There is plenty to see and do in Barbados for visitors of all ages, and getting out and about is easy and well worthwhile. Visitors can enjoy the scenery with colourful gingerbread houses and tropical flowers, fishing villages and sugar plantations. Sport is popular on the island, particularly cricket and horse riding, while a selection of activities can easily be arranged during your stay.
- Participate in a variety of watersports across the island, from kayaking to water skiing, or surfing to parasailing.
- Discover an underwater world on board the Atlantis submarine which submerges about 150 feet and passes a coral reef with tropical fish.
- Take a tour of the east coast of Barbados, where the island is very natural with rugged surf beaches, spectacular views and just a scattering of local villages.
- Visitors can easily get about by local bus with a standard fare of just US$1 which allows you to go as far as you like - perhaps visit a local town, or find a restaurant or beach cafe in a different area.
- Join a sunset cruise on the west coast of the island, offering snorkelling and swimming with turtles as well as reggae music and cocktails back on board.
- Watch cricket, either one of the many local matches which take place across the island or at Kensington Oval where inter-island and international matches are played.
- Play golf on one of the many excellent courses which are found on Barbados, including those at the Barbados Golf Club, Sandy Lane and Royal Westmoreland. Coaches are available at many golf clubs for those who wish to take lessons.
- Nature lovers can visit Welchman Hall Tropical Forest or the Flower Forest, a tropical paradise in the heart of Barbados which is home to an abundance of tropical flowers and plants with stunning views of the countryside and coastline.
- Go to the horse races, a day out that is popular with locals and tourists alike.
- Make the most of the duty-free shopping by visiting the department stores of Bridgetown, the shops selling local handicrafts in Holetown and the souvenir shops of Speightstown. There are a number of Chattel Village shopping areas where shops occupy wooden buildings which mimic the traditional homes of plantation workers , selling souvenirs, gifts and clothing.
- Visit Bushy Park race track to experience some laps as a passenger or a driver in a sporty hatchback. Go karts and Radical SR3 race cars are also available - strictly for thrill seekers only!
See ‘When to go’ for more information about local events.
As well as the long sandy beaches and the warm waters, there are a variety of interesting sights and places to visit during a holiday to Barbados. Much of the architecture of the island reflects its colonial past and the influence of the sugar industry and associated plantations. Buildings that typify the plantation influences are the chattel houses which are a unique feature of Barbados. These buildings were developed from the necessity to provide plantation workers with houses that were easily assembled and taken down so they could move from plantation to plantation.
Sir Frank Hutson Sugar Museum and Factory: Find out more about the process of sugar production on Barbados, where you are able to explore the history of sugar, the refining process and how it is used to produce sweets, molasses and of course rum. The museum houses a fine collection of original machinery inside a converted sugar boiling house, and at the end of the tour you can sample fine sugar delicacies. During the grinding season (February to May) you can also take a tour of the modern factory and see how sugar is processed today.
Bridgetown: With a breathtaking location beside the white sandy beaches of Carlisle Bay, Bridgetown is the capital and only city of Barbados. Boasting one of the most sophisticated ports in the Caribbean with excellent duty-free shopping, this bustling and modern city is also the main tourist hub on the island.
Bridgetown is one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean, but many historic buildings have been destroyed in a series of fires and hurricanes so only a handful survive that predate the last great fire of 1860. The architecture of Bridgetown today is an interesting blend of attractive, balconied colonial buildings, warehouses, modern department stores, brash office blocks and small chattel houses.
Parliament Building: Located in Bridgetown, this is the official seat of the 3rd oldest Parliament in the Commonwealth where the lower house and upper house still meet weekly. The Museum of Parliament offers an interactive introduction to the island’s politics, while the National Heroes Gallery is dedicated to those who played an important role in the island’s history.
Statue of Nelson: A statue of Admiral Nelson which was erected in Bridgetown in 1813, some twenty-seven years before the London monument, reflecting the importance of Barbados as the "jewel in the crown" of British colonialism during the Imperial Age. The statue is controversial as it is thought to link Barbados too closely with its colonial heritage, so was turned around 180 degrees so that he no longer looked down Broad Street, the main shopping hub.
Careenage: A picturesque marina area in Bridgetown which is the berthing area for sleek yachts and pleasure boats. The Bridgetown Boardwalk runs alongside the Careenage, overlooked by restaurants, bars and shops which have an old-fashioned yet attractive look.
Tyrol Cot: North of Bridgetown lies Tyrol Cot, the former home of Grantley Adams and his son Tom- two of Barbados' leading politicians in the post-war years. The house is now managed by the Barbados National Trust and is home to a chattel-house museum, arts centre and gardens.
Garrison Savannah: South of Bridgetown is the Garrison Savannah which is where the British Empire had its Caribbean military headquarters from 1780 to 1905. Today the former parade ground is home to a racecourse and park. Surrounding the Savannah are brightly coloured houses which now contain the Barbados Museum and the Barbados Gallery of Art, both of which deserve a visit for those who have an interest in the island's history and culture.
St Nicholas Abbey: A Jacobean mansion set within landscaped gardens near the north east coast, with stunning architecture and historical furnishings as well as a fully operational steam mill and rum distillery.
Bathsheba Beach: Located on the rugged east coast of Barbados, this beach is a beautiful stretch of white sand with dramatic rock formations and crashing Atlantic waves. The nearby village of Bathsheba is a small community of fishermen.
Mount Gay Rum Distillery: A distillery where visitors can discover the history of the world’s oldest brand of rum, learn how it is made and sample the world famous spirit.
Hunte’s Gardens: Picturesque landscape gardens in the centre of Barbados, where statues are dotted among exotic gardens.
Harrison’s Cave: A spectacular underground space with stalactites and stalagmites, streams of running water and deep emerald pools. Visitors pass through the vast cave system in electric trams with the chance to get up close to rock formations at certain points.
Dining out in Barbados is a foodie delight, offering everything from street stalls to gourmet restaurants.
For a casual dining experience, there are numerous beach bars which serve cocktails and mouthwatering snacks in a relaxed, authentic setting beside the seas. Absorb typical Bajan culture at one of the many rum shops where locals get together over a refreshing rum punch, or stop off at one of the roadside stall which serve up large portions of local specialities.
For fine dining, visitors should head to the Platinum West Coast. A favourite among the Tropic Breeze team is the Fishpot restaurant at Little Good Harbour, serving fantastic local produce directly on the water’s edge with breathtaking views. Other popular options include The Cliff, a renowned restaurant with exceptional sea views, The Camelot Restaurant at Cobblers Cove and Daphne’s, a stylish and romantic restaurant located next door to The House.
Barbados is known for its lively nightlife, with entertainment on offer for all tastes. Many of the island’s nightclubs are found in St Lawrence Gap in the south of the island, while Harbour Lights is an open-air nightclub located beside the beach in Bridgetown. The Friday night fish fry at Oistins is a popular spot for locals and tourists to sample freshly barbecued seafood, enjoy a few rum punches music and dance the night away to live calypso and reggae music.