St Andrews Scotland

Cheap Backpacking in St Andrews, Scotland

Bicycle St Andrews

St Andrews, Scotland. A wonderful old town with some beautiful architecture, quaint cobbled streets and excellent beaches on the east coast of Fife.

It’s also the home of golf and favourite university of many wealthy international students. And despite being a student town, it’s also pretty pricey.

Cheap accommodation in St Andrews is few and far between, with luxury hotels catering to the world's best golfers and the parents of rich American students. But there are a few hidden surprises in this old town which can help you save money whilst backpacking in Scotland.

Quadrangle St Andrews

Getting Cheap Accommodation in St Andrews

The number one tip to remember when backpacking is to keep your costs down. Cheap accommodation in St Andrews is none too common a sight. But there are a few hidden surprises in this old town which can help you save money whilst backpacking in Scotland, one being the St Andrews Tourist Hostel.

Tourist Hostel Sign

St Andrews Tourist Hostel

At £10 a night, you can’t possibly go wrong in this small hostel right on St Andrews’ busy market street. Right opposite the student’s union, the hostel is located in a typical old house down a nondescript alleyway.

On arrival at the door, I was annoyed to read a sign saying the check-in was closed until 6pm. So, I headed over to the students union for a cheeky beer. Once I was finally permitted access to the hostel, I was pleasantly surprised. Shown to the top-floor room with a great view over the main street of St Andrews, I was able to ditch my bags and lock the door behind me, as there were no other guests expected that night! Bliss.

Amenities and Location

Downstairs, there’s a huge living room with TV, customary board games and plenty of books from the 1980s. The kitchen is clean, the showers adequate and the staff excellent. But the best thing about this cheap accommodation is the location. Right on the main street, a two-minute walk to the castle, cathedral, shops and bars. It’s a backpacking dream.

I’ve returned two more times to the St Andrews Tourist Hostel during the peak season, when accommodation in the ancient town is fully booked and prices sky high. There’s no peak season rate at the hostel, so if there’s a bed available, get it booked quick.

Book Shop St Andrews

Staying in Student Halls

What a great place to stay in St Andrews and gain a feel for real student life. This option is only available during the holidays and isn’t as cheap as the hostel. But still, it’s a great deal cheaper than the other options available.

For such a small town, there is a great choice of student halls available in St Andrews. A 15-minute walk from the town is New Hall and the David Russell apartments, the modern en suite student accommodation which is available for hire in the summer months. If you’ve been backpacking for a few months, a room here is sheer luxury.

Student Flats and Couchsurfing

A final option for cheap accommodation in St Andrews is to stay in a student flat. There are plenty of student flats in this town, with rooms lying empty during the summer months, and some students will be more than happy to let you crash there for a small fee. You may even be able to do this during term time, when the town is buzzing with life and full of international students. Try the advertising boards on the university's student union website, or go the whole hog on:

Continue the Savings in St Andrews

Restaurants are expensive in St Andrews, but there is also a lot catering to students, so you’ll actually be able to live quite cheaply. Your first point for food in the afternoon should be the students' union, which serves subsidised food and drink from its main bar. Off the hilariously named 'Butts Wynd' there’s a small sublet of the students' union serving the same fare at the same prices.

The Raisin, which is located right beside the hostel, serves a burger and a pint for a fiver, and if you’re really adventurous you could always try and sneak into hall meals!

St Andrews Castle

Free Things To Do in St Andrews

Keep your backpacking budget intact buy checking out a number of free things to do in St Andrews. Of course, the wonderful old cathedral grounds cost nothing, and neither does a trip to the excellent St Salvator's Quadrangle, not far from where Prince William and Kate Middleton first met. You’ll be able to enter the wonderful St Salvator's Chapel, and across town you’ll find St Mary’s Quadrangle which is full of students in the summer months.

Unfortunately, entry to St Andrews' castle carries a charge, but you’ll be able to get some excellent shots from the outside before taking the steep hill down to Castle Sands beach. Add to this mix the wonderful West Sands beach and the quaint harbour area on East Sands, and you’ll have plenty of free things to do in St Andrews.