The actor, writer, musician, and comedian Billy Connolly famously said “there are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter”. Without doubt, St Andrews has its fair share of cool and crisp winter days complete with occasional, picturesque smatterings, or blankets, of snow. The winter months therefore provide the perfect climate for a cosy getaway in one of our properties in St Andrews and the East Neuk. That said, throughout the summer months, residents and holidaymakers alike are treated to wonderfully long hours of daylight, with the sun setting late in the evening. It is much drier than the western coast of Scotland, with plenty of mild, sunny days, allowing for beach trips, rounds of golf, and walks galore! Whatever the weather, St Andrews really is the premier Scottish seaside holiday destination. Below are our top five reasons to holiday in St Andrews.
St Andrews has three beautiful beaches. You might well recognise the West Sands beach, which was famously used as a film location for the iconic opening running sequence in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire.
The beach is a ten minute walk from the centre of town, with the sands extending for almost two miles in length. Whether you’re looking for a good afternoon’s walk with your dog, or want to try your hand at watersports at a workshop run by Blown Away, it’s well worth a visit, especially when the tide’s out. If you’re looking for dog-friendly accommodation, Premier Stays Fife has lots of excellent options including park lodges at our Stewart resource and St Anne cottage. For more information, visit the dedicated page on our website. Then there’s the East Sands, which is located on the south side of the harbour. This is a great beach for a family day out complete with building sandcastles, swimming (there are lifeguards on the beach during peak season), and a picnic lunch. The much-loved Cheesy Toast Shack is situated just above the beach, and is a great place to pick up some holiday treats — whether that be an ice cream sundae, a coffee, or a cold can of drink. In the winter, you might even opt for a hot chocolate! In the summer, locals and tourists also make the most of the long nights and enjoy barbecues and bonfires on the beach. Tucked between the castle and the cathedral is St Andrews’ third and final beach: Castle Sands. This little beach has an old tidal pool, and is a lovely place to head to for a few moments of peace early in the morning with a coffee from one of the cafés in town. Whilst talking about tidal pools and sea swimming, it would be amiss to not mention our hot tub holidays — the sophisticated and romantic way to enjoy being by the sea in St Andrews. Why not book one of our properties with a hot tub and plan to crack open some bubbly and enjoy a relaxing soak with your loved ones?
Heaps of History
St Andrews is steeped in history, evidenced by its distinctive skyline, most notably featuring the ruins of a twelfth-century cathedral and castle. As you walk up and down the cobbled streets of the ‘auld grey toun’, 9 there are a treasure trove of other historic landmarks and buildings including Blackfriars Chapel, the remains of a Dominican friary, and a statue of Hamish McHamish, the much-loved ginger cat who used to roam around the town, to name just two examples. In addition, the buildings of the University of St Andrews are spread around the town. The university was formally constituted in 1413, making it the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. The two university quadrangles, St Salvator’s (colloquially known as ‘Sallies’) and St Mary’s, are both well worth a visit. In recent years, the university has named royals amongst its student population, including the Prince and Princess of Wales and Lady Louise Windsor. There are a plethora of student traditions, from academic families to dips in the sea, foam fights, red gowns, pier walks and torchlit processions — all these make the town a vibrant place to visit. The town is also known the world over as the ‘home of golf’. The iconic Old Course is the oldest course in the world, dating back to 1552 when Archbishop John Hamilton signed the ‘Golfer’s Charter’ which recognised the right of the townspeople to play golf, shooting, and all games on the Links. The Royal and Ancient Club was then founded in 1754, and as the game grew in popularity in the nineteenth century, the town was proud to boast that the ‘Grand Old Man of Golf’, Old Tom Morris, was one of its own. The game of golf continues to dominate the landscape and culture of the town. To check out our properties situated in the ‘home of golf’, visit our website.
