St Andrews is a lovely sea-side town in rural Fife, situated on the East coast. This post explores some of the best things to do in St Andrews. Read the guide below before for our top things to do in St Andrews!
With its beautiful buildings and charming cobblestone roads, the town feels like an old soul with a young and vibrant heart.
St Andrews is best known for its utterly stunning coastline, fabulous golf links and excellent university. The town attracts a diverse array of visitors year round.
It may not be the most obvious location to visit – with its out of the way location and quiet seaside manner. But St Andrews has a lot to offer, much more than you may realise.
Still not convinced? Let us show you exactly what you won’t want to miss out on.
See below our wonderful list of the top things to do in St Andrews!
Things to do in St Andrews
What do you look for when you want to visit somewhere new? Culture, beauty and fun activities all ages can enjoy?
You will find all this and more in St Andrews. This pretty little town by the sea will really surprise you.
Coming for a short time or a long stretch? Either way, you’ll have no issues filling your days with fun and interesting things.
Especially not if you take a look through our list of great things to do in St Andrews before you go!
St Andrews Cathedral
Exquisite 12th century cathedral ruins.
This crumbling relic was built in 1158 and was once the centre of the Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland.
The once grand cathedral – Scotland’s largest – fell into disuse following the 16th century outlawing of Catholic mass.
Today it is protected by Historic Environment Scotland.
Visitors will adore the splendid views from the top. It is free to visit, unless you wish to embark on a guided tour, which you can prebook.
It is definitely one of St Andrews must-see historical sites.
St Andrews Link
One of St Andrews’s greatest claims to fame is being ‘The Home of Golf’.
It’s no wonder, then, that golfers are spoilt for choice here. With several incredible courses to choose from, old and new alike.
The undisputed gem being, of course, the iconic Old Course.
The Old Course at St Andrews Links is widely considered to be the oldest golf course in the world.
Despite its impressive status, it has remained open to the public. Book ahead to assure yourself a spot to play on this magnificent sprawling green.
Stand on the shoulders of giants as you try your hand at this old and beloved green.
For the golf lovers amongst you, the chance to play here is truly not to be missed.
This famous stone bridge spans the Swilcan Burn between the first and eighteens fairways on the Old Course.
It is a relatively small bridge at only 30 feet long, eight feet wide and six feet tall. But is nonetheless recognised as an important cultural icon.
There is a long and fascinating history of the Swilcan bridge that you can learn about. If you are less interested in the history, maybe you’ll be more enticed by the imagery.
With its beautiful surroundings, the bridge makes for an excellent picture. Photographers and casual instagrammers alike are guaranteed to get a great shot.
British Golf Museum
As the birthplace of golf, St Andrews is the perfect place for a golf museum.
The museum opened in 1990. Inside they document the history of this glorious game from medieval times to present day.
These include men’s and women’s games, British and international, and both professional and amateur.
The exhibits include memorabilia, historic equipment, art work and much more.
The British Golf Museum is open seven days a week throughout the year and is an excellent day out.
St Andrews Castle
This beautiful ruin sits perched upon a rocky promontory and overlooks a sandy beach and the glistening North Sea.
Parts of this glorious old structure date as far back as the 13th century. Visitors can explore the underground 16th century siege mine and the eerie ‘bottle dungeon’.
The dungeon is among the most infamous castle dungeons in Britain and is said to have once imprisoned John Knox.
You are strongly encouraged, also, to visit the tunnel. Not for the fainthearted or the claustrophobic, this gloomy atmospheric tunnel is a fascinating feature of the castle.
An excellent day out for curious kids, interested adults, and history sleuths alike.
In association with the University of St Andrews, this fascinating museum tells the story of the university.
You can browse through a wide selections of the university’s historic and artistic collections. These amount to over 112,000 interesting artefacts.
The museum is also home to a ‘Learning Loft’ thats hosts workingshops, and a viewing terrace. From the terrace you can enjoy stunning panoramic over St Andrews Bay.
St Andrews Aquarium
This underwater wonderland is a delight for both kids and kids at heart.
Come and view some of the most beautiful, interesting and even dangerous creatures of the underwater world.
There is so much to see! A vast range of strange creatures from British sharks to lobsters, spiders to lionfish, poison dart frogs to piranhas.
