- For other places with the same name, see St Andrews (disambiguation).
St Andrews is a small town on the coast of Fife in northeast Scotland. With a population of 18,000, it's an attractive place famous for its ancient university and as the "home of golf".
St Andrews in medieval times was the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland, and its cathedral was the most important in the country. But from the 15th century there was religious turbulence: John Knox preached here, two other Lutheran preachers were burned as heretics, the cardinal was lynched as revenge and the cathedral and bishop's castle were wrecked.
The university was founded in 1410, making it the oldest in Scotland, and the third oldest in the English-speaking world. Today the university dominates the town, particularly during term-time. It's often perceived as elite, for instance Prince William studied geography here and met Kate Middleton who was studying history of art; they're now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
St Andrews is also the "home of golf", with the Royal and Ancient being one of the oldest Golf Clubs in the world, and hosting the game's worldwide ruling body. There are several golf courses or "links", including the renowned Old Course. St Andrews is mobbed when a major tournament is in town, especially the Dunhill Cup (in October, next is 1-4 Oct 2020) and the Open Championship (every five years, next is 15-18 July 2021 with practice from the 11th).
Edinburgh Airport (EDI IATA) has the best selection of flights. From there take Stagecoach Bus Jet 747 to Inverkeithing in Fife to catch the hourly train to Leuchars and Dundee, or to Halbeath for the hourly bus. Otherwise take the tram or bus from the airport to Edinburgh Haymarket for trains or buses.
- Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.
The nearest railway station is 1 Leuchars, 6 miles west of town. This has two trains an hour from Edinburgh, taking an hour, and continuing to Dundee, Arbroath and Aberdeen. There are two direct daytime trains from London Kings Cross heading for Aberdeen, otherwise change in Edinburgh. The overnight Highland Sleeper from London Euston also calls here, but before 06:00; you might prefer to take the Lowland Sleeper to Edinburgh then a day train.
Stagecoach Bus 99 from Dundee takes 10 min between Leuchars station and St Andrews, see below. A combined train+bus ticket is slightly cheaper than separate fares.
A taxi from Leuchars might cost £15 to the centre of St Andrews.
Stagecoach Fife Bus 99 runs 05:30-23:00 from Dundee via Leuchars station to St Andrews; daytime it's every 10 min. There are night buses to 03:00 on Friday and Saturday night.
Bus X59 runs hourly from Edinburgh St Andrew Square to St Andrews, taking just over 2 hours via Halbeath and Glenrothes, with the last bus at 17:50.
Bus X24 runs hourly from Glasgow Airport via Glasgow Buchanan station, Cumbernauld, Dunfermline, Halbeath and Glenrothes to St Andrews, taking 3 hr 30 min with the last bus at 18:20.
Bus 95 follows the coast south from St Andrews through Kingsbarns, Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, Elie, Upper Largo and Lower Largo to Leven. It runs hourly, daily.
2 St Andrews Bus Station is central, on City Road.
By car from the south follow M90 across the new Forth Road Bridge then A91 east into town.
National Bike Route 1 crosses the Forth by the old bridge, then meanders via Dunfermline, Kinross, Auchtermuchty, and along the lanes south of A91 into St Andrews. It continues north through Guardbridge and Leuchars to Dundee; then, if you're really up for it, to Aberdeen, Inverness, John O'Groats, Orkney and Shetland.
Walk. Or you might use bus 95 to reach Kingsbarns, or X99 for Guardbridge and Leuchars. The main taxi ranks are at the bus station, and on Bell Street which connects Market Street and South Street.
Town centre is designed to deter traffic, with a convoluted one-way system and limited expensive central parking. There are free car parks at Petheram Bridge just north of the bus station, Murray Place off North St, and Woodburn Place just south of the harbour. They're often referred to as "Park & Ride" but the town is too small for that, just walk in.
