Callander is a small town in Stirlingshire in the Central Belt of Scotland. Tourist publicity calls it "The Gateway to the Highlands" and for once that over-used term is correct: the town sits right on the lowland-highland fault line, with crags looming just north of town, and streams racing out of the mountains to form the River Teith. Gaelic was spoken here until about 1900. The main reason to come is to see The Trossachs, the eastern part of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
To visitors aged 70 plus, Callander will always be Tannochbrae: it was the location for the BBC series "Dr Finlay's Casebook", with the theme music dancing over the view of the River Teith bridge.
The TIC is 1 VisitScotland Callander iCentre on Main St, open daily 09:30-16:00.
By car: the usual approach is M9 past Stirling, exit at Jcn 10 for A84 west through Doune.
By bus: First Scotland East Bus 59 runs from Stirling hourly M-Sat (every 2 hours Sun) via Blair Drummond and Doune to Callander, taking 45 mins.
On the first and third Sat of the month, two buses 160 & S60 run between Stirling, Callander, Crianlarich and Tyndrum.
By train: the railway closed in 1965, so get off at Stirling and take Bus 59. (Dunblane station is closer if you have a bike, but there's no onward public transport.) Some of the torn-up track was recycled into the transit system for Mexico City's 1968 Summer Olympics.
By bike: Callander is on National Cycle Network Route 7 Glasgow-Inverness. The cycle track northbound follows the disused railway towards Kilmahog and Strathyre.
You need a car or bike to reach the Trossachs or Lake of Menteith.
- 1 Bracklinn Falls (north-east of Callander). waterfalls on the course of the Keltie Water, where the river crosses the Highland Boundary Fault
- 2 Hamilton Toy Museum. Easter - October: M-Sa 10:30-16:30, Su 12:00-16:30. 5-room museum of traditional children's toys (cars, model soldiers, dolls, etc.) and shop. £3.
- The Trossachs are the main reason to come here: follow A84 then A821 west. It's a longer drive to reach the shores of Loch Lomond, either via Drymen to Balmaha, or via Aberfoyle east on B829 to Inversnaid.
- 3 Lake of Menteith (five miles south of Callander). Apr-Oct daily from 10:00, last boat out 16:15 (in Oct 15:15). This is one of the few bodies of water in Scotland called a "lake" rather than a "loch." (By no means the only one, in spite of the tourist office blurb.) The name is probably a 16th C map-maker's misreading of laich meaning "low place". A little ferry boat takes you to the island with the ruins of Inchmahome Priory. Built in the 13th C, its royal visitors included the 4-year old Mary Queen of Scots, hidden away here after the Scots' defeat in battle in 1547. Adult £9.
- Climb Ben Ledi 4 miles west above Kilmahog. It's 879 m (2884 ft) high, so it's a Corbett. Just south of Loch Lubnaig, turn off A84 onto the track signed "Strathyre Forest Cabins" to reach the car park (which fills up on fine summer weekends). The path is obvious enough. Near the top are two grassy false summits; the rocky true summit is marked by a cross for Sgt Harry Lawrie of the Mountain Rescue Team, killed nearby in a helicopter crash in 1987.
- 1 Callander Golf Club. Wooded parkland course with good views. Round £30 summer weekday, £40 weekend, £12 winter.
- Callander's Highland Games were usually held in late July at Lagrannoch Field. But they didn't happen in 2019 and it's not known if they'll return in 2020.
- Jazz & Blues Festival is in early autumn. The next event is 4-6 Oct 2019.
There's a Tesco Express in town, and various little shops selling the usual tourist knicknacks.
Places along the main street include Old Bank Restaurant, Poppies Hotel (see Sleep), Mimmo's Pizza and Puddingstone Place.
- 1 Callander Woods Holiday Park ((Formerly Gart Caravan Park)), Stirling Road, Callander, FK17 8LE, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. March - November. Check-in: 10am, check-out: 4pm. Large touring, caravan holiday home & glamping site in stunning Callander. Touring pitches from £28.50 per night.
- 2 Poppies Hotel, Leny Road, Callander, ☏ . Small hotel on main street with popular restaurant. B&B double £80.
- 3 The Knowe, Ancaster Road, Callander FK17 8EL, ☏ . B&B a block north of main street, friendly and clean. B&B double £80.
- 4 Roman Camp Hotel, ☏ . 15-room hotel which has been open since 1930, in a building dating from 1625. from £110.
- Lake of Menteith Lakeside Hotel, ☏ . Secluded 3-star hotel on lakeside. B&B double from £150.
- Nearby to the east are Doune, Dunblane, Bridge of Allan and Stirling.
- A84 north from Callander leads into the Highlands, via Crianlarich either west to Oban for ferries to the Hebrides, or north to Glencoe, Ben Nevis and Skye.