Beaches, bridges and the biggest pipe organ in the Caribbean. We’ve collated 9 of the best things to do in Bridgetown which show why we love this amazing, whacky city so much.
If you’ve picked out your favourite budget Barbados resort, you’ll be ready to learn more about the hotspots what to do when you’re there. To help you create the best trip ever, we’ve listed 9 of the best things to do in Bridgetown. We’re sure, after this itinerary you’ll love Bridgetown as much as we do.
As the capital, and biggest city in Barbados, Bridgetown has a lot to offer. Afterall, it’s considered one of the most important tourist destinations in the Caribbean.
Millions of travellers pass through this vibrant city every year, and we don’t think it’s hard to see why. Full to the brim with cultural experiences, history lessons and friendly locals. Bridgetown is brilliant!
But what are the best things to do in the city?
Best things to do in Bridgetown
- George Washington House
- Chamberlain Bridge
- Parliament Buildings
- Stavronikita Wreck
- Carlisle Bay
- Pebbles Beach
- The Oldest Synagogue
- Barbados Museum & Historical Society
- Michael’s Cathedral
The History of Bridgetown
But it’s not just modern day Bridgetown that has our love. The city has an incredible history, and its streets are scattered with culture. In fact, Bridgetown is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. Meaning it is protected for future generations to enjoy.
Take the chance to be immersed in colonial history and learn about how the British ruled the island for 300 years. The historical buildings and museums tell the island’s story, and explorers can delve further into the rich history.
The city of many names
Bridgetown wasn’t it’s original name. Back in 1628 when English settlers founded the capital, they called it Indian River Bridge. The indigenous Arawak built a primitive bridge over the Constitution River, hence the name.
Then, the name St. Michael’s Town came around 1660, after a new bridge was constructed, and remained the name into the 19th century. Finally they settled on the name Bridgetown, after Sir Tobias Bridge.
These different names alone tell you how history has affected the city in different ways. Now there’s so much to learn in this incredible place. A lot of the best things to do in Bridgetown revolve around this rich history.
George Washington House
Firstly, step back in time and explore the house where the first President of the United States resided for two months.
Back in 1751 George Washington took a trip to Barbados. The reason for this trip was actually because his half-brother was suffering from tuberculosis. He was advised to spend the winter in the sunshine, and Barbados was the perfect location.
As the only country he ever visited outside of America, the George Washington House has been preserved as piece of history.
As a brilliantly restored home, it’s now under the control of the Barbados National Trust.
The ground floor is a real time capsule. Decorated how it might have been in 1751, it shows how people found ways around the problems of their times.
Additionally, on the second floor you can find artefacts and displays of items used in the typical day to day life of a Barbadian.
We think this is definitely worth a visit and one of the best things to do in Bridgetown. Be immersed in the story and enjoy a factual tour around this incredible record of the past.
Located in the heart of the city is Chamberlain Bridge. Originally a swing bridge constructed between 1865 and 1872. In 2006 it was replaced with a modern lift bridge.
If you like to enjoy a scenic walk across the waterfront, to the west of Chamberlain Bridge is the Bridgetown boardwalk.
Catch a glimpse of yachts, fishing boats, and the notorious Jolly Roger pirate ship. (Not your usual kind of pirate ship, it’s an all-inclusive pirate party cruise excursion).
At the southern entrance is the Independence Arch which celebrates Barbados’ independence from Britain. Independence was achieved on November 30th, 1966 and the bridge was built 21 years after in recognition of this momentus occasion.
Tourists flock to the monument to take photographs as it is one of the more popular spots in Bridgetown. Directly opposite are the Parliament buildings, which make an amazing backdrop. Therefore you may find this is one of the more busier locations. But it’s a great way to fill your timeline with snaps.
Also known as the ‘Public Buildings’. Barbados’ Parliament Buildings are important landmarks from the third oldest Parliament in the Commonwealth!
Picturesque stain-glass windows showing British monarchs surround the gothic architecture on the east wing.
Whereas, over on the west wing is the clock tower, National Gallery, governmental offices and the Parliament Museum.
Check out the museum if you want to learn more about the Parliament and it’s interesting past. The interactive audio guides and amazing exhibits are another reason to love the city.
Bridgetown’s famous shipwreck
One of Barbados’ most famous shipwrecks is the SS Stavronikita. Similar to Bridgetown, Stavronikita boasts a rich history.
