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Our Guide to the Must-See Barbados Attractions

The very best there is to see in Little Britain

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A blue parasol on the beach in Barbados in front of the blue sea

While we may think of Barbados as a paradise made up of magnificent beaches and turquoise waters…well, it very much is that. If you were looking for a summary of the nation island - known affectionately as Little Britain due to its ties to the UK’s isles - that skipped over those beaches, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. From Carlisle Bay to the Shark Hole, the islet is adorned with sandy bays that’d make even Portugal’s Costa Verde (Green Coast) turn more vibrant with envy. That said (here it comes), the impressive range of Barbados attractions boasts far more than sand and sea. You’ll knock back rum in an iconic distillery, and wander through botanical gardens, while learning about the local culture in a fish market. A glimpse of the rich history is afforded through the lenses of plantation estates and a 17th-century synagogue. And here at Plum Guide, we've put our expert heads together to curate this expert guide outlining exactly what to see on your trip to the Caribbean, so you don't have to worry about struggling to fit it all in. This holiday will be memorable for all the right reasons.

Soak up some sun at the sandy beaches

Wooden steps on the sand at a beach in Barbados

Wooden steps on the sand at a beach in Barbados

There are countless (although you could of course count them if you were so inclined on your holiday) sandy strands stretching around the coast of Barbados. The beaches you decide to visit might just depend on where you are situated on the island, but most of them are well worth a visit, and offer opportunities for snorkelling among the colourful fish in the clear, warm sea. If you’re staying in St. James, you could spend the afternoon on the Holetown Beach or the Sandy Lane Beach. By the capital city of Bridgetown lie such gems as Carlisle Beach and Brighton Beach. And decorating the eastern coach is the secluded hotspot of the Shark Hole. Take your pick.

Cannonball Bay, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Cannonball Bay, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Embark on a trip to a rum distillery

Something, something and a bottle of rum. We’re not too concerned about the lyrics, but rather excited about one of the top Barbados attractions: rum. (By the way, it was ‘yo, ho, ho’). You can pick up all sorts of rum and rum-related souvenirs in the gift shops scattered across the island. The most famous rum spot is the Mount Gay Rum Distilleries, where you can take a fascinating tour that, with enough tastings, will be both unforgettable and forgettable at the same time. Other top destinations include the West Indies Rum Distillery Ltd and the Foursquare Rum Distillery.

Carribean Queen, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Carribean Queen, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Travel back in time at the plantations

It can’t be ignored that Barbados, like much of the Caribbean, has a tumultuous history involving the slave trade. Colonised in 1627 by London merchants, the island was soon filled with plantations at which many enslaved Africans were forced to toil. Today, some of those sugar and rum plantations are open for tours, such as the Sunbury Plantation House and the St. Nicholas Abbey. Step back in time through these intriguing tours to learn about the slave trade, as well as how sugar and rum production affected the island.

Turtle Nest, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Turtle Nest, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Learn some history at museums and sites

Old abandoned steps overlooking the sea in Barbados

Old abandoned steps overlooking the sea in Barbados

Everything is an historic attraction in some sense, it just depends on what you consider history. Certainly, the aforementioned plantations count; but then so does a Barbados attraction that opened five minutes ago; that’s history compared to the here and now. Anyway, enough philosophising. The Nidhe Israel Synagogue dates back to the 1600s, and involves a fascinating story about Jews who escaped persecution in Recife, Brazil, to come here and contribute to the sugar industry. Other top sights include the Barbados Military Cemetery, the Barbados Museum and the Arlington House Museum, so there really are plenty of places to admire.

As The Tide Rolls In, Plum Guide home in Barbados

As The Tide Rolls In, Plum Guide home in Barbados

Explore the unforgettable (non-beach) terrain

Barbados is more than just its beaches (wait, we’ve done this, haven’t we?). This may feel like familiar terrain, but we’re actually talking not just of historic sights and rum, but specifically of…terrain. You see, there are some truly beautiful non-beach Barbados attractions, such as Harrison’s Cave Eco-Adventure Park. Ride a tramway down into the cave to see all its stalactites and stalagmites, while pretending to your friends that you know the difference. Back above ground, the island is graced with impressive parks, with the Andromeda Botanic Gardens and the Flower Forest Botanical Gardens among the best. A few photos here and you'll be the envy of everyone back home.

Visit unmissable towns and enjoy entertainment

A blue and pink hut by the side of the road in Bridgetown, Barbados

A blue and pink hut by the side of the road in Bridgetown, Barbados

And then, there’s entertainment. You’ll find a lot of the fun and cultured activities in St. James and Bridgetown, and you'll inadvertently pick up some history lessons too. Relax amid the restaurants, shops and bars in the Sky Mall or the Sheraton Mall. The St. Lawrence Gap is a street packed with stores, hotels and pubs. Try the food and enjoy the culture in the Oistin’s Friday Night Fish Fry, and watch a movie at the Globe Drive-In cinema.

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