The Top 7 Things to Do and See in St Andrews, Scotland

Top things to do in St Andrews include a climb up St Rule’s Tower for a spectacular coastal view
Top things to do in St Andrews include a climb up St Rule’s Tower for a spectacular coastal view | © Daniel Sweeney (escapeimages.com) / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Madeleine Bazil
13 August 2020

Home to the University of St Andrews since 1413, this seaside town on the east Fife coast is an eclectic mix of historic tradition and contemporary intellectualism. Truly, St Andrews has it all, and its ancient streets have been walked upon by students, locals, and golf tourists alike. Read on for the top seven must-dos in the Auld Grey Toon.

St Rule's Tower

Cathedral, Church
Map View
St Andrews Cathedral burial ground and town from the top of St Rules Tower
© Phil Seale / Alamy Stock Photo
Overlooking a rocky stretch of beach known as Castle Sands, the historic St Andrews Cathedral ruins are a sight to behold. Once the largest church in Scotland, the cathedral was a destination for religious pilgrims in the medieval era, and it remains impressive-looking even as a ruin. Entrance to the ruins and graveyard is free, but it’s worth shelling out a few pounds for a ticket to the cathedral’s museum, which includes entry to St Rule’s Tower – and the view from the top of the tower is unbeatable.

Sample local beer at the St Andrews Brewing Co.

Pub, Bar, Pub Grub, British, $$$
Map View

The St Andrews Brewing Company, a local craft brewery, is adored by both students and locals for its range of Fife-made ales, stouts and IPAs. The brew pub, located on South Street, is a cozy and welcoming spot for a pint of oatmeal stout or a glass of Thistly Cross Cider. The beer hall upstairs gets lively on weekend evenings, with students sitting around the tables to sip their drinks and chat with friends.

West Sands Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
St Andrews as seen from the West Sands at Sunset. Image shot 11/2010. Exact date unknown.
© Frame Focus Capture Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
The most famous of St Andrews’s three beaches is West Sands, immortalized in the opening scene of the 1981 film Chariots of Fire. The flat expanse of beach is easily accessible from the town centre and runs parallel to the Old Course. Queue up the film’s famous score on your playlist and head over for an early-morning walk or run – where you’ll share the sand with dog walkers, joggers and occasionally students taking riding lessons – or show up in the evening to bask in the sunset reflecting on the water and the sound of students having impromptu beach barbecues in good weather.

Jannettas Gelateria

Cafe, Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream, Dessert, $$$
Map View
Jannettas Gelateria has been consistently hailed as the best ice cream shop in Scotland since it was first opened by Italian immigrants in 1908. Over a century later, it is still owned by the founder’s family, and the gelato is still as delicious as ever. Go full Scottish with Irn Bru gelato – Scottish tablet flavour – or keep it traditional with a chocolate-based scoop or a fruity sorbet; it’s impossible to go wrong.

Enjoy some culture at the Byre

Theatre
Map View
The Byre Theatre St Andrews Fife Scotland
© Mark Sunderland Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
The Byre Theatre, founded in 1933 and recently purchased and renovated to its former glory by the University of St Andrews, offers a full calendar of theatre, dance, comedy, music and other productions year round, from professional touring companies to community theatre to student productions. Enjoy a glass of wine at the Café Bar, and then make your way into the 216-seat auditorium for a memorable experience.

St Salvator's Chapel

Building, Church, University
Map View
Located in St Salvator’s Quad, this historic chapel was founded by Bishop Kennedy in 1450 and has a storied history: during the Scottish Reformation, the chapel tower was used by Catholic forces to fire upon the castle in an effort to reclaim it from the Protestants, and the chapel is also the location of the pulpit where John Knox preached his famous three-day sermon. Today, the stunning Late Gothic building is the university’s main chapel, and it also hosts the St Salvator’s Chapel Choir.

Check out the St Andrews Links

Park
Map View
The Swilken Bridge, or Swilken Burn Bridge, is a famous small stone bridge in St Andrews Links golf course, Scotland.. Image shot 05/2014. Exact date unknown.
© John Davidson Photos / Alamy Stock Photo
For avid golfers, playing the Old Course is the ultimate dream, and fortunately getting a tee time is easier than commonly thought; golfers with a suitable handicap can apply by contacting the reservations department online or by phone. Golf game not up to par? It’s still worth taking a stroll along the cart paths to see the famed course as well as the other six courses in the links, or doing a wee round of mini-golf at the Himalayas Putting Course. And of course, don’t forget to stop by the famous Swilcan Bridge on the 18th fairway for a photo.
These recommendations were updated on August 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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