The birthplace of golf, home to Scotland’s oldest university and centuries of history to discover – St Andrews is a great place to add to your Scotland itinerary for a variety of reasons. This travel guide lists 10 awesome things to do in St Andrews including a few ideas for scenic trips in the nearby area.


This post contains affiliate links, which I may make a commission from. Check my Disclaimer for more information.


St Andrews is the most famous town in the region of Fife and draws students, golfers, history buffs and nature lovers alike.

Looking back at centuries of rich history, St Andrews has a lot to offer and is a place I visit regularly – there is always something new to discover.

Read on for an inspiring travel guide for St Andrews, including:

  • 10 awesome things to do in St Andrews,
  • Including highlights in town and a few ideas for trips outside the city limits,
  • Travel Info: How to get to St Andrews & local transport,
  • Where to stay in St Andrews,
  • And my favourite restaurants and bars in St Andrews.

Ready to plan a trip to St Andrews?

10 Things to do in St Andrews

There is no shortage of things to do in St Andrew. Most of the attractions below are within easy walking distance of each other, or just a quick drive away – making St Andrews the perfect place for a weekend getaway.

St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral (£6, FREE for Historic Environment Scotland members & Explorer Pass holders) is almost more impressive because most of it is left to your imagination.

The ruins of what was once one of Scotland’s largest medieval cathedrals lie at the town centre by the sea.

The cathedral was built in the 12th century when St Andrews was the religious centre of the Roman Catholic Church of Scotland. After Catholic practice was outlawed in the 16th century, the cathedral fell into ruins.

Walking among the remaining arches, walls and towers it is hard to imagine how it was even possible to build such a massive structure over 800 years ago.

TOP TIP:
Get a combination ticket for St Andrews Cathedral and St Andrews Castle and save money! [2020 price: £12]

St Rule’s Tower

One of the highlights on the grounds of the cathedral is St Rule’s Tower, which dates back to the 11th century. Despite its age, it is in much better condition than the Cathedral.

You can climb the stairs to the top for spectacular views of St Andrews. Entrance is included in Cathedral admission.

Note, that the steps are steep and narrow.

The view from the tower near St Andrews Cathedral in Scotland.

St Andrews Castle

The ruined St Andrews Castle (£9, FREE for Historic Environment Scotland members & Explorer Pass holders) is slightly tucked away from the hustle and bustle of St Andrews’ town centre and the waterfront near the Cathedral.

Before heading down to the ruins, castle visitors learn about the historic context of the times and about various sieges, religious conspiracies and political crises that went on in St Andrews back in the day.

The castle itself has several preserved structures to explore and you can clearly make out the different layers that have been added for its protection over time.

The most impressive parts of the castle site are certainly the mine and countermine. These are two connected tunnel systems that were carved into the rock underlying the castle from two different directions during a siege – one to get out and one to get in.

St Andrews is one of Scotland's most beautiful towns. My quick guide to St Andrews gives you an overview of what to see & do, and where to eat & drink.

St Andrews Golfing Experience

St Andrews is the birthplace of golf.

The British Golf Museum (£10, Bruce Embankment) is a good place to start learning about the history of the sport and the significance of golf in Scotland.

To play a round of golf yourself, there are 10 golf courses in St Andrews to choose from. You can even play the historic Old Course – Green fees start at £95 in low season and rise to £195 in high season [2020 prices]. 

For golf lessons and courses, check out the St Andrews Links Golf Academy.

The Academy also offers guided walks on the Old Course (£12.50), including a stop at the iconic Swilcan Bridge

St Andrews is one of Scotland's most beautiful towns. My quick guide to St Andrews gives you an overview of what to see & do, and where to eat & drink.

St Andrews Botanical Garden

Located in the heart of St Andrews, the Botanic Garden is a treasure trove of plants from around the world. There are glasshouses with desert plants and orchids, a tropical butterfly house and sprawling grounds with outdoor plants.

There is a lovely cafe and a plant nursery where you can pick up plants or seeds for your home garden (note import/export rules).

St Andrews Beaches: East Sands and West Sands

St Andrews is surrounded by sprawling sandy beaches.

East Sands at the foot of the Cathedral is just a few minute’s walk from the town centre. It is a popular beach among locals and visitors, home to the sailing club and a great location for water activities.

West Sands expands further west form the Old Course along a series of other golf courses.

Both beaches are great for a picnic in the sun, people and puppy watching and a refreshing dip in the sea.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 18 Fun Outdoor Activities to try in Scotland

St Andrews is one of Scotland's most beautiful towns. My quick guide to St Andrews gives you an overview of what to see & do, and where to eat & drink.

Book a Walking Tour

It is fairly easy to visit St Andrews independently and tour the highlights within a day – but booking a tour with a local tour guide adds context, history and hidden gems to your experience.