- 1 St Salvator's Quad, North Street KY16 9AL. Daily. This is the quadrangle of St Salvator's College and several academic departments are based here, though the university has abandoned the collegiate system for all but ceremonial purposes. Originally medieval, it became tumbledown and was rebuilt in Jacobean style in the 19th century. Its notable buildings are the college chapel, tower and tenement, and the Hebdomodar's building; St Salvator's Hall just east is a student residence built in the 1930s. The chapel, dating from 1450, conducts university services every Sunday, with staff and students in traditional garb. (The red gowns are for all undergrads except St Mary's; the slant at which they're worn denotes the student's year and subject.) After chapel, the students parade to the end of the pier to commemorate John Honey, who in 1800 hastened from the chapel to rescue five sailors from the stricken ship Janet. On North Street just outside the quad, the letters PH are set in the cobbles. Here Patrick Hamilton was burned at the stake in 1528 for his Lutheran heresies, such as preaching that Gospel and Law are separate things. It's said to be bad luck to walk on the letters, and that students who do so will flunk - this curse may be expunged by bathing in the sea at dawn on 1st May (the May Dip).
- 2 St Mary's Quad, South Street KY16 9JP. Daily. St Mary's College has always been the theology school or Faculty of Divinity, and these undergrads wear black gowns, befitting their sober future as church ministers. Enter through the black iron gates inscribed "In Principio Erat Verbum:" the opening of John's Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word". Left of the gate is Lower Parliament Hall, where the Scottish Parliament relocated from plague-stricken Edinburgh 1645-6; it's now the university Debating Hall. The building on the left of the quad, formerly the library, is now the School of Psychology. The tree on the right side was planted by Mary Queen of Scots - she didn't plant the large oak tree in the centre. Far side of the quad is a ruined gateway, now being restored, into the 20th C Bute Medical School.
- 3 St Andrews Botanic Gardens, Canongate KY16 8RT, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily Apr-Sept 10:00-18:00, Oct-Mar 10:00-16:00. Founded as the University Botanic Gardens in 1889 and now run by Fife Council, these are beautiful landscaped gardens, with different habitats (water garden, heath, peat, rock garden, Chinese, Chile garden). Eight glass houses hold orchids, cactus, alpine and tropical plants. Adult £6, conc £5.50, under-18 and students free.
- 4 St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum and Gardens, 12 North Street KY16 9PW, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 14:00-17:00. Museum about the history of St Andrews. Displays of old shops, furniture, art, etc relating to local area, gardens, and souvenir shop. Donation.
- 5 British Golf Museum, Bruce Embankment KY16 9AB, ☏ . Daily Apr-Oct 10:00-17:00, Nov-Mar 10:00-16:00. This museum offers an interesting look at golf through the ages, next to the famous course where the sport was first codified. Adult £10, conc £6, children free.
- 6 Aquarium, The Scores KY16 9AS, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10:00-17:00. Aquarium with seals, fish, reptiles, penguins; feeding sessions and talks. Small building at street level, most of it's hidden below ground. Look out for online advance deals which may be much cheaper than walk-up prices. Day pass adult £11, child £9.
- 7 St Andrews Museum, Kinburn Park, Doubledykes Road KY16 9DP, ☏ . W-Sa 10:30-16:00. Museum about the history of St Andrews in a Victorian mansion. Also regular temporary exhibitions. Free.
- The Museum of The University of St Andrews has two principal collections:
- - The Wardlaw Museum at 7 The Scores was due to re-open in spring 2020, but this has been postponed over coronavirus.
- - Bell Pettigrew Museum within Bute Medical Buildings off Queen's Terrace is the zoology collection. It's open M-F 13:00-17:00 and free.
- 8 St Andrews Castle, The Scores KY16 9AR, ☏ . Daily Apr-Sep 09:30-17:30, Oct-Mar 10:00-16:00. There's been a bishop's palace here since the 12th C, which successive armies wrecked; the present building is from 1400. It hosted royalty and also prisoners; in 1478 the unlucky Archbishop Patrick Graham was deemed insane and incarcerated in his own "palace". In 1546 during the Reformation, a Protestant preacher was burnt at the stake here, so his followers got in pretending to be building workers, lynched the cardinal, and barricaded themselves in. In the ensuing siege, a sapper-mine and counter-mine were dug through the underlying solid rock, which you can explore. The castle fell into disuse and in 1656 the burgh council took much of its material to re-build the pier. So it's now a picturesque shell in a great scenic location. Adult £9, child £5.40, conc £7.20; combi with cathedral £12 / £7.20 / £9.60.
