There is so much to see on our popular Untour in Central Scotland. Edinburgh and Glasgow are top of list, not to be overshadowed by Stirling’s own castle. But one of our absolute favorite day trips is to St. Andrews, a must-see for golfers, of course. But it offers so much more than that!
St. Andrews is widely credited as the place where the game of golf originated. Indeed, the roots of the game here go back to the mid 16th century, and the town is home to the first known golf course, today called the Old Course. It is a gorgeous expanse, abuttng the coastline of the West Sands. The course is only played by serious golfers and tee times must be booked a year in advance, though you can put your name into the daily lottery that fills a limited number of spots two days in advance. See www.standrews.com for more details.
Just seeing the course is something special for golfers and nongolfers alike. The stately stone headquarters of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A), the governing body of golf, is on the grounds.
Across the way is the British Golf Museum, telling the story of the sport’s history with a rich collection of historic gear and trophies. You can watch video highlights of past British Opens and try out some of the antique golfing equipment.
If you are moved to swing a club, make a stop at the Himalayas. This hilly putting green is open to all, a democratic answer to golfing in St. Andrews. Or skip it and take a walk along the West Sands, a gorgeous stretch of sandy beach.
Moving on, the town of St. Andrews was established around the relics of St. Andrew, the apostle and patron saint of Scotland. St. Andrew’s Cathedral was a very important pilgrimage site in Medieval times. Now in ruins, the church site is dramatic, with a standing apse and wall. The graveyard and cloister add to the interest of the site. Visitors can climb the tower of St. Rule’s Church, which offers nice views of the sea after a very long, steep climb up.
For a more fully formed glimpse into the town’s past, visit the nearby Preservation Trust and Garden. This charming museum and green space lovingly recreates humble period shops and, on the other end of a peaceful garden, a wash house.
The other pleasure of St. Andrews is strolling. Market Street offers nice shops, and meandering side streets, you are sure to find little gardens and prim houses to admire. You can’t help but absorb the energy of the town’s sizeable student population, especially in the pubs.
The University of St. Andrews is one of the oldest in the English-speaking world, established in 1413. If you meander its campus, be sure to stop into its small museum, full of historical artifacts.
And don’t miss St. Andrews Castle, which dates back, in part, to the 13th century. Good exhibits at the visitor’s center bring the history of fortress ruins to life, and you can explore the medieval bottle dungeon.
Enjoy St. Andrews as an easy day trip from the Central Scotland Untour. Now is a great time to plan your journey.