As the oldest university in Scotland, St Andrews holds centuries of history within its walls. The renowned university’s alumni include Nobel Prize winners, notable politicians, and other public figures. As you walk these storied halls, attend bespoke courses taught by St Andrews faculty, lodge in historic student accommodations on campus, and explore the charming town. 

Starting at: $4,595 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 St. Salvator’s Quadrangle, the University of St. Andrews  The town of St. Andrews  The town and coastline of St. Andrews  Ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral  The ruins of St. Andrews Castle  Edinburgh Castle  Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh  Dunnottar Castle  Glamis Castle  Seaside village of Anstruther  Seaside village of Crail  St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews

Smithsonian at St Andrews

8 days from $4,595

As the oldest university in Scotland, St Andrews holds centuries of history within its walls. The renowned university’s alumni include Nobel Prize winners, notable politicians, and other public figures. As you walk these storied halls, attend bespoke courses taught by St Andrews faculty, lodge in historic student accommodations on campus, and explore the charming town. 

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Activity Level 2: Moderate

Expectations: Week-long stay featuring one destination. Light pace with daily activities of four to six hours, but also features independent time for personal interests. Most activities are based at St Andrews and are within walking distance. Included day excursion beyond St Andrews is by motor coach and may be a full day depending on the course selection and entails walking tours of up to three miles. Throughout the program, walking may be over uneven pavement and cobblestones, and may entail some stairs without handrails and absence of elevators. Note that there are elevators at McIntosh Hall, but classrooms at the university can only be accessed via a short staircase.  

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with longer days of touring (both walking tours and coach time).

2019 Itinerary

Day 1 – Depart the U.S. for Scotland

Day 2 – Welcome to Scotland

Arrive in Edinburgh Airport this morning and transfer to St Andrews and its historic university. After settling in at McIntosh Hall,* gather for an orientation walking tour of St Andrews.

A welcome reception will be held in McIntosh Hall this evening with St Andrews faculty who will provide an overview of the week and discuss the educational system at the university. Dinner this evening is at a local restaurant. (R,D)

*Note: Travelers may choose to upgrade to the nearby Ardgowan Hotel at a supplemental cost.

Day 3 – Crime and Castles

Travelers will enroll in a choice of two courses—Scottish Castles or Scottish Crime Writing: from Gothic Horror to Tartan Noir—and attend a series of lectures and excursions to historic sites.

Scottish Crime Writing. Explore the theme of Gothic Scotland with a focus on the works of James Hogg and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Scottish Castles. Attend a talk on St Andrews Castle and its role in the Scottish Reformation. This afternoon, enjoy a visit to St Andrews Castle for an up-close look at this historic site. (B)

Day 4 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Falkland Palace

Scottish Crime Writing. Delve into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, then take an afternoon trip to the charming seaside villages of Crail and Anstruther. Enjoy a local favorite of fish and chips for lunch today.

Scottish Castles. Learn about Falkland Palace, a 17th-century royal palace, and the broader subject of the Scottish crown—then head out for the quick drive to the palace and explore it in person. Lunch will be at a popular local café.

Late this afternoon, both groups gather for a tour and tasting at a local distillery. (B,L)

Day 5 – The Streets of Edinburgh

Both groups are bound for Edinburgh today to explore the city with a different focus.

Scottish Crime Writing. Your morning talk is on renowned crime writer Ian Rankin, with a particular focus on his novel Fleshmarket Close. In Edinburgh, enjoy a walking tour that showcases crime writing themes, plus visit the Writers’ Museum, home to artifacts from Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott.

Scottish Castles. Lecture topics this morning include the “Athens of the North” and Edinburgh Castle. Once in Edinburgh, tour the castle—perched high on Castle Rock—as well as Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the British monarch when in Scotland, located at the other end of the Royal Mile.

Return to St Andrews this evening. (B,L)

Day 6 – Tartan Noir and Dunnottar Castle

Scottish Crime Writing.  Take a modern turn and as your tutor examines the rise of the "Tartan Noir" genre and the contemporary Scottish crime writing scene. Enjoy lunch at a popular local restaurant in town.

Scottish Castles. Depart St Andrews this morning for Dunnottar Castle with lunch and a lecture en route. Dunnottar Castle is a striking medieval fortress, known most famously as the hiding place of the Scottish crown jewels during the invasion of Oliver Cromwell’s army in the 17th century.

