St Andrews is not just about the golf, the place has a medieval charm with beautiful sights and also an ancient university where the rich and the famous study.
Phone code: +44 (0)1334 Population: 13,000
This well-groomed seaside resort on the northeastern coast of Fife is the 'Home of Golf' and a mecca for aficionados of the sport the world over. Here is the headquarters of the game's governing body, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and the world's most famous golf course, the Old Course. But it's not all Pringle sweaters and five irons. St Andrews has an air of calm dignity tinged with an inherent sense of history, as you'd expect from a place that was once the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland and the country's oldest seat of learning. St Andrews has avoided becoming stuffy and remains one of Scotland's smartest towns – especially after that royal pin-up Prince William became an undergraduate at its ancient university.
St Andrews' History
St Andrews is, of course, synonymous with Scotland's patron saint. Andrew was the first of the disciples and among his many converts was the wife of the Roman Governor of Patras in Western Greece. The governor was so furious and jealous of his wife's conversion that he had Andrew crucified. Andrew asked to be tied to an X-shaped cross so that he would not appear to be emulating Christ – thus giving the Scottish flag its distinctive Saltire Cross.
According to legend, a saintly monk called Rule, or Regulus, who lived in Patras, was divinely inspired to take some of the Apostle's bones and make a journey far to the west. St Rule set off and was shipwrecked on the rocks just to the west of St Andrews harbour. After converting the Pictish king to Christianity, St Rule enshrined the sacred relics on the headland where the ruins of the 12th-century cathedral now stand. The shrine became a place of worship for Christian pilgrims from far and wide and a special ferry was kept on the river Forth to transport them. St Andrew became Scotland's patron saint and his city the ecclesiastical capital of the country.
History envelops St Andrews; every street and building has its own story. So it's a real pleasure just to wander aimlessly through its narrow alleyways (or 'closes') that connect the medieval streets and discover its many hidden delights. A good example is Louden's Close, between Blackfriars and the West Port. Alternatively, stroll down The Pends by the Cathedral to the quaint old harbour; here, during term time, you might see the Sunday Parade of University students processing from the chapel to do the pier walk in their scarlet medieval gowns that were introduced so that they could be spotted easily when entering the local brothels.
Local Sights & Activities for St Andrews
The old city centre of St Andrews, with its narrow alleys and cobbled streets, leads to the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral that dates back to 1160 and St Rule's Tower that is 108 foot in height. You can climb the spiral staircase to the top this tower that offers the best views of the surroundings.
St Andrews has two great beaches, including the West Sands, where the famous opening sequence of 'Chariots of Fire' was shot. Some of the other must see attractions include the Botanic Gardens, the St Andrews aquarium and the Byre Theatre among others.
The Secret Bunker, which was used extensively during World War II, is another attraction. Open from March to October.Tel :01333 310301
Tourist Information in St Andrews
The Tourist Information Centre, 70 Market St, Tel. 472021, has comprehensive information about St Andrews and Northeast Fife. Open Apr-May Mon-Sat 0930-1800, Sun 1100-1600; Jun Mon-Sat 0930-1900, Sun 1100-1800; Jul-Aug Mon-Sat 0930-2000, Sun 1100-1800; Sep to mid-Oct Mon-Sat 0930-1900, Sun 1100-1800; mid-Oct to Mar Mon-Sat 0930-1700.
Entertainment in St Andrews
The Crawford Arts Centre, in North St, Tel. 474610, has a changing programme of art exhibitions, professional theatre and music performances in its drama studio and galleries. The only cinema in town is the New Picture House, in North St.
Lammas Fair is Scotland's oldest surviving medieval market, with showmen from all over Britain setting up stalls and booths in the three main streets. This bright, lively carnival is held in early Aug. The other main event in the town's calendar is the Kate Kennedy Pageant, usually held on the 3rd Sat in Apr.
Shops have half-day closing on Thu, though most stay open in summer. St Andrews has a good range of independent shops, most of which are in South St, Market St, Bell St and Church St. Two of particular interest are in Burghers Close, a little cobbled courtyard at 141 South St: Di Gilpin Designer Knitwear, Tel. 476193, open daily 1000-1800; and Wind & Water, Tel. 460600, which sells a wide range of kites. A good outdoor equipment shop is Aktive 8, at 109A South St, Tel. 473999, And of course there's the St Andrews Woollen Mill, overlooking the 18th holf of the Old Course, the palace of Pringle and capital of cashmere, where you can purchase those essential tactile souvenirs.
The Original St Andrews Witches Tour run Apr-Sep on Fri at 2000 (also Sun in Jun and Thu and Sun in Jul/Aug), Oct-Mar Fri at 1930. £6, £4 child. Tel. 655057. St Andrews Guided Walks leave from Church Sq at 1100 on Wed till end-Oct. Tel. 850638.
The Home of Golf
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is the ruling house of golf worldwide and a mecca for all who play or follow the game.
On any one day during the summer, you'll see many addicts staring reverentially across the most famous stretch of golf course in the world. The imposing 1854 clubhouse overlooks the first and 18th holes and you can enter by invitation only. Anyone, however, can play on the six courses at St Andrews, including the historic Old Course itself.
