A Guide to St Andrews, Scotland
In an attempt to make the most of my railcard before turning 25, I made a promise to myself to make the most of seeing more of the UK by rail on a budget. Living in Scotland, I’m close to so many beautiful places, and those along the coast are amongst my favourite. So with a weekend where I had no other plans on a sunny Saturday, I decided to take a short trip along the coast to St Andrews. There’s no direct railway station in St Andrews, but you can get a train direct to Leuchars, just an hour from Edinburgh. From here there’s a short bus you can catch right outside of the station, direct to the bus station in St Andrews.
St. Andrews Attractions
Although only relatively small, St Andrews has quite a lot going for it. It’s somewhere you can definitely see in a day if you’re not planning on staying there, or taking it leisurely if you are. Like a lot of places in Scotland, things can be dependant on the weather! But if Scotland does have one positive in the weather, it’s that it can change seasons four times a day. Be prepared for rain or shine.
Take a walk along the West Sands beach, right next to the famous Old Course. Feel the sand beneath your toes, whilst watching the waves come in. Whilst walking down to the beach a tourist ran past me shouting ‘there’s a horse on the beach!’ whilst this isn’t totally uncommon in Scotland, it’s certainly still a sight to behold. I went along to say hello, and met this beauty of a horse, who was more than happy to have her photo taken, in exchange for a nose rub of course!
It’s a bit of a St Andrews ‘must do’ to stand on the Swilcan Bridge for a photo opportunity. In the heart of the Old Course, a golf course where even presidents have played, and most recently Barack Obama, it’s a little piece of history in the home of golf. Just be sure not to get in the way of any golf swings!
St Andrews Cathedral
The remains of Scotlands largest medieval church, it still remains a prominent landmark highly visible from the sea, along the coast of St Andrews. Climb St Rules Tower for a unique view over St Andrews, and get a real understanding for just how large the church once was. The ruins are free to enter, but there is a fee to climb the tower and enter the museum.
St Andrews Castle
Everything from a bishop’s palace, a fortress and a state prison – St Andrews Church has been through a lot in it’s 450 year history. Descend into the castle’s underground mine and get a sense of what it was like to be in the middle of a medieval siege. Whilst you’re there, take a look down in the bottle dungeon, one of Britain’s most infamous castle prisons.
University of St Andrews
Home to the oldest ancient universities of Scotland, and third oldest university in the English-speaking world, St Andrews University has a lot of history behind it’s name. Not to mention in recent times, it was the university where Prince William met Kate. Walk in the path of royalty down the halls and courtyards of the university, admiring the marvels of such beautiful buildings.
St Andrews Botanical Garden
A less known gem to visitors, head to the botanical gardens for a tranquil space to unwind for a while. With over 18 acres of landscaped gardens and glasshouses, home to exotic plants and flowers. Take a stroll under the canopies of towering trees, and admire plants which would otherwise not flourish in the Scottish climate.
Where to Eat
Being on the coast, it’s no surprise that St Andrews is home to some seriously good fish and chips. For the freshest catch of the day, head to Cromars or the Tailend for a taste of the classics. If you’re looking for something a little different, head to the main high street for a range of independent cafes and coffee shops.
St Andrews Waffle Co
131 South St, St Andrews KY16 9UN
A small but bustling gem, is the St Andrews Waffle Co. Offering a range of, yes – you guessed it, waffles. With a range of everything from sweet treats to their very own take on a ‘cheeky Nandos’ it’s a great place to eat in, or take away.
112 Market St, St Andrews KY16 2PB
For use of the freshest seasonal and local ingredients, head to Mitchell’s Deli for brunch with a sharing board and bottle of wine, or treat yourself to an afternoon tea for two. A lovely place to sit and watch the world pass you by.
Where to Drink
Although Scotland might be famous for it’s whisky, St Andrews is home to the wonderful Eden Mill gin. With some of my favourites including raspberry infused gin, or just a good old classic G&T – what’s not to love?
1 St Marys Pl, St Andrews KY16
For a trendy spot in town, popular with students and locals alike, head to The Vic. They also offer outdoor seating for those rare sunny days, and great burgers.
Eden Mill Distillery
Main St, Guardbridge, St Andrews KY16 0UU
Although not technically a place to grab a drink, the Eden Mill Distillery is a must do in St Andrews. Enjoy their unique distillery tour and learn about the techniques behind their award winning gin, and even have a sample or two yourself!