If you’re ever lucky enough to visit Scotland, I highly suggest taking a day trip to the picturesque heritage town of St Andrews. Just an hour from Edinburgh, visiting St Andrews promises a rich cultural experience. Think royal ancient architecture, historical monuments that are still operational as common University buildings, churches, castles, and magical seashores. This enchanting University town has so much to offer to all who visit. It’s a famous mecca of golf, home to the third oldest University in the English speaking world, and is known for being a beautiful summer retreat destination. St Andrews is a marvelous paradox of a city; a clash between modern and ancient, old and new.
As someone who has spent her fair share of time in this seaside destination, here is my ultimate St Andrews travel guide. Continue reading for my top picks of things to do, eat, and see in St Andrews.
Things To Do In St Andrews
Golf At The Old Course
St Andrews Old Course is where major golf tournaments take place (like, you know, The British Open) and tons of celebrities and players adorn the town year on year for golf practices or matches. It is where this royal sport originated and it is said that if you can play at the course here, you can play any golf course in the world! So, get your classy attires on for the best game of golf of your life. Just make sure you book a slot way in advance since there is a huge queue and a ballot that picks the lucky ones!
Take High Tea At The Old Course Hotel
After a game of golf (or just browsing through the different courses), head to the Old Course Hotel for a rejuvenating spa-like experience. The Old Course Hotel is a paradise for those who like to indulge in a little bit of luxury. For a truly posh experience, make a reservation for High Tea in a sprawling tea room that overlooks the iconic golf courses. Dress your best and sip on tea (or down glasses of rose flavored bubbly) as you devour the finger sandwiches and cakes! I loved the view, loved the feel of the delicately designed place and absolutely loved that oh so royally English experience.
Enjoy A Stroll On The Historical St Andrews Pier
Walking on the St Andrews Pier as the sun sets is one of the most beautiful experiences you can have when visiting St Andrews. Imagine getting up close to the ferocious North Sea as the very path you’re walking on keeps slimming until it’s just a narrow stretch in the midst of the majestic blue waters.
Explore The West Sands
Start your day with an early morning jog at the West Sands and you might just remember the setting from the iconic movie — Chariots of Fire. If the weather permits, take a night stroll and join in for spontaneous bonfires and student-hosted gatherings (think roasted mars bars and marshmallows with hot chocolate or wine).
Enjoy an evening of culture by taking in a production at the recently renovated theatre. The Byre Theatre has a busy calendar all year round, so regardless of which season you visit in, there should be a show to catch. Expect tons of musicals, plays, comedy and dance performances by professionals and student groups alike.
Where To Eat And Drink In St Andrews
The Seafood Ristorante
One of the most stunning restaurant locales — seafood on the seashore! Freshly sourced and sustainable produce paired with the panoramic views of the sea make The Seafood Ristorante an ideal location for a date night or special occasion dinner. Be sure to try the shellfish broth, fritto misto, and the blackberry pannacotta.
This local ice cream parlor has been around since even before the inhabitants of the town can recall. Janettas was founded by Italian immigrants who make the ice cream in typical Italian gelato style. The ice cream here, if not the most exotic, is among the freshest, most flavorful and wonderfully light. For a quintessential Scottish taste, try the Irn Bru or Scottish Tablet flavors. Janetta’s also has a café right next to the ice cream parlor where they stir up decadent milkshakes and desserts. Spoil yourself and try the sticky toffee pudding.
This Bridge Street bar has the vibe of a typical Scottish pub. If you want to get a glimpse of the buzzing student life of St Andrews, head to Whey Pat on a weekend night for games, karaoke, darts, and more. And don’t leave without first ordering a plate of to-die-for nachos.
Vic Pub & Kitchen
A University hotspot for brunch time fare. Think boozy brunch and a hearty meal at honest prices. My go-to order at Vic was the burger and crispy fries combo. Believe it or not, I didn’t even like burgers until I tried the Mexican version of the vegetarian bean burger here. Now, unfortunately, I crave them all the time.
If you like Indian food, this restaurant offers the best in town. With tons of options and conveniently located in the city center, Maisha is a popular spot for student takeaways and locals alike. Definitely try the seafood biryani, papadams, and the Bombay kulfi.
Situated in the heart of South Street, The Rule is a cocktail bar with one of the more modern setups for pre-drinking and hanging with your friends over a couple of cocktails. Try the truffle fries and if you’re feeling up for it, dare to indulge in the pitchers of the cocktails!
St Andrews Brewing Company
Fife’s own brewed and bottled with the highest of spirits. If you love your beer, try some of the darker or fruitier versions here. If beer isn’t your thing, St Andrews Brewing Company also offers a great variety of the best whiskeys and gins. Expect huge wooden tables where you get to mingle with the young and lively crowd.
For a quintessentially St Andrews Pub experience, head to Aikmans. It’s one of the oldest pubs in town and even has an underground wing. Expect live music by local bands, a homey feel quite unique for a bar, and some of the most exotic beers that you won’t find anywhere else in town. It has also been featured on the list of the Good Beer Guide for multiple years in a row.
What To See In St Andrews
If you’re a nature lover, head to the most picturesque part of town that looks like it’s straight out of a movie! ‘Scores’ is a truly stunning area in St Andrews that overlooks the North Sea. In its vicinity is one of the oldest and grandest of the University buildings still standing tall in all its glory. Admire the sparkling waters, the cool breeze rustling through the leaves and the breathtaking architecture. Scores offers nature’s beauty at its best coupled with history, culture, and elegance. (Expect to take tons of Instagram-worthy pictures!)
The Hogwarts-Like University Campus
Whether or not you’re a student, a visit to St Andrews should always include a visit to the magical University grounds. The Hogwarts-like campus is certainly awe-inspiring. Take a stroll around the campus — which is actually almost the entire town. Look out for the stunning St Mary’s Building, St Salvators Quad, and the historical ‘PH’ sign!
St Andrews Cathedral
St Andrews Cathedral is a majestic structure over 600 years old and a truly stunning attraction in this University town. The ruins show that it was the largest church ever built in Scotland and the surrounding area offers a great spot for some lovely group snaps (the iconic graveyard and the museum). Visit during the day to get the best views. Get a ticket to climb the St Rule’s Tower for the best view of the town.
Author’s Favourite Travel Gear
Purefly Soft Velvet Inflatable Travel Pillow: This velvety airplane pillow and neck support is my absolute savior for long-haul flights! It inflates with the push of a button and comes with a cover that converts into a handy sack that you can carry conveniently when traveling.
Club Glove Stiff Arm Travel Golf Club Protector: These travel club protectors are great for all golf enthusiasts! If you’re scared about damaging your golf gear, these stiff arm protectors are a great solution for protecting your goods.
Ello Cole Vacuum Insulated Travel Mug: This travel mug has been my hero in helping me withstand the harsh Scottish winds at all times. It’s nice to have something hot handy so that you can sip on and keep yourself warm and safe from catching a cold.