A local’s guide to a day on Fife’s East Coast
Here’s our itinerary if you have 24 hours in the East Neuk. Make sure you don’t miss these must-see experiences along this beautiful coastline.
Book ahead and secure a table at the newly renovated Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews for the ultimate view of the Home of Golf over your morning coffee and eggs. The full height windows in their breakfast room offer breathtaking and expansive views across the famous Swilcan Bridge and across to West Sands beyond. West Sands Beach was where the iconic running scenes in Chariots of Fire were filmed and is not to be missed. Ask at reception for a free map of the town, and start to plot your route and get your bearings over breakfast.
For a more informal breakfast try North Point Cafe near the Cathedral, open 7 days from 8.30am. The cafe is across the road from St Salvator’s Halls of Residence, where William and Kate stayed while university students in the town and this was one of their regular coffee stops.
If a game of golf isn’t on the cards for your visit this time, walk up past The Royal and Ancient Golf Clubhouse, past the Golf Museum and Aquarium, and onwards into the heart of the old university town. Make your way along The Scores or North Street which runs straight up through town, until you see the ancient St Andrews Cathedral, St Andrews Castle, and Castle Sands at the top / east end of town.
It only takes half an hour to walk from one end of St Andrews to the other, along one of the four vertical streets that define it. Although, with lots of interesting museums, shops, cafes and architecture along the way, you’ll definitely want to build in more time than that! After taking in the ancient ruins, follow signs to the harbour.
If you follow the path running right along East Sands Beach, you will soon reach a little playpark and St Andrew’s Sailing Club. Check out The Cheesy Toast Shack’s facebook page to check it is running it’s excellent takeaway from just outside the Sailing Club. A short walk back into town along South Street and you will find Janettas Gelateria. It is famous in these parts for making the highest quality ice cream. It’s so fresh they’ll even tell you what time your vanilla gelato was made that day. Four generations have made ice cream, for over 100 years in this family. They also offer top notch coffees, cakes, teas and light bites. Pop in here earlier in the day if you can to avoid the queues!
If the weather is set fair and you want to extend your walk along East Sands beach and not head back into town just yet, the path along East Sands beach can be followed to the end of the beach and then upwards towards the holiday caravan park on the hill. This great little path trails the coastline right along to The Rock and Spindle Clubhouse/Restaurant at The Castle Course, and further along to the Fairmont Hotel.
It takes no more than 30 mins on foot to reach the Castle Course from the beach and you will need to cross the Castle Course (carefully!) to locate the Rock and Spindle Restaurant set slightly back from the path. It boasts panoramic views of the sea from it’s clifftop position.
The onwards walk to the Fairmont takes around another 30-40 minutes at a gentle pace. Its sea-view restaurant is called the St Andrews Bar & Grill and also offers panoramic views plus an excellent menu for an early lunch (Saturday&Sunday only), to reward your efforts if reaching it on foot.
The Bar and Grill is just one building that forms part of the sizeable Fairmont hotel complex which sits nearby. It’s a fantastic five star resort, but it is relaxed enough to welcome golfers, tourists, locals, families and walkers alike for food and drinks in various restaurants on site.
Having strolled through St Andrews and seen the major sites it has to offer…After lunch either along the coastal walk or in one of numerous places in town…It’s now time to leave medieval St Andrews behind.
If a spotless beach appeals for a swim or a stroll, you can enjoy melt-in-your mouth toasties right on the beach at Kingsbarns beach at The Toastie Shack from March onwards, also known locally as Cambo Sands. It’s just 15 minutes drive from St Andrews and perfect for a spot of rock-pooling, a stroll or a dip. Read our local guide for more information on Kingsbarns here.
If you want to experience a light lunch outside of St Andrews, we recommend lunch on the terrace at the beautiful sea-view Harbour Tearoom and Gallery in the picture-postcard village of Crail. It is only 20 minutes from St Andrews to Crail by car, and less than that if you have already walked along the coastal path to lunch at The Rock&Spindle or The Fairmont. Read our local guide to Crail to find out about the local pottery you can see being made, and purchase here.
For more ideas on which of the lovely East Neuk villages you would like to visit in particular, check out our local guides below:
Find your perfect dinner spot by the sea in one of the East Neuk’s beautiful villages in the list above.
St Andrews will still be buzzing late into the night if you are looking to make the most of your 24 hours here after dinner. If you can make the journey back to the ancient town from the East Neuk villages by car or cab, you will be treated to glorious sundown view of the town as it comes into view over the hill.
For the many ways to spend your evening in St Andrews, see our guide here for more information on the local cinema, live music and theatre.
For ideas on where to have cocktails or a nightcap see our Bar&Restaurants of St Andrews guide here
If the forecast is not full sun for your day in St Andrews, see our guide to the best indoor ways to spend your time and cosy up away from the elements here.
Our award-winning team look forward to welcoming you to stay in one of our hand-picked properties in the East Neuk.