- 9 St Andrews Cathedral and St Rule's Tower, The Pends KY16 9QL, ☏ . Daily Apr-Sep 09:30-17:30, Oct-Mar 10:00-16:00. Ruined cathedral. Built from 1158 to 1318, it was the principal Catholic church in Scotland before the Reformation, then was ransacked and fell derelict. Like the castle much of its masonry was removed in the 17th C for other buildings. St Rule's adjacent was an earlier church: the tower still stands and can be climbed. Another, St Mary on the Rock, was the collegiate church of the Culdees, who enjoyed a century-long feud with the Augustinians - little of this church remains. Adult £6, child £3.60, conc £4.80; combi with castle £12 / £7.20 / £9.60.
- 10 Pier and Harbour are small, at the outlet of the Kinness Burn, and the harbour is dry at low tide. It was an important fishing harbour but when the railway bypassed town, trade shifted to Dundee and the Forth ports. It's an agreeable place to stroll, with views from the end of the pier north across the Tay to the hills of Angus. On Sundays after chapel, university staff and students walk to the pier in their traditional academic dress.
- Beaches are great for strolling, but only the hardiest souls will plunge into the cold waters of the North Sea. You'll want a wet suit for water sports.
- 11 West Sands is the two mile sandy beach that flanks the R&A golf courses, with an access lane. There are various zones to segregate activities such as sand yachts and family paddling. It ends in sand dunes at Out Head by the outflow of the River Eden: the dunes may be closed off to protect bird life and other features. Dogs restricted May-Sept.
- 12 Castle Sands is a small sandy beach just below the castle. You need high tide to access the sea, at other times there's a long furrowed line of rocks, fine for rock-pooling but a barrier to paddling. This beach is the site of the annual May Dip, where students jump into the sea at daybreak on 1st May as part of a hoary university tradition.
- 13 East Sands is a half-mile sandy beach east of the harbour. Dogs welcome.
- Further away are sandy beaches at Kingsbarns five miles southeast, and at Tentsmuir Forest north of the River Eden.
- 1 Byre Theatre, Abbey Street KY16 9LA, ☏ , fax: . It really was a cow byre when it started in 1933, but the present building is the third. The company was taken over by the University in 2014. They put on a variety of repertory productions and some touring productions. The cafe-bar is open 10:00-15:00.
- 2 New Picture House (NPH), 117 North Street KY16 9AD, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Independent cinema, varied selection of films, from new releases to alternative, independent, or foreign language films. Adult £8.
- St Andrews Tours offer various guided tours of town, year-round.
- Golf originated in Scotland some time in the Middle Ages, and by 1457 it was common enough to be furiously prohibited by law, along with football. But by 1503 even the king was playing, and buying golf clubs and balls. At first golf was played on natural rugged terrain such as "links" ie sandy grass along the coast. The first maintained course was here in St Andrews, playing outward for 11 holes then homeward for a 22-hole course. Some holes were considered too short, so in 1764 these were combined to create a 9+9 course. And since St Andrews codified the rules of the game, the 18-hole course became standard.
- The Royal and Ancient Golf Club is the high temple of the game, promulgating its rule book, and hosting major tournaments. The good news is, it's relatively simple although expensive to get a game here, if you come off-season. You're unlikely to get onto the hallowed turf of the Old Course - you need to be taking part in a tournament, or have immense influence, or get lucky in the ballot. Or you might be a spectator for a tournament, or simply stroll by to watch celebs playing and practising. Mind your head! - "celeb" doesn't always mean "skilful". Your best chance of a game at R&A is on their six other courses: Castle, New, Jubilee, Eden, Strathtyrum and Balgove (which is 9-hole with no advance booking).
- Duke's Golf Course is at Craigtoun, 3 miles southwest of town. It's run by the Old Course Hotel, see "Sleep", and is heathland not links. They're evasive about who the Duke was, but presumably a scoundrel if he couldn't get in at the R&A.
- St Michaels is on A919 half a mile north of Leuchars.
- St Andrews Bay Golf Course is part of the Fairmont Hotel, see "Sleep".
- Kingsbarns Golf Links is five miles southeast off A917.
- Lots more within a short drive.
