed there for hours taking in the breathtaking views. The view from the top is absolutely beautiful.
4. How much time do you need to visit the Wallace Monument
Visitors to the National Wallace Monument could spend at least a half day exploring the site A half a day trip would allow for time to explore the various trails and take in the exhibitions at leisure.
When we visited, we arrived at 10:15am and stayed until around noon. We started out our adventure slowly, taking in the video at the Hall of Arms and the Wallace Sword – yes, William Wallace’s sword!
As time went on, and we realized that we needed to get back on the road. So, we moved faster through the Royal Chamber. I know that Sal felt rushed in that gallery. And I would have liked to spend more time on the Crown. A half day would have been perfect for us.
Visiting the Wallace Monument would be a good activity to pair with a trip to Stirling Castle. We did not get a chance to visit Stirling Castle as we were on a road trip and pressed for time. But on our next trip, we will make sure to plan to visit Stirling Castle as well!
5. When to visit
In general, most travelers say that the best time to visit the monument is during the summer months when the weather is warm and pleasant. However, summer is the high season and historic sites like the National Wallace Monument fill up with visitors quickly. If you want to explore the area with less crowds, consider visiting during shoulder season.
Sal and I visited the National Wallace Monument during the summer months. We visited during high season since we traveled to see Buddy on tour. However, there were not a lot of visitors the day we visited the monument. And we visited on a weekend, a Saturday morning to be exact. So even if you do visit during high season, there is a chance that crowds will not be an issue
Bonus Tip: What to bring
With a café and gift shop on site, we did not to bring anything specific to the memorial. In fact, we left our water bottles in the car. However, I wore my crossbody Travelon Messenger Bag (I am on my second one, I love this bag so much for travel) and this Columbia jacket to visit the monument. I also wore my comfortable Columbia Hiking Shoes for all of the walking we did.
For a more complete list of what to bring, check out the Scotland packing list that Buddy and I created which you can find here!
The National Wallace Monument is a must-see for travelers, especially those interested in Scottish history or fans of the 1995 movie Braveheart who are interested in learning the history that inspired the movie. The monument offers visitors a glimpse into the life of the real national hero, William Wallace – one of Scotland’s most famous sons. It is an impressive sight, that should not be missed.
As we were pressed for time, we did not film a Movement Postcard at the National Wallace Monument, although it would have been fun to dance on and around the wood carvings no the Wallace Way. Maybe next time!
Do you have questions about family travel or traveling with teens? Feel free to reach out! We are happy to chat and share our experiences! We look forward to connecting with you.
Are you planning a trip to Scotland? Have you visited the National Wallace Monument? If so, let us know in the comments below.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out these blog posts!
- 6 Interesting Things To Do If You Only Have 24 Hours in Edinburgh
- 4 Simple Tips for Visiting Edinburgh Castle
- 3 Easy Tips for Visiting the National Museum of Scotland
- 4 Tips for Visiting the Beautiful Calton Hill
- Exploring the Isle of Skye in One Day: The Ultimate Guide
- Travel Made Easy: What to Pack for a Trip to Scotland
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Look for hotels near the Stirling area. Or better yet, stay in the historic city of Stirling!
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12 thoughts on “5 Simple Tips: Visiting the National Wallace Monument”
I can understand why it would be good to learn more about Scottish history with a visit to the National Wallace Monument. We are not history buffs but we love to put a spot like this into the historical context. And hubby would certainly be looking for Braveheart sites. We would certainly head up to the Abbey Craig – but we might opt for the bus ride up. Then I would have lots of energy to climb those stairs! That view from the top is stunning.
What a cool stop! I wouldn’t mind the 200+ stairs…but I don’t think I’ll love going in a spiral to get up them!
Gorgeous view. When I was there – in high season, August – it was pouring with rain, and it was like 8°celsius. I saw nothing but the inside of my umbrella.
Oh no! I am sorry the weather didn’t cooperate.
What a gorgeous spot to visit! Well worth the climb!
Im obsessed with Scotland, so i love this! I have this on my travel wish list to check out. All the details you provided are very helpful!
Great timing, we are visiting Scotland next year and we are planning on seeing the Wallace Monument! Thanks for the heads up about the stairs. I’ll be pinning this for later!
Have a fun trip!!
This is so cool! I love places that served as an inspiration for the movies! Love the idea of making your own coat of arms!
very well done