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Hidden Gems around St Andrews

When you think of St Andrews, green golf courses, endless white beaches and a historic university often spring to mind first.

With so many “must-see” attractions to visit, such as the St Andrews Cathedral and the famed Old Course, the “hidden gems” of the town can go unnoticed for tourists and visitors.

Luckily, residents at The Walled Gardens have plenty of opportunities to fully explore the town with friends and family, enjoying some of the more unknown and underrated attractions.

We’ve outlined some of our favourite hidden gems to help you discover the magic of St Andrews beyond its beautiful beaches.

One for the grandchildren:

First up is our favourite way to explore St Andrews with children and grandchildren: The St Andrews Spy Mission Treasure Trail.

The trail is a two-mile long treasure hunt across the town, which takes around two hours to complete in total. It’s suitable for everyone and follows a booklet of clues and codes to find the answers to – often hidden in signs and statues so you learn about the town as well as enjoying a nice family day out.

Scotland’s Secret Bunker

During the Cold War, Scotland prepared for the worst by creating a reinforced concrete bunker, where government officials would run the country from if a nuclear war broke out.

Measuring 24,000 square feet and 100 feet underground (the size of a football pitch), the Secret Bunker is a labyrinth of two levels containing two cinemas, a café, the operations room, dormitories, and an RAF control centre – all hidden underneath an unsuspecting famous. It was kept secret for more than 50 years but is now open to tourists to visit.

A trip to the Oscars

Another of our favourite hidden gems to visit is less about the destination, and more about the meaning. An Oscar-winning film shot its most iconic scene right here in St Andrews.

Chariots of Fire is a 1981 film about two British athletes, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, who compete in the 100-metre race at the 1924 Olympic Games. One of the film’s most recognisable scenes is the athletes running barefoot on the beach, shot at West Sands in St Andrews – beside the 18th hole of the Old Course at St Andrews Links.

Next time you take a wander along West Sands beach you might be able to hear the film’s award-winning original soundtrack ringing through the air.

Food and drinks:

Kingsbarns Distillery

Converted from an 18th century farm, Kingsbarns Distillery is the perfect place to have a dram of some of the finest whisky and gins in Scotland. It runs both gin and whisky tastings for small and large groups, with guided tours available.

The distillery is run by the Wemyss family, whose connections with the industry date back to the 19th century. It was built in the early 1800s and features an unusual sandstone Gothic tower, called a dovecot, which housed pigeons to supply the kitchens with meat and eggs.

The Cheesy Toast Shack:

With two locations in St Andrews and at Kingsbarns beach, The Cheesy Toast Shack is one of Scotland’s top street food vendors, serving up grilled cheese toasties, ice-cream and coffees.

Seafood on the seashore:

The Seafood Ristorante is located over a beach on a high bank, which gives it panoramic views across the bay and West Sands beach. In addition to its spectacular views and location, the restaurant was also named Scottish restaurant of the year in 2019 for its locally-sourced seafood with an Italian twist.

Beyond the views and the location, the restaurant was awarded the Scottish Restaurant of the Year in 2019 serving locally sourced sea food with an Italian twist.

A true dining experience that will sweep you off your feet!

A little further away:

Wemyss Caves

Wemyss Caves is a heritage site containing the biggest collection of Pictish inscribed symbols and the ruins of Macduff Castle, dating back up to 4,000 years. Around 20 miles from St Andrews, or a 40-minute drive, the caves are historically very precious and are thought to have been formed between 8,000 and 5,000 years ago.

The earliest cave carvings date back to the Bronze Age, while the rest are from the Pictish era. You can take tours of the caves or visit the nearby museum to discover more about Scotland’s Middle Ages.


Anstruther is a small fishing village 10 miles south of St Andrews and represents Fife’s maritime history. You can wander the village, visiting the Scottish Fisheries Museum, and taking in the sights of the Firth of Forth on a boat trip from the harbour.

No visit to Anstruther is complete without visiting the Anstruther Fish Bar, one of the UK’s best fish and chip shops, for fresh and locally caught fish.

At the Walled Gardens, you will find yourself perfectly positioned to experience everything St Andrews has to offer.

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