Bridgetown City Guide
Bridgetown is the capital and the commercial center of the Caribbean island, Barbados. Bridgetown is a busy port and home to more than 80,000 inhabitants who call themselves ‘Bajans’ and are known for their friendly disposition.
Barbados was once a Spanish and Portuguese colony and became a British settlement in 1635. This ‘pearl of the Caribbean’ is also the eastern-most Caribbean island and is actually an ancient coral reef that was formed nearly a million years ago.
This ancient coral reef today entices many holiday makers to book a vacation to Barbados for it offers a plethora of water sports activities like snorkeling and scuba diving. In fact, Barbados is one of most popular vacation destinations in the Caribbean and is renowned the world over for its glorious beaches, exotic resorts and its agreeable weather that features 340 days of sunshine in a year.
Where to stay in Bridgetown
Bridgetown boasts of a long and colorful history as a British settlement. Barbados got its independence from the British in 1966. Its capital city is a busy, bustling metropolis that offers a fine mix of modern and historic buildings and numerous attractions that take the form of monuments, markets and verdant gardens. If the motive of your trip to Bridgetown is primarily work or business; then it is likely that you will choose to stay at a hotel located in the heart of the city.
Resort hotels outside of Bridgetown
If your vacations to Bridgetown are purely for leisure or a mix of both, then it is likely that you may choose to stay at one of the island’s many luxurious beachfront resort hotels; located in the St Peter and St James parishes on the west coast of Barbados, to the north of Bridgetown.
These luxury hotels are known to be quite pricey but if you have chosen to make your flight and hotel booking with us at Fare Buzz, you needn’t worry as we will ensure that you get the best hotel rates for your stay in Barbados.
Aside from these beachfront luxury hotels, Barbados also offers more reasonably priced hotels and resorts along its busy strip of St Lawrence Gap, which is located in Christ Church Parish on the south coast of the island. St Lawrence Gap also offers many small restaurants, bars and nightclubs, which contribute to its popularity as an accommodation locale on the island of Barbados.
Places to see in Bridgetown
Bridgetown’s main street is called Broad Street and is populated by banks, department stores and duty-free shops along with several historic buildings like the Parliament Building, which houses the Barbados Parliament. The Barbados Parliament is the third oldest parliament in the Commonwealth and dates back to 1639.
Other important landmarks located here is the National Heroes’ Square and sports a bronze statue of Admiral Lord Nelson. This statue was erected in 1813 to commemorate the British Royal Navy’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Yet another not to be missed sight on any visit to Bridgetown is the Garrison Historic Area, which is situated two miles to the east of Heroes Square. This area contains grassy parade grounds called the Garrison Savannah and several military buildings including barracks for military personnel. This Garrison was the base and headquarters for members of the British West Indies Regiment in Barbados during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Barbados History Museum
This museum is housed in a British Military prison and was established in 1933 in the historic Garrison area. The museum offers a valuable insight into the rich history of Barbados for it has artifacts from Arwak days along with various other exhibits that include tools and instruments, paintings and engravings, decorative European arts along with rare West Indian documents that include archival documents, genealogical records, photos, books, and maps, which date back to the 17th century. These various documents chronicle the island’s history and cover important events like the period when Barbados was the sugar producing capital of world and employed much slave labor.
Bridgetown’s Baobab Tree
Bridgetown has two massive Baobab Trees, which are to be seen to believe. These trees, which are also known as ‘Monkey bread trees’, have gargantuan tree trunks. One of these massive trees grows in Queen’s Park in Bridgetown and it is believed to have been brought to the island from Guinea in Africa in 1738. It takes 15 adults with outstretched arms to encircle the massive trunk of the tree which constitutes a must-see sight on any visit to Bridgetown.
Careenage is the erstwhile port area of Barbados, which now houses restaurants, bars, and stores in the old warehouse places that used to store supplies for ships. The Careenage offers historic buildings on one side and fishing and pleasure boats on the other.
St Mary’s Church
This church is located in the heart of the city and was built in 1825 and is the second oldest consecrated ground in the city.
Cheapside Market occupies a small strip of land in the heart of Bridgetown. The market was created by the government of Barbados to showcase the wares and talents of is local artisans. Cheapside market is best visited on a Saturday morning when its vendors sell a wide range of products like handmade leather goods, and jewelry, artwork and household wares, which make for good gifts and souvenirs from a vacation to Bridgetown.
Mount Gay Rum Visitors Centre
This popular tour enlightens you about the history of the world’s oldest rum, which has been made in Barbados since 1703. The distillery that makes the rum is located in the north of Barbados in St Lucy Parish but the tour offers much information about the production of the rum along with displays of equipment used in its production. The Mount Gay Rum Visitors Centre tour also offers rum tasting and a chance to buy some bottles as well.