This evening, everyone is invited to attend a private reading by a contemporary Scottish crime writer. (B,L)

Day 7 – Graeme Macrae Burnet and Glamis Castle

Scottish Crime Writing. Your final lecture features the works of Graeme Macrae Burnet, a rising Scottish author whose novel His Bloody Project was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.

Scottish Castles. Head out this morning for Glamis Castle, where your tutor relates the history of this beautiful castle, once the childhood home of the Queen Mother.

Back in St Andrews this evening, gather together to toast the end of your seminar with a farewell reception and dinner at a local restaurant, joined by St Andrews staff. (B,R,D)

Day 8 – Departure

Depart this morning for Edinburgh Airport and individual flights home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2020 Itinerary

Day 1 – Depart the U.S. for Scotland

Day 2 – Welcome to Scotland

Arrive in Edinburgh Airport this morning and transfer to St Andrews and its historic university. After settling in at McIntosh Hall,* gather for an orientation walking tour of St Andrews.

A welcome reception will be held in McIntosh Hall this evening with St Andrews faculty who will provide an overview of the week and discuss the educational system at the university. Dinner this evening is at a local restaurant. (R,D)

*Note: Travelers may choose to upgrade to the nearby Ardgowan Hotel at a supplemental cost.

Day 3 – Scottish Mystery Writers

Travelers will enroll in a course exploring the evolution of the Scottish mystery story, from traditional folklore to contemporary crime fiction. It will cover several important periods in the development of the genre, including the rise of the Victorian novel, Golden Age detective stories of the early 20th century, and the current trend for “Tartan Noir.” The course will also feature discussions of two mystery novels that were set on the St Andrews campus. The course will include a guest reading by a contemporary author and excursions to the historic sites that have inspired Scottish mystery writers.

Today, travelers will explore the origins of the Scottish mystery story, from folktales, ballads, and the supernatural. In the afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of St Andrews’ ancient center, uncover secrets of its turbulent past, and hear about long-standing rumors of hauntings and sinister events that have occurred there. (B)

Day 4 – The First Scottish Crime Novel and the First Scotch Whisky

The day will begin with a talk about the first Scottish mystery novels, focusing especially on James Hogg’s tale of murder and the supernatural, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.

Later, travelers will visit nearby Lindores Abbey Distillery, which is noted for holding the earliest written record of Scotch Whiskey, dating back to the fifteenth century. Today, enjoy a tour of the modern distillery and the ruins of the original medieval abbey, including a tasting session.

In the evening, enjoy a recital of Scotland’s traditional folk songs, including some of the mystery ballads introduced in our coursework. (B,L)

Day 5 – The Streets of Edinburgh

This morning, you will learn about  Dorothy L. Sayers, one of the leading writers in the twentieth century's “golden age” of detective fiction. Sayers’ novel The Five Red Herrings concentrates on the artists and eccentrics living in a village in rural Scotland.

Travelers will spend the afternoon in Edinburgh, soaking up the Gothic atmosphere of the Old Town, which is vividly brought to life in James Hogg’s novel. Edinburgh has long been the literary centre of Scotland, and on a short walking tour, you will explore some of this history.

You will also have an exclusive session at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, listening to one of the present-day performers keeping traditional folktales alive before returning to St  Andrews this evening. (B,L)

Day 6 – Tartan Noir and Dunnottar Castle

This morning travelers will look at Shirley McKay’s historical crime fiction set in sixteenth-century St Andrews. Discover what this university town was like more than four centuries ago, and learn how little has changed, as you discuss McKay’s novel Hue & Cry.

This afternoon, a short bus journey takes you to Falkland Palace, a beautiful royal castle which enjoyed its heyday in the sixteenth century, the same time as McKay’s fictional detective was lurking in the cloisters at St Andrews.

In the evening, the group will enjoy a private reading and Q&A with a popular Scottish crime writer. (B,L)

Day 7 – Graeme Macrae Burnet and Glamis Castle

In the final morning class, learn how St Andrews has taken center stage in contemporary Scottish crime fiction, which is often described as “tartan noir.” Bestselling author Val McDermid’s The Distant Echo is a chilling tale of “town and gown,” bringing the links between St Andrews and mystery writing up-to-date.

Gather together this evening to toast the end of your seminar with a farewell reception and dinner at a local restaurant, joined by St  Andrews staff. (B,R,D)

Day 8 – Departure

Depart this morning for Edinburgh Airport and individual flights home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)