Not to mention the adorable meerkats and the stars of the show – the seals!
Get nice and close to the action with interactive demonstrations. These include seal feeding, penguin feeding, reptile and snake handling sessions and fun informative talks.
Of all the fun things to do in St Andrews with the kids, this excellent aquarium is definitely a top pick.
Check the opening hours before planning your trip.
Craigtoun Country Park
Just a stone’s throw away from lovely St Andrews, this stunning parkland awaits.
The park its open all days and is a brilliant place to spend time together, especially if you’ve brought kids along.
Try out the crazy golf and the little train that takes you for a ride all around the park.
There’s also rowing boats, bouncy castles, and pedal cars available on days with good weather.
There’s even a little cafe with hot and cold food, teas and coffees and – of course – ice cream!
No doubt it’s one of the top things to do in St Andrews for families looking to enjoy the day together.
West Sand Beach
Visible from the Old Course, this stunning sandy beach stretches on for miles.
The beach is beautifully maintained and runs alongside the clear glassy water of the North sea.
Locals and visitors alike are drawn to it year-round with their families, partners and dogs. It’s a brilliant beach for all to enjoy.
Loads of fun activities such as kite flying, sand yachting, polo, and volleyball take place here.
Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the mood for a beach day.
St Andrews Botanic Garden
This gorgeous 18-acre botanical garden is located on the banks of the wooded Kinness Burn.
The living treasure of the garden is home to plant displays which blanket rock and scree hillsides. Also ponds, woodland, and herbaceous borders.
Inside of a huge glasshouse hold alpines, desert plants and tropical exotics bloom.
If you visit between April and September you are invited to enjoy two fully immersive experiences. These are the Tropical Butterfly Experience and the Pollinator Challenge.
Looking for things to do in St Andrews as a couple? You really can’t go wrong with a visit to a botanical garden.
St Andrews Museum
It’s all here at St Andrews museum!
The gorgeous old victorian mansion where the exhibits reside sits nestled into the grounds of Kilnburn Park.
Here you can learn all about the towns fascinating past from the 12th century to current day. See the story unfold through an array of displays, objects and images.
There is also a programme of rotating exhibits, meaning that there is always something new to see.
Admission to the museum is free, which makes this the perfect budget-friendly, fun-filled day out.
Blackfriars, St Andrews
Blackfriars is the modern name given to the Dominican friary of St Mary’s.
These eerie remnants of a medieval monastery have existed in St Andrews since the later Middle Ages.
It is a fascinating historical site that is well worth a visit.
St Andrews Preservation Trust
There are other, perhaps grander museums on this list of things to do in St Andrews. But this charming little museum does its own thing and is a breath of fresh air.
The museum features interesting items such as an old fashioned shop and chemist.
The building itself was once a fishermans cottage, so learning the history of the area here feels very authentic.
Past visitors rave about the lovely little garden, part of which is a sensor garden. It is beautifully maintained, full of gorgeous plants and flowers.
This museum is a true gem and is not to be missed on your visit!
St Andrews Harbour Trust
This is a working harbour, thriving and full of character.
The harbour hosts traditional fishing boats but there are also opportunities for boat tours that you can take.
If that doesn’t entice you, the views might. Past visitors have remarked that the location is photogenic is any weather.
Bell Pettigrew Museum
This museum of zoology stands is packed full of treasures and wonders.
Sir David Attenborough himself has commented on the museums importance. It stands as a reminder of the immense value of the study of the natural sciences.
Come and check out the fantastic exhibits!
Located within the historically beautiful Rusacks Hotel, Blendworks will walk you through the gin making process.
They’ll also clue you in on the history of gin and offer up a blind tasting and nosing to help you discover your perfect botanicals for your own gin.
You get to sample your concoction before committing to a recipe, so you don’t need to play it safe with your choice of flavours.
Give your gin a name and get started hand blending and bottling your triumphant new creation. They will even save your recipe so you can order it again!
This is an incredibly fun activity – just for the grownups.
This restored 16th century courtyard castle has been described as one of the best kept of its kind in Scotland.
It sits nestled on 34 acres of stunning grounds near the village of Leuchars.
This old and impressive building makes for a pretty romantic spot. I highly recommend a leisurely stroll around the grounds together, especially on a nice day.
