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St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

Fairview Park, Ohio
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St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

So in mid-July, my mother and I will be visiting the UK in celebration of my surviving cancer. We've booked the flight and are in the process of planning out our itineraries. We're staying in Scotland first for a few days, arriving on a Thursday afternoon and leaving Sunday afternoon. We have already committed Saturday to going out west to visit the highlands and taking in a British Open practice round on Sunday morning (most likely, you'll see what I mean in a bit).

The dilemma lies in what to do on Friday. My mother is of the opinion that the British Open will influence Edinburgh's lodging prices, even though we are *leaving* on the first day of practice (she tends to overestimate like any mother). It's possible we may end up staying in St. Andrews instead. While I'd very much like to visit both St. Andrews and Edinburgh, the time constraints puts a limit on what we can do and see. I know I'd like to check out the Old Course, the castle and the cathedral in St. Andrews, they all look very impressive. On the other hand, Edinburgh has plenty to see as well, plus that famous castle of theirs.

Which would you choose to do on Friday? Stay in St. Andrews and visit the city or head over to Edinburgh? Edinburgh castle certainly seems impressive, is that an all-day visit or can it be done relatively quickly? I know there's always other castles to look at as well as the area is rife with them.

Not enough time!!!

Bingley, United...
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1. Re: St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

Do some pricing, but you are right that the Open (never the British Open) will increase prices during the tournament

Fairview Park, Ohio
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2. Re: St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

Thanks. While pricing is certainly a factor, it's not by any means a deal-breaker. I'm more concerned with which city I'd like to visit on that Friday. After a little thinking, I find myself leaning towards St. Andrews as it has that nice castle and cathedral anyway, among other things. Do you know if there is a nice park nearby for a light hike with gorgeous views? (Possibly from a higher elevation, if possible)

I'm more drawn to countryside than city, but I'll get my fill of city life when we hit London, obviously.

Scotland
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3. Re: St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

Edinburgh's not all about the castle. There's enough there to keep you going for a week.

If you've decided to stay in St Andrews and are looking for a walk, drive round the coast to Crail and walk along the Fife Coastal Path. The bit from St Andrews to Crail is not as interesting as the part from Crail westwards. The views across to Edinburgh etc are fabulous.

If it's hill walking that interests you , this is the wrong bit of Scotland. The area around St Andrews is fairly low lying

Edinburgh
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4. Re: St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

Edinburgh Castle needs a few hours to see it all, but if you are coming here mainly for the Castle, I think Stirling Castle is nicer and more interesting and it offers great views of the Ochils and edge of the Highlands on a clear day.

Not sure what St Andrews castle is like (been to St Andrews, but not the Castle). Some of the East Neuk coastal villages are nice, as mentioned above.

Fife, United Kingdom
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5. Re: St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

If you are going to St.Andrews you could pop into Hill of Tarvit. Its small but has lovely gardens and a super walk up to the hill (of Tarvit) with views down over the coastline, Tentsmuir and the Eden Estuary, although you are not blessed with a lot of time!

nts.org.uk/Property/…

I LOVE St.Andrews - its got so much to see in such a small place and is a charming old town with lots of beautiful buildings and easily walkable.

You don't say WHERE you are arriving (I am assuming Edinburgh?) You say "We have already committed Saturday to going out west to visit the highlands" - thats a big area to cover in one day!

I am trying to work out just exactly how much time you have and it doesn't seem like much at all considering what you are planning!!

Can you not forget The Open visit and go to St.Andrews (and see the Old Course) on Friday morning, stay Friday night then on Saturday head up to maybe Pitlochry/Dunkeld/Blair Atholl and stay overnight then come back to Edinburgh for your flight? That way you would have a little time in Edinburgh when you arrive ...

undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/pitlochry/…

Good luck!

Woody x

Edited: 22 February 2013, 17:38
Virginia
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6. Re: St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

You've heard from a few of the knowledgabe and helpful Scots who do an amazing job assisting us Americans in visiting their country. Now I offer the view of a visitor form the States. I've spent a week in St. Andrews each of the last two years, playing golf mostly. Like woody, I love the wee town, and would choose it over Edinburgh, even if I couldn't get a round in. Its easy to walk the entire town, but lots to see and do, including the Cathedral, Castle, Golf Museum, the golf courses themselves, old churches, quaint and friendly pubs. In addition, there's much less traffic, fewer people, and a generally slower pace. On the other hand, Edinburgh is brilliant, a HUGE castle, Holyrood, St. Giles, so much to see and do as well. The difference-maker, for me, is the small-town feel of St. Andrews, as compared to the big city in Edinburgh. Others might make exactly the opposite choice, based on exactly the same criteria, but I always prefer smaller places. The best thing is, you really can't go wrong.

Fife, United Kingdom
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7. Re: St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

Well said Dave - I think we both have the same soft spot for St.Andrews - but like you said, whether you choose St.Andrews or Edinburgh - you cannot lose!

W x

Fairview Park, Ohio
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8. Re: St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

Thanks everyone for your input, I certainly have a bit to think about. To answer woodybark, we are flying in from the states arriving in London on Thursday and then hopping on a quick one-way flight to Edinburgh. From there, we'll go to St. Andrews if we're going to stay there, and it looks like we will. I'm more partial to the countryside than the city, but that's not to say Edinburgh isn't nice, of course. The affordable prices of bed and breakfasts appeals to my mother (who's footing the bill, after all), and she happens to prefer them over hotels. As for the going out west part on Saturday, I found through this website what seems to be a very reputable touring company by the name of Highland Experience Tours. They have a number of 1-day trips out of Edinburgh, and I have my eye on their West Highland tour. It means getting up at the crack of dawn in St. Andrews to catch the bus in Edinburgh, but so be it.

I think I like the idea of visiting a smaller town and smaller and somewhat relatively unknown castles (at least here in the states they're not well-known). While I have no doubt that the walks outside of Edinburgh are spectacular, it's not necessarily a must. I have to be flexible because of the time constraints. I suggested to her that we might stay until Monday instead of Sunday, but she insists that we'll need every day we can get for London.

This is my first overseas trip, so naturally I'm trying to jam in everything I'd like to do. I believe I'll have to make a return trip someday if I want to see more.

Edited: 23 February 2013, 01:48
Fife, United Kingdom
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9. Re: St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

What a shame..but if she pays, she says! London is nice but it will be VERY busy and totally lacks the quaintness of Edinbugh - you will see what I mean when you go.

Virginia
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10. Re: St. Andrews or Edinburgh dilemma

It sounds like your plan is coming together. In St. Andrews, I've stayed at the Burness House and at the Craigmont Guesthouse, and would recommend either, although I'd give a very faint edge to Burness House. Its in the Murray Park area, and convenient to the hole town. I'd be glad to recommend a few pubs and restaurants as well, and I'm sure you can find others who will be glad to add mroe recommendations.

One small castle that we enjoyed was at Loch Leven. Its located less than an hour drive west of St. Andrews, on a small island in the middle of the lake, and your admission includes the boat-ride to and from the island. Its not a place where you'd spend all day, but its a nice stop for a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon, if you're lucky enough to have sun.