The St Andrews Walking Tour includes visits to attractions such as the Cathedral, the Castle and the Old Course, but also the University of St Andrews campus and other local favourites. 

Foodies will love to hear that there is also a food tour in St Andrews! Eat Walk St Andrews is a walking tour visiting local restaurants, bars and shops to taste the larder of Fife.

It gives visitors the chance to meet local producers and speak to people who are passionate about the food they prepare from local ingredients. Between stops, the tour guide also explains some of the local history and takes in the highlights of St Andrews. 

 

St Andrews is surrounded by beautiful scenery and lies in a prime location to explore beyond the city limits. It would be a shame to limit yourself to things to do in St Andrews – make some time to discover further afield!

Walk the Fife Coastal Path towards Kingsbarns

The Fife Coastal Path is a 9-day long-distance trail that follows the entire coastline of Fife from Kincardine to Newburgh. It runs right through St Andrews.

From East Sands, you can follow the Fife Coastal Path all the way to Kingsbarns (8.5 miles / 13.5 km, walking time: 3-4 hours). 

The path closely hugs the coastline and climbs up and down the sides of the cliffs. Highlights along the way are the volcanic rock formations Buddo Rock and the Rock and Spindle, which are particularly impressive at low tide.

The St Andrews Bay Golf Course lies about halfway and the Fairmont’s St Andrews Bar & Grill at the golf course makes for a perfect lunch break location.

From Kingsbarns, you can catch the bus back to St Andrews (Stagecoach bus 95).

This leisurely hike is one of my favourite things to do in St Andrews.

A woman standing on rocks by the sea on the FIfe Coastal Path in Scotland.
Phot by Ksenia Zizina.

Visit a Distillery

There are two distilleries near St Andrews producing all kinds of spirits and drinks.

Eden Mill produces gin, whisky and craft beers which are widely available throughout Scotland. The distillery and brewery are located just 5 miles west of St Andrews – a 10-minute drive or easy bus ride (services 94 and 99).

Tastings and tours are usually available, however, the distillery is currently closed due to constructions [2020 Update].

Kingsbarns Distillery lies 7 miles east of St Andrews and offers three different kinds of distillery tours (from £12).

There is a gin distillery on-site – Darnley’s Distillery – which is open for tours as well (£10).

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to taste Scottish Whisky the RIGHT Way

A pint of Eden Mill craft beer in Scotland.

Road Trip to the East Neuk Fishing Villages

St Andrews is very close to the picturesque fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife

On just 10 miles of coastline, you can enjoy a series of five quaint villages with colourful waterfronts and bustling harbours. 

They are connected by the Fife Coastal Path – the walk from Elie to Anstruther is actually one of my favourite things to do in Fife – but you can also visit all of them by car.

From Crail to Elie, each of the villages has something slightly different to offer.

Crail: Possibly the most photographed village on the East Neuk of Fife with cobbled streets and a tiny harbour.

Anstruther: A bustling village with world-famous fish & chip shops (try the Anstruther Fish Bar) and boat trips to the Isle of May to see puffins.

Pittenweem: A lovely village with a narrow footpath on the waterfront and a sweet shop that sells Jannetta’s ice cream.

St Monans: Home of the beautiful St Monans Windmill and a quirky welly-flower garden by the harbour.

Elie: A busy village surrounded by sandy beaches – a highlight is the Lady Janet Anstruther’s Tower by Ruby Bay.

Harbour in Pittenweem in Scotland

St Andrews Travel Guide

How to get to St Andrews

From Edinburgh

By car: The drive from Edinburgh to St Andrews takes just under 1.5 hours – distance: 52 miles.

By public transport: Take the train from Edinburgh to Leuchars (LNER) and a bus from there to St Andrews (Stagecoach 99, 94, 92 or 42). Buses leave frequently. The whole journey takes around 1.5 hours. 

From Glasgow

By car: The drive from Glasgow to St Andrews takes just over 1.5 hours – distance: 75 miles.

By public transport: Stagecoach bus X24 takes you straight from Glasgow to St Andrews (3 hours). You could also take a bus (Megabus) to or train to Dundee (Scotrail) and then Stagecoach bus 99 to St Andrews from there. This takes around 2.5 hours.

Get your train tickets in advance and SAVE TIME & CASH!

    

 

Where to Stay in St Andrews

There are many hotels and bed & breakfasts in St Andrews that cater to different budgets and tastes.

For upscale golf hotels, consider the Old Course Hotel in the centre of St Andrews with access to multiple golf courses, or the Fairmont, which is slightly south of the town, but directly at the beautiful St Andrews Bay Golf Course. 

I usually stay at the St Andrews Holiday Park – a caravan park at East Sands beach. Caravans are available for a minimum of 3 nights. They usually have 2-3 bedrooms and are a great solution if you travel in a group or want self-catering facilities.

