BridgetownWhite beaches, turquoise waters, and lively nightlife — these are images Bridgetown, the capital of the Caribbean island of Barbados, likely conjures up in the minds of most. But Bridgetown is so much more! There's the colonial heritage — its entire downtown is on the UNESCO list, after all — lush forests right outside city limits and an abundance of local and international shopping options. An animated buzz sets in as the sun goes down, inviting one to join the famously laid-back and welcoming Bajans on a night out.
The CityFormerly called “The Town of Saint Michael”, Bridgetown has kept its colonial charm and delights its visitors with cultural sights and recreational options alike. Bajans (as Barbadians are called) refer to it as “Town” and take pride in its fame as the birthplace of rum. As a former British colony (independent since 1966), sugar, rum and molasses belonged to the island’s export goods and play an important role in Bajan cuisine to-date. Bridgetown itself spreads out along the island’s south-western coast and is Barbados’ nightlife and dining hotspot. Try the famous fried flying fish, cou cou, fish cakes and other Bajan specialities – and do not forget the rum. With its 110,000 inhabitants, Bridgetown is home to nearly a third of the Bajan population and a popular destination for Caribbean cruises. You will find several marvellous beaches with endless possibilities – swimming, snorkelling, even shipwreck-diving. Plus, the island’s centre offers lush forests and fascinating flora and fauna. Since Barbados is only 432 square kilometres in size, you can explore the whole island while staying in Bridgetown – in your own rental car or by bus. Everything is reachable within 1 to 1,5 hours. Crop Over Festival – celebrated annually at the beginning of August – is a spectacle worth attending. In its 200-year-old tradition, colourful bands parade through the streets like a carnival. It is then when the open-minded, friendly Bajan culture can be witnessed and celebrated.
BeachesBarbados offers magnificent beaches, embellished with palm trees and coral reefs. Here you can enjoy various activities, as there is a beach or a bay for everything: sunbathing, swimming, water sports, animal-watching, snorkelling, and scuba diving.
Do & See
Besides beaches and water sports, Bridgetown offers several cultural sights. In 2012, parts of the city centre and the garrison became listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Apart from that, it can be worth considering day trips to the island’s natural gems, such as caves, woods and wildlife reserves. A special occasion is the yearly Crop Over Festival at the beginning of August – when colourful masquerade bands conquer the streets like a carnival.
The typical Barbadian (or Bajan) dish must include fried flying fish and cou cou, which is similar to polenta and made with cornmeal and okra. Bajan cuisine has influences from all over the world, for example from Creole, Indian, and British culinary traditions. Other famous meals are pepper pot stew, fish cakes, and pumpkin fritters. The Careenage, St. Lawrence Gap, and downtown Bridgetown offer a wide variety of affordable and upscale restaurants – and if you are not in the mood for Bajan food, you will find international cuisine there, too.
Bridgetown offers a variety of different cafes and lunch eateries with Bajan or international cuisine. Many of them are concentrated around the downtown area, St. Lawrence Gap, and the coastline. Here are some of the best cafes in Bridgetown, Barbados:
Bars & Nightlife
Some call Bridgetown one of the Caribbean nightlife capitals since it really has everything: opulent nightclubs, vibrant beach bars, local pubs, and dinner cruises. The main hotspots are the Careenage and St. Lawrence Gap, but beach lounges and little rum shacks can be found everywhere on the island. Make sure to try the island’s signature drink – rum – when visiting Bridgetown and Barbados. Check out some of the best bars and nightclubs in Barbados:
You will find the main shopping options in Bridgetown’s city centre with Broad Street and Swan Street. Besides that, St. Lawrence Gap and Oistins are always worth a visit. Holetown is for those who want to enjoy high-end shopping. Make sure to purchase Bajan souvenirs, such as pottery, jewellery or rum.