Dripping in old-world charm and buckets of refined fun, St Andrews always provides a torrent of adventurous activity. Whether you’re there for a whistle-stop tour or impromptu 24-hour getaway, discover our guide to enjoying this picturesque Scottish coastal town in one day.
Breakfast in a new place is a wonderful way to start the day — as is coffee! As far as St Andrews goes, you’re spoiled with top eateries. St Andrews Waffle Company boasts the best waffles out of Liège, Bibi’s is an adorable option with eggs Benedict, and Nardini’s is an institution with perfect Italian coffee and pastries galore.
Start the morning activities with a grand tour of the University of St Andrews, Scotland’s oldest academic institution. The mix of architectural styles around campus varies from brutalist to Victorian gothic and everything in between. The Quad is a good place to start, St Salvator’s Chapel is a joy and St Mary’s College is said to host a thorn tree planted by Mary, Queen of Scots. Those interested in the history can stop by MUSA, the Museum of the University of St Andrews.
Ancient and symbolic, St Andrews Cathedral is a brisk 5-minute walk from the University campus. This ruined holy place was once Scotland’s largest cathedral and the headquarters of the Scottish medieval church. Although it’s free to tour the ruins, the small museum fee is worth it, if only to ogle at the medieval sculptures.
Admission also includes entrance to St Rule’s Tower, a tall structure that outdates the Cathedral with magnificent panoramic views. Rain or shine, this beautiful site is associated with the relics of St Andrew and is an oasis of calm for all kinds.
St Andrews may be compact but it has a restaurant guaranteed to steal the heart (and gut) of all foodies! For a snack lunch or light bite, North Point Café is a failsafe favourite. A cosy vibes, homey menu and reputation as the first-date place of Wills and Kate! For a more refined feast, Forgan’s, with its host of fairy lights and mesmerising sky-light, is the epitome of trendy and holds the key to a mouth-watering grill and European eats made with love and local produce. Those suited to speedy bites will fall in love with Mitchell’s, an exceedingly cool deli with delicious relaxed fare. To finish, Jannettas Gelateria is a place of dreams and so many flavours!
Once fed and watered, it’s only fitting to scan the splendid assortment of independent boutiques and businesses that call St Andrews home. Highlights include Sam Brown Boutique (fashion), The Crystal Shop (spellbinding semi-precious stones), Isle of Skye Candle Co. (gorgeous Scottish candles), Burns (sweetie shop), I.J. Mellis (top quality farmhouse cheeses) and Rummage (vintage emporium perfect for magpies).
The rest of the afternoon can go one of three ways — the historical, golf or booze route! History buffs can delight in touring the ruins of St Andrews Castle, a fortress renowned for its formidable prison and many sieges. The British Golf Museum boasts Europe’s most raved-about golf memorabilia, while ‘the Himalayas’ is a fun putting green catered to all skill sets for a modest £2 per round!
An unmissable attraction, Eden Mill is a craft brewery and distillery specialising in gin, beer and whisky. Voted as one of the best Scottish distillery tours, visitors are granted access to insider information regarding the entire making process and a mind-blowing tasting session to ignite all senses.
For an all-star dining experience, look no further than The Seafood Ristorante. This exquisite eatery is found by the water and is packed to the gunwales with the finest Scottish oceanic eats and plenty of fizz. Between the stunning views (honestly, the best in town), first class food and unwavering hospitality, this restaurant ticks every box.
Just a brief stroll from The Seafood Ristorante sits The Martyrs’ Monument, a slim structure and slice of history constructed in 1842 to honour those who died during the Scottish Reformation period. Iconic as it is old, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is also nearby and a must-see for any golfer.
A perfect way to end the day is a relaxed drink in one of the many St Andrews pubs and bars. For quintessential Scottish pubs, opt for Drouthy’s or Whey Pat’s, both steeped in traditional charm and low-key yet ambient vibes. If innovative cocktails and plush surrounds get the juices flowing then The Adamson is your best bet. Full of laughs and trendy touches, The Vic is a grand pick with its fun cocktails and array of entertainment. Alos, as is part of St Andrews Brewing Company, The Vic is complete with locally brewed craft beers and an impressive range of bespoke gins, ciders and whiskies.
After a fun evening absorbing the pretty cobbled streets and convivial atmosphere, there’s no better place to lay your head than one of the boutique hotels like Kinnettles or Hotel Du Vin. There, 24 hours in St Andrews well done.