St Andrews – Our favourite things to see and do (2023 Guide)


Fife is a place with an interesting mix of towns and villages, and some of the most interesting and beautiful parts of the county can be found in the town of St. Andrews. Known globally for its excellent university and golf course, this town has a reputation unlike any other town in Scotland. Even if you're not interested in golf, there is still so much to see and do in St Andrews, including the beautiful beach and the countless great places to eat.


We wanted to highlight some of our favourite things to do and see in St. Andrews, with a focus on 2023. Hopefully you enjoy our list, let's get into it:

Where is St Andrews?

As we mentioned in our introduction, St Andrews is in Fife. To be specific, it's to the North of the East Neuk of Fife, (the home of villages such as Crail (read our guide about this village here). However, one of the great things about St Andrews is that it is less than a 30-minute drive to Dundee, and you can get to Edinburgh via car in about 90 minutes. The major drawback of getting to St Andrews would be the lack of a train station - you can still get the train from Edinburgh, but you'll have to depart at Leuchars and make your way from there. (either via bus or taxi). Otherwise, you could get a bus from Edinburgh all the way to St Andrews, but that'll take just over 2 hours. We must admit though, part of the allure of St Andrews is that it is quite out the way - if it was easy to reach we don't doubt it would have been totally overridden by tourism by now.
FireShot Capture 1727 - St Andrews - Google Maps -

What is there to see and do in St Andrews?

Ok, now let's get into the guide with our rundown of the best things to see and do during your time in the town:

Visit St Andrews Old Course 

We couldn't produce a guide about St. Andrews without mentioning the Old Course - often referred to as 'the Old Lady', this course is known around the world and is considered to be one of the most iconic golf courses in the world. It's also probably the oldest golf course in the world, with many records showing that the course was established in the 16th century.
If you want to play a round of golf at this course during your visit, you'll want to try and book ahead. You should also expect to pay somewhere in the region of £250 depending on the size of your party. Learn more here -

Explore St Andrews Cathedral

Although only the remains of the cathedral can be explored, St. Andrews Cathedral is one of the highlights of the town. Owned by Historic Scotland, this was Scotland’s largest medieval church and is seriously impressive to explore. What we love about the cathedral is that it is close to the sea, so as you explore you can feel the sea breeze. Although it is just remains, much of it is still standing including the enclosure walls, which are the most complete in the whole of the country. All of this is so incredible when you consider that the site had been used for worship since at least the 700s.
Find more information about visiting the cathedral here -

Stroll along West Sands Beach

There are lots of excellent locations in St. Andrews which require payment to use, but if your idea of fun is strolling down a beach, then look no further than West Sands. It's only 15 minutes walk away from the centre, but you can totally lose yourself in the tranquil sounds of the waves if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the town. The beach is also well known for featuring in the opening scenes of the film Chariots of Fire, so if you're a film buff then you can recreate the scene.
Read what visitors thought of the beach here -

Enjoy some gin at Eden Mill

Eden Mill is a Scottish Gin brand from St. Andrews that has developed a massive following. Visiting their distillery has become a must-do when visiting St. Andrews, and it's currently one of the top-rated St. Andrews locations on Tripadvisor. You can join a tour and sample all of the drinks they offer over the course of an hour session, which is a great way to end (or start, if you're feeling adventurous) your trip in St. Andrews.
For more information visit their website here

St. Andrews University

Despite St. Andrews being a relatively small place, it has a real student vibe and youthful buzz. This is mostly due to the presence of the University, which attracts students from around the world. The university is actually the 3rd oldest in the English-speaking world, only behind Cambridge and Oxford. So if you're looking for a university town which has a great combination of modern attractions and historical importance, you can't get much better than St. Andrews.
Learn more about the university here -

Visit the Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden in St. Andrews is often overlooked in favour of other attractions, but we highly recommend you give it a visit. At 18 acres in size there is plenty to see, and you'll find more than 8000 species of native and exotic plants in the gardens. You can also take a look at the wildlife in the ponds and the rockery. If your idea of peace is being surrounded by nature then definitely check out the botanic gardens.
Learn more here -

Visit Lammas Market

As the oldest surviving medieval street fair, the Lammas Market is a bit special - for a few days every August, Market Street is taken over by stalls, funfair rides, and more. The mix of students and locals who attend gives it quite a unique atmosphere, and it's definitely a cut above most local street markets. The rides great for young and old, but the real highlight for us is always the food and drink. A great selection of locally inspired dishes and alcoholic beverages can all be sampled, as well as some more exotic dishes. There is no official website for the market, all you need to know is that it is held every mid-August for 4-5 days. Enjoy!

