24 Things To Do in St Andrews, Scotland
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
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St Andrews has become my second home. I spent 5 years studying and working in this amazing town, and it was hard to say goodbye. Yes, it is the home of golf, but there's so much more to it than that. There are definitely plenty of things to do in St Andrews. It may be small, but it boasts some incredible views, charming shops, and most importantly, perfect ice cream.
If you're visiting Edinburgh, St Andrews is the perfect choice for a day trip, as it takes just over an hour by train to get to. It's one of the best places to visit in Fife as well, and if you're a history lover this is the perfect town for you to visit. Below is an extensive list of what I believe to be the best things to do in St Andrews:
1. Walk on Top of the Pier Wall
If you’re lucky enough to be at the pier on Sunday morning, you’ll witness the procession of students in their red gowns walking from the town centre to the pier. When you get to the end of the pier, and if you’re feeling brave enough, you can climb the ladder and walk back along the top of the pier wall. So, if it's not too windy, this is definitely one of the things you should do in St Andrews.
2. Walk Along the Old Course on Sunday
If you’re like me and not really a golf connoisseur, walking along the Old Course is still an amazing experience. Although you can’t walk on it while people are golfing, there’s no golf on Sundays so feel free to roam wherever you want. Don’t miss the chance to take a photo on the famous Swilken Bridge or in front of the clubhouse too. The Old Course is one of the main attractions in St Andrews, and draws celebrities and people from all over the world to it.
3. Reenact Chariots of Fire on West Sands
Only a short walk from town, and running parallel with the Old Course, West Sands is perfect to walk along on a nice day. It’s also where the opening scene to Chariots of Fire was filmed, so feel free to reenact it if you want.
4. Cafe at the Museum
Directly behind the Old Course clubhouse is the British Golf Museum. Don’t worry, if you don’t want to walk around the museum (although it is quite interesting) you can go upstairs and take in the views of the golf course and the sea from Café at the Museum, as well as indulge in some delicious hot chocolate.
5. Walk Along the Beach at Sunset
If you're only spending 24 hours in St Andrews, you may not be able to do this, but walking along the beach at sunset is absolutely beautiful and very calming.The town has a few beaches to choose from, but my favourite is West Sands.
6. Explore the Ruins of St Andrews Castle
Although only a ruin now, St Andrews Castle is steeped in history and played a prominent role during the Reformation. It’s situated on top of a cliff so it provides amazing sea views. You can also venture into the mine and counter-mine underneath the castle. If you’re tall (like me) prepare to crawl though, and potentially get a little wet. This is one of the best things to do in St Andrews, so don't miss out.
7. Walk Down to Castle Sands
Just below the castle is a small, less busy beach that’s very popular with students - Castle Sands. When the tide is out you can climb along the rocks that begin to show and get some pretty nice photos, or have a little picnic on the beach. There are also a couple of natural swimming pools that appear, so if you're brave enough and want to do a unique thing in St Andrews, you can take a dip here.
8. Cross Over the PH Symbol & Enter the Quad
St Salvator’s Quad is the heart of the university and as well as many classes taking place within its walls, it’s also known as the location of the famous Raisin Weekend foam fight. Upon entering it from North Street, you may notice the initials PH in the stone path. It’s considered bad luck for students to walk on it, so don’t be alarmed if someone suddenly jumps in the air. If you aren’t a student you’re safe! While you’re in the Quad, don’t forget to pop in to see the beautiful chapel too.
9. East Sands
Another beach? Why not! East Sands is situated along the Fife Coastal Path, and is just a short walk from the pier. It’s also the location of one of the university’s famous traditions - May Dip.
10. Fife Coastal Path
You can pick the Fife Coastal Path up from East Sands. It’s a beautiful trail along the sea. I’ve walked along part of it and the views looking back at St Andrews are incredible. Click here to read about some points of interest and places near St Andrews along the coastal path.
11. St Andrews Cathedral
St Andrews Cathedral is by far one of the main attractions in the town. It was once the largest and most important in Scotland, and now sits as a ruin. Nevertheless, it’s still very impressive to walk around.
