The largest equine sculptures in the world, The Kelpies are a renowned tourist attraction in Scotland that witnesses a huge footfall of tourists throughout the year. They are an architectural marvel, and you can even go inside them!

Whether it’s your first time in Scotland or you’ve already been here, The Kelpies has to be on the list of your Scottish trip itinerary. So let’s have a look at the information you need to know before visiting.

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A Complete Guide to Visiting The Kelpies in Scotland – What to Expect on Your Visit to the Kelpies

Table of Contents

What are the Kelpies?

The Kelpies are an architectural marvel, touted as the world’s largest equine sculptures. Scottish folklore says that kelpies are shape-shifting water spirits who inhabit Scottish waterways and lochs. Legend has it that they appear to humans in the form of horses, encouraging them to ride on their back and take them to a watery grave!

The inspiration for these sculptures, however, were Scotland’s working horses. They are a tribute to the hardworking stallions that used to transport goods along the waterways and canals of Scotland.

Engineered in 2013 by Andy Scott, the renowned Scottish artist, the sculptures comfortably stand tall at a height of 30 meters and weigh more than 600 tonnes. Such is the marvellous engineering of The Kelpies in Scotland because only stainless steel cladding has been used along with weathering steel.

He originally drew the design in Amsterdam a few years before it was actually built in Scotland. Interestingly, each of the horses was built with more than 2 miles of single metal plates. These plates were cut and put into shape at workshops in Falkirk, by hand!

The Legend of Kelpies

For centuries, the legend of Kelpies has been very popular in Scotland, where Kelpies are seen as demons and evil creatures. The name ‘Kelpie’ derives from Gaelic ‘Cailpech’ or ‘Colpach’, which refers to colt or heifer.

All the water bodies in Scotland have stories that feature Kelpies. The most renowned one being Loch Ness!

Kelpies are also known as water demons, or spirits, living inside the rivers, streams and lochs that can shape-shift.

These demons are even blamed for any drownings that happen in Scotland. There is a belief that Kelpies lure people into the water. People also believe that these demons can summon floods using their power!


Your trip to Scotland will be a lot more comfortable with a midge net and midge spray. These little biting bugs can be enough to ruin a trip if you don’t have the equipment to protect yourself from them. A repelling candle can also be helpful if you are sitting oustide.

Where Exactly is the Iconic Site of The Kelpies Located?

The tourist site of The Kelpies is located off the M9 in Falkirk, some 35 miles from the city of Glasgow and 19 miles from Edinburgh. The site is situated within the vicinity of Helix Park.

The park is a land transformation project built with the aim of improving connections between 16 communities in Falkirk. The Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift that was opened in 2002, is also in the park. The site connects the Cycle and Forth with the Union Canal.

Best Time to Visit The Kelpies

If you are wondering when to visit the Kelpies sculpture, there is no ideal time, it can be visited throughout the year. However, we would say plan your trip during the week as it will likely be less busy with visitors.

People also find it a tussle to choose between visiting during the day or at night when it comes to when to visiting The Kelpies. A night tour gives you the opportunity to see the sculptures lit up in the most beautiful blue glow. The reflections in the water at the base add a most impressive display.

A daytime on the other hand, allows you to enjoy the facilities like the inside tour of Kelpies, cafes and shop.

With that in mind, we recommend trying to visit during the day as well as the night, in order to savour the two different experiences at The Kelpies.

This area is great for landscape photography in Scotland and we would recommend if you want to get some great shots of the Kelpies to visit during a nice pink sunrise. 

Reasons Why You Need to Visit The Kelpies in Scotland

The Kelpies are an iconic tourist site in Scotland yet, a lot of tourists question whether to include it on their Scotland itinerary or not. Let’s give you some convincing reasons below.

It’s Free

What could be a better reason to visit The Kelpies than the fact that it’s free? A visit to this amazing tourist site won’t dent your wallet and the sculptures are set within a huge park, ideal for people of all ages.

However, you will need to pay a small parking fee in The Kelpies Car Park, which is great value overall for a scenic view and an amazing day out. The park also allows you to picnic, so bring your own food and enjoy it at an iconic park.

