St. Andrews, the jewel in the Kingdom of Fife, doesn’t automatically scream ”budget holiday destination.”
This quaint Scottish town that is known as the ‘home of golf’ is also home to the university that Prince William and Kate attended [and where they first met]. It is also thought enlightened thinker John Knox may have studied here.
So it doesn’t sound as though St Andrews is an affordable place to visit, right?
A trip to St. Andrews is possible on a limited budget- you just have to do some advance planning. Let me show you how you can plan a trip to St Andrews on a budget with my helpful guide that covers transport, accommodation, where to eat and things to do!
Also be sure to read my comphrehensive guide on travelling Scotland on a budget for even more helpful tips.
Read more: How to spend 1 day in St Andrews
How to get to St Andrews
The best way to get to St Andrews is by car. I recommend hiring one if you are visiting from overseas.
When I need to hire a car in the UK or Europe, I always book with Auto Europe [note- you’ll have to search ‘Great Britain’ to find car hire in Scotland’]. They’re a car rental comparasion site where you can find some pretty cheap deals!
If you are coming from Edinburgh, you have the choice to drive the more direct in-land route, or the more scenic Fife Coastal Route.
The in-land route is quicker, taking just under 90 minutes, and the Fife Coastal Route takes at least 2 hours [not including stops]. There is plenty to observe along the coastal route. I recommend stopping at Aberdour Castle, Elie Ness Lighthouse and a cute fishing village such as St Monans, Pittenweem or Anstruther [where they have UK famous fish and chips].
My favourite off-beat place to visit is Constantine’s Cave in Crail. It is said that Constantine II, one of the early Kings of Scotland lived and died in this cave.
Park your car at the golf-course and wander down to the shoreline [for the exact location, click here]. You’ll find a large cave with a plaque that commemorates the site.
Read more: What to pack for a trip to Scotland
Aberdour Castle- a castle you can visit on the way to St Andrews
The closest train station to St Andrews is Leuchars Rail Station, which is on the East Coast main line linking London, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Leuchars is located 10 minutes from St. Andrews, so you will need to catch a taxi or a bus into the town. Public bus services to St Andrews meet all train arrivals and there are usually taxis waiting just outside the railway station.
There are buses that run from Edinburgh to St. Andrews, however you are often required to change buses in either Dundee or Dunfermline. It is much easier to catch the train, and then a bus to St Andrews.
If travelling from Dundee, there are regular buses that run. Visit the Stagecoach website for more information.
Once you arrive in St Andrews you can walk practically everywhere, meaning you won’t have to spend money on transport, provided you are staying close to the town centre.
Finding affordable accommodation in St Andrews
I recommend checking Airbnb for a self-catering apartment. This way you can save money on meals by cooking at your accommodation. You can buy food from the local Tesco in the centre of town.
Here are a few more affordable accommodation options for St Andrews:
- St Andrews University offers up their empty student accommodation at end of term. Agnes Blackadder Hall, David Russel Hall and McIntosh Hall all have campus accommodation. There are also 5 bedroom apartments available. Don’t expect anything fancy- they’re small and basic rooms, but they’re clean and good if you’re travelling on a budget.
- If you have a car you can stay near St Andrews where accommodation is cheaper. I recommend Edenside House which is 3 miles from St Andrews or Scooniehill Farmhouse B&B which is 1.5 miles from St Andrews.
Read more: How to spend 10 days in Scotland
Cheap & Free Things to do in St Andrews
One of the best things about St Andrews is once you’re here, there are plenty of free or cheap activities. Here are some of my favourites:
St. Andrews Cathedral
St. Andrews most famous attraction, and perhaps the most famous ruin in all of Scotland. It is free to explore the ruin and accompanying graveyard. For a small fee, you can climb to the top of St Rule’s Tower for spectacular views across St Andrews!
Exploring St Andrews Cathedral
St Andrews Botanic Garden
Stroll through this impressive 18-acre garden set in the heart of historic St Andrews. Take a thick blanket [note: the ground is usually always damp in Scotland!] and a picnic lunch and enjoy the serenity.
Go for a walk to The Old Course
The world’s oldest and most iconic golf course, The Old Course, is located next to West Sands Beach and is a nice walk from the town centre. Make sure you are careful when walking near the golf course and look out for any balls!
West Sands Beach in St Andrews
St. Andrews Castle
It costs £9 per adult to go inside St. Andrews castle- or if you can admire it for free from from the small beach next to the castle!
Celebrate St Andrews Day
St Andrews is also a great place to celebrate St Andrews Day on November 30. The town puts on a variety of free activities each year to celebrate Scotland’s patron saint.
If you’re staying a while be sure to check out my guide on 40 things you can do in St Andrews and beyond!
Cheap places to eat in St Andrews
The Criterion has affordable hot breakfast rolls. For lunch they have soups, sandwhiches and wraps ranging from £4.50-£6.50.
I also really like Northpoint Cafe for a cup of tea and a scone. They also have delicious soups and filling sandwiches.
Taste of Scotland on the Bell street corner has delicious soya soup, handmade cakes and sweet higlands buns at great prices.
The Vic is a popular student hangout that has hearty meals for a fair price and some great deals on meals during the week.
Nightlife in St Andrews
Did you know that St Andrews has the most bars and nightclubs per square mile in the UK?
There are over 30 bars and pubs in this town that has only a population of roughly 16,000.
Molly Malones is a good pub for a pocket-friendly pint, and if you’re wanting to drink with the locals, Greyfriars Inn and The Keys Bar are popular choices.
Whether you want a casual drink or to dance until the wee hours of the morning, The Vic is also great for a night out in St Andrews. They have a jam-packed calendar of events including a pub quiz on a Sunday.