12. Climb St Rule's Tower
You can also climb up St Rule’s Tower and get incredible views of the cathedral, the town, and the sea. If it’s a clear day, make sure you add this to your list of things to do in St Andrews.
13. Grab an Ice Cream at Jannettas
Everyone’s favourite ice cream stop in St Andrews is Jannettas Gelateria. If the sun is shining, expect a big queue, but it’s worth the wait to taste their award winning ice cream. They have a very large selection of flavours to choose from, and they are all freshly made on site.
14. Breakfast at Northpoint
There are many great breakfast locations in St Andrews. Northpoint is a very popular spot at the far end of North Street, with a lot of great breakfast and brunch options. Every time I walk past it there are no tables available, so if you spot one through the window, grab it quickly.
15. Chill in The Rule & Check Out Their Beer Garden
The Rule has changed its theme more times than I can count, but you can always rely on their breakfast selection and cheap drinks menu. In the summer they open up their beer garden as well.
16. Hamish McHamish Statue
The town’s famous cat, Hamish McHamish, has become somewhat of an icon over the years. So much so that there is now a statue erected in his honour, and there are even books written about him that you can purchase in the local bookshop.
17. The Best Fish & Chips in Town: Tailend
You can't visit Fife without trying some fish and chips. If you're visiting St Andrews, Tailend is where you should head to try some award winning fish. You can either order it to take away and sit on one of the benches overlooking the sea (which is what I do), or you can dine in.
18. Explore the Cobbled Streets
There are plenty of shops and restaurants around St Andrews, but there are also a lot of charming side streets to walk along. The town isn't that big, so you can easily locate these smaller streets connecting to the three main ones.
19. St Mary's Quad
Once you visit the main quad, make sure you walk over to South Street and stroll around the gorgeous St Mary’s Quad, home to the School of Divinity. If you didn't know it was here, you'd probably walk past the entrance to it, so add it to your itinerary and stop by for a quick look around.
20. Hams Hame
The Hams Hame is a very popular spot for golfers, and is located just across from the Old Course. It serves amazing food in a traditional pub setting and quickly became one of my favourite restaurants in St Andrews.
21. St Salvatore's Hall
If you take a look around the back of the main quad you’ll see St Salvatore’s Hall, which in my opinion is the prettiest of the student accommodations. During spring and summertime the front of the hall is filled with beautifully coloured flowers as well.
22. Younger Hall
Younger Hall is the main concert venue in town, and is where the graduation ceremonies take place. So if you happen to be in St Andrews in June, you may be lucky enough to see everyone walking in their graduation gowns and holding their diplomas.
23. Botanic Gardens
Just a short walk from the town centre are the Botanic Gardens, which have been named one of Scotland’s “hidden gems”. I would say that the best time to visit Scotland would be in the spring or summer, so that you can take full advantage of places like this.
24. Balgove Steak Barn
And last but certainly not least, Balgove Steak Barn. This is a fantastic restaurant to go to, only a 5 minute drive from the town centre, and is based inside an actual barn. It's only open during the warmer months, but is perfectly insulated if it gets cold. All of the meat products come from the farm that it's based at, and there's also a farm shop and cafe to go in as well on site.
Whether you're spending a week in Scotland or only a few days, you shouldn't miss the opportunity to visit this picture perfect medieval Scottish town. There are so many amazing things to do in St Andrews, that this list could just go on and on. In fact, it does:
You should also check out these locations as well: The Saint Bar, Gorgeous, The Seafood Restaurant, St Andrews Aquarium, Dervish, The Adamson, Craigtoun Park, The Duke's Golf Course, Allanhill Strawberry Farm
If you're wondering where to stay in St Andrews, I would highly recommend staying at one of Scotland's top luxury hotels, Rufflets St Andrews. And if you're thinking of doing a road trip in Scotland to visit some of the country's best castles, click here for some helpful money-saving tips. Remember to follow my travels on Instagram as well!