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Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews

Discover St. Andrews: Top Attractions From Golf Courses to Historic Ruins (2024) | thetoptours.com

Nestled on the picturesque east coast of Fife, the town of St. Andrews welcomes cultural trippers from all around the world. This Scottish town is all about the seaside charm, golfing heritage, and a range of picture-perfect historic structures. The size of St. Andrews is modest, but with multiple options for fun and adventure, you will never fall short of options.

St. Andrews may not be the most obvious tourist destination, but it has captivated students and golf enthusiasts for centuries now. Be it for the University of St Andrews since 1413 or the origin of Golf and world-famous Golf courses, it never disappoints. Apart from golfing, ancient ruins and hidden gems also add to the fun.

Popular Things to do in St. Andrews, Scotland

Join us as we explore what the town of St. Andrews has stored for us. Here are all the Popular Things to do in St. Andrews.

1. Play or Explore St. Andrews Links Golf Courses

The best way to begin a trip to St. Andrews is by indulging in Golf. Whether you want to play a game of Golf or explore the historic and iconic courses, every experience here is worth it. St. Andrews is the premier tourist and sporting destination of Scotland. This seaside town owes its fame and popularity to its golfing heritage. In fact, this is where Golf, as the world knows it today, was born back in the 15th century. Established back in 1750, the iconic Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is the oldest golf club in the world. The town is also home to the iconic St. Andrews Links, featuring seven renowned courses. One of these is the Old Course, which takes centre stage as the oldest golf course globally. With its par-72, 18-hole layout, this format has become the standard. All the Golf courses in St. Andrews are open to the public, but due to immense popularity, advance bookings are advised. Playing a round here while overlooking the North Sea is a golfer’s dream come true.

2. Explore the Ruins of the Cathedral of St. Andrew

St. Andrews may have gained its popularity due to its golfing heritage, but it isn’t the only thing you can do here. In fact, St. Andrews is steeped deeply in Scottish ecclesiastical history and has quite a few churches and monuments to explore. However, of all such landmarks, the most prominent highlight is the Ruins of the Cathedral of St. Andrew. This iconic cathedral was built between 1160 and 1328, spanning a colossal 335 feet in length and 160 feet in width. Back in the time, it was the largest church in Scotland. In 1472, the Cathedral of St. Andrews became the seat of the archbishop, whereas somewhere around the 15th century, it served as the epicentre of religious power. Among its distinguished visitors were historical figures like Robert I and James V.

Currently, locals and tourists in the town visit the Cathedral of St. Andrews for its ruins. The highlight here is ascending the 108-foot-tall St. Rules’ Tower, known for its built and the views of breathtaking surroundings. Also, do not miss the eerie tunnel, a spine-tingling adventure for the curious and brave. The underground 16th-century siege mine and the infamous bottle dungeon are also worth exploring.

3. Visit an array of Museums at St. Andrews University

The town of St. Andrews wouldn’t be the same without its Golfing heritage and the presence of St. Andrews University. This one of the oldest and most renowned universities in the United Kingdom is where Prince William and Catherine Middleton initially met. Currently, this cradle of knowledge and heritage invites people to its richness of museums.

When here, begin with the Museum of the University of St. Andrews (MUSA) right at the forefront. With its extensive collection of academic regalia, scientific instruments, and artworks, it will take you through the illustrious history of the university.

Next, head to the St. Andrews Preservation Trust Museum. A visit here offers a deeper connection with the town itself. The museum showcases the evolution of the local community over time.

Lastly, check out the Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History, especially if you are keen on the natural world. This museum is home to a huge collection of fascinating specimens from the animal kingdom. It attracts both kids and adults and is quite an interesting place to check out.

4. Visit St. Andrews Aquarium

Visiting the St. Andrews Aquarium against the backdrop of St. Andrews Bay is a popular thing to do in St. Andrews, Scotland. This aquarium is all about spectacular marine journeys and learning like none other. The captivating sea creatures here steal the show exceptionally. The aquarium is home to fascinating reptiles, diverse fish species, tiny insects, and more. Check out the piranhas, the awe-inspiring sharks, curious crabs, and playful seals for an underwater adventure. Further, involve in animal feeding programs or meet meerkats, penguins, and seals up close. You may even get a chance to handle spiders and other docile insects and reptiles. Once done with that all, explore the on-site gift shop, café, and the stunning coastal views.

