When it came time to booking holidays for the spring vacation, I realized that as an honours arts student, I hadn’t actually done much work yet this term and should probably stick around and do some during the quiet break. To keep from going totally stir-crazy, I chose to embrace my ultra-tourist side and sought out fun things to do in and around town.
I think that as students, we often forget the fact that St Andrews is a desirable place to visit. I am a University Student Ambassador, and as such, frequently give tours to prospective students and their families. Aside from it being a source of income, I am thankful for this job because it forces me to consider what is great and unique about St Andrews, both the uni and the town. St Andrews is, in fact, remarkably varied in what it offers, and is absolutely beautiful to top it off. I’ve brainstormed activities in and around St Andrews to help you start your own mini-holiday. So go, be a total tourist, conspicuous camera and all, and see what your town has to offer.
IN St Andrews…
1. Climb St Rules Tower in the Cathedral grounds. You will get the most amazing views, but will have to part with just under £5.
2. Visit the Castle – entry is free if you are wearing a Red Gown; please re-enact either the siege or a swordfight, you can buy foam swords in the gift shop.
3. Check out MUSA, the Museum of the University of St Andrews –it’s free! And hosts a rotating exhibit from the University Special Collections as well as chronicles what student life has been like at St A’s through the last 600 years.
4. Walk along the Lade Braes. You feel hundreds of miles away!
5. Hike on the Coastal Path. Start at the East Sands and wind your way around the coast. Beautiful views, but wear your boots, it’s muddy!
6. Bike the Coastal Path. Start by the Old Course Hotel and head out of town.
7. Walk the Old Course – there is no play on Sundays meaning walkers are welcome!
8. Play mini-golf at the Himalayas Course near the West Sands.
9. Do the pier walk, feed the birds at the Harbour, or have a picnic on the East Sands.
10. Have a proper beach day – build a sandcastle, paddle, eat ice cream.
11. Treat yourself – go to the spa at the Old Course Hotel or the Fairmont Hotel. The Fairmont does student discounts during the week.
12. Have high tea overlooking the North Sea like an American tourist. Challenge yourself to speak like one the whole time as well.
13. Indulge in a fancy dinner at one of the restaurants you only go to when you’re parents visit such as the Doll’s House, the Vineleaf, or those at the Russel Hotel, Golf Hotel or Russack’s Hotel.
14. Go swimming at the East Sands Leisure Center. There is a flume!
15. Visit the Botanic Gardens, and see how many of the 8,000 species housed there you can name; entry is £2.
16. Do something cultural such as seeing a show at The Byre Theatre, attending a lunchtime concert at Younger Hall, or browsing through that art gallery at the end of South Street. Heads up: On the Rocks festival is soon! Go!
17. Or just challenge yourself to go to all the places you’ve never been: the pubs you avoid, the cafes you ignore, the shops you scoff at….you know, be a local (gasp, shock, horror)!
Want to get OUT of St Andrews, but not too far? Try…
1. Anstruther – it’s more than the famous fish and chip shop.
2. Crail – a pretty fishing town with a good fish and chip shop too.
3. Pitenweem – another pretty town which houses Kelli Castle, a National Trust in Scotland property, the yummy Cocoa Tree Café and another good fish and chip shop. Bus number 95 will take you to all three of the above.
4. Hill of Tarvit – A National Trust for Scotland property near Cupar with a mansion house, gardens, tea room and old school golf course you can play with hickory clubs. The number 64 bus will take you right there.
5. Tensmuir Forest and Eden Estuary – a pretty place to go for a long walk, just North of St Andrews near Leuchars.
6. Balgove Larder – A farmshop, burchery and café just past Andrew Melville hall on the road out of town. Open seven days a week, 9-5.
If you’re really stuck for ideas, pop into the Visit Scotland Information Center at the top of Market Street (near Luvians!). They are very helpful and will help you plan any day trips or activities.