St Andrews has an array of excellent eateries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s difficult to choose our favourites, but below are a few recommendations. Breakfast For coffee and a pastry, head to Taste, an informal coffee shop with a big personality. The coffee is delicious and you won’t be able to resist the pastries… a wonderful way to start your day. For eggs, we would recommend The Cottage Kitchen, a cosy café in the heart of St Andrews. How do you like your eggs in the morning? Whether you like your eggs scrambled, poached or fried, and with avocado, smoked salmon, or hollandaise sauce, there are a wealth of options! For pancakes, try Northpoint… their pancake toppings include bacon, maple syrup, ice cream, chocolate sauce, sliced banana, Nutella, fudge bites, toffee sauce and whipped cream. Are you drooling yet? Lunch For a toasted sandwich, try the Italian deli Rocca. There are a host of delicious artisan ingredients for you to add to your ciabatta, including cold meats, cheeses and antipasti vegetables. Having selected your fillings, your sandwich will then be toasted and wrapped in red and white checked paper ready for you to takeaway and enjoy with a view! For sushi, head to CombiniCo, a Korean-inspired minimalist takeaway spot on South Street. There are Bini bowls, rolls, rice sandwiches and gyoza — we’ve never been disappointed by our food selection! Once you’ve picked up your lunch, why not pop across the road to enjoy it in St Mary’s Quad? For a sit-down affair, book a table at The Seafood Ristorante which has amazing views out over St Andrews Bay. A high-end dining experience, you will enjoy freshly-prepared and locally-sourced produce cooked with an Italian twist. Dinner 10 For a special Scottish Supper, head to 18 at Rusacks St Andrews. With an emphasis on seasonal, locally-sourced produce and exquisite flavour pairings, all set against the amazing backdrop of the Old Course, it’ll certainly be a meal to remember. For an informal bite to eat, we would highly recommend Blackhorn, a burger bar in the centre of town. Whether you’re looking for a classic double cheeseburger, a grilled aubergine burger, or a chicken wrap, there’ll definitely be something for you. Add toppings, fries, and a milkshake and you’re good to go! For a taste of the Mediterranean, why not try Little Italy, a much-loved and well-established restaurant on the St Andrews food scene. Pizza, pasta, gnocchi, and risotto are all mainstaples of the menu, with classics such as tiramisu and affogato featuring on the dessert menu. A great option if you’ve got your kids in tow, and also if you’re looking for an affordable candlelit dinner for two. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a quiet night in, our properties all have kitchen facilities where you can prepare simple dishes or tuck into a takeaway with friends and family.
St Andrews is a golfer’s paradise. There are seven courses owned by the St Andrews Links Trust, plus other highly renowned courses along the coast up at the Kittocks and Torrance courses and in Kingsbarns and Elie. If you’re happy to drive a little further, the championship courses at Carnoustie are also within easy reach. You’ll be able to follow in the footsteps of famous golfers, past and present, do battle with the Road Hole, pause for a photograph on the Swilcan Bridge, and hole a putt on the iconic 18th green of the Old Course, which recently hosted the 150th Open. We recommend that you book tee times in advance through one of the authorised providers to avoid disappointment. Whilst in St Andrews, you can also head to the famous Dunvegan Hotel for a drink amidst a wealth of golf memorabilia, visit Auchterlonies to purchase some souvenir golf merchandise, and even try out the Himalayas putting course with your family. There really is no better place to go for a golf holiday!
In addition to the beautiful beaches and quaint streets, there are some wonderful walks in and around St Andrews.
If you’re looking for a woodland walk, the Lade Braes is particularly beautiful in the autumn with its colourful leaves and in spring when there are snowdrops and bluebells aplenty. The path begins near the Old Madras College on South Street and runs alongside the winding Kinness Burn.
If you’re looking to extend your walk further, you can continue out towards Craigtoun Country Park for a picnic, a trip out on the boating pond, or to enjoy the miniature railway.
Alternatively, you can loop back on yourself and soak up the delights of the Botanic Garden which is situated just off Canongate. There’s a beautiful rock garden and rhododendron glade! For beautiful views back over the town, we recommend heading out along the East Fife Coastal Path, which can be accessed from above the East Sands Beach.
The stretch from St Andrews to Kingsbarns is lovely and lined with gorgeous gorse bushes — look out for the Rock and Spindle, the remains of a volcanic plug! Alternatively, head up past Pipeland Farm (accessed via Pipeland Walk, crossing over Scooniehill Road) and then cut across back to the Grange Road to enjoy panoramic views of the town and beyond. Simply stunning!
If you’re feeling more adventurous, why not head out to one of the surrounding fishing villages to explore more of the Fife Coastal Path or even to try out the Elie Chain Walk, which uses hanging chains and footholds to help you scramble along the cliff edges. Make sure to check the tide times — this should only be undertaken at low tide, and requires a certain amount of agility and strength and so is not one for little children!
All in all, St Andrews really is the premier destination for a seaside holiday in Scotland where you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.
Check out our availability for 2023 on our website, and book now to avoid disappointment!