West Sands Beach

30 Best Things To Do In St Andrews

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In a rural area on the east coast of Fife you will find the small historical town of St Andrews. The guide below states the best things to do in St Andrews

St Andrews is located one hour north of Edinburgh. Or it is half an hour drive south from Dundee.

Also, St Andrews is known for its excellent university, spectacular coastline and amazing gold links.

Also, there are stunning cobblestone streets with mesmerising old buildings that add a lot of charm to the small town. The smaller streets are easy to locate as the town is not that big.

In addition, there are plenty of shops and restaurants around St Andrews

St Andrews Accommodation: Orchard Cottage, No12 B&B, At the Bay, Old Course Hotel St Andrews

St Andrews Castle
St Andrews Castle

St Andrews Castle

The stunning ruins of St Andrews Castle sit perched on the cliff side and provide excellent views overlooking a sandy beach and the sparkling North Sea. Some parts of the castle date back to the 13th century. 

Also, visitors can explore the eerie bottle dungeon which was a 16th-century underground siege mine. The tunnel to the mine is so small that it can be intimidating if you get claustrophobic. 

The castle is steeped in history and has a prominent role in the Reformation. Also, it is believed that John Knox was once imprisoned in the castle dungeons along with many others. 

Admission to St Andrew’s Castle is £7.20 per adult. 

Castle Sands

Castle Sands is a lovely, small, golden beach located just beneath the St Andrews Castle. This small beach is popular with locals and students who live in the town.

If you are lucky enough to be here when the sun is out, the beach becomes a sun trap and is an excellent sunbathing location.

Also, there are a couple of natural swimming pools here. If you are brave enough to face the cold Scottish waters, you can take a dip here. 

St Andrews Cathedral, St Rules Tower
Rules Tower, St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral 

St Andrews Cathedral is one of the must-see historical sites in St Andrews. The cathedral was established back in 1158 as the centre of the Mediaeval Catholic Church in Scotland.

Centuries ago, the cathedral was the largest cathedral in Scotland. Also, it was a destination for religious pilgrims in the mediaeval era. 

The casting out of Catholic mass began in the 16th century and that is when the mighty cathedral fell into disuse. You can learn about all the history from the information signs which are located on the site.

The cathedral grounds and graveyard are free to visit. Also, the site is managed by Historic Environment Scotland. Moreover, you can pay for a guided tour or view the spectacular views from the top of Rules Tower

Old Harbour of St Andrews

The Old Harbour of St Andrews is steeped with history, you can learn more on the Harbour Trust website. Also, at the old harbour there are many signs and maps located around the sea.

The old harbour used to be a fishing harbour so there are lots of fishing boats and lobster pots scattered about. From the harbour you can see the ruins of St Andrews Castle.

Also, you can climb along the stone pier which gives you beautiful views out towards East Sands. Every year, there is a tradition for St Andrews University students to wear their bright red robes and walk along the pier wall before starting the new academic year. 

St Andrews Museum 

The museum is located in a stunning old Victorian mansion in Kilburn Park. There are many stories and fascinating facts about life in St Andrews from the mediaeval 12th century until present day.

The exhibitions in the museum are always changing and entry to the museum is free. 

Blackfriars Chapel

Blackfriars Chapel is a small ruin from the Middle Ages. You can find the ruin on South Street, just near West Port.

The ruin was built in the 1520s as part of a larger church called the Dominican Friary. Unfortunately, in the 1540s the Dominican Friary was destroyed. 

West Port Gate

West Port Gate was a magnificent city gate and was the grand entrance to St Andrews. According to Historic Scotland, the gate was built in 1857.

Now, the gate is said to be the most magnificent gate in Scotland. The gate was a symbol of civic pride and was designed to impress visitors as they entered the town. 

West Sands Beach, Things to do in St Andrews
Beach – West Sands

West Sands Beach

West Sand Beach is a beautiful stretch of sand which is visible from the Old Course. Also, the beach is only a 15-minute walk away from town.

The beaches run for two miles along the clear glassy water of the North Sea. Interestingly, this is where the opening scene to the 1981 film Chariots of Fire was shot. 

If you are an early riser, you can try and catch the sunrise from this beach. It is absolutely stunning on a clear day.

Although the beach is backed by large sand dunes, the beach is fairly flat and accessible for people with wheelchairs. 

St Andrews Golf Links

One of the things St Andrews is famous for is being the home of golf. In St Andrews, golfers are spoilt for choice as there are so many old and new courses to choose from.

For any golf lovers out there, you cannot miss the chance to play here. The Old Course at St Andrews is being widely disputed as the largest golf course in the world.

Also, the Old Course draws celebrities and people from all over the world.  Despite the imposing status, the golf course is open to the public.