The West Port
The West Port is an old stone gateway that absolutely deserves a place as one of these top spots for a picture.
Visitors have commented on how the gate looks just like the archetypal castle gate. Come and see for yourself – and snap a great photo while you’re at it.
A truly magical site that visitors young and old will adore. This mysterious place is said to be haunted by fairies and other creatures of Celtic legend.
The areas surrounding the Dunino Den have a distinctly otherworldly atmosphere.
This eerie woodland is home to an ‘altar stone’ and a well, which sits atop the den. The well is said to be the site of human sacrifice.
There are stairs carved into the cliff which lead down into the den. The cliff walls feature Celtic crosses and symbols, carved ancient and modern day worshippers.
Certainly one of the strangest locations of our list of things to do in St Andrews – also my personal favourite.
The Tentsmuir Sands
Tentsmuir Sands is a wide expanse of immaculate white sand backed by grassy dunes.
Remains of wartime defences are still scattered on the beach and the surrounding forest from the Second World War.
Come and you might just see some grey or common seals basking in the sun on the sandbanks. Also plenty of birdlife and even some adorable red squirrels.
It’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon.
St Athernase Church
Still in use as a Church of Scotland parish church, this Romanesque old church is a pleasantly peaceful spot to visit.
All summer the church is open to the public, and by arrangement throughout the rest of the year.
Inside you’ll find preserved relics, including a 9th century cross-slab. Also, three very elaborate 16th century memorial stones.
Located just outside of St Andrews is this lovely beach, a perfect day out for families, friends or couples.
Three miles of white sand means there’s plenty of space for everyone to enjoy. Avoid swimming too far out in the sea though, as the fast moving tide can be strong.
Just behind the beach are benches and barbeque stations. There are also marked walks and cycle routes through the surrounding forest.
Looking for things to do in St Andrews that everyone from granny to the baby can enjoy?
Look no further. You really can’t go wrong with a relaxing beach day.
Dura Den is a bit further out than many of the more local things to do in St Andrews. Still, it’s well worth the little bit of extra effort to reach it.
It is a small, 3 km-long wooded gorge not far from Cupar. The narrow cleft runs from Kembank to the north and along to Pitscottie to the south.
Ceres Burn, a small clear stream, flows along the course of the gorge. This includes little waterfalls near the midpoint.
It is an incredibly peaceful place to wander together and just be.
Scotland’s Secret Bunker
Just six miles from St Andrews lurks Scotland best kept secret.
The RAF Troywood is a relic from the cold war conflict. It lies buried 100ft underground, with an entrance hidden in an innocuous little farm house.
The ‘R3’ style ROTAR bunker was built in 1953 by the RAF. They build it in response to the very real danger of nuclear war with the USSR.
It is a truly fascinating piece of history – don’t miss your chance to come and see it!
These gorgeous gardens are a part of the Cambo estate. They remain open for the public to enjoy year round.
Here you can wander through enchanting gardens and woodlands, then down to the award-winning beach.
Have a gander at the beautiful plantlife, fresh flowers and local crafts in the Tack Room shop. They also display a heritage exhibition.
And, for the little ones, there is the Lost Elf Village play area abf Glingbobs woodland trail.
The gardens are free to enter for carers and under 16’s. So it’s a fun and budget friendly way to spend an afternoon.
This top notch whiskey distillery opened its doors in 2014 and has been going strong since.
Kingsbarns is a small distillery that punches above its weight, offering an exhibition, tasting rooms, shop and cafe.
Every day they run tours that take you through the fascinating history of whiskey a Kingsbarns, the method of production and end with an opportunity to taste.
Of all the great things to do in St Andrews, this is one for the whiskey lovers.
And, good news, they stay open all year!
Scottish Fisheries Museum Trust
Want to learn more about the history of the Scottish fishing industry? This independent charity run museum has it covered.
Discover the stories of the industry and its people – from the earliest recorded times right up to the present day.
They’ve got a range of modern and traditional displays, interactive displays and dioramas.
Fishing enthusiasts should not miss out!
More things to do in The Kingdom of Fife
- Things to do in Anstruther
- Things to do in Burntisland
- Things to do in Cupar
- Things to do in Dunfermline
- Things to do in Leven