- Kingsbarns Distillery is open daily for tours. They produce whisky and gin.
- 3 East Sands Leisure Centre, St Mary St, KY16 8LH, ☏ . Leisure and fitness complex with swimming pool, flumes, gym, squash and sauna.
- 4 Eden.Mill (formerly Eden Brewery), Main St, Guardbridge KY16 0UU (A919, four miles west of St Andrews), ☏ , toll-free: . Microbrewery and distillery producing beer, whisky and gin, order online or find their products in town. No tours in 2020 while the place is being refurbished.
- St Andrews Highland Games are held at the end of July; the 2020 event was cancelled so the next is probably Sun 25 July 2021. There are also Games in June in Cupar and in Ceres a few miles west.
- Fife Agricultural Show is held in May in Cupar. The next event is probably 22 May 2021, tbc.
- The University of St. Andrews has a broad range of graduate and postgrad courses. It also offers short courses and summer schools suitable for visitors, eg in music, earth & environmental sciences, education, language, and orientation for overseas students.
- Golf: this isn't the place to learn from scratch, do your hacking and gouging on a humble municipal park. For seasoned golfers there are lots of pricey "golf experiences" and skills development courses.
- Golf, golf, golf, it's all over town. The closer you get to the Old Course, the higher the prices and the aroma of "prestige", but will your game improve proportionately?
- Supermarkets are Tesco Metro on Market Street, and Morrisons south edge of town on A915.
- Usual High Street names and souvenir shops, eg for knitware.
- Fisher and Donaldson, 13 Church Street KY16 9NW. M-Sa 06:00-17:00. Acclaimed bakery and confectioner, their fudge doughnuts are the house speciality. There's another branch at 197 South Street, and more in Cupar and Dundee.
- The Old Cheese Shop of St Andrews, Burghers Close, 141 South Street KY16 9UN, ☏ . Daily 10:00-16:00. A small cheese shop with an international cheese selection and cafe. Pricey, and some find it tourist-trappy.
- I. J. Mellis, 149 South Street KY16 9UN, ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-18:00, Su 11:00-17:00. Upmarket cheese shop, also has outlets in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
- University of St Andrews Shop, St Marys Place KY16 9UY, ☏ . M-Sa 09:30-17:30, Su 12:00-17:00. All official university merchandise, clothing and so on.
- Lots of little fish and chips shops do "chips and cheese", good post-pub fillers.
- The main eating strip is around South Street. Usual chains plus Shawarma House, Rogue, Jahangir Tandoor, Zizzi, Blackhorn Burgers, Tulsi (Indian), Tanon (Thai), Forgans and Tailend.
- Along North Street are The Räv, Haar, Ziggy's, and Playfair's Steakhouse.
- Taste, 148 North Street KY16 9AF. Daily 07:00-22:00. Great coffee and light bites. Small place so you may struggle to get seated. Cash only, no toilets.
- Jannettas Gelateria, 31 South Street KY16 9QR, ☏ . M-Sa 08:30-22:00, Su 10:00-22:00. Excellent ice cream. They have 54 flavours including Irn-Bru sorbet.
- Old Course Hotel has Road Hole Restaurant and other eating options, see "Sleep".
- Hotel du Vin Bistro (see "Sleep") is open W-Sa 12:00-14:30, Su 12:30-16:30, and daily 18:00-21:00.
- Peat Inn in Cupar has an outstanding restaurant and has rooms, see "Sleep".
- Central Bar, 77 Market Street KY16 9NU, ☏ . Su-Th 11:00-00:00, F Sa 11:00-01:00. Belhaven pub with island bar, good range of beers and ales. Traditional bar meals.
- 1 Aikman's Bar and Bistro, 32 Bell Street KY16 9UX, ☏ . Daily 11:00-01:00. Friendly pub with great selection of European beers and ales. Downstairs is the Cellar Bar specialising in real ales. Live trad Scottish music several nights a week.
- 2 St Andrews Brewing Company, 177 South Street KY16 9EE, ☏ . Daily 11:00-00:00. Brewpub with decent meals, dog-friendly. Brewery tours are F 18:00 and Sa 17:00, book online.
