Lively Bridgetown is the capital of the gorgeous Caribbean island of Barbados, and is packed with historic attractions, fantastic shopping (much of it duty free) and fabulous nightlife. Much of the city has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, making it a wonderful place to stroll around under the endless sunshine. Plus, it’s close to some of the most stunning beaches on the island, whether you’re in the mood for the calm, family-friendly waters of the west coast or the vibrant resorts and beaches of the south coast. Throw in some calypso rhythms, masses of year-round sunshine, and the inimitable Caribbean welcome, and you’re sure to love your holiday in Bridgetown!
Downtown Bridgetown and the historic Garrison district have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. You can visit some of the city museums to find out more about the island’s fascinating history, or simply wander through the atmospheric streets, now packed with stylish cafés and shops. Check out the impressive parliament buildings on National Heroes Square, or admire the Garrison’s parade grounds and barracks. You’ll find plenty of great shopping along Broad Street, one of the city’s main arteries. You could even take in a game of cricket or go to the races! If you want to hit the gorgeous Caribbean beaches, then you’ll have plenty of choice: Pebbles Beach, Browne’s Beach, and Carlisle Bay are all within easy reach.
Bajan cuisine is a fantastic fusion of culinary influences from around the globe - African, British, Creole and Indian among them – all served up with a dash of Caribbean magic. The classic local dish is cou cou (a maize mush, similar to grits) and fried flying fish, which are served with a spicy gravy. Other top dishes to try include the wonderfully named ‘pudding and souse’ (pickled pork with a spiced,sweet potato sausage), pepperpot, a slow-cooked meat and vegetable stew, and, of course, plenty of fresh seafood. The classic Bajan drink is rum or rum punch, but you could also try some of the excellent locally brewed beers.
There is a dazzling array of things to do with kids in Bridgetown. Most of the west coast beaches are calm and tranquil, ideal for swimming if you’ve got younger kids. You may even be lucky enough to spot some sea turtles! Older kids will be delighted by the fantastic range of water sports, which include paddle-boarding, snorkelling and diving. Other attractions include fun, pirate-themed cruises, water parks, nature reserves and farms, and submarine adventure tours. Top cultural attractions for kids include the historic garrison, where they can play among the massive cannons, and there is a gallery in the Barbados Museum which is specifically geared towards children.
Action & Adventure
There are scores of water-based activities on the beaches around Bridgetown that will get your adrenaline pumping. Just for starters, you could go paddle-boarding or water-skiing, para-sailing or fishing. There are jet-skis and motor boats to rent, and the snorkelling and scuba diving is outstanding. You’ll find plenty of suppliers that offer diving courses, arrange diving trips and rent equipment. Barbados boasts numerous wreck diving sites, and the transparency of the water ensures excellent visibility. You could also go horse-riding along the beaches, or join one of the hikes arranged by the Barbados National Trust through the stunning landscapes of the island’s interior.
Bridgetown has a superb choice of fabulous Caribbean beaches within a short bus or taxi-ride from the city centre. The closest to the harbour are Brandon’s Beach (where you might see the horses from the nearby stables taking a dip) and adjoining Brighton Beach, as well as lively Carlisle Bay, which has a host of facilities including boat excursions. All three beaches attract a lot of day-trippers from cruise ships, so if you’re looking for peace and quiet, head up the coast to Paradise Beach which extends into Batts Rock Beach, both of which are usually blissfully empty. Heading south of Bridgetown, you’ll find more fabulous beaches, including local favourite Miami Beach, a great option for families.
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to nightlife in buzzy Bridgetown. The vibrant capital of Barbados has something for everyone, whether you want to dress up and hang out at glamorous cocktail bar, or hang out at a relaxed beach shack listening to calypso. You could head to an open-air club by the harbour, watching the live music and all kinds of spectacular performances, or take one of the dinner and dancing cruises. Perhaps you’re in the mood for a dinner show, or perhaps want to dance the night away at one of the city’s amazing nightclubs. The choice really is endless!
There’s a reason that so many couples head to Barbados to get married: few places ooze romance like this laid-back and enticing Caribbean island. In Bridgetown, you and your partner can enjoy strolling through the historic downtown streets, drifting between shops and cafés, or pick a beautiful, secluded spot on one of the stunning beaches (Batts Rock Beach is a good option for romance), work on your tan and perhaps spend an hour or two with a snorkel admiring the colourful underwater landscape. In the evenings, you can take your pick from a host of romantic options, whether you fancy a dinner show, cocktails at an oceanfront bar, or an intimate sunset cruise on a catamaran.
Much of downtown Bridgetown and the Garrison district have been inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Don’t miss the chance to explore the enormous garrison – the largest in the British colonies during the 18th and 19th centuries. The garrison is now also home to the excellent Barbados Museum, which provides an insight into the island’s fascinating history. Other cultural must-sees include the synagogue, built in 1654 and still in use. Next to it is a handsome building that dates from 1700 and now contains the Nidhe Israel Museum (Jewish Museum). You might also like to visit the George Washington House, a charming 18th-century house which hosted Washington before he became the first president of the United States. Barbados, curiously, was the only foreign country that he ever visited!