Lucy Gallard shares an overview and rating of the pubs around St Andrews perfect for the newly arrived Fresher or returning student seeking to shake up the old routine. 



Hello St Andrews Fresher’s and returning discipuli!

The Tribe Magazine is bringing you our first ever pub guide to help you newcomers find your way around and to refresh the minds of old hands. St Andrews has, without a doubt, a great selection of places to eat and drink; to help you find your way around, we have rated some of the usual suspects against our special, student orientated, and dubiously scientific, criteria:

  • Price (Cheap, Fair, Getting Steep, An Arm And A Leg);
  • Selection and quality of Food/Drink (Just the Basics, Good!, Fabulous);
  • Atmosphere (A Morgue, Cosy, Fun, Posh)
  • Good For (Taking A Book, Romance/Celebrations, Let’s Dance, Cackling with Friends – love this, but will everybody?).

And here’s our verdict…


The Union Bar:

Price:  Cheap

Food/Drink: Just the Basics –  A pretty fair selection of drinks, nothing too fancy.

Atmosphere: Fun – I hesitated on this one.  This place can be a morgue on some nights or jam-packed and screeching on others, however, going with a good set of friends is always a safe bet.  It has also been refurbished over the summer!  Eyewitness accounts describe it as: ‘nice and shiny’ with two new separate bars: the larger providing a more festive atmosphere and TV screens, and the smaller featuring very comfy booths and sofas.

Good For: Taking a Book / Let’s Dance – During the day, this is a good place to be productive or chill out in a squishy chair.  If you want to dance to cheesy music, then check out their nighttime events.


The Blue Stane:

Price: Fair – Keep an eye out for their food and drink deals; they’re often a good value.

Food/Drink: Good! – The food is tasty and copious. There’s a nice selection and some interesting beers and cocktails on offer. 

Atmosphere: A Morgue – Some may disagree with me on this one, but every time I have been the mood has varied between dull and a bit grimy. The bar staff is generally nice, efforts have been made on the décor (nice loos), and there are pool tables that can be rented for £1 if you’re up for a game.

Good For: Cackling with Friends – The food and pool makes this place for me, despite the atmosphere. Good for a natter on a quiet night.


The Vic:

Price: Drinks fair, food somewhat overpriced – Lots of deals (shots for a quid, BYOV, two for one burgers).  The food not cheap, but there’s a big selection and they serve all day.

 Food/Drink: Good! – Great selection of pub food and snacks, as well as good-looking breakfasts with veggie options all-round. The Vic also has a quite impressive – and rather adventurous – cocktail menu with gin specialties.

Atmosphere: Fun – The Vic is one of the more lively places in the Bubble; the music a bit hit and miss, yet it does have a small dance floor.  It can get pretty packed – on busy nights expect to spend a good 20 minutes waving a fiver in the air before getting served (no comment on friendliness of bar staff because they are usually too busy).  The décor…unique…but they seem to be trying really hard. There’s also a very social smoking terrace.

Good For: Let’s Dance – A large percentage of us oldies have our being-chucked-out-of-The-Vic story.  Go there pumped up, dance like a loon, meet people you won’t remember in the morning, expect little else.


The Keys:

Price: Cheap/Fair – Some good food deals.

Food/Drink: Just the Basics – Fairly limited selection of anything other than whisky (no flirtinis here). The food is basic (toasties, soup), but tasty.

Atmosphere: Cosy – Traditional pub décor and friendly service befitting one of the last independent bars in St Andrews. A hangout for older locals, lots of darts and dominoes.

Good For: Cackling with Friends – I love this place because it’s quiet enough for a good chinwag in unpretentious surroundings.  Please don’t all flock there.


The Whey Pat:

Price: Fair – Some great deals (monthly malt selection).  The nachos are legendary and are a good buy.

Food/Drinks: Just the Basics-Good! – A fine selection of ales and whiskies that vary over the year.  Food tends to be a more simple affair, then again…nachos! Massive and delicious nachos.

Atmosphere: Cosy – Similar to The Keys, the Whey Pat shares an old pub style décor: warm, carpeted and a bit sticky.  Be sure to check out the range of humorous mugs above the bar.  Friendly staff.  Lots of events: quizzes, weekly folk music, board games, domino competitions and darts.

