My visit to St Andrews, Scotland

St Andrews is home to the University of St Andrews, the Will and Kate love affair and a whole lot of grey.

Amna Hashmi August 05, 2013

On the north-eastern coastal belt of Scotland, there exists an inconsequential little town by the name of St Andrews — home to the University of St Andrews, the Will and Kate love affair and a whole lot of grey.

I say grey because the city lies under a seemingly perpetual cover of clouds and is encompassed by a gloomy, omnipresent grey shade fit for a medieval horror movie. While I am well aware of the abomination that is general British weather, I can safely say that St Andrews takes it up a notch.

But there is more than just the weather here that will — pun intended — rain on your parade and ruin your visit. I had heard plenty about the historic monuments, museums and gothic attractions in St Andrews and being a medieval history enthusiast, I jumped at the opportunity to experience them first hand, only to be thoroughly disappointed. Granted, the city is like a veritable museum of architectural relics and ruins that date back to a millennium but unfortunately, that is all they are — ruins! Most of what St Andrews calls ‘tourist attractions’ have stood the test of time and the unforgiving weather but are now much too dilapidated to be enjoyed.

One could argue that this could be precisely what makes the city authentic and beautiful but in my experience, St Andrews simply did not live up to the hype.

Despite this, it is worth a mention that St Andrews is the birthplace of British golf, with devotees from across the world travelling to the city to witness some prestigious tournaments on some of the world’s finest golf courses. So unless you enjoy golf or take pleasure in wasting your time and energy, I would advise you to look into Edinburgh or any of the Lochs in northern Scotland for a more wholesome travel experience and better use of your money. A few parks and vintage shops afford something to kill time within the city centre but all in all, there are just a few strong points in St Andrews and entertainment is definitely not one of them.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2013.


Robbo | 10 years ago | Reply

As a former student who would happily spend many more years of my life in St Andrews, I cannot disagree with this article more. The town attracts a huge amount of tourists each year for good reason but this writer was obviously unable to appreciate the beautiful beaches, museums, architecture, points of historical interest, gardens... etc. It's a shame that she's written the place off due to the weather, perhaps a stay in a generic Spanish costa would be more suited to her. She also recommends "any of the lochs in Northern Scotland" over St Andrews. Did you know that Scotland has an estimated 31,460 of them? Unless you take pleasure in wasting your time and energy, ignore this article.

Nisar | 10 years ago | Reply

Being a former resident of eastern Scotland, I would recommend going to highlands; not on your own per se but go to some tour operator. In Edinburgh there is Rabbies tour operator, their fare is fantastic and their drivers know every inch of highlands so you are aptly assured you get a glimpse of every beautiful place Scotland has to offer. Big cities like Edinburgh itself, Aberdeen, Dundee are good attractions but one should not spend too much time and money there. Northern towns of Portree and Inverness are better options.

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