Thanks to its royal connections, golfing history and prestigious university, St Andrews' reputation is far bigger than its compact streets suggest. It’s an affluent town with a coastal setting and picturesque cobbled streets lined with medieval ruins, grey-stoned university buildings and the world's most famous golf course.
At its heart are the remains of a storm-battered cathedral, once a popular place of pilgrimage. There is so much to discover here it’s well worth taking a guided walking tour through its streets with a local expert who can give you a fuller insight into St Andrew's long history, architectural treasures and regal residents.
You’ll meet your walking guide in the middle of town for a private tour of St Andrews. The first stop is the 12th-century cathedral ruins which are dramatically set on the waterfront. This was the largest church to have ever been built in Scotland and was an important Christian pilgrimage site before it was destroyed during the Reformation. The ruins are impressive however, and give a clear indication of how massive and ornate the cathedral once was.
The medieval town of St Andrews grew up around the cathedral and today its streets converge around the ruins, little changed in hundreds of years and undeniably quaint. Many are lined with college and administrative buildings of the University of St Andrews which was founded in 1413.
Colleges, libraries, chapels and student halls spanning the centuries can all be seen and your guide will take you to the most impressive of them, explaining the age-old traditions still observed here. They can elaborate on the many Nobel laureates, heads of state and members of the royal family who studied here, including Prince William and Katherine Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
During term time the 7,000 or so university students make up approximately one third of the town’s population, creating a lively atmosphere.
Along the waterfront you have the chance to visit the remains of St Andrews' 13th-century castle with its bottle-shaped dungeon, once Britain's most notorious prison.
In addition to its intriguing blend of medieval ruins and well-heeled contemporary residents, St Andrews is regarded as the home of golf. Your guide will take you to see some of the town's finest golf courses, known as some of the best in the world, including the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, the venue that most frequently hosts The Open Championship.
You finish your tour in the middle of town after approximately one and a half to two hours. You then have time for some lunch in one of the town's many excellent restaurants and cafés, and have the afternoon at leisure to continue your exploration of the place on your own.