The Kensington Oval
The Kensington Oval is one of the most prominent sports facilities in Barbados. This ground, which is primarily used for cricket matches, is located to the west of Bridgetown. Nicknamed the Mecca of Cricket, the Kensington Oval is deemed to be as important as Lord’s cricket ground in London. The Kensington Oval has hosted many a cricket match featuring local and international teams during its more than 120 year history.
If you have a chance to take in a cricket match at the Kensington Oval during your stay in Bridgetown, you should not pass up the opportunity, for the atmosphere at ‘the Oval’ is truly unique and definitely worth experiencing.
Best time to visit Bridgetown
Bridgetown like the rest of the island of Barbados has a tropical climate, which is sunny and warm all year round. Daytime temperatures in Barbados typically hover around 75 to 85°F (24 to 29°C) all year round; though the stifling heat is somewhat tempered at certain times by the northeast trade winds. Even though the location of Barbados places it near the hurricane belt, the island is usually bypassed by the devastating storms. The dry season in Barbados extends from January to June and constitutes the best time to book a vacation to Barbados.
Getting around in Bridgetown
Bridgetown is renowned for its duty free shopping options and is an important port of call for several cruise ships. The city is also easily accessed by various airlines which fly into its Grantley Adams International Airport.
If you need cheap air tickets to Bridgetown for your Caribbean vacation in the sun, contact us at Fare Buzz for our bouquet of flight deals also includes cheap air flights to Bridgetown.
The Grantley Adams International airport is located 10 miles east of Bridgetown near Christchurch. The Bridgetown airport is well connected to the city center via the island’s public bus system and a 24 hour taxi service. The taxi fares from the Bridgetown airport to the city center are fixed by the government and the vehicles are generally unmetered. Many visitors elect to rent a car for their visit to Bridgetown and Fare Buzz offers affordable car rentals for Bridgetown, which can be booked via its usual booking platforms.
However, in order to rent a car in Bridgetown you need to have a driver’s permit for Barbados. You can easily obtain a Barbados driver’s license when you land in Bridgetown and produce your valid US or International License. The cost for a visitors driving permit is US$5 for a 2-month permit and US$50 for a 1-year permit. All authorized car rental companies can issue you a Barbados driver’s license once you have shown them your valid US or International driving license.
Bridgetown is easily navigable and its downtown shopping district is best explored on foot. For those visitors who don’t like to walk much, Bridgetown offers a public transport system that consists of buses and taxis. This Bridgetown bus service is quite reliable, extensive and inexpensive.
The city has two main bus terminals, the Princess Ann Bus terminal that is located to the west of Bridgetown's downtown and is served by buses that travel to the north of the city and the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal that lies east of downtown and is served by buses that travel to the south of the city.
If you do not want to rent a car and are based at one of the many Bridgetown hotels then these buses offer the best way to see the rest of the island on any visit to Bridgetown.
Taxi service in Bridgetown consists mainly of route taxis, which are people carriers that hold several passengers at a time. These taxis generally ply on set routes and will often wait until they are full up before leaving. Many of these route taxis are privately owned and can be spotted at many locations throughout Bridgetown.
Where to shop in Bridgetown
Bridgetown is a duty free port and the city offers numerous stores that sell cameras, watches, crystal and gold jewelry along its main Broad Street. However, if you wish to shop for handicrafts and souvenirs rather than routine duty-free fare then your shopping expeditions during your stay in Bridgetown should concentrate on shops like the Pelican Crafts Centre. This store offers Mount Gay Rum, rum cakes and, locally made leather goods, batik, straw bags, carvings, jewelry, glass art, paintings, pottery, and other items, which are created by local craftsmen and make for great gifts and souvenirs. Another popular store for souvenir shopping in Bridgetown is Earthworks; known for its vibrantly colored ceramics and pottery.
Where to eat in Bridgetown
Many of the restaurants in Bridgetown specialize in Caribbean fare which features much fresh seafood. Some of the most popular eateries in Bridgetown include establishments like Brown Sugar, The Balcony Restaurant, Squares Restaurant, Lobster Alive and Waterfront Café.
Nightlife in Bridgetown
Nightlife in Bridgetown is centered on Baxters Road, which is peppered with authentic Bajan ‘cafs’ or bars. Patsy’s on Baxters Road is a popular nighttime hang out in Bridgetown if you are in the mood for an authentic Bajan evening.
Other popular nightlife haunts in the Barbadian capital city include establishments like the Boatyard Bar and South Deck Grill and the Harbor Lights Bar.