Luxury Travel Blog

Ideas to inspire your world: luxury, culture, food, travel, style

October 15, 2023

St. Andrews in Scotland: History, Golf & Beautiful Landscapes

St. Andrews tours

The picturesque town of St. Andrews on the east coast of Scotland is known for its prestigious university, natural beauty and historic golf courses. In addition to its sports heritage and academic credentials, the seaside town also offers travelers centuries of history and rich cultural heritage against a backdrop of rolling hills and the North Sea.

St. Andrews tours

Artisans of Leisure arranges private tours in and around St. Andrews, either as a day trip from favorite destinations like Edinburgh or Perthshire or for longer stays that allow for more in-depth cultural touring or extra time on the links.

A highlight of private touring in St. Andrews is visiting the prestigious University of St. Andrews and learning about its unique, time-honored traditions.

Founded in 1413, Scotland’s oldest university counts Prince William and Kate Middleton among its illustrious alums.

We take our travelers to tour the Quad, the historic quadrangle at the heart of the university that includes the Cloister and St. Salvator’s Chapel, a collegiate chapel founded in 1450. A fine example of Late Gothic architecture, it’s one of the university’s only surviving medieval chapels.

In addition to its academic heritage, St. Andrews is renowned as the birthplace of golf where the sport has been played on the links since the 1400s (“links” comes from a Scots word that referred to a stretch of coastal sand dunes or open parkland). Home to some of the world’s most historic and most prestigious courses, it’s a bucket-list destination for golfers.

The legendary Old Course, established in 1552 during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots (known to have been a golfer herself), is widely considered the world’s oldest golf course and the official “home of golf.”

An iconic golf landmark on the Old Course is Swilcan Bridge, a medieval stone bridge over a creek on the fairway of the 18th hole.

Situated by the first tee of the Old Course is the recognizable 19th-century clubhouse of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. Established in 1754, it’s one of the oldest golf clubs in the world and responsible for codifying the rules of golf in the 19th century.

Opposite the clubhouse is the Royal & Ancient Golf Club Museum, which charts the sport’s history through artifacts, memorabilia and interactive exhibits.

Today, the Old Course is one of seven notable courses—including the New Course, the Eden Course and the Jubilee Course—that comprise the St. Andrews Links.

The setting of the links is as beautiful as it is historically significant, situated between the historic town and West Sands beach. Fans of the 1981 film Chariots of Fire might recognize the golden stretch of sand that was immortalized in the opening scene.

As part of our private Scotland tours, we can arrange tee times at a St. Andrews Links course and other top courses nearby, such as Kingsbarns Golf Links.

We also arrange equipment rental, private golf lessons, walking tours of the Old Course, private transfers and more.

We also take travelers to tour the highlights of historic center. The atmospheric ruins of Saint Andrews Cathedral overlooking the North Sea are a striking reminder of the town’s prominence during the Middle Ages. Constructed in the 12th century and consecrated in 1318 in a ceremony attended by Robert the Bruce, the cathedral was once the largest in Scotland.

Following the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century, the cathedral was abandoned and fell into disrepair. The complex includes St. Rule’s Tower (the remains of an older church on the site) and the St. Andrews Cathedral Museum.

Nearby on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea are the scenic ruins of St. Andrews Castle. Constructed in the 12th century, it was both a defense fortress and the official residence of the bishops and archbishops of St. Andrews.

Other highlights of touring include exploring the cobblestone streets lined with medieval, Neoclassical and Scots baronial architecture…

…browsing specialty shops…

…visiting the St. Andrews Botanical Garden and dining in notable restaurants.

We also recommend enjoying a pint of Scottish beer by the fire at the quaint Jigger Inn, a historic pub near the 17th Road Hole on the Old Course.

We arrange private cultural and scenic touring in the region, including guided walks in the landscapes, private whisky tastings and distillery tours, private excursions to historic castles, gardens, abbeys, traditional fishing villages and the nearby seaside town of Dundee.

Time in St. Andrews combines well with Edinburgh, the Scottish Highlands and Gleneagles, a luxurious resort in Perthshire with three championship golf courses, an incredible spa, fine dining options and a variety of country sports on offer.

Contact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a private luxury Scotland tour featuring the highlights of St. Andrews.

St. Andrews tours

Destinations:  Europe, Scotland, UK

Tags:  best golf courses, Dundee, Edinburgh excursions, Gleneagles, golf, golf tours, golf travel, luxury golf tours, luxury golf vacations, luxury Scotland tours, medieval architecture, medieval history, Old Course, private Scotland tours, Scotland, Scotland golf tours, Scotland tours, Scottish, St. Andrews, St. Andrews golf, St. Andrews Links, St. Andrews tours, The Old Course, UK golf tours, University of St. Andews, V&A Dundee, whisky tours