St Andrews is a former royal burgh on the east coast of Fife in Scotland, named after Saint Andrew the Apostle. The city is home to the University of St Andrews, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world, the oldest in Scotland and one of Britain’s most prestigious. The University is an integral part of the burgh, and during term time students make up approximately one third of the town’s population. St Andrews has a population of 16,680, making this the fifth largest settlement in Fife.
There has been an important church in St Andrews since at least the 8th century, and a bishopric since at least the 11th century. The settlement grew to the west of St Andrews cathedral with the southern side of the Scores to the north and the Kinness burn to the south. The burgh soon became the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland, a position which was held until the Scottish Reformation. The famous cathedral, the largest in Scotland, now lies in ruins.
As you probably know, St Andrews is also known worldwide as the “home of golf“. This is in part because the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754, exercises legislative authority over the game worldwide (except in the United States and Mexico), and also because the famous links (acquired by the town in 1894) is the most frequent venue for The Open Championship, the oldest of golf’s four major championships. Visitors travel to St Andrews in great numbers for several courses ranked amongst the finest in the world, as well as for the sandy beaches and sightseeing.
The historic town is easily and best explored on foot where the shops, many interesting buildings, museums, bars and restaurants are all easily accessible. Here’s a list of a few must-see’s the next time you visit St Andrews and have a break from the links.
Please enjoy the Google Earth Video at the bottom of the page navigated by Scottish-Native and PerryGolf’s President – Gordon Dalgleish – to get a better sense of the St Andrews area from golf and hotels to restaurants and places of interest!
Local Places of Interest and Activities
St.Andrews Cathedral — Enjoy the dramatic setting of the ruins. The Cathedral was destroyed by a mob roused by the preaching of John Knox in the town during the Reformation – and the sense of history which attaches to what was once one of the most important religious sites in Europe. Owing to the presence of the relics of St Andrew, it was a place of pilgrimage for many thousands during the medieval period. The view from the top of St Rule’s Tower is breathtaking, and the visitor centre contains a number of artifacts and helps to set the history of the site into context. Golfers can pay a visit to the grave of Old Tom Morris and his son young Tom, who are buried in the Cathedral Grounds.
Local Coastal Villages — Visit the quaint coastal fishing villages and Royal Burgh’s of Crail, Anstruther and Pittenweem with their distinctive buildings and picturesque harbours. The area was notorious for smuggling with wine, tobacco, cloth and sugar being smuggled in, and linen and coal smuggled out. The East Neuk was the capital of the Scottish Herring industry, until the shoals deserted the Forth during the Second World War. Today the boats which sail out from Crail and Anstruther mainly bring in shellfish, while Pittenweem remains the centre of the areas fishing industry where early in the morning the catches are sold at the new Fish Market. Fife Coastal Path — You may enjoy walking a stretch of the Fife Coastal Path from Crail to St.Monans. Visit the many picturesque towns with their narrow cobbled lanes leading to picturesque harbors.
Kellie Castle & Garden — Located near Anstruther a 20mins drive from St.Andrews, it contains magnificent plaster ceilings, painted panelling and furniture. The Gardens contain a fine layout of the organic walled garden is 17th-century with late Victorian additions and contains a fine collection of old-fashioned roses, fruit trees and herbaceous plants. Display in summer-house on history of walled garden.
Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther — This award-winning National Museum tells the story of the Scottish fishing industry from the earliest times to the present. With many model and actual boats, fishing gear, photographs, paintings and tableaux on display, as well as a new ‘Zulu’ gallery just open, a visit to the Museum makes for worthwhile visit.
St.Andrews Shopping — St Andrews is a town to explore and is refreshingly free of national outlets and chain stores. Instead, the town centre offers an excellent range of independent, family-run shops and businesses, where you are guaranteed to find a unique range of goods matched by personal service. Shopping in St Andrews is always a rewarding experience. The main shopping areas concentrated in Market Street and South Street, with Bell Street and Church Street connecting the two principal streets. There are Golf Stores throughout the town with the main stores of Auchterlonies, Old Tom Morris and Golf Scotland all located close to the 18th Green of the Old Course.
Falkland Palace — Falkland has been a royal palace since the days of the Stewarts. King James IV completed the main structure and King James V also added to the buildings there, transforming it into a sophisticated Renaissance palace. He was also responsible for adding the royal tennis court in 1539, which has survived to this day. James V died at Falkland Palace on December 14, 1542. His daughter, Mary Queen of Scots was a frequent visitor, enjoying the peace and tranquility of Falkland, away from the intrigues and politics of Edinburgh.
St.Andrews Castle — The Castle was the former Bishops’ Palace, the residence of the Archbishops of St Andrews. The first castle on this site probably dates from around 1200. Over the centuries, the Castle has witnessed many conflicts and deeds of infamy, among them the martyrdom of George Wishart and the murder of Cardinal Beaton. It was also besieged many times. Eventually destroyed during the Reformation, the Castle is now in ruins. A modern visitor centre houses exhibits about the Castle, and visitors can also explore the mines and the infamous bottle dungeon.
*Don’t have Google Earth? Watch this video tour of St Andrews on PerryGolf’s Youtube by clicking here.
Want to know the best place to find a cold pint in St Andrews? Click here. Looking for one of many locals’ favorite places to eat? Find out here.
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About the Author: Harrison Gould is the Social Media Marketing Manager of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram , and Pinterest.