If you are not a golfer, you can always walk along the Old Course. On Sundays, there is no golfing so you will have the freedom to roam where you want. 

Alternatively, you can take a golf-orientated historical tour of St Andrews.

Swilcan Bridge

Between the first and eighteen fairways on the Old Course you can find the widely photographed famous stone bridge. Despite only measuring 30 feet long, the stone bridge is an important cultural icon. 

Also, the bridge is a fantastic photo opportunity for photographers and casual Instagrammers. Moreover, there is so much history on this bridge which is great for those who are interested in the history. 

British Golf Museum 

A golf museum is perfectly located in St Andrews which is known as the birthplace of golf. The museum first opened in 1990 and on display is some of the famous golfing from mediaeval times to present day.

All aspects of golf from professional to amateur, British to international are shown.

The displays include details about men’s and women’s games and historic equipment. Also, there is interesting artwork on display.

If you are not a fan of golf and have no interest in learning about the history of golfing. You can always go upstairs and enjoy a hot drink at the Cafe at the Museum.

Also, from the cafe you can admire the views across the golf course and across the sea. Admission for the gold museum is £12 per adult. 

University of St Andrews

The University of St Andrews is a prestigious university which is known as the oldest university in Scotland. Also, the University of St Andrews was established in 1413.

Some of the architecture and buildings on the campus are spectacular and date back to the 12th century. Additionally, the university is well known for where Prince William met the future Duchess, Kate Middleton. 

Wardlaw Museum 

Wardlaw Museum demonstrates the history of the University of St Andrews, St Andrews and Scotland. There are many historic and artistic collections totalling over 112, 000 interesting artefacts. 

The museum is not too big and can be explored in an hour or so. Also, the museum is home to a ‘Learning Loft’ which hosts workshops.

Moreover, there is a viewing terrace which overlooks the stunning Bay of St Andrews. Entry to the museum is free. 

St Mary’s Quad

St Mary’s Quad is a fabulous place, a central Oak tree dominates the small, enclosed garden. The gardens and mediaeval roots add to the rustic charm.

The quad is tucked away from the bustle of the town of St Andrews. Also, the entrance to St Mary’s Quad is a hard one to find. 

East Sands 

East Sands is the location of the university’s famous traditions – the May Dip. The location of this beach is perfect, and it is located on the Famous Fife Coastal Path and near the old St Andrews Harbour.

East Sands is also another amazing place to catch a sunrise for those who like rising early. This beach is a great place for a swim or walk.

Hamish McHamish 

Hamish McHamish is a ginger cat who was a resident of St Andrews that has become famous over the years. From frequent walks around town and visits to local shops, Hamish and his owner became famous for their nomadic behaviour.

He is beloved so much that in 2014, the locals started a public donation campaign and erected a statue in his honour. The bronze statue can be found on Logie’s Lane.

A few months after the statue was unveiled Hamish sadly passed away at the age of 15 years old.

Hamish became a famous furry friend to everyone around the world. A Facebook page was created for him which allows Hamish to gain worldwide fans.

Also, he even appeared on TV and in newspapers across the world. A book was published about him in 2012. You can purchase a book about him in the local bookshop. 

St Andrews Botanic Garden

St Andrews Botanic Garden is an 18-acre botanical garden which is located on the banks of Kinness Burn. The botanic garden has been named one of Scotland’s hidden gems. 

In the massive glasshouse you can find alpines, desert plants and tropical exotics. 

The botanic garden is a short walk away from the town centre. During the spring and summer months the gardens are mesmerising. 

The Rock and Spindle 

The Rock and Spindle is a cool rock formation. To get to the Rock and Spindle you will have to follow a beautiful section of the Fife Coastal Path.

The route begins at East Sands Beach. On the way, you will pass a small beach where a small sea stack called Maiden’s Rock is located.

From the Rock and Spindle there are good views along the coast back to St Andrews. Overall, the walk will take approximately two hours and is three miles in length. 

Kingsbarn Distillery

Kingsbarn Distillery is a five-star distillery and visitor centre which is located in the East Neuk of fife. The small distillery opened in 2014 and produces some excellent Scottish whisky.

There are three types of whiskey distillery tours available. Also, you can enjoy tastings and delicious local food served in the cafe. 

Tentsmuir Sands

At Tentsmuir Sands you will find immaculate white sands backed by grassy dunes. Also, if you are lucky you might get to see grey and common seals basking in the sun on the sandy banks. 

In the surrounding Tentsmuir Forest you will find some wartime defences from World War II.

These were built by Polish troops who were stationed here in the war.  Also, you can see plenty of birdlife and red squirrels. 

Tentsmuir Sands is half an hour from St Andrews drive. Parking costs £2.

