A Local’s Guide to a Day Out Exploring St Andrews, Scotland
St Andrews really is like something out of story book with its cobbled streets, three beaches, the ruins of a medieval cathedral, and castle on the sea. Despite being a town comprised only of three streets, there are no shortages of things to do and see. Home to Scotland’s oldest university, and the birthplace of golf, this is not the sleepy seaside town that people take it to be at first glance. Far from it, instead it is a bustling town full of things to do and see. It can feel somewhat overwhelming at times since there are so many options, so read on to find out what I picture to be an ideal day exploring this beautiful town.
1. Stop into Balgove Larder to have Tea and Scones
In terms of food, the amount of eating options can be overwhelming upon one’s first google search but allow me to simplify. Right off the bat, I would first stop into Balgove Larder which is located just outside town on the way into St Andrews that is the perfect spot for fuelling up for a day of exploring St Andrews with some brunch or lunch. With wonderful tea and cakes and beautiful attached farm shop, it is a staple of a visit to this town. Balgove Larder serves as an excellent bookend for visits to St Andrews, as you pass it on the way in and out, so it isn’t unheard of to go twice in one day! Morning tea and a scone never disappoint here. However, if you are like me and like to start the day with coffee, you will not be disappointed as there are a multitude of coffee shops in town such as Blacksheep, Newport Bakery, The Old Union, Con Panna, the Canny Soul, and Taste. These are just a few St Andrews favourites to consider if you’re trying to break away from your usual run of the mill Starbucks order. Students and locals alike can be seen with coffee cups in their hands, so if you follow them you will find that there are no shortage of places to try.
2. Try the American Style Fluffy Pancakes at Northpoint Café for Lunch
If you’re like me, fluffy American pancakes will be all you need to hear to go and try them for yourself at one of St Andrew’s most famous lunch spots, where William and Kate allegedly met for coffee when they were students. Follow in their royal footsteps and discover their excellent lunch and brunch options here. Northpoint serves as a staple for students and locals alike to meet with friends for tea and cake or brunch. Cosy lunch places like this are an excellent find when out and about exploring town. It is also conveniently within sight of the sea and the castle, so you know where to wander next.
3. Take a Beach Walk (...or three)
After inhaling a stack of pancakes, I would recommend going out and exploring one (or all) of St Andrews’ three beaches, Castle Sands, East Sands and West Sands. It's not every day that you get to boast that you visited a town this size with more than one beach to stroll on and clear your head! The Castle, Cathedral ruins and the pier are also staples that make up the iconic St Andrews skyline that can be seen for miles around.
The St Andrews Cathedral is my favourite as it was built in 1162, and was the centre of the Medieval Catholic church in Scotland. However in 1559, during the Reformation, a Protestant Mob incited by the preaching of John Knox sacked the cathedral and then burned it. The stones from this destruction were then used to construct the rest of the town which is why you can see them in walls and streets if you look closely around town. While the Cathedral is a very beautiful place to visit, I would only caution that one doesn’t carry any sandwiches or chips in their hands as the seagulls there are known to be vicious.
3. Explore the Home Goods Shops
After strolling on the beach and risking your life with hungry seagulls, perhaps you would want to take shelter and explore the shopping that this town provides! Home goods stores such as Farmore Interiors, Spoiled Life, and of course ourselves at Jessica Anderton Designs are just a few wonderful options! St Andrews is home to many unique shops that are perfect for gift hunting, or for popping into if you spontaneously decide that you are, in fact just like my Mum and that you need a ‘good tea towel!' Plus, supporting small businesses are a great thing to do and makes you feel that you are helping to keep this vibrant town alive. As well as shopping there are cultural things to see such as the Wardlaw Museum which is located on The Scores and the recently refurbished R&A World Golf Museum positioned right next to the famous club house. The Himalayas (St Andrews Ladies Putting Club) lies between the Old Course and the spectacular West Sands, only a ten-minute walk from the town centre. Finally, take a stroll to the town’s famous bookshop Toppings and Co, which is easy to get lost in for hours at a time.
4. Have Dinner Overlooking the Old Course
For golf lovers, St Andrews is a kind of heaven for them as it is the birthplace of the sport and is home to the oldest golf course in the world, The Old Course. There is also the surrounding hotels such as The Rusacks, and the Old Course Hotel, both of which overlook the course itself. Some of St Andrews’ nicest restaurants are located here around the golf course, and if one starts on the Scores and works their way down, they will find a plethora of wonderful dining options available. Examples include the Seafood Ristorante, The Adamson, Rogue, The One Under Bar, and many more. My top favourite however would be the Swilcan Loft Restaurant which is located on the top floor of the Old Course Hotel, and dinner overlooking the golf course seems like a fitting end to a day of exploring with magical town.
I hope that this outline of an idea day of exploring St Andrews inspired you! This town has so much to offer and if your willing to explore you never know what you will find.
- Anna Gilmore Heezen, 11th March 2023