Located 100 miles east of the main Caribbean curve, this small, accessible island is where many of us first got a taste of this pleasant region.
A good choice for families, with beach resorts to suit all budgets, it’s only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide but packs a lot: rich heritage, diverse landscapes and vistas prosperous restaurant. Most of the high-end hotels are located next to the calm waters of the west coast, while the south side is a more crowded party area with bustling beaches and nightlife.
Although many visitors come to fly and fly, if you’re into exploring there’s plenty to explore, from brightly painted rum bars and venerable parish churches to road trips. Challenging long and diving with turtles.
Travel restrictions and entry requirements
All Covid-19 travel restrictions for UK visitors to Barbados have been lifted and no testing is required when entering Barbados whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated.
All visitors need to complete oimmigration and customs form nline 72 hours before arrival.
Best time to go
Barbados is a year-round tourist destination, busiest during the high season from mid-December through Easter, when visitors from Europe and North America flock to winter break.
Officially, hurricane season in the Caribbean lasts from June to November with stormy weather usually occurring in September and October.
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For the Bajans, the high point of the year is Crop Over, a lively festival in early August to celebrate the sugarcane harvest that ends with costume parades and a calyx contest.
In 2011, the island’s waterfront capital was awarded World Heritage status for its “remarkable British colonial architecture”. There are over a hundred landmark buildings, including the splendid neo-Gothic parliament building, the inner harbor known as the Careenage, and the military fortifications of the Garrison Historic District. History fans should also visit the atmospheric Nidhe Israel Synagogue and its companion museum, which tells the story of the Jewish community that has been here since 1654.
Saint Nicholas Monastery
Built in 1658, St Nicholas Abbey is a magnificent Jacobean mansion set on a 400-acre plantation with beautiful trees, a scenic train ride and free tastings of wines. Premium single barrel rum. Guided tours point out historical treasures, such as the Chippendale staircase and the pendulum clock from London that has been ticking since 1759. The highlight is the 20-minute black-and-white family drama. Minutes, accidentally discovered in a drawer, shows life on the estate in the 1930s.
This impressive three-mile-long cave system lies at the heart of this limestone island and can be admired on a fascinating one-hour subway tour. There’s also a new eco-adventure park with a 100-foot zipline and a 14-challenge Gully Challenge Course (minimum age six), while the less brave can enjoy the nature trail and rum tasting.
Victorian visitors to Barbados prefer warm and invigorating sea breezes to the beach, so especially appreciate the island’s rugged and windswept shores facing the Atlantic Ocean. While you need to be careful when swimming here, this shoreline is a beautiful thriller with verdant hills, rolling waves and a laid-back mood, far from the resorts. Head to Bathsheba, a popular spot for surfers, and Cherry Tree Hills further north, which offers stunning views.
Barbados like a local
Go to the races
They’ve been racing at the Garrison Savannah racetrack in Bridgetown since 1845, and it’s a great day to paint an interesting side of island life. Meetings are held on Saturdays with the Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup, which takes place in early March, the most prestigious event.
Every Sunday, the Barbados National Trust organizes free, three-hour guided hikes around the island – both a workout and an opportunity to chat with the islanders. Hiking enthusiasts can join the “Grin and Bear” hike at 6 a.m. or have a more leisurely ride “Stop and Star” at 3:30 p.m. Contributions welcome.
Catch some crickets
Cricket is a national obsession – the first club was founded here in 1806 and several roundabouts are named after cricket heroes. The biggest matches and loudest crowds can be found at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, while village cricket is played every weekend. To find a match to watch, just ask around.
best things to do
Barbados doesn’t have the best or longest beaches in the Caribbean, but they’re still fun. There’s a lot of variety, so always have your swimsuit ready – Brownes Beach, right next to Bridgetown, is a typical great spot, while Rockley Beach (also known as Accra) is another spot. party on the crowded south coast on weekends. If you have a car, look for Crane Beach on the east coast, while families will appreciate the west coast’s gentle waters, such as Mullins Beach.
Garden of joy
The interior of Barbados is filled with parks and gardens with mature trees and vibrant flora. Two particularly worthwhile trips are the Hunte Gardens at St Joseph, created in a ditch over decades by passionate gardener Anthony Hunte, and the Andromeda Botanical Gardens on the hillside near Bathsheba. For a picnic, head to Farley Hill National Park in St Peter, with its magnificent ruined mansion, or Codrington College, founded in 1743, in St John.
Fried Fish Oistins
Every Friday night, the fishing town of Oistins on the south coast turns into a lively waterfront party, with stalls selling food, music and dancing. Both tourists and locals sit together at wooden tables, enjoying washed-up fried fish with some local Banks beer or rum.
Barbados is considered the home of rum and its most famous distillery, Mount Gay, has records dating back to 1703. For more of its story, book a tour and tasting in Central Mount Gay Visitor Center in Bridgetown, while Foursquare Rum Distillery. in St Philip is a working mill with a self-guided trail. Alternatively, visit one of the island’s more than 1,000 rum shops, which combine a bar, a convenience store, and a social hub.
Barbados is one of the few islands in the Caribbean with good bus service, and most visitors use it for trips along the west coast. The blue and yellow vehicles are run by the government and Bridgetown is the hub. The stops are marked “To the City” and “Out of the City” and have a flat fare of BDS$3.50 (cash only).
Taxis are expensive, especially at night, but their drivers do offer rewarding island tours – ask your hotel for recommendations and pre-agreed fare (cash, tip). customary). Plus, renting a car is a fun way to explore – instead of picking up one on arrival, have it delivered to your hotel in two or three days in the middle of your stay. Drive on the left.
How to get there
There are direct flights from London Gatwick, London Heathrow and Manchester to Grantley Adams International Airport. These take less than nine hours, with greater frequency in winter. Travel to the west coast resorts takes about 30 minutes.
Barbados is a major home port for Caribbean cruises. This is an affordable way to explore the area. Although you only have a short visit to each port of call, there is always the option of a longer stay in Barbados on either side of the itinerary.
For the no-flight option, some cruise lines have departures from Portsmouth or Southampton for a tour of the Caribbean islands, including a stop in Barbados. These take about 28-35 nights return.
Money saving tips
Package holidays are the most cost-effective way to visit with all-inclusive resorts, especially appealing to couples and families on a budget. Lower prices outside of school holidays from May to June and September to early December are usually cheaper. Self-catering is another way to save money – you can buy fresh fish, fruit and vegetables from roadside stalls and markets while Massy Stores are huge and well stocked.
Frequently asked questions
How is the weather?
Warm and inviting year-round, with the driest months from December to May. In winter, bring a jacket or outerwear for the evening.
What time zone is it in?
What currency do I need?
The Barbados Dollar (BBD) is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed rate of $2 BDS to $1. You can also pay in US dollars, but you’ll get a slightly better deal if you’re using the local currency. Credit cards are widely accepted, sometimes for a fee, but there is a small amount of cash for bars, buses and tips.
What language is spoken?
Are there mosquitoes?
Yes, and fireflies, so bring some insect repellent.
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