Barbados: The Ultimate Travel Guide

Barbados is one of the most popular countries in the Caribbean. Indeed, there are few places in the world that are quite as impressive as its beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters in one thousand shades of blue, glorious year-round sunshine and a level of luxury, that you won’t find anywhere else. But this country has it all. If you’re looking for the perfect place to kick back, relax and take in the island vibe, you can’t go wrong with Barbados.

And by the way – here are the world’s best beaches for you to add to the bucket list!

The key info

Barbados is an island nation in the southeastern Caribbean, about 160 km east of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The island is triangular in shape and at its widest point measures about 32 km (20 miles) northwest to southeast and 25 km (15 miles) east to west. The capital and largest city is Bridgetown, which is also the main seaport.

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The country in numbers

  • Population: 287,300
  • Total area of the county: 430  km²
  • Capital city: Bridgetown
  • Currency:  Barbados dollar (Bds$)
  • Language: English
  • Religion:  75.6% Christian, 23.9% Anglicans, 2.6% members of a non-Christian religion, 20.6% not religious

The 5 biggest cities in Barbados

1. Bridgetown

Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, is the island’s largest city and the center of business and culture. With a population of over 110,000 people and a rich history, there is never a shortage of activities and attractions for visitors. Bridgetown is a mix of Bajan culture and the modern world, with both bustling street vendors and commercial complexes open for shopping trips. Formerly known as the Town of Saint Michael, Bridgetown is referred to as “the City” by locals. Downtown Bridgetown was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012 and is a must see when in the Caribbean.

2. Speightstown

In this area, you’ll also find the city that is classified as the second largest city on the island: Speightstown. Settled in 1630, it was named after a gentleman and landowner named William Speight. In its heyday, in the 17th century, Speightstown was a thriving port and an important link for the island’s trading activities. Even if it can no longer claim this position today, in the 21st century, Speightstown is still very busy and bustling. Arlington House is a historical museum located in the heart of Speightstown, St. Peter, Barbados. The house itself is an 18th-century building and contains three separate floors with various exhibits and artifacts and items, all of which depict some aspect of Barbados history – add it to your bucket list!

3. Oistins

Oistins is a coastal area that is centrally located along the coastline of the Christ Church parish. The area is mainly a fishing village and a tourist town with a cluster of bars, rum shops and shopping malls. You can not only swim, dive and surf here, but also get culinary inspiration at the markets such as the Fish Fry Market.

4. Bathsheba

Bathsheba is the main fishing village in the municipality of Saint Joseph with about 5,000 inhabitants on the east coast of Barbados. The city has a number of picturesque churches such as the Anglican Church of Saint Joseph or the Little Saint Joseph Chapel. There are a number of attractions including the Flower Forest and the Cotton Tower, known for its dramatic scenery and views of the Scotland District. The ecologically rich Joe’s River Tropical Rainforest is on the outskirts of town with about 85 acres (340,000 m2) of giant Citrifolia, Ficus, Fid Woods, White Woods, Cabbage Palms, and Mahogany Trees. Bathsheba Beach is known as the “Soup Bowl”, where numerous surf competitions take place every year.

5. Holetown

St. James is a parish in western Barbados. The largest city in St. James is Holetown. St. James is known for great shopping, luxury spas and all-inclusive hotels. It is the ideal destination for tourists looking for a sunny vacation on the beaches of Barbados. The numerous small villages in St. James are known for their hospitality and activities.

Folkestone Marine Reserve in Holetown, Portvale Sugar Factory, Lancaster Great House and St. James Parish Church are popular places to visit. Small Cats Catamaran Sail Cruises offers an exciting trip on the Caribbean Ocean and there is no shortage of nightlife offers in Saint James.

Top tourist attractions

1. The beaches at Carlisle Bay

One of the most picturesque destinations in Barbados is Carlisle Bay on the edge of Bridgetown. Wonderful beaches and long stretches of crystal clear, turquoise water invite you to dip your toes in the sea or set up a beach chair. Pebble Beach is one of the best stretches along the bay, but Brownes Beach and Bayshore Beach are also beautiful spots. You can wade or swim in the calm water, rent a stand up paddle board, or just relax on the beach. If you head to Pebble Beach at dawn, you can watch the racehorses take their morning swim in the ocean and see the sunrise.

2. Animal Flower Cave

On the northern tip of Barbados, Animal Flower Cave is one of the top places to visit, not only for the cave but also for the dramatic views from the lookout above. From February to April, you may even spot humpback whales from the cliff above the cave. You can also take a cave tour. A short flight of stairs leads you down into this unique cave, from which large natural openings offer a window to the ocean.