Good For For: Cackling with Friends/Taking a Book – Lots of the quieter societies meet up here in the evenings, and with good reason, so it can get a bit busy.  During the day it is a good place to chill (although it unfortunately lacks Wi-Fi).


The West Port:

Price: Getting Steep 

Food/Drink: Fabulous  Awesome selection of cocktails and deserts to make you swoon (including a STACK of COOKIES), all day breakfasts, and veggie options all the way.

Atmosphere: Posh – Very clean, straight lines, and modern – I find it a bit clinical.  Some squishy chairs and a beautiful garden with cover in winters.  Staff okay.

Good For: Romance/Celebrations – A once in a while kind 0f place where you go to celebrate, indulge or impress.


Drouthy Neebors:

Price: Fair, food overpriced

Food/Drink: Good! – Nice selection of wines and beers and lots of traditional Scottish dishes made more elaborate.  Good place for a cake and a coffee during the day.

Atmosphere: Cosy – A cleaner, more modern version of the traditional pub.  Comfy chairs and wooden tables.  Lovely staff.

Good For: Cackling with Friends/Taking a Book – Quiet during the day, this is the perfect place to chill in pleasant surroundings or to have a good gossip in the evenings.


The Central:

Price: Getting Steep – A little overpriced but with a 20% student discount! Take your ID card.

Food/Drink: Good! – A good selection with tasty food and big portions.

Atmosphere: Cosy – A cleaner version of the traditional pub, nice little terraces out front for when the weather is good. The staff is okay (although the bar counter is confusing), but the pub can get a bit crowded.

 Good For: Cackling with Friends – It is never quiet enough for me to be productive, but it’s definitely a nice place for a convivial drink.


The Lizard:

Price: Getting Steep – If only because of the entrance fee; drinks inside are not too pricey.

Food/Drink: Just the Basics – Nightclub selection with the sole intention to get folks hammered.

Atmosphere: Sticky and Suspicious – I had to invent a new category for this one.  The Lizard is a grimy little cave where you can let it all out in the certainty that no one will remember anything anyway.  Music – dodgy.  Smoking terrace – intimate.  Dance floor – slippery…with lit up panels!

Good For: Let’s Dance – We all have those nights: cringe-worthy but fun. Go for it.



Price: Getting Steep – A bit pricey on the more unusual beers.  Food/coffee etc. are fair, though.

Food/Drink: Good! /Fabulous – I’m biased. Aikman’s has a great selection of drinks in the cellar, and Malcolm, the bartender, is always happy to match you up with the drink to suit your mood and personality.  Good homemade food (try the cakes,seriously) and awesome hot chocolate.

Atmosphere: Cosy/Fun – Old pub feel (creaky wood, dark colours and beautiful sofas) with a nice selection of board games and books.  Lovely and talkative staff. There’s also live music every week (keep an eye on the notice board) as well as other events (slam and poetry readings, open mic. etc.).

Good For: Cackling with Friends/Taking a book – It’s comfy and quiet during the day but can really get busy in the evening.  In general, however, a lovely hangout (Wi-Fi in progress).


Bench Looking Out Over Castle Sands: 

Price: Cheap

Food/Drink: Whatever You Want

Atmosphere: Spectacular

Good For: Everything – Seriously, nothing beats this…For smokers, tea/coffee addicts etc. (note: it is illegal to drink alcohol in public places and there is a whopping fine) it provides the perfect environment for long, relaxing moments with your sin of choice complimented by a stunning view of the sea.  This is the perfect place to remind yourself of just how beautiful St Andrews is and how lucky we are to be here.


So, here we are. These are just a few of the great pubs and bars of St Andrews; there are many more, but we simply didn’t have room to describe them all: The Adamson with its fantastic cocktails, the cosy olde worlde Oak Rooms, the chilled out Criterion, and The Rule – great for breakfasts and featuring a garden – just to name a few. We hope this list can guide you as you take your first steps into St Andrean nightlife…or help you rediscover and rethink the venues you’ve walked past for years! Go forth and have fun!


Lucy Gallard