Kingston City Guide
Kingston is the capital of Jamaica and its cultural, industrial and financial hub. This city is renowned as the birth place of reggae music and is also largest English-speaking city in the Caribbean. Kingston is situated on the flat Liguanea Plain, an alluvial plain alongside the Hope River and its landscape includes several hills and a large, natural harbor.
The cosmopolitan city of Kingston is often used as a gateway to the many stunning beaches of Jamaica by tourists though the city of Kingston itself has much to offer for visitors in the form of a wide array of historical and cultural attractions and a vibrant nightlife scene.
Where to stay in Kingston
Aside from excellent coffee and great reggae music, Kingston unfortunately is also associated with high rates of crime and when choosing a hotel in Kingston, you should exercise caution so as to avoid certain inner-city neighborhoods that are known to be hotbeds of crime.
Downtown Kingston Hotels
Downtown Kingston is located near the city’s harbor and waterfront and is also its historic core. This area encompasses the new business district of Kingston and is home to several landmarks like Independence Park, the National Arena as well as the Jamaica Conference Center that is a popular destination for meetings and conferences in Jamaica. Downtown Kingston accordingly hosts several business and luxury hotels that are popular with both leisure and business visitors to Kingston.
Lower slopes of the Blue Mountains
Jamaica’s famous Blue Mountains are located close to the city of Kingston and some of the city’s popular resort and spa hotels are located on the lower slopes of the Blue Mountains. These resorts are immensely popular with visitors on a vacation to Kingston as they offer gorgeous views of the city and the harbor.
Places to see in Kingston
The game of cricket is extremely popular all over the West Indies though the American influence in the form of basketball and NBA is gradually creeping in, especially with the younger generation. If you happen to be in Jamaica during the cricketing months of December to April and are a cricket lover, then you should try and take in one of the cricket matches that are played on Kingston's historic and picturesque cricket ground known as Sabina Park. You would be hard pressed to find a similar carnival like atmosphere in any other cricketing destination in the world.
Bob Marley Museum
Jamaica’s most famous gift to the world of music is the singer-songwriter Bob Marley who is credited for making reggae music, a global phenomenon. Bob Marley passed away due to cancer in 1981 at the age of the 36. The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston is housed in the singer’s home commemorates his life and music and is the most-visited sight in Kingston.
The National Gallery hosts a permanent collection that consists of artworks and sculptures created by Jamaica’s famous artists like Edna Manley, Christopher Gonzalez, Mallica Reynolds and others. If you are an arts enthusiast on a vacation to Kingston, you should include the National Gallery on your sight-seeing itinerary.
Hope Botanical Gardens
The Hope Botanical Gardens constitute a verdant oasis in the heart of downtown Kingston. These gardens extend over fifty acres and are composed of manicured lawns and several individual gardens like the orchid garden, the cactus garden, the forest garden and more. The gardens also house a small zoo and are definitely worth visiting especially if you are in Kingston on vacation with your children.
The Spanish Town neighborhood is located on the western outskirts of Kingston. This neighborhood housed the capital of the island during the Spanish colonial rule that lasted from 1662 to 1872. The neighborhood today hosts several historic buildings, which display the unique Spanish and British Georgian style of architecture. Spanish Town hosts several landmark buildings like St James Cathedral that is the oldest Anglican Church outside England, the Jamaican People’s museum, the Old King’s House that was used as the British governor’s residence in Jamaica and the Town Square that today hosts a lively, colorful market.
Devon House is a historic building that is located in Kingston. This grand house, which exhibits the Jamaican Georgian style of architecture, was built by Jamaica's first black millionaire, George Stiebel, at the end of the 19th century. Antique filled Devon House, which is a typical Jamaican ‘Grand House’, today houses many shopping and dining areas within its folds.
The Blue Mountains extend over 28 miles (45km) in eastern Jamaica. These mountains are perennially covered in a blue-tinged mist after which the mountains have been named. Located at the base of the mountain is the John Crow National Park, which was established to conserve the native flora and fauna of the Blue Mountains and accordingly hosts 800 species of plants and 200 species of birds including the largest butterfly in the world. The lower slopes of the mountains host various coffee and spice plantations like the Jablum Coffee Company, which is known for its famous Blue Mountain coffee. Most visitors on a vacation to Kingston enjoy hiking and biking expeditions in the Blue Mountains.
Best time to visit Kingston
Kingston experiences a year round tropical climate. The city experiences hot, humid weather all throughout the year with hardly any seasonal variation. Kingston however does experience a wet season that tends to last from May to November and includes the hurricane season. Most frequent visitors to Kingston aver that the best time to visit Kingston is during its dry season, which lasts from December to April and is characterized by temperatures which range from 86 °F(30°C) to 66F(19C).
Getting around in Kingston
Visitors usually access Kingston via its Norman Manly International Airport, which is located 18 miles to the south east of Kingston. This airport receives a wide array of international carriers that make getting to Kingston quite easy. In fact, we at Fare Buzz periodically announce attractive flight deals for Kingston. If you are currently looking to book a vacation or go on a business trip to Kingston and need cheap air ticket tickets for your trip, you would do well as to contact Fare Buzz and lay your hands on the best flight deals for Kingston.
The best way to get to your hotel from the Kingston airport is via the city’s JUTA transport network, which consists of a fleet of luxury coaches, buses, and air conditioned cars that provide a safe and comfortable ride in to town for visitors to the city. Kingston also has a public transport system, which is made up of public buses and taxis. However, the best way for a tourist to get around the city, is to use the official taxi services as riding on public buses or even walking around especially after dark is not advisable.
Some visitors to Kingston, who are comfortable with driving in Jamaica, choose to rent a car for the duration of their stay in Kingston. If you too want to rent a car for your Kingston vacation, you should contact Fare Buzz before you leave for your vacation. Fare Buzz offers an assortment of affordable and well priced car rentals for Kingston as a part of its travel portfolio. Further these Kingston car rentals can be booked at the same time and via the same platforms that you make your other travel bookings for Kingston.
Where to shop in Kingston
Kingston offers a plethora of shopping opportunities at its markets and shopping centers. Popular shopping haunts for souvenirs in Kingston include the city’s Jubilee Market (named after Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee) and the Kingston Crafts Street market which features many vendors who are housed in covered stalls. The vendors at the Kingston Crafts Street Market sell a variety of native arts and crafts like batik shirts, straw hats, mats, baskets, wooden plates and bowls, wooden masks and more.
Aside from these local markets, Kingston also offers various malls and shopping centers like the Shops at Devon House, the New Kingston Shopping Centre, The Sovereign Centre and the Island Life Mall.
Where to eat in Kingston
Kingston’s dining landscape is very varied and features various global cuisines along with island’s local cuisine, which features specialties like Jerk Chicken, Bammy Cakes, Curried Mutton, Ackee and Salted Codfish. The city offers myriad dining venues like plantation restaurants, hotel restaurants, stand alone restaurants and even popular fast food outlets.
Some of the highly ranked and heavily trafficked restaurants in Kingston include joints like the restaurant at Strawberry Hill, Norma’s on the Terrace, Akbar, Chelsea Jerk Center, Devonshire Restaurant, The Rib Kage, Island Grill and Heather’s Garden Restaurant.
Nightlife in Kingston
Kingston does have a hopping nightlife scene. However most visitors don’t really venture out into the city due to high crime rates and elect to socialize within the security of their hotels. Some of the best and highly ranked nightlife haunts in Kingston include bars like Mingles at the luxe Courtleigh Hotel , Carlos Café, Redbones Blues Café and Fiction all of which are located in the city’s new business district of New Kingston and are considered relatively ‘safe’.