Barbados is justly famous for its sweeping beaches, sparkling bays and captivating flora and fauna. But tear yourself away from the sugary sands and beach bars, and you’ll also discover a rich musical heritage, fascinating history and friendly locals just waiting to help you explore.
Start your adventure in the capital, Bridgetown, where colonial architecture and colourful villas blend with the vivid surrounding landscape and cerulean skies.
Founded in 1628, the historic centre and garrison of this tropical port town are a Unesco Heritage Site. With a serpentine layout, well-preserved colonial buildings and grand estates, Bridgetown will take you back to the days when it was a buzzing centre of world trade and commerce.
As you’ll quickly discover, Barbados is an island that dances to the rhythm of its own drum, and Bridgetown is no exception: its intoxicating beats will draw you in. From beachside boogies to urban dance floors; calypso rhythms to Caribbean jazz, there’s music around every corner.
The art scene is likewise alive and ever-evolving here, and you can explore everything from the rich colours at the Gallery of Caribbean Art to exhibitions of sparkling jewellery and pottery.
The island measures just 166 square miles, so it’s easy to explore all its treasures. Visit the plantation house and distillery at the 17th century St Nicholas Abbey; learn all about the 1816 slave rebellion at the Gun Hill Signal Station; admire the stained-glass windows and impressive coastal views at St John’s parish church, and soak up Caribbean history with a trip to Codrington College, one of the oldest theological colleges in the Americas.
You can also take an underground tram tour to explore the mesmerising Harrison Caves, with their ancient stalactites and stalagmites, along with underground waterfalls plunging into inky pools.
Above the surface, at various museums and galleries you can dive into the fascinating history and culture of this diverse island nation, from its trade to its cricketing legends and neo-Indian artefacts thousands of years old.
So, as we’ve seen, beyond its glorious beaches, Barbados is a thriving cultural hub that offers unique experiences every day. Why not dive in?