5. Visit the British Golf Museum

The British Golf Museum is one of the best places to visit in St. Andrews. This landmark is, in fact, a must-visit for golf enthusiasts and curious visitors. The British Golf Museum in the historic town of St. Andrews pays tribute to the sport’s rich and storied past. The museum sits close to the St. Andrews Links in a picturesque setting with a serene and fitting backdrop. It is home to a huge and impressive collection of vintage clubs, iconic golf balls, memorabilia from legendary players and other golf artefacts. You will also come across multimedia displays and interactive exhibits showcasing the evolution of golf equipment and techniques. When here, do not miss checking out the exhibit dedicated to The Open Championship, the most prestigious golfing tournament. Before going back, do visit the on-site gift shop for golf-related souvenirs and keepsakes.

6. Walk around the St. Andrews Castle

Exploring St. Andrews Castle is like stepping back in time to a place of legends and intrigue. The castle is known to have been built during the late 100s as a bishops’ place. It later evolved into a formidable fortress over the centuries and even served as a prison. Currently, it exists in large ruins but yet manages to be a popular tourist attraction of St. Andrews. What remains today paints a vivid picture of its former grandeur. Enthusiasts can walk through its evocative ruins and imagine its mighty presence in the past. Do take time to check out the medieval tunnels, a testament to the year-long siege that followed the murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546. Further, check the dungeon where the Cardinal was held captive. Visitors can opt for audio guides and check out the visitors’ centre for an informative experience. Between the hustle, take a few minutes and enjoy the breathtaking views of a sandy beach and the shimmering North Sea.

7. Relax at St. Andrews Botanic Garden

St. Andrews Botanic Garden, nestled on the serene south side of town, is a tranquil haven well worth your visit. Established by the University of St. Andrews in 1889, this 18-acre garden boasts a captivating array of plant species set against a picturesque riverside backdrop. With around 8,000 different exotic and native plants, your leisurely stroll promises a few delightful hours. The St. Andrews Botanic Garden features different zones dedicated to various plant species. In fact, it holds one of the finest collections of rhododendrons in Scotland. It is also home to a diverse landscape of rockeries, woodland, meadows, and ponds featuring waterfalls. The best time to be here is from April to September for the “Tropical Butterfly Experience and the Pollinator Challenge”. Other popular features of the garden include herb and vegetable zones the tropical greenhouses, where alpines, desert plants, and tropical exotics thrive.

8. Taste some local beer at St Andrews Brewing Co.

Indulge in the local beer culture at St. Andrews Brewing Co. The brewery is nestled in the heart of the town and is a must-visit destination for beer enthusiasts. Established with a passion for brewing excellence, St. Andrews Brewing Co. offers a range of artisanal beers. They will always have something to satisfy your palate, be it the rich and robust ales or the crisp and refreshing lagers. The St. Andrews Brewing Co. has a knowledgeable staff who guide visitors through their beer selection, ensuring you find the perfect brew to suit your taste. The brewery also hosts events and tastings featuring their latest creations and the beer-making process.

9. Enjoy at St. Andrews Beaches

Last but one of the very popular things to do in St. Andrews is beach hopping. Being a seaside town, St. Andrews is home to a collection of stunning beaches, each of which features a unique charm. Here’s all about the beaches in St. Andrews:

The iconic West Sands Beach is popular for its golden sand and a mile-long stretch. Popular for its features in the “Chariots of Fire”, the beach is ideal for leisurely walks, picnics, and beachcombing.

The East Sands Beach, towards the town centre, is more of a family-friendly beach. With shallow waters perfect for swimming and paddling, it attracts both locals and tourists. The beach side is also home to a charming café for refreshments.

Castle Sands, right adjacent to St. Andrews Castle, combines sand and rocky areas. It may not be an authentic public beach, but it is a great spot for exploring tidal pools and enjoying castle views.

The Eden Estuary is a unique coastal area in St. Andrews. It is where the Eden River meets the North Sea. The Eden Estuary is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.
Tentsmuir Beach, a part of the National Nature Reserve, is just a short drive from St. Andrews. This area is popular for its forested setting, dunes, and unspoiled natural beauty.

East Sands at St. Andrews Harbour is a smaller, sheltered beach. Featuring picturesque views of the harbour, it is ideal for families and windsurfers.

Lastly, Kinkell Braes is a peaceful and less-visited beach popular for its tranquility and beautiful coastal scenery.

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