The citizens of St Andrews have been playing golf on these Links for a very long time, even before 1457 when the Scottish Parliament tried to ban the game. No one in the town took the ban seriously and by 1553 they had an inalienable right to play golf on the Links. The game developed and acquired popularity in the highest circles – even Mary, Queen of Scots was known to indulge in the odd round or two. The new craze was getting out of hand, however, and towards the end of the 16th century there was a spate of church absenteeism caused by people slipping off for a quick 18 holes. Two men were brought before the Kirk session in 1598 for "prophaning of the Saboth day in playing at the gouf eftir nune". As it was a first offence they got off with an admonition.
By the 17th and 18th centuries St Andrews was very much in decline, but exciting things were happening in the world of golf. In 1754 some 22 noblemen, mostly landowners in Fife, decided to move their golfing activities from Edinburgh to St Andrews. And so the exclusive Society of St Andrews Golfers, the forerunner of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, came into existence. It was that fortunate decision that saved St Andrews turning into a ghost town and it has never looked back since.
The British Golf Museum
The history of golf, and the town's intimate association with it, are all to be discovered in the British Golf Museum, standing directly behind the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse on Bruce Embankment. It is the most exciting of its kind, and audio-visual displays and touch activated screens bring the game to life and trace its development through the centuries. Easter to mid-Oct daily 0930-1730; mid-Oct to Easter Thu-Mon 1100-1500. Tel. 460046.
As well as the legendary Old Course, there are no fewer than 5 other 18-hole courses in and around the town: Duke's Course (Tel. 474371); Eden Course; Jubilee ; New ; and Strathtyrum. For information and reserving tee-times on all except the Duke's, Tel. 466666. Green fees range from £17 up to £80 for the Old Course (day ticket). Sports Centres University of St Andrews, St Leonard's Rd, Tel. 462190, Open Mon-Fri 0900-2200, Sat 0900-2100, Sun 1100-2100. Gym, squash courts, sunbed, fitness suite, etc.
There are banks with ATMs in Market St and South St. Also bureau de change at the TIC. Medical services Accident and Emergency (A&E) 24 hrs at Memorial Hospital, Abbey Walk, Tel. 472327. Health Centre, Pipeland Rd, Tel. 476840, 24 hrs. CommunicationsInternet access at Get Juiced. PoliceNorth St, Tel. 418900. ToiletsChurch Sq (disabled and baby changing facilities); on City Rd; at the Harbour; West Sands car park.
St Andrews Hotels & Accommodation
St Andrews has plentiful accommodation, from humble B&Bs to international-class hotels, but advance booking is still advisable during the summer months.
Old Course Hotel, Tel. 474371, Fax. 477668,Internationally renowned golf resort and spa overlooking the 17th hole, 125 en suite rooms, bar and restaurants. LateRooms Availability for Old Course Hotel Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews
Rufflets Country House Hotel, Strathkinnes Low Rd, Tel. 472594, Fax. 478703, Small country house set in 10 acres of grounds on the outskirts of town by the B939, with 25 en suite rooms and good restaurant. LateRooms Availability for Rufflets Country House in St Andrews
Rusacks Hotel, Pilmour Links, Tel. 474321, Fax. 477896, Recently refurbished, bar and restaurant overlooking the 1st and 18th holes, 48 en suite rooms. Late Rooms Availability for Macdonald Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews
The Ardgowan Hotel - handy for the University and the Old Course. LateRooms Availability for Ardgowan Hotel in St Andrews
The Parkland Hotel, Kinburn Castle, Double Dykes Rd, Tel. 473620, Fax. 460850, A 19th-century castle in the town centre, its restaurant is highly-praised.
There are several hotels lining The Scores, overlooking the bay. At No 40 is Andrews Golf Hotel, Tel. 472611, Fax. 472188, 22 comfortable en suite rooms, good restaurant with extensive wine list, specialize in golfing breaks. Cheaper but still comfortable is Hazelbank Hotel, at No 28, Tel/Fax. 472466, 10 en suite rooms.
Check out these great late availability deals on a range of hotels and guesthouses in and around St Andrews with LateRooms: Late Rooms Availability on St Andrews Hotels and Guesthouses
There are a couple of hotels in or near Leuchars:
A good former coaching inn St Michaels is in Leuchars; food is available in the bar from midday to 9pm. LateRooms Availability for St Michaels Inn near St Andrews
Drumoig Hotel and Golf Resort is 3 miles from Leuchars (8 miles from St Andrews) and set in 330 acres with a championship standard golf course LateRooms Availability for Drumoig Hotel & Golf Resort near St Andrews
Most of the guesthouses are around Murray Pk and Murray Pl between The Scores and North Street. Among those recommended are: Amberside Guest House, 4 Murray Pk, Tel/Fax. 474644; Cameron House, 11 Murray Pk, Tel. 472306, Fax. 479529, ; Craigmore Guest House, 3 Murray Park, Tel. 472142, Fax. 477963; Doune House, 5 Murray Pl, Tel/Fax. 475195; Glenderran, 9 Murray Pk, Tel. 477951, Fax. 477908. Also in the centre of town are Aslar Guest House, 120 North St, Tel. 473460, Fax. 477540, and West Park House, 5 St Mary's Pl, Tel. 475933, Fax. 476634.
Between June and September, the university rents out rooms on a B&B basis, with dinner optional, in Hamilton Hall and New Hall, at 79 North St, Tel. 462000, Fax. 462500, or book through the TIC. The cheapest option is the new St Andrews Tourist Hostel, Inchcape House, St Mary's Pl, Tel. 479911, Fax. 479988.