St Andrews is seaside town located on the East Coast of Scotland, Northeast of Edinburgh, and is packed with history, tradition and is a gorgeous place to spend a day whilst touring Scotland.
With its Cathedral it has been a religious pilgrimage route for centuries, with one of the UK’s most prestigious Universities it draws the students, and with the world’s oldest and most famous golf courses it brings the world’s greatest golfers. But it is the picturesque streets and now ruins of the Cathedral and Castle that brings the tourists.
So, here’s our itinerary for a day trip to St Andrews.
We drove from Edinburgh which is around 1 and half hours away. You can also drive from Glasgow which takes around the same time. Trains also depart Edinburgh’s Waverly Station and Glasgow’s Queen Street Station, are a similar journey time and cost between £18 / £30 return and arrive near St Andrew’s (just hop on a local bus or grab a taxi).
Park up near St Andrews Castle, which is perched on a clifftop overlooking the bay. A castle has stood on the site since the 13th Century, first housing the Bishops of St Andrews. Having been destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries, it was also used as a fortress and a prison. Now it stands in ruins, but magnificent ruins at that. You can climb up to the kitchen and look over the cliff edge and climb up to the Great Hall which has wonderful views over the manicured lawns and gardens. Be sure to check out the infamous bottle dungeon where prisoners were kept and the explore the underground tunnels dug by 16th-century invaders.
Next up, head across the road to St Andrews other famous landmark- the medieval St Andrews Cathedral, which was Scotland’s largest church and the headquarters of the Church of Scotland until 1560. Wander through the ruins and cemetery. There is also a museum with original sculptures and grave stones. In the museum collect a token to access the 33-metre-high St Rules Tower which you can climb to the top off and marvel at the views from the top across the gorgeous sandy beaches, the town and views down to the castle.
You can purchase a joint entry ticket for the castle and Cathedral for £9 for adults (£7 concessions/£5.40 children 5–15) or purchase the Historic Scotland membership pass which is £84 for a joint pass for 12 months, or try the discovery pass which is best if you are in Scotland for a short time only, check out the Historic Scotland website here
St Andrews is also famous for its golf course- in fact it is known as ‘the home of golf’ as it is one of the oldest courses in the world, where the game has been played since the 15th century. Visit the Old Course which is the most famous and traditional course in the world! If you want to join in for a round, then you have to have a handicap of 24 for men and 36 for women, with a certificate from your golf course to prove it. You will also have had to book up to 1 year in advance. However, you can have a swing at the nearby Himalayas course which is a putting green, and anyone can have a go for only £3. Be sure to visit the famous Swilken Bridge which links the course, you can walk across it when there isn’t a game in play.
The other thing to do whilst in St Andrews is take a wander around St Andrews University which at 600 years old is Scotland’s oldest University, the buildings of the campus are gorgeous, and you can wander in the footsteps of politicians, actors and Royalty- this is where Prince William met Kate whilst they were students here! Pop in to St Salvator’s quad and visit the 15th century chapel which is the oldest area of the university
Finish your day by wandering around the town, looking at the cute buildings and cobbled alleyways. And why not stop in a bar for some local gin, Eden Mills. There are lots of cafes and cheap eats due to the large population of students.
And make sure to stop by West Gate which is part of the old medieval stone gate!