Dunino Den

Dunino Den is a truly magical gorge which is said to be haunted by fairies and other creatures of Celtic legend.

There are steep stairs which have been cut into the face of the cliff. Also, there is Celtic crosses and symbols carved by ancient and modern-day worshippers. 

Keep an eye out for the face which is sculpted into the wall face. Also, the eerie woodland is said to be the site of human sacrifice.

Dunino Den is one of the strangest destinations near St Andrews, and it is definitely worth the visit. 

Craigtoun Country Park

Craigtoun Country Park is a lovely park which is located two miles from St Andrews. The park is now run by volunteers who do a great job at maintaining the grounds.

In addition, there is a lake which is a calming place to go for a picnic.

Also, there are large, beautiful gardens with trees, flowers and plants from around the world. Moreover, you can relax at the cafe once you are finished exploring. 

Fife Pilgrim Way

The Fife Pilgrim Way is a new walking route which connects the East and West of Fife. The overall route follows pre-existing paths which were used by mediaeval pilgrims.

Overall, the route is split into seven convenient sections, which are all 8 to 11 miles in length. A 9.5-mile section of the Fife Pilgrim Way starts at St Andrews and finishes at Ceres.

Also, there is free parking in Ceres, also there are toilets and refreshments at Craigtoun Country Park. Once you arrive in St Andrews you can explore the cafes and restaurants and finish up at St Andrews Cathedral

Also, there is a bus service (Moffat and Williamson 64) so you can park at one end of the walking trail and get a bus back to your car. 

St Andrews Brewing Company

The local craft beer brewery is popular with locals and students.

On offer are a range of Fife-made ales, stouts and IPAs including oatmeal stout and Thistly Cross cider. Also, on weekends, the beer hall gets lively with students. 

Forgans

Forgans is famous for Scottish produce-led food. The site of Forgans used to be a factory for producing golfing equipment, now it is a cosy restaurant.

Also, the restaurant has a stunning atmosphere with an open kitchen and bothies which you can book. Every Friday and Saturday night you can celebrate into the early hours and enjoy a roaring ceilidh. 

Jannettas Gelateria

Janettas has been award winning ice cream since its opening in 1908 by Italian immigrants. One hundred and ten years later, the founding family still owns the shop and produces delicious tasting ice cream.

They have a wide variety of flavours to choose from including some Scottish flavours including Irn Bru and Scottish Tablet. When the sun is shining, you should expect a big queue outside. 

The Cheesy Toast Shack 

The Cheesy Toast Shack delivers the best cheese toastie ever. I would highly recommend trying the Mac and Cheese or the New Yorker.

This place is a must-try when going to the beach. 

Northpoint

Northpoint is a lovely cosy cafe which plays the best music. The scones and pancakes are delicious, and you get served pint-sized coffee.

There is a sign outside which says, ‘Where Wills and Kate Met – For Coffee’.

Tailend

Tailend is the best place in St Andrews for fish and chips. The nice little seafood restaurant sells the best, fresh and delicious food which is locally sourced.

Tailend is a family run business with their own fish house based in Arbroath (famous for Arbroath smokies). 

Balgove Steak Barn 

Balgove Steak Barn is a fantastic find only a five-minute drive out of town. There is a farm shop, cafe and the best steak barn.

Also, the environment in the barn is very unique with a rustic charm. In addition, you can enjoy very good value steaks here and wash them down with one of the local beers available on tap.

How do I spend my day at St Andrews?

St Andrews is a small coastal town which can be explored in one day by foot. When you first arrive in St Andrews, I recommend exploring Market Street, the small, cobbled streets and the grounds of the University.

Also, you can climb St Rules Tower and visit St Andrews Castle. Later on, you can relax on many of the beaches. 

Is St Andrews Worth Visiting?

Yes, St Andrews is one of my favourite small towns in Scotland. The small, gorgeous town is located on the East Coast of Fife.

There is so much history packed into the small, cobbled streets. Also, there are stunning beaches, with beautiful trails and nature reserves nearby.

Moreover, St Andrews has a great selection of famous restaurants. So, spend a day or two here and you will keep wanting to come back.

What is St Andrews Best Known For?

There are a few reasons why St Andrews deserves to be put on your list of places to visit. St Andrews is known as the ‘home of golf’ and the ancient golf club in St Andrews was founded in 1754. 

The University of Andrews opened in 1413 and it is Scotland’s oldest and highest-ranking university. Also, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate) are famous alumni who met at the university. 

Final Note

St Andrews is a beautiful coastal town which will take your breath away.

There is a whole list of things to do from walking down the charming, cobbled streets to admiring the views across the green golf courses and beaches. You will definitely enjoy your time here.

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