St Andrews, with its seaside charm, golfing heritage and picture-perfect buildings, is a treat for Culture Trippers and locals alike. And its relatively small size certainly doesn’t hinder any fun. From ancient ruins to hidden wonders, explore our guide to the must-visit attractions and discover what all the fuss is about.
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St Andrews Cathedral
Now in ruins, St Andrews Cathedral dates back to 1158 and was once the HQ of the Scottish Medieval Catholic Church. This beauty took over a century to build and was the largest holy place of worship ever to grace Scotland. Its ruinous state kicked in when the Scottish Reformation led to the demise of Catholic mass. Today, a museum exists filled with ancient curiosities and cool facts.
St Rule’s Tower
At 33 metres high, St Rule’s Tower dwells amidst the ruins of St Andrew’s Cathedral and boasts breathtaking views across the town and afar. This grey sandstone ashlar edifice, which dates back to the 11th century, existed before the cathedral and was once a component of the church built to hold the relics of St Andrew — legend has it that St Regulus or St Rule brought St Andrew’s bones all the way from Greece. Not only did the tower allow for worship while the cathedral was under construction but it also acted as a wayfinding landmark for Apostles in search of the relics.
St Andrews University
Academic or not, a trip to St Andrews isn’t complete without a tour of its renowned university. A prestigious learning institution loved by all who attend it, the University of St Andrews is ranked as the UK’s third best university after Oxbridge and hosts students from every corner of the earth. Founded between 1410 and 1413, this hub of ingenuity is home to some of the most magnificent architecture made for exploring, including the incredible late Gothic St Salvator’s Chapel.
St Andrews Castle
A must-visit attraction, St Andrews Castle is deeply woven into the historical fabric of St Andrews. These ruins bask above Castle Sands Beach on a rugged patch of land. Over the centuries, the castle played witness to many faces — some royalty, others prisoners, many of religious standing. It was destroyed multiple times during the Wars of Scottish Independence before being rebuilt again. The bottle prison below became notorious as a place to avoid at all costs. Today, these whispering ruins cannot help but paint a colourful picture of a place that once was.
West Sands Beach
Praised for its swathes of silvery golden sparkling sands, boisterous waves and wispy Scottish sunsets, West Sands Beach is suited to both snail’s pace meanderings and epic adventures. This sandy spot boasts two whole miles of uninterrupted beauty and is located just 15 minutes away from the town centre. Film buffs will no doubt recognize the area from the opening shots of Chariots of Fire, while golfers will go wild over the breathtaking golf course.
North Point Café
Bestowed with buckets of charm and cosy vibes, North Point Café is somewhat of a St Andrews eating institution. Aside from its unrivalled reputation for the best pancakes in town and array of delicious eats, this legendary café is famous for the first date place of royals Wills and Kate. Going stronger than ever, this golden nugget of a spot hosts hordes of happy folk following in the footsteps of the regal lovebirds, who frequently flocked to North Point for coffee, tea and cakes on a regular basis.
MUSA or the Museum of the University of St Andrews is packed to the gunwales with eye-catching curiosities related to the university and its riveting heritage. This five-star visitor attraction plays host to over 112,000 artefacts, along with a splendid array of interactive activities and collections across all four galleries. A gem in its own right, the viewing terrace is an oasis of awe-inducing panoramic views of St Andrews Bay.
Old Course St Andrews
Golf fanatic or not, you can’t visit the world’s ‘home of golf’ without stopping by The Old Course in St Andrews. This legendary course, one of the oldest in the world, has hosted 29 Open Championships and is forever the host of tribes upon tribes of eager golfers chomping at the bit to play. Not only is the first ever game thought to occur on the links back in the 15th century but the Old Course also plays a crucial role in the game of golf as we know it, the rules included.
Eden Mill Distillery
You don’t want to miss out on this one. Eden Mill Distillery takes the crown as the first ever combined brewery and distillery housed on a single site in Scotland. And the result is glorious — a swoon-worthy trifecta where artisanal gin, bespoke whisky and craft beer reign free. This artisanal funhouse, a former distillery in the 19th century, is an epicentre of superior craftsmanship and discerning palates. Eden Mill offers gin, beer and whisky tours, which are almost as life-affirming as the booze.
Iconic to a T(ee), Swilcan Bridge is perhaps one of the most recognizable bridges in the world — to golfers that is! Sitting unassumingly between the first and 18th fairways on the Old Course, this tiny stone structure is featured in countless famous photos with all the golfing greats. Built some 700 years ago, this golfing relic may be replicated in Florida’s World Golf Hall of Fame but St Andrews has the real deal. A cracking Instagram-op!
St Andrews Pier and harbour
Still going strong since the good old fishing days, St Andrews Pier and accompanying harbour are riddled with historical memories and steeped in tradition. Every Sunday, university students and staff adorned in academic regalia take a stroll down to the pier after the chapel service subsides, a ritual ingrained in university life for decades. Whether kissed by Scottish sunshine or watched by moody skies, this picture-perfect pier is a purveyor of stunning views.
St Andrews Botanic Garden
A flourishing wonderland, St Andrews Botanic Garden features 18 acres of untainted natural beauty in the form of a mindboggling 8000 native and exotic plant species. Between the cloaks of kaleidoscope colours, mesmerizing ponds, sculptural greenhouses, and happier-than-can-be wildlife fluttering about, this stunning horticultural paradise welcomes wanderers, plant enthusiasts and those looking for a moment’s respite.
British Golf Museum
Perfectly placed by the prestigious St Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club clubhouse — another must-see spot in a golfer’s tour of the town — the British Golf Museum is a hub of all things golf from its birth all the way through time. Home to Europe’s most impressive and vast spread of golfing memorabilia, this in-depth museum holds the key to 17,000 objects and a magnificent rooftop café.
St Andrews Museum
What better place to brush up on local history than the St Andrews Museum. Housed in a stunning Victorian building, the story of St Andrews is shared through the range of compelling collections, each of which contain age-old objects worth ogling over. Although small in size, this museum offers free admission and deserves credit for its dedication to the town’s heritage. Don’t overlook the homemade goodies from the café and arty shop finds either.
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