Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados, the eastern most island of the Caribbean. Bridgetown is the only city on Barbados and well over half the island's residents live there. Bridgetown is the port of call for many cruise ships and is known for its duty-free shopping as much as for its more cultural and historical attractions.
This article covers everything in Bridgetown itself and also the rest of St Michael Parish.
Bridgetown is the hub for the island's cheap and convenient buses. Buses from the south arrive at the Bus Terminal near the city center and buses from the north and center arrive at the bus terminal near Cheapside Market to the north of city center. Note that southern buses arrive outside the terminal, but you have to go into the terminal (entrance just around the corner near the bridge) to catch departing buses.
Most of the Bridgetown sites are in easy walking distance of city center. City buses run to many of the outlaying sights, such as the Savanna Green. For sights off the main roads, such as the Malibu Rum Factory, a taxi or private car is your best option. See the Getting Around section of Barbados for more about transportation options.
- Barbados Museum, St. Ann's Garrison, St. Michael (On the western edge of the race course), ☎ + 1 (246) 427 0201 ([email protected], fax: + 1 (246) 436 1956), . Mon-Sat 9AM-5PM, Sun 2PM-6PM. Housed in the former British Military Prison, the Barbados Museum is an excellent place to go to catch up on the history of the island though you'll have the place to yourself. The exhibits start from the time the coral island first appeared; briefly cover the history of the indigenous people of Barbados; the arrival of Europeans and African slaves and the culture of the island during the colonial period; the emancipation of slaves; independence from the British; and more recent history. There is an interactive children's section that the young ones will enjoy. A small concession serves cold drinks. B$15/B$7.50 Adults/Children.
- St. Mary's Church, Bridgetown, Barbados. The current Georgian building was constructed in 1827 but there has been a church here since 1630.
- Careenage. Once a port for ships, the Careenage now houses restaurants, bars, and boutiques set in what used to be warehouses and and stores for ship supplies. Well protected from the open sea, walk along the Careenage with period buildings on one side and fishing and pleasure boats on the other, stop off for a rum at the Waterfront Cafe, and (with a bit of imagination!) you can almost step 150 years back in time!
- Parliament, Broad Street, Barbados (Near Trafalgar Square). The neo-Gothic parliament buildings are open to the public when parliament is in session.
Parliament Building in Bridgetown
- Broad Street
- Swan Street
- St. Mary's Church
- Cheapside Market
- Mount Gay Rum Distillery Tour, Spring Garden Highway, Brandons, St. Michael Parish, ☎ +1 246-425-8757 ([email protected], fax: +1 246-425-8770), . M-F 9:30-15:30, Sa 10am-4pm. Sugarcane, the primary agricultural crop of Barbados, is "rum in the first phase," and you can see how sugarcane is made into the final product at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery. Three tours types are offered: Standard tour (US$8, B$16) approximately 45 minutes long, starting every hour, kids free; Cocktail tour (US$40, B$80) approximately 2 hours long, starting at 14:00 Wednesday, includes a cocktail-making contest at the end of the tour, where the tour participants make their own cocktails with Mount Gay Rum and other ingredients, and compete for the best cocktail; Lunch tour (US$60, B$120) approximately 2 hours, by reservation only. Includes an outdoor Bajan lunch, along with the omnipresent rum punch. Note that the distillery's flash website is so overwrought and confusing as to be not worth your while—give them a call directly to set something up. US$8-$60.
- The Dive Shop (Scuba Dive), Ameys Alley, Upper Bay St, St. Michael, ☎ +1 246-426-9947 (24hrs), . A one tank dive is US$60 and a 2-tank dive is US$100. Resort class and dive is US$85. Multi-dive packages also exist, such as a 3-dive (1-day) package. Snorkeling is also offered for US$25 US$60-$100.
- Watch Cricket. Kensington Oval is like the Lord's of the West Indies. If you're lucky enough, try to catch a one day international or a test match at the oval and you'll get a sense for the fun and excitement that goes with West Indies cricket.
- A day at the races. Barbados has an active horse racing calendar centered around the Barbados Derby Day and the Barbados Gold Cup Day. Rub shoulders with the cream of Barbados society as well as with the serious punters at the race course in Garrison.
There are also submarine and catamaran cruises. See Barbados#Do.
- Several vendors sell tourist kitsch (sea shells, beads) on the Careenage at the Southern end of the Constitution Bridge (next to the Independence Arch).
- There are numerous stores (including Cave Shepherd, the Macy's of Barbados) on Broad Street...especially for jewelry. Most of these specialize in duty free shopping for citizens of the UK, Canada, U.S. and others.
- Swan Street, a pedestrian only mall, has stores selling cheap clothes.
- The Number One Music Shop at the corner of Fairchild Street and Bay Street near the Careenage has a wonderful selection of Soca, Reggae, Calypso and other Caribbean music including local Bajan bands. Also a good place to pick up tickets for concerts.
See also discussion of same topic for Barbados.
- Lord Nelson's Pub
- Bean and Bagel
- Waterfront Cafe, The Careenage, Bridgetown, ☎ +1(246) 427-0093, . Set on the cool side of The Careenage, Waterfront Cafe is an excellent place to sample Bajan cuisine washed down with a rum punch or Banks on tap. Live music every night. B$15-B$50.
- Harbour Lights, Bridgetown. All day. The place to go in Barbados. B$40 gets you in and you won't have to pay for a drink all night. The bar / club extends right onto the beach and its a great place to meet other travellers and live music is on every night. You won't want to go anywhere else once you've been. B$40.
There is little accommodation in Bridgetown itself. Most visitors stay either in one of the small towns in Southern Barbados or at one of the resorts near Speightstown and Holetown on the west coast.
- Hilton Barbados .Needham's Point St Michael, Bridgetown. Tel: 1-246-426-0200.
- Courtyard Bridgetown, The Garrison Historic Area,Hastings, ☎ 1-246-625-0000, . checkin: 1500; checkout: 1200.
Embassies and High Commissions
- Canada, Bishop's Court Hill Bridgetown, Barbados BB11113, ☎ 246-429-3550 ([email protected], fax: 246-429-3780), .
- United States, Wildey Business Park, ☎ (246) 227-4399, . M-F 8:00am-4:30pm.
Every beach and every major town is only a B$2 minibus ride away. When going north up the west coast, leave from the north station. When going east along the south coast, leave from the south station. From either station, just ask any driver how to get to your destination and they'll make sure you get on the right minibus.