During the summer, you can also book budget-friendly accommodation at St Andrews University student halls.

Note, that St Andrews also makes for a great day trip from Edinburgh, so it is not necessary to book a place to stay!

Food & Drink in St Andrews

St Andrews is a foodie’s paradise, although the vegan offering is still growing and it is important to research or call ahead to check if vegan options are available. Here are some of my favourite restaurants and pubs in St Andrews.

Restaurants

Dolls House (3 Church Square) behind the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity serves modern French cuisine with a Scottish twist. They have several vegan options on the menu. The food is absolutely gorgeous!

Zizzi, an Italian franchise restaurant (87 South St), has a separate vegan menu with options ranging from pizza and pasta dishes to desserts. It’s a good backup option to have up your sleeve.

St Andrew’s Brewing Company (119 North Street or 177 South Street) serves burgers, Scottish classics and comfort food and has a few vegan options on the menu – as well as tasty craft beers.

Cafe Gorgeous (7 Bell St) is a beautiful vintage tearoom with light snacks, cakes and hot drinks. I’m not sure how regularly they have vegan options.

Forgan’s (110 Market St) has a separate vegan menu that looks fantastic too! They serve contemporary Scottish cuisine and source their produce as locally as possible.

Sweet Treats

If you are a sweet tooth like me – guilty as charged – you will be delighted to hear that St Andrews has some treats for you!

Fisher & Donaldson (13 Church St) is an iconic bakery. Their fudge doughnuts are out of this world (but sadly not vegan).

Jannetta’s Gelateria (31 South St) is a famous family-run ice-cream shop. They make all their ice cream in house and have a few non-dairy options too.

Bars & Pubs

St Andrews might be small, but it is still a student town, has a thriving local community and attracts many tourists throughout the year – it comes as no surprise that there are various pubs and bars to choose from in the evenings. 

The Keys Bar (87 Market St) has an incredible selection of whiskies to choose from and knowledgable staff who can help you choose the perfect dram for you. The pub is not a secret, but still popular among locals.

The Cellar Bar (32 Bell St) is a great bar to go for live music. They have bands ranging from jazz to blues and folk playing at least 3 nights a week.

Whisky selection at the Key's Bar in St Andrews.

I hope this list of things to do in St Andrews has convinced you to plan a trip to this beautiful town on the Scottish east coast and spend a few days exploring the area.

Have you ever been to St Andrews?

***

PIN THIS FOR LATER:

***

Planning a trip to Scotland?

Find accommodation, book your rental car or a guided tour with Rabbie’s.

Book day trips to explore the country or get advance tickets for attractions.

Read up in a travel guide and prepare for hikes with OS Explorer Maps.

Get your rain gear in place and browse my packing list.

Book your Glasgow tour with me or let me plan your itinerary.

 

All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.

6 thoughts on “10 Awesome Things to do in St Andrews

  1. Yvette says:

    St. Andrews is such an underrated destination! I fell in love with the place during my first visit. It’s not overwhelming either- there’s heaps you can do here but you can do it at a leisurely pace. Great read 🙂

  2. Camila says:

    I love St Andrews. It’s still my favourite place in Scotland. I did my Masters there and I enjoyed exploring every little crook of it. Interesting to hear you stayed in a caravan park, I never knew of anyone who stayed there!
    I had my first date with my boyfriend at the Dolls House, it’s such a nice place! My favourite for lunch are Mitchells (for a nice sit down lunch and tea) and Gorgeous (for a delicious panini on the go). My favourite place for dinner is definitey Forgans – they have amazing veggie burgers! And I love to have a good pitcher of Pimms at the West Port. My favourite pub was the Criterion. And I’m so surprised to hear you went in the Keys Bar. When I was a student there it was definitely known as the old men pub of the town, not really a student or tourist place.

  3. Pingback: 50 Useful Travel Tips for Scotland | Watch Me See

  4. Pingback: The Classic Scotland Itinerary for One Week

  5. Zara says:

    Great post! I study at university in St Andrews and it honestly is one of the most special corners of the country if not the whole planet! (I am totally not biased) Beautiful photos, makes me a little homesick for the town since I am now at home for the Summer. Next time you are in St. Andrews I would definitely recommend eating at Mitchells or Westport for a delicious and authentic evening meal. Both attract a mixture of locals and tourists as well as students. I would also definitely recommend St. Andrews Brewing Co. if you are looking for some evening drinks. With the warmest atmosphere it sells a variety of locally produced thistly cross ciders – definitely try and nab a table upstairs where they have a more ‘Beerhalle’ style seating and atmosphere. Sorry for the rambly comment I just love finding bloggers who enthuse about St. Andrews as much as I do! X

    • Kathi says:

      Love your input – thank you so much for your comment! I hope to go back for a week next year, cause my boyfriend’s family’s caravan isn’t going anywhere – I’ll try all your recommendations then!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *