Barbados’ best places to visit to discover the island’s rich history and culture

Barbados is one of those idyllic destinations with picture-perfect white sand beaches, lush green scenery and a gorgeous Caribbean climate.

However, there's so much more to the winter sun hotspot beyond the stunning beaches and glamorous resorts.

Steeped in history and boasting a vibrant culture, Barbados really is the island for everyone.

History buffs will find plenty to discover at the awe-inspiring Harrison's Cave while the St Nicholas Abbey offers a glimpse into local heritage of this tropical paradise.

There's also ample opportunity to immerse yourself in the diverse culture whether you're chatting to the warm and welcoming locals, sampling the best of the Bajan culinary scene, or discovering the island's fascinating rum heritage – it is the birthplace of rum after all.

To give you a helping hand, we've teamed up with Visit Barbados to find the top spots for discovering the rich history and vibrant culture.

Check out the full guide below…

1. St. Nicholas Abbey

This breathtaking Jacobean mansion, built in 1658, is one of three in the Western Hemisphere.

Located in the parish of St Peter, it offers visitors a chance to step back in time as they explore the boiling house, rum distillery, gardens and orchards, as well as the old stables where you can watch a short video with unique footage about the history of the family who lived here.

One particular highlight?

The 1914 restored steam locomotive to be found at the Heritage Railway, which journeys through plantation fields, mahogany woodlands and an abandoned coral limestone quarry, culminating in a stop at Cherry Tree Hill where visitors can disembark and take in the spectacular views.

2. Harrison's Cave

Adventurers need to add Harrison's Cave to the bucket list thanks to its rushing streams, jaw-dropping rock formations and calm, glassy pools.

Located near the geographical centre of Barbados, in the parish of St. Thomas, Harrison's Cave opened to visitors in 1981.

Electric-powered carts take explorers through the caves, where the guided commentary can share insights around the stalagmites, lakes and waterfalls to be found, as well as the breathtaking Crystal Room Cave.

3. Oistins Fish Market

Barbados is hailed as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, with over 100 restaurants across the island serving up everything from diverse seafood platters to mouthwatering local favourites.

Then there's the plethora of gastronomic experiences on offer from romantic beachfront dinners, to feasts with the locals.

Food is a huge part of Bajan culture and if you're looking for a taster, then Oistins Fish Market needs to be on your radar.

Tantalise those taste buds and sample local dishes including Jug-Jug, then join the Bajan locals for dances to music from the 50's, 60's and 70's.

You can find out more in our dedicated Barbados guide for foodies.

4. Mount Gay Distillery

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay Distillery is believed to produce the oldest rum found anywhere in the world.

Rum is at the heart of Bajan culture; it ignites the gossip in bars, binds business deals and is celebrated in every sector of society.

Make sure to leave space on the itinerary to sample some of the delicious rum on offer – a Barbados rum tour can be a great way to learn about its captivating history too.

You can find out more about Barbados' rum scene on the Visit Barbados website here.

5. Bridgetown

Barbados boasts a unique identity thanks to its roots in England, Africa and the West Indies, which come to life in its customs, traditions and values. The island is a real treasure trove of experiences.

Head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bridgetown where you'll get a taste of the vibrant culture, not to mention it's home to the Barbados Museum which charts the island's history from the earliest inhabitants to present day.

6. We Gatherin'

This celebration of all things Barbados is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in Bajan culture.

An island-wide festival, We Gatherin' kicks off in the north of the island in January 2020, moving southward each month, when each local parish will be able to showcase the best of its icons, social life and food.

The parish celebrations will culminate in the parish of St Michael in November, followed by an elaborate island-wide 'old time Bajan Christmas' extravaganza in December.

Feeling inspired?

You can find out more and plan your perfect cultural getaway on the Visit Barbados website.

We've also got a guide to Barbados for couples, top tips for foodies including best local dishes, and a round-up of the best adventures on the island for an extra dose of travel inspiration.

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