Europe Top 10: #10 - St. Andrews, Scotland

We visited 52 cities in our three months in Europe. I‘m going to share some pictures and stories from my top 10 cities we visited. We took over 4,000 photos during our travels so we have plenty to share!

Coming in at #10 is St. Andrews, Scotland, which is a short one hour and 45 minute trip from Edinburgh by either car or train.

Living near Chapel Hill, NC, I have a soft spot for beautiful college towns and St. Andrews definitely falls into that category. It’s home to the University of St. Andrews, which is the third oldest university in the English-speaking world and rated up there with its UK neighbors Oxford and Cambridge in terms of academics.

When we arrived in November, it was coooold. Being on the edge of the North Sea, we felt a steady breeze on the coast that seemed to make the 50-degree air temperature 10 degrees colder. Fortunately, as we ventured into the city the breeze wasn’t as noticeable. I heard from locals that St. Andrews tends to be warmer than most of its Scottish neighbors.

Despite the temperature, we loved the town. Everything from the university, to the ruined castle and cathedral to the famous golf course gave the town a vibrancy that you often feel in college towns. But with this one, you can see 1,000-year-old history at both ends of town. I can only imagine how insane things must be when this relatively small town welcomes the Open Championship every few years.

St. Andrews was founded in 1140 and has a historically significant castle and cathedral, which now lay in ruins.

The castle is built right on the coastline, which served as a defensive barrier until long-range cannons were introduced in the 1500s.

Unfortunately, the cathedral was roped off due to repair work so we weren’t able to explore much of it. We did venture into the castle right before closing time.

As far as the university, the campus was easily walkable. The main street on the campus is home to lots of cafes and pubs as you would expect of a UK college town. We had some amazing pastries and tried to get coffee at the cafe where William and Kate met while in school, but the line was too long.

My daughter isn’t into golf, but I had to take some obligatory photos on the Old Course, which is billed as the oldest golf course in the world.

It was fun to walk over Swilcan Bridge, which I’d seen on TV numerous times while watching the British Open as a kid. The bridge is over 700 years old!

St. Andrews has a little bit of everything packed into a small-town vibe. It will definitely be on my return list when we go back to Scotland someday.

Interested in more? Read about my family’s adventure around Europe: Part I

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