36 hours in St Andrews

Photo: Elliot Davies
The Union, photo: Henry Legg
Photo: Henry Legg

Friday Evening

For dinner, I recommend Maisha for some of the best curry in town. After this you can start the evening off by heading over to Sandy’s Bar for free Karaoke (9pm to 2am) where you can put all those hours practising your singing in the shower to good use. Don’t worry if you suffer from stage fright: Karaoke tends to be quiet early on in the evening, so you have plenty of opportunity to practice before the bar starts to fill up. Moreover, the cosy atmosphere and cheap drinks means that you’ll probably be joining in even after Sandy’s starts to fill up.

If you’re looking for a more energetic way to unwind, the Bop is held in Club 601 every Friday from 10pm. The £3 entry and themed nights means that you can dance the night (and cares) away to your favourite tunes every Friday.

If you’re feeling hungry at any point, the Christian Union sell 50p toasties with fillings ranging from cheese and tuna to nutella and banana. If you’re feeling brave you can order ‘the Abomination’ for £1 – a toastie made with all the fillings. Alternatively, the 24-hour Fisher and Donaldson vending machine on South Street prepares their famous fudge doughnuts and hot bacon rolls in under a minute. For more traditional drunk food, Dervish and Empire are only a couple of minutes walk from the Union.

With regards to visitor accommodation, most of us will probably have our own rooms or flats in halls. This is convenient for hosting one or two people, but if your room is a little snug then the St Andrews Hostel has the cheapest rooms in town as well as a great central location.

The Cathedral, Photo: Elliot Davies
Photo: Elliot Davies

Saturday Morning

As much as you will want to stay in bed, try and rise relatively early to make the most of the day – and nothing will wake you up more than proper Italian coffee and breakfast at Janetta’s Café. Famous for its ice cream, the café also serves traditional breakfast fare such as bacon rolls, croissants, and coffee, made with locally sourced ingredients. You can also buy an ice cream (or several) to take away and eat as you head towards the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is an integral part of St Andrews’ history. It once housed the relics of the patron saint but fell into ruin during the Reformation. You can wander around the grounds for free, but admission is charged for entry to the museum and St Rule’s Tower. However, the spectacular views of St Andrews and East Sands, especially on a sunny day, from the top of the Tower are definitely worth it. The museum is also worth a visit as it explains a bit about the history of the Cathedral and the town. As well as a student discount, there are also combination tickets available for entry into the castle.

Afterwards, go around the cathedral and take a right at the war memorial. Once you reach the canons you will find the site of St Mary-on-the-Rock. Although little known, it is the site of one of the earliest religious settlements in St Andrews. It also provides a good view of the pier. (If you have visitors this is an opportune moment to explain the tradition of the Pier Walk and May Dip.)

For lunch, I recommend North Point, famous for where Kate and Wills met for coffee. The café is fairly popular and can get quite busy however, they serve the best pancakes in town and the daily specials give little twists on classics.

St Salvator's Quad, Photo: Sammi McKee
Photo: Sammi McKee

Saturday Afternoon

Close to North Point is the St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum, an under-appreciated treasure. The museum is worth a quick look around for an insight into the lives of ordinary townspeople, or for spending time in the pleasant garden.

While on North Street, you can also take the opportunity to show your visitors the Quad and spook them with the story of Patrick Hamilton and his curse.

Just another two minutes walk away stands St Andrews’ Castle. Its history is a testament to Scotland’s tumultuous political and religious history: originally built in the Middle Ages it changed hands several times in the Wars of Independence, was destroyed, rebuilt around 1400, and then besieged during the Reformation. If you are feeling brave, you can go down the cramped tunnel and counter-tunnel built during the siege. They remain one of the Castle’s most memorable features and are a testament to both the efforts of the attackers to bring down the walls, and the desperate attempts by defenders to stop them.

To finish the day off I would recommend taking a walk down the Scores to the Aquarium. Aside from the large variety of fish and ecosystems they have, the Aquarium also houses a rare blue lobster, seals, penguins, and (strangely enough) a meerkat family. Feeding times are held throughout the day, which give you an opportunity to ask questions about the animals. As you exit be sure to check out the view of West Sands and the Links, which is especially beautiful at sunset.

St Andrews Brewing Co., Photo: Henry Legg
Photo: Henry Legg

Saturday Evening

To finish off the day, try the nachos at either Whey Pat or Drouthy’s – there is significant debate over which ones are better. Both pubs have the perfect laid-back atmosphere to relax after such a busy day. Afterwards, head over to St Andrews Brewing Company to try different local beers and ciders. My personal favourite is the sweet Thistly Cross Cider.

If you have the energy, Forgan’s do a free ceilidh every Saturday from 10pm, which is great for showing visitors a highlight of Scottish culture and makes a welcome change from drunken dancing at the Vic.


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