If you are travelling with kids, there is also a free play park to ensure a fun time for them. For your four legged friends, the park also features comfortable tracks for dogs and beautiful cafes.

The Imposing Structures are 100 Feet Tall

We already mentioned this fact, yet it needs a special mention. Though the view of the structures of the gigantic horses can be seen from the roadside off the M9, there is nothing like the close-up visual.

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You Can Go Inside The Kelpies, Really!

The inside tour cannot be done independently. You must book a guided tour, which can be done in the Visitor Centre.

Depending on when you plan to visit, it is advisable to book tickets online as they sell out quickly on good sunny days and weekends. The ticket price costs £7.50 for adults.

The tour lasts for 25 minutes from April to September. Whereas in the winter months, from October to March, it only lasts for 20 minutes, and the ticket price drops down to £6. up to 2 children can also go in for free with each paying adult.

The Facilities at the Helix Visitor Centre

Though The Kelpies seem like a tourist site that can be explored in an hour, there is much more to see at the Helix Visitor Centre cover a range of areas.

There is a cafe where you can grab a coffee and relax for a while after the Kelpies tour. Or you can peruse the gift shop, picking up the perfect souvenir.

The park itself is huge, you can sit and admire the picturesque surrounding whiling sipping your hot drink or enjoying some food. On rainy days, there is inside seating available.


It’s open 24/7

The Kelpies remain open throughout the day and night. As soon as the sun falls asleep, the sculptures bloom in different colours, it’s quite a sight to behold.

Be aware that the car parking facility closes at 10 pm.

What Can You Do During your Visit?

Now, if you are visiting Kelpies during the night, there isn’t actually too much to do or explore apart from the lit-up sculpture itself. You can soak in the sight with the peaceful sound of running water in the background.

Whereas, if you are planning a visit during the daytime, there are plenty of things to do, as mentioned earlier in this post. You can go to eat at the main cafe or can shop at the souvenir shop. There is also a children’s park and people take picnics along in the pleasant weather to make the most out of their visit to The Kelpies.

Popular Tourist Sites to Visit Near the Kelpies in Scotland

Now, let’s give you some more reasons to visit The Kelpies! There are some amazing tourist places in nearby that you will also want to explore.

Falkirk Trinity Church

The first and oldest church erected in Falkirk is Falkirk Trinity Church. It has huge significance in the town’s history as the church was believed to have brought the town of Falkirk on the map of Scotland tourism.

It is known as Falkirk Old and St Modan’s Parish Church. The vicinity of the church also includes tombs and monuments. The reason why this church has such huge popularity is that it serves as the resting place of Sir John de Graham, the finest knight of William Wallace.

Zetland Park

Located in Grangemouth, Zetland Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit near Kelpies for a perfect family day out. There are plenty of amenities within the park, including a Bouncy Castle, Crazy Golf, Children’s Inflatable Slide, and a Snacks Kiosk.

There is also a stunning track for cyclists and a play area, making for a perfect place for kids. Along with that, you can also indulge in a sport as the park also has a tennis court.

If you are looking for a good bag for your time exploring The Kelpies and their surrounding area, we can highly recommend the Wandrd Bag PRVKE 41L, especially if you are carrying camera equipment. If you are looking for a smaller backpack, The Nest by Tropicfeel is one of the most comfortable bags I have ever owned.

Callendar House and Park

A 4-star attraction that dates back to the 14th century, Callendar House is a French chateau-style house that also has a Georgian kitchen. In addition, here is a tea room and a kids’ play park.

The park also includes a UNESCO World Heritage site, Roman Antonine Wall. The house displays the history of the Callendar House from the 11th to 19th centuries.

This famous tourist attraction was even used as a filming location in the very famous Outlander TV series.

Falkirk Steeple

Falkirk Steeple is an iconic landmark and must-see site near the Kelpies in Scotland. Standing tall since 1814, the steeple is 140 feet high and 22 feet square. For more than two centuries, this iconic landmark has dominated Falkirk’s skyline.

However, the history of this steeple dates back to even before 1814. It is said that it was built in the late 16th century and got demolished in 1697. The second steeple was built right next to the town’s tollbooth and was demolished in 1803 because of the work on the tollbooth.

