Gate of St Andrews, Scotland

Named for the apostle Andrew, the town of St Andrews is located on the east coast of Fife in Scotland and was originally founded as a religious settlement.  Today it is widely known for its university and as the home of golf in Scotland (and the world), and is a popular tourism spot for travelers as well as a site for conferences.  Here’s a list of just a few things to see and do in St Andrews.

  1. Visit the University of St Andrews – The university is one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious and it is the third oldest in the English-speaking world.  When in session, student enrollment accounts more nearly a third of the town’s population, so it’s no surprise that the university is well integrated into the community.  The university has a great museum as well.
  2. Walk among the ruins of St Andrew’s Cathedral – Once Scotland’s largest building, serving as a cathedral, bishopric, and home to the relics of the apostle St. Andrew.
  3. More ruins at St Andrews Castle – Located on a cliff to the north of town, the castle dates back to around the 1200s.  It served as a residence, prison, and fortress, before becoming a palatial residence.  What can be seen today dates back to around 1549-71.
  4. Worship at Holy Trinity – The church dates back to the 12th century, although its location has changed, and while much of its original architecture has changed over the decades, it’s historical significance has not.  This was the launching spot for Scottish clergyman and reformation leader, and early political activist, John Knox.
  5. Hit the links – The Old Course at St Andrews is the oldest golf course in the world and is a popular spot even with non-golfers.   Don’t overlook the other superb golf courses in the St Andrews area as they, too, are part of the reason it’s such a popular destination for golf breaks.  If you can’t get a tee time, stop off at the British Golf Museum for a historical look at the great game.
  6. Learn about Pictish Stones – The Celtic art of the Picts, generally consisting of stone sculptures and small metalworks, can be viewed at the museum at St Andrew’s Cathedral.  The stones range from unshaped standing stones with symbols carved into them to cross-slabs carved in relief in varying degrees of complexity.  The Picts date back to the mid-9th century.
  7. Walk the Ports – In this case, “port” is a Scottish word meaning “gate” (photo above), and the gates in question are So’gait port (South Street, also called West Port) and the Sea Yett.  The West Port is one of the few surviving town gates in the country, with some side arches and relief panels added during the mid-1800s.
  8. Get physical, or just watch – There are plenty of activities to enjoy in addition to golf, including tennis, rugby, canoeing, swimming, and hiking.  The Fife Coastal Path (78 miles) is great for a long distance trek.
  9. Watch a movie – The New Picture House isn’t so new anymore, it opened in 1934, but if you want a comfy movie seat this is the place to go.  NPH has three screens, the largest one featuring VIP seats that are recliners.  Grab some popcorn and settle in.
  10. Go the Beach – With its temperate climate, St Andrews offers near year round beach possibilities.  Okay, it can be a little cold during the winter, but West Sands Beach and the Old Course Beaches are well situated and easy to get to.  Ask a local for their favorite recommendation.

What are you going to do first?

Photo credit:  Kilnburn via wikimedia

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Scotland