- Other pubs include The Criterion, The Saint (formerly The West Port), and Vic St Andrews (formerly The Victoria).
- Premier Inn is a reliable budget chain on Largo Road KY16 8NH, south of the centre. Double room £70, breakfast £10 pp.
- St Andrews University lets out its student accommodation to other visitors June-Aug. Much of this is taken up by conference or golfing groups, but individual short stays are also available.
- David Russell Apartments are modern apartments sleeping ten, so they suit large families. Each apartment has five double en suite bedrooms; some individual rooms are available. Bistro and bar on site, plus games room and laundry facilities. They're on Buchanan Gardens along B939 a mile west of town: the free parking lot is 300 yards away. In 2020 double B&B is £80.
- University Hall (or Wardlaw Building) is a Victorian Baronial concoction, closed in 2020 for rebuilding.
- McIntosh Hall has single and twin rooms with shared bathroom. It's a grand old former hotel, central on Abbotsford Cres just off North St. In 2020 B&B twin is £72.
- Agnes Blackadder Hall is a modern building off A91 half a mile west of the centre. In 2020 B&B double is £80.
- 1 Cairnsmill Caravan Park is on A915 a mile south of town. It's open Apr-Oct, tourers £26, two person tent £16.
- The main cluster of B&Bs is around Murray Park and Murray Place.
- Albany Hotel, 56-58 North St KY16 9AH, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Peaceful and spotlessly clean, B&B in late-Georgian terraced house. On-street parking is free if you can find a space. B&B double £140.
- Kinburn Guest House, 5 Kinburn Place, Doubledykes Rd KY16 9DT, ☏ . 3-roomed B&B near university, welcoming place. B&B double £120.
- Yorkston Guest House, 68-70 Argyle Street, ☏ . Situated in the west end of St. Andrews, a few minutes walk from the west port and town centre. Bed and breakfast from £45 per person per night.
- 2 Rufflets (on B939 two miles east of town). A chic country house hotel.
- Best Western Scores Hotel, 76 The Scores, ☏ . Traditional golfing hotel next to the course, now part of BW chain. B&B double £240.
- Old Course Hotel, Old Station Road KY16 9PS, ☏ . Great location overlooking the town golf courses and the North Sea. Good facilities, but spa access is only included at odd hours, it's £40 pp for unfettered access. Within the hotel complex are Jigger Inn (bar daily 11:00-23:00, meals M-Sa 12:00-21:00), Road Hole Restaurant (upscale dining W-Su 18:00-23:00), Sands (family dining, daily 17:30-23:00) and Hams Hame (5 min walk, bar daily 12:00-23:00, grill 12:00-21:00). B&B double £350.
- Hotel du Vin (formerly Golf Hotel), 40 The Scores KY16 9AS (just east of Old Course), ☏ . Mostly good reviews for comfort, food and service, with an occasional lapse. B&B double £200.
- 3 Fairmont St Andrews, St Andrews KY16 8PN (3 miles SE of town on A917), ☏ . Part of Fairmont chain, this resort hotel complex gets rave reviews for comfort and service. B&B double £330.
- 4 Peat Inn, Collier Row, Cupar KY15 5LH, ☏ . 18th century coaching inn, long renowned for its cuisine and now achieving similar acclaim for its accommodation. 8 rooms in contempoary style, one is suitable for limited mobility, the others are split-level. No dogs. B&b double £265.
The cold sea is the main natural hazard, and road traffic the main man-made danger. St Andrews rates as "very low" on all categories of crime statistics. Exercise usual care on the roads and with valuables.
- St Andrews Library on Church Square has free internet access, but you need to book it in advance and show photo ID. It's open M-W 09:30-17:00, Th 10:00-19:00, Sa 10:00-16:00. This is the town library, only staff and students can access the university library.
- Most cafés, pubs and restaurants have free Wifi.
- Nearby Dundee has the Antarctic sailing ship Discovery, the V&A, Verdant Jute Mill and many more attractions.
- See the picturesque fishing villages of the East Neuk: Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, St Monans and Elie. Don't bother with the coast west of there.
- From Anstruther, summer boat trips visit the Isle of May.
- Historic sites inland are Falkland Castle, Lochleven Castle on an island by Kinross, and Dunfermline.