FireShot Capture 1737 - The St Andrews Lammas Market is back - Kingask St Andrews_ -

Visit Fife Farmer's Market

Over the years, the Fife Farmer's Market has alternated between a number of locations, including Kirkcaldy, Cupar, and St Andrews. Nowadays, the market is typically held in St Andrews on the 1st Saturday of the month, and sometimes in Cupar on the 3rd Saturday of the month. The market itself is fantastic to visit for a number of reasons - for starters, there is always a real buzz around the stalls and regardless of the weather, there is always a great turnout. You'll also find a nice mix of items to buy at the market, with everything from locally sourced meats and dairy products to handmade candles. Almost everything at the market is sourced from Fife, so visiting the market is a great way to support local businesses! You'll usually find around 20 stalls at the market, and it's typically held between 9am and 2pm at West Port on South Street, you can find the location on Google Maps here.

If you want to have a stall at Fife Farmer's Market then contact the team at this number - 07773 280105


Take the kids to Craigtoun Country Park

You've probably felt that so far, we've included things to do which are great for adults (wandering around ruins, playing golf, and of course, drinking gin), but not too much for the kids. Luckily, Craigtoun Country Park exists - located just a few miles to the South-West of St Andrews, this country park is 47 acres in size and is packed with attractions including tractor rides, crazy golf, bouncy castles, and a genuinely brilliant boating lake (pictured).
Another thing to note about Craigtoun Country Park is that it's not expensive at all! Because it's owned and operated by Fife Council, and it is run as a charity, entrance is really reasonable at just £8.50 for a day pass and access to everything. If you plan to come more than 4 times throughout the year then it is worth buying an annual pass too. This is a great way to round off your time in St Andrews, learn more here -

Three Saints Way - Killin to St. Andrews

FireShot Capture 1780 - Killin to St Andrews - Google Maps -
We always like to mention popular walking routes in our guides, and the Three Saints Way between Killin and St. Andrews is an excellent route which takes you from Perthshire to the northern part of the Fife Coastal Path in St. Andrews. This route takes you past some of the prettiest and most interesting towns and villages in this area of Scotland, including Lochearnhead, St Fillans, Comrie, Crieff, Dunning, Abernethy, Tayport and Leuchars. The route is named after Saint Kessog, Saint Fillan, and Saint Serf. If the route is followed through Dunning and Abernethy as intended rather than through Perth, the Three Saints Way has a length of approximately 81 miles.

Things to be aware of before visiting St Andrews

The main thing to be aware of before visiting St Andrews is that you might be expecting a quiet seaside town, but what you'll actually find is, we feel, more akin to a small student city. And we mean that in a good way! There are more cool bars, restaurants and places to check out than any other location in Fife, and we think you'll be surprised at how much there is to see and do here.

Where can you stay during your time in St Andrews?

You've got lots of options when it comes to accommodation, including hotels, AirBNBs and even cottages. The Albany Hotel is a beautiful town house hotel in a brilliant location, just a stone's throw from The Old Course. 6 Queen's Gardens is a large Victorian property which is also in a great location, and you've got a number of Airbnb options too. If you're looking for something just a short distance outside St Andrews then The Bay Hotel is an excellent option, with stunning views across Pettycur beach and the Firth of Forth, and Forth House Caravan Site in Newburn is another excellent option.

Final thoughts - is St Andrews worth visiting?

Even if you're not interested in golf, St Andrews is absolutely worth visiting. This town is packed with interesting things to see and do, and you've got plenty of great restaurants and bars to visit too. It's only a short trip from Edinburgh and you could easily spend a whole day in St Andrews.

So hopefully this guide has inspired you to visit this amazing Scottish town. If you'd like to read about other amazing locations in Scotland, we have guides about Crail, the best beaches near Edinburgh, and The Isle of Skye. If you're looking for a bit more of a hidden gem in Scotland, check out our guides about Luing, Eigg, and Arran. Enjoy!

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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