Originally used to carry cement from Ireland to Barbados, it sadly caught fire in the early 70’s and went adrift. As the ship could no longer be used for its original purpose, it stayed in the port for two years.
After the government of Barbados purchased her in 1978, she was given a new lease of life. The ship was deliberately sunk to create an artificial reef where marine life could thrive.
Now, you can encounter the magnificent wreck that sits 400 yards from the shore. There is so much to explore and the dense growth that has taken over the ship makes it an indescribable diving experience.
As one of the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean, you would probably need three diving trips to see the whole thing.
The forward mast is overgrown with vibrant coral and sponges, surrounded by colourful fish. It’s an amazing sight to see, and one of the best things to do in Bridgetown.
If you are wanting to explore more shipwrecks whilst also enjoying an incredible beach, Carlisle Bay is the place to be.
There isn’t a fee to pay, and the beach is open to the public, but there are beach chairs and umbrellas available to hire.
With white sands, crystal clear waters and six shipwrecks to discover, this beautiful beach is the perfect spot for a whole day of activities. Making it one of the best things to do in Bridgetown.
The calm waters mean you are able to grab your snorkel and get up close and personal with the amazing marine life. Make friends with tropical fish, sea horses, turtles and even octopi!
Scuba diving is available for those wanting to check out the six ancient shipwrecks which lie on the ocean’s bed. For example, the Bajan Queen shipwreck is perfect for a bit of submarine exploration. So, let the adventurer in you loose and uncover the hidden secrets beneath the waters.
Another spectacular location in Bridgetown is Pebbles Beach. This idyllic stretch of sand is a slice of paradise. From the turquoise waters to the soft sand, relaxing is definitely not an issue.
We recommend bringing an umbrella with you as there isn’t much shade on the beach. But the calm water is the perfect place to cool off. Feel at ease knowing your little ones are able to play in the ocean, without the worry of large waves.
In addition, you can head over to Cuz’s Fish Stand and indulge in some authentic Bajan food. Enjoy a made-to-order fish cutter.
This mouth-watering dish is fried blue marlin and salad in a salt-bread roll, seasoned with Bajan spices. It’s so good, you’ll be joining the line a second time for another taste of this delicious treat.
Above all, if you’re looking to get a good pic for the gram, one of the best things to do in Bridgetown is watch the sunset at Pebble’s Beach. With the beach being on the western coast, you can capture breath-taking views that all of your friends will be jealous of.
Dating back to the 1600’s, Nidhe Israel Synagogue is one of the oldest synagogues in the Western Hemisphere.
Now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the original structure was sadly destroyed by a hurricane in 1831.
However, it was bought back by the Jewish community in 1983 and was restored to its current state with its astonishing Gothic arches and marble accents.
It’s one of the best things to do in Bridgetown because you can appreciate the tranquil atmosphere, whilst learning more about the Jewish history.
Although there are still active members who worship and gather at the synagogue, you can also visit as a guest.
It is home to a small museum where you can learn more about the captivating past of the Jewish community in Barbados.
Barbados Museum & Historical Society
Housed in a former British Military Prison is the Barbados Museum. Founded in 1933, it is now home to around half a million objects which all tell a story about Barbadian heritage.
The original prison was built between 1817 and 1853, and it became the headquarters of the Barbados Museum in 1930.
This incredible museum reveals the island’s deep history, which as you should know by now is a very detailed one.
After taking a trip around the exhibitions, head to the Museum Shop. Here you can pick up an exceptionally unique Barbadian gift to take home to the family. Or something to remember this magnificent trip by.
St. Michael’s Cathedral
Finally, another significant building for Bridgetown’ history is the tallest of the Anglican churches in Barbados, St. Michael’s Cathedral.
This beautiful cathedral has sadly been through a lot in it’s years. Being destroyed twice by hurricanes, first in 1780 then in 1789, it has been rebuilt multiple times.
The original structure was made out of wood, but is now constructed of coral stone.
As a regular place of worship for many, it is also open to the public. Explore this amazing church and take a look at the biggest pipe organ in the Caribbean!
After you’ve had a look around the inside, check out the outside which is also home to an extraordinary graveyard. It contains graves from some historical Bajan figures and celebrities.
I’m ready to pack my bags!
After reading our list of the 9 best things to do in Bridgetown, you should be ready to pack your bags and head to this cultural and historic hotspot.
It’s full to the brim with amazing experiences, beautiful buildings and yummy food.