The construction of the third and the current steeple was started in 1812 by David Hamilton – a renowned Glasgow architect. Today, it serves as the epitome of the town’s history and community.

Are you planning to visit more of Scotland on your trip? Why not check out our books to help you plan your trip? 

Falkirk Tunnel

If you want to visit popular attractions in Falkirk or must-see sites around The Kelpies in Scotland, Falkirk Tunnel has to be on both lists. Created nearly 200 years ago, the tunnel was used for transporting coal.

However, today, it carries the Union Canal right beneath Prospect Hill. The tunnel also connects Falkirk with downtown Edinburgh. The Falkirk Tunnel is an impressive 630 feet long, 19 feet high, and 18 feet wide.

Unlike the old days, the tunnel is well lit, with a lighting system that includes heritage white lights and colourful LEDs to highlight the stunning Victorian engineering. You can explore the tunnel while touring the Union Canal by boat or paddle boat, as the tour also takes you to Falkirk Tunnel.

Torwood Castle

Located some 9 miles north of The Kelpies, Torwood Castle is another must-visit tourist attraction in the region. It is a castle ruin and is privately owned. Unlike a usual castle, it isn’t huge and is actually an L-shaped house. However, the fact that it dates back to the 16th century makes it an interesting site to visit.

The history of the castle is still a mystery but it still lures architecture lovers from across the globe. Such is the uniqueness of its architecture that it sits at a transitional phase from castle to mansion.

Before You Leave for Stirling

Before you set off on your way to Stirling, there are a number of things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. These include what to pack, where to stay and what is the best insurance for your trip to Scotland. All of this is discussed in detail below.

How to Get to Stirling

When you arrive in Stirling, you will most likely arrive at one of the two main train stations, the bus station or the airport. If you are wanting to explore the city centre sights, such as the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, and the Princes Street shops, then Waverley is the best train station for you. The Edinburgh Bus station also sits just behind Princes St, so it is perfect for arriving into the city.

Haymarket Station sits slightly further from the city centre, and the airport itself even further out of the city, however, there is a very simple and reliable tram system that runs around the city. You can catch a tram from Edinburgh Airport directly into the city centre, passing through Haymarket, in just 35-minutes.

For this itinerary, any of these options will be fine for getting you into the city centre, however, most of the sights are based around the castle so Edinburgh Waverly or the bus station are the closest stations.

What to Pack for Your Trip to Stirling

When it comes to packing for a trip to Scotland there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your trip to the Isle of Skye, you can expect rain at some point. Due to this, the number one item on your packing list is a good waterproof jacket (men’s/women’s).

Second to that, another item to not leave home without is a good pair of warm and, if possible, waterproof boots (men’s/women’s). A lot of the best sights on Skye require a bit of walking to reach them and the conditions underfoot can become very muddy. You do not want to ruin a good pair of white trainers so pack some sturdy boots.

You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the winter months as the wind chill can be bitter.

For our full list of items that we pack no matter where we go in the world, check out our full packing guides over here.

Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around the Edinburgh, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.

You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here.


What is the Best Travel Insurance for Stirling

I know travel insurance is the least enjoyable thing to purchase and look at when you’re planning a trip, however, you wouldn’t want to be without it in the event that something happened. Accidents can happen anywhere and the extortionate medical bills will ruin your trip if you are not covered.

To ensure you have a stress-free trip with no worries about potential medical bills, make sure you cover yourself when you travel. We can recommend using SafetyWing, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support. It is also nomad-friendly, unlike most other insurance companies, meaning you do not need to worry about being out of your home country for too long.

Get a quote for your travel insurance right here and get covered!

So there you have it, your guide to visiting the Wallace Monument. If you are visiting this incredible city and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! If you have already been, let us know how it was! Did you manage the trip without getting caught in the rain? Let us know in the comments below!

Also, remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to share this amazing experience with. Sharing is caring and we want to ensure that everyone is fully prepared to maximise their experience visiting Stirling.

If you are planning a Scotland trip soon then check out our other Scotland content right here. Come and find us on social media to see where we are currently exploring. Tag us in your photos from your stay and we will share them with the rest of our community of explorers and backpackers.

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