The big shift in the University Martinmas semester dates has left us reading week-less and so pushed for time to venture out of the bubble during the autumn and winter. But don’t fret! Whilst we may not have a week to travel to the continent, we still have the weekends to explore Scotland. Here are five places, close enough to St Andrews to go for a weekend and make it back for those dreaded Monday morning lectures.
For those missing the polluted city air, or those getting cabin fever in our bubble-like town, Edinburgh is an ideal place situated nearby (two hours or less by bus or train) with enough variety to tend to the vast majority of tastes.
The History Nerd: those seeking out the history of Scotland have two choices in Edinburgh: take a company-organised bus tour around the city (companies such as Edinburgh Bus Tours and City Sightseeing Edinburgh run these services) or plan a tour yourself. When planning a tour, some must see places are: Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyrood house, the Royal Mile, Nelson Monument, the Scotsman Hotel and the Scott Monument.
The Culture Vulture: Edinburgh is teeming with culture, from art museums to the botanic gardens to breath-taking views. Why not try out Arthur’s Seat, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and John Knox house, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. For food culture and to try the infamous haggis, try Macsween of Edinburgh– it has a reputation for being the best haggis you can get.
The Party Animal: it’s not all daytime activities in Edinburgh. With its huge student population and whisky-hungry Scotsmen, it has plenty to offer to quench your thirst. Try the Sheep Heid Inn and the Royal Oak for traditional Scottish ambience or for the more uptown of you, try the Three Sisters and Dragonfly.
The majority of Glasgow’s reputation stems from its music scene, bar dives and array of history. So if you’re looking for somewhere a little less pricey than Edinburgh to live the city life for the weekend, Glasgow is the place to go.
Glasgow-bound buses depart regularly from St Andrews bus station, taking a mere two and half hours, and there are also regular trains from Leuchars, also taking around two hours. Glasgow’s music scene is massively varied from large venues like the O2 Academy, to smaller clubs like Arches, to cozy bars like King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut where many famous bands began. Fancy a drink after your music? Try Pot Still, the Corinthian Club, the Social or Hummingbird. Each has its own vibe and crowd with prices far more reasonable than St Andrews.
Not too hung over to sightsee? Glasgow’s history is vast and there is also the option to take a bus tour here (Discover Scotland Tours, and City Sightseeing Glasgow). Otherwise, it’s worth seeing: George Square, Glasgow Cathedral, Merchant City, the People’s Palace, St Vincent Place and Kelvingrove Park.
Isle of May
The city life doesn’t appeal to you? Hoping to venture out into the even more secluded? The Isle of May is a beautiful island off the coast near Anstruther, which is home to thousands of swarming puffins and one of Scotland’s seal colonies. Travel there is simple but seasonal. Ferries depart from the port at Anstruther in the morning and return in the late afternoon (see www.isleofmayferry.com for timetables). However, this service stops entirely between October and April so time is running out!
Coming to Scotland and not sampling their amazing variety of whiskies is almost blasphemous. But don’t worry- prior knowledge and organisation is not necessary to embark on a whisky distillery tour. Many companies have cashed in on this market and here are a couple to choose from:
The Hairy Coo Tours: departing from Edinburgh, this tours St Andrews and its local distilleries in Fife.
Speyside Whisky Trail Tour: lasting three days or two nights this also begins in Edinburgh but tours Speyside, home to half of Scotland’s whisky distilleries.
Don’t have time for a weekend trip? There are a couple places to escape to nearer to St Andrews if you’re pushed for time.
The Secret Bunker: Built and hidden underneath an innocent farmhouse during the Cold War, the Secret Bunker is 24,000 square feet of living space deep underground. It’s just 10 miles from St Andrews and rather secluded so travel by car or taxi is advisable. The St. Andrews History Society is planning a trip there sometime soon, so get in contact with them if you fancy a group jaunt!
Dundee: Need a shopping fix that lies outside the realms of H&M and Jack Wills, or just fancy a McDonalds? Dundee has a large shopping district and is only 30 minutes away by bus with cheap return fares if you flash your matric card.
Whether its one day or the entire weekend, there are many places to see around the St Andrews area, so go ahead and escape the bubble this Semester.