A seaside town perched along Scotland’s east coast, St Andrews offers ancient history and breathtaking medieval architecture. Below, we’ve highlighted our favorite activities and sights to incorporate into your itinerary on a trip to the birthplace of golf. (Don’t worry—there are plenty of options for non-golfers, too.)
Play 18 holes on the Old Course
One of Scotland’s biggest tourist attractions and sporting hot spots, St Andrews’ golfing heritage draws visitors to St Andrews Links—the rightful “Home of Golf.” St Andrews Links has hosted golf since around 1400 AD, entertaining the world’s golfing legends on its naturally evolved course. The Old Course is the oldest and most iconic golf course in the world, with the Swilcan Bridge and Hell Bunker as universally recognized hazards. The course is public, allowing visitors to find several tee times during their golf vacation of a lifetime.
Reenact a “Chariots of Fire” scene at West Sands Beach
If you’ve seen the historical sports drama “Chariots of Fire,” you’ll recall the famous opening scenes of the men dressed in white running barefoot down the beach—West Sands Beach. A natural barrier to the St Andrew Links golf courses, West Sand Beach is a 2-mile stretch of sand along the eastern coastline. The beach is best for walking or running along the shore, or even partaking in windsurfing or kitesurfing.
Peruse the town’s fascinating museums
St Andrews offers a number of museums that delve into the rich history of the town. The R&A World Golf Museum brings the past, present, and future of golf to life through thousands of fascinating objects—some dating back over 400 years. Walk through St Andrews University and enter the new Wardlaw Museum, taking you through the university’s 600 years of historical collections and groundbreaking research. Near the St Andrews Cathedral and St Andrews Castle, the St Andrews Heritage Museum and Garden is set in a 17th-century house and garden, displaying the town’s story and its people circa 1800.
Stroll the St. Andrews Botanic Garden
Located right in the heart of St Andrews and spread over 18 acres, the St Andrews Botanic Garden is home to more than 8,000 native and exotic species that represent biomes from all over the world. Seasonal self-guided trails or a sunny afternoon picnic make for a perfect activity with the family as you explore ponds, woodlands, waterfalls, and rock gardens.
Enjoy a pint at the bars and pubs
From banter-filled traditional Scottish pubs to local craft breweries tangled in fairy lights, St Andrews has a variety of bar and pub hangouts. Referred to as “the town’s best 19th hole,” the Jigger Inn dates back to the 1850s, offering homecooked food, a wide variety of Scottish beers, and a beer garden, great for summer days. Swing by the Dunvegan and enjoy history-covered walls in one of the most popular bars in St Andrews that has hosted world-famous golfers or grab an award-wining craft beer from St Andrews Brewing Company.