St. Andrews is a historic town located North East of Edinburgh on the east coast of Scotland and famously known as the birthplace of the game of golf. We visited St. Andrews as part of our 2-week long EID vacation trip to the UK where we also visited London, Cardiff, York, Stirling Castle, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, and Edinburgh. St. Andrews is an incredibly picturesque town and must visit location for anyone traveling to Scotland. There are 12 and 13th century ruins to explore, University of St. Andrews Campus, the Old Course (aka the birthplace of the game of golf) all within easy walking distance of each other.
St. Andrews is easily reachable by short train ride (~50 mins) from Edinburgh to Leuchars Station where you can pick up the local Bus for a short (~10 mins) ride into downtown St. Andrews.
St. Andrews Cathedral
The St. Andrews Cathedral Ruins and Graveyard are free and open to the public to explore from dawn until dusk. The Cathedral is a roman catholic church ruins that was built in the 12th century and was abandoned and fell into ruins in the 16th century during the reformation period. For those of Scottish descent, the St. Andrews graveyard is an excellent place to search tombstones dating back to the 1800s for names of potential long lost relatives and ancestors.
St. Andrews Castle
The St. Andrews Castle Ruins are a short walk from the Cathedral and a relatively small castle ruins which can be fully explored in about a half hour. Similar to the Cathedral the Castle was first built in the 12th century and began a slow decline in the 17th century. The ruins overlook the North Sea and have some excellent views of the coast line and Cathedral. One unique attraction of the Castle is a long narrow tunnel that was dug under the castle during a siege in 1546. The tunnel is open to the public and an interesting place to explore especially with kids, but for adults the climb down can be challenging as the tunnel is very low (< 4ft tall) and tight in some spots.
The Old Course
St. Andrews is probably most famous for its golf course and as the birthplace of the game of golf. For those that play golf a trip to St. Andrew’s Old Course is almost a required pilgrimage that should be completed at least once in your lifetime. To play the course though requires a proven handicap of no more than 24 for men and 36 for women. Additionally, the course routinely hosts international and local competitions, which will close it to the general public. The good news though is if you don’t have the handicap required or happen to visit during a competition then you can still experience the course by playing on of the three mini-golf courses or hitting some balls at the driving range. Also on most Sunday’s the course is closed to play and open to the public to walk and explore.
University of St. Andrews
The University of St. Andrews is the third oldest University in the UK behind only Oxford and Cambridge. It is also routinely ranked in the top of public college within the UK. The campus contains some well maintained historic buildings and halls and is also a very walkable campus with a lot of excellent restaurants and pubs.