St Andrews is a beautiful Scottish town located on the rocky east coast of Fife, about 30 miles north-east of Edinburgh.
Home to the renowned University of St Andrews, the town is full of culture, history and an extensive range of activities.
The University of St Andrews was established in the early 15th century, making it both the first and the oldest university in Scotland. It is also the third oldest higher education institution in the UK, following closely on the heels of Oxford and Cambridge, making it an ideal ORA Summer School location. The picturesque University of St Andrews is highly ranked in the UK and is divided into three stunning colleges, with its students and staff filling a third of the town throughout term time. The age-old university is steeped in history and has many bizarre traditions, including an unlucky spot outside of St Salvator’s Chapel where it is believed a martyr named Patrick Hamilton was burned at the stake in 1582.
Famous alumni of the university have included Prince William Duke of Cambridge, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, Alex Salmond the First Minister for Scotland and 18th-century physician Edward Jenner. Honorary degrees have also been bestowed upon Benjamin Franklin, Iris Murdoch and Hillary Clinton, to name a few.
St Andrews may be a small town, but there is no shortage of things to see and do. The university town and surrounding area offer many superb opportunities for shopping, eating, enjoying the scenery and exploring the wonderful history and heritage of St Andrews.
Despite its small size, the New Picture House is a three-screen cinema and offers all the benefits of a modern cinematic experience. Built in the 1930s, this quaint picture house still features its old stage curtains and gallery, whilst more recent additions, such as comfortable seating and a well-stocked snack bar, ensure a comfortable experience.
Another popular place to catch a show is the Byre Theatre, originating in 1933 as a derelict byre (cowshed) leased from the St Andrews council by local drama group the St Andrews Play Club. Over the subsequent decades, the theatre has survived a World War, two changes of location and financial difficulties. Nowadays, the theatre occupies a beautifully modern building on Abbey Street and plays, poetry readings, comedy shows and even a film club make it popular with the local community and tourists alike.
For those looking to investigate the culture of the town, the St Andrews Museum is the best place to start. Situated in an imposing Victorian mansion, the museum showcases life in St Andrews throughout time, providing a fascinating insight into the evolution of the area.
For students desiring a better understanding of Scottish culture, the Museum of the University of St Andrews is the place to go. Called MUSA for short, this university-supported museum houses a collection of all things medieval and Scottish. One of the most famous exhibits in the MUSA is the maces – three 15th-century gold staffs topped with incredible artwork depicting life in the Middle Ages – which are still used today for important ceremonial occasions in St Andrews.
Tartan souvenirs can be sourced from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill on Market Street or the Scottish Shop on South Street, making the ideal memento from Scotland. For more personalised gifts, the University of St Andrews shop, located just around the corner from Blackwells Bookshop, is the place to go for branded merchandise.
Authentic Belgian waffles are available in the heart of the Scottish Lowlands at the St Andrews Waffle Company. Everything here is served on a waffle, including the usual sweet treats like banoffee pie and even delicious savoury options like eggs florentine.
A traditional gelateria with a Scottish twist, Jannettas’ is a popular place for those seeking an icy treat, offering artisanal ice cream, sorbets and frozen yoghurt. The delicious sweet treats are best enjoyed strolling around the gorgeous town of St Andrews and are a common sight throughout the summer.