3. Barbados Wildlife Reserve

The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is a great place to see and enjoy some of Barbados’ most notable native creatures, including the island’s famous green monkeys. You can often see the monkeys interacting with other wildlife on the reserve and entertaining themselves by harassing turtles and other residents. Shaded paths wind through the mahogany forest in this peaceful park. Agoutis, monkeys, deer, turtles, and iguanas roam freely within the property, providing great photo opportunities and close encounters. You can also encounter parrots, caimans, maras and snakes.

4. Eat fried fish on Fridays in Oistins

If you’re wondering what to do in Barbados in the evenings, Friday Fish Fry in Oistins is probably the answer. Every Friday evening you can try fish caught on site fresh from the grill. Dozens of vendors have settled here offering a wide variety of fish and side dishes. Here you can not only enjoy the fish, but also the unique atmosphere of the tent restaurants.

5. Farley Hill Nationalpark

Like an undiscovered Mayan ruin in the jungle, the remains of the great house on Farley Hill are overgrown with trees and vines, creating a scene that is perhaps even more dramatic than when the hall stood in its full glory. There are many green monkeys, sometimes with cubs, to be seen in the trees beyond. The hall itself is completely fenced, but the fence is extremely close to the structure so you have plenty of opportunity to look inside and see the inner arches.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Barbados is between mid-December and mid-April, during the dry season. There is less rainfall and the average temperature is 30 ° C. Fortunately, Barbados is one of the islands that you can visit at any time of the year. There is almost always more sun than rain, even in the rainy season.

Holidays in Barbados

  • January 1st: New Year.
  • January 21: Errol Barrow Day
  • April 2nd: Good Friday
  • April 5: Easter Monday
  • April 28: Folk Heroes Day
  • May 1st: Labor Day
  • May 24th: Whit Monday
  • August 1st: Liberation Day
  • August 2: Kadooment Day
  • November 30th: Independence Day
  • December 25th: Christmas
  • December 26th: Boxing Day

Do you need a visa?

That depends on your country of origin, but you can clarify here whether you need a visa for your trip to Barbados. If your tourist stay does not last longer than three months, most Schengen Area citizens do not need a visa for their vacation.


The currency in Barbados is the Barbados Dollar. Approx. 2 BDS dollars correspond to one US dollar (as of 2021). Most credit cards, not infrequently also traveler’s checks, Canadian and US dollars or British pounds are accepted as means of payment in restaurants, hotels and shops. These currencies are also accepted by the banks in Barbados for cash exchange. It is best to always carry some cash with you, especially when it comes to paying for small items or drinks. Exchange offices are plentiful, but check with your bank about international cash withdrawal fees as it may be cheaper to get cash from an ATM.

Must-haves to packs

For Barbados and the tropical weather that prevails there, your swimwear, a towel and sunscreen are a must. It’s best to pack a sun hat, aqua shoes and a few cover-ups such as long dresses for the time at the pool or the beach. Do you have a mask and snorkel? These two things should not be missing in your suitcase.

DOs und DON’Ts auf Barbados

Try everything: There is so much to discover in culinary terms that I can only recommend that you eat everything that is local and has to do with mussels.
Go swimming: Spend plenty of time in the water – ideally with a snorkel. Discover the unique water world.
Rent a car: You can explore the whole island quickly and easily by car.
Drive Right: Tourists find it very difficult to drive left as they are used to drive right.
The east coast is not suitable for swimming: Not all bodies of water are suitable for swimming, and there are occasional strong currents on the islands in the Atlantic. Avoid swimming along the east coast of the islands.
Don’t sit under a coconut tree: The coconut trees are ubiquitous, but the mature coconut trees in Barbados kill more than 100 people a year, according to statistics. The same applies to the poisonous apple tree-like mandschine trees. Their poison can even kill people.
Don’t Feed Wildlife: The number of wildlife species has increased dramatically in Barbados as various environmentalists and biologists make a genuine effort to conserve and protect some of the rarest species.
Don’t walk on uninhabited beaches at night: there are a lot of crimes that happen at night. Your romantic stroll on the beach shouldn’t pave the way for smugglers easily.

Bloggers’ secret tips

  • Olivia from O.Christine recommends giving the tunnels at the Garrison Historic Area a visit. 
  • Clelia from still dreams of tasting the Cou Cou & Flying Fish, made with cornmeal grain and fresh okra – a local delicacy.

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Fun facts about Barbados

Did you know…?

  • The name Barbados (Spanish and Portuguese for “bearded”) could have its origin in the bearded fig trees that proliferate on the island. It is believed that the name “Los Barbados” was given by Pedro Campos in 1536 when the Portuguese explorer discovered the island on his way to Brazil.
  • Barbados is the birthplace of rum and is home to the oldest rum brand in the world, Mount Gay.
  • In informal circles, the Barbadians call themselves “Bajans” and speak Bajan Creole.

Approximately 2.8 million people visit Barbados each year – and it’s not uncommon for them to come back. Barbados has one of the highest repeat visitor rates in the Caribbean.

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