Year-round sun, free-flowing rum and a distinctly British vibe are just a few of the things that make Barbados holidays so popular. We’ve compiled a handy guide to visiting Barbados from the UK, featuring things to do, the best time to go, and how to get there and around.
Aside from the sun, sea and sand Barbados has more attractions per square mile than any other Caribbean island. The appeal doesn’t end there though. For British holidaymakers it offers a welcome dose of the familiar with British traditions alive almost everywhere.
Affectionately known as ‘Little England’, Barbados was once a colony of the British Empire – today it embraces its colonial past with English as its first language, cricket as its national sport, and a great deal of traditional charm wherever you roam.
Barbados is hailed for its stunning coastline with miles of long white beaches, all backed by palm trees and lapped by brilliant blue waters. It’s also known for its year-round sun and its abundance of things to see and do. The west coast is the most popular tourist spot with its world-class beaches and glamorous resorts, but the landscape changes dramatically from one region to the next, with each area offering activities and entertainment for nature lovers, party-goers and adventurers alike.
There’s no shortage of ways to spend your days (and nights) in Barbados, whether you want to explore underground caverns and tropical forests populated with green monkeys, or whether you just want to sunbathe and sip rum punch. You should make time to visit the capital city Bridgetown, home to a Unesco World Heritage Site. You should also soak up the sights on the wave-pummelled east coast, and get a glimpse of the colonial plantation houses hidden among the leafy sugar cane fields of the interior. The Bajan festivals are some of the best in the world, and the island’s golf clubs, restaurants and nightlife offerings are first-rate.
What is the weather like compared with the UK?
The sun shines all year round in Barbados, so there really is no good or bad time to go. Unlike the UK, which has a big distinction between the warm and cold seasons, temperatures in Barbados vary very little throughout the year with average highs of around 86F and lows in the mid 70s. Barbados sees an impressive 3000-ish hours of sunshine each year, but there is a distinct low season (when it’s hot and rainy) and a high season (when it’s warm and dry).
In terms of the weather, the best time to visit is during the cool season, which runs roughly from December to mid-April. The weather is drier and less humid at this time of year but it’s also peak season so you should expect flights and villa prices to be much higher than at other times of year.
The best times to visit for both good weather and good value are the spring and early winter months. The spring is still relatively dry and it’s not too humid, either – plus you can avoid the crowds and the higher price tags if you travel during term time.
The later months like October and early November may be more rainy, but the heat and humidity of the summer is starting to wane and rates will be at their lowest. If you want to find out more about the best time to visit Barbados, you can read our detailed month-by-month guide to help you plan your trip.
Is Barbados safe?
Most travellers and residents maintain that Barbados is very safe, as long as you avoid empty beaches and other desolate areas at night. Unlike some Caribbean islands where tourists only venture out on organised day trips, Barbados can be explored independently as long as you’re sensible and security conscious. In fact, Barbados is known for being the Caribbean island with the most return visitors and this is partly due to its reputation as a safe place to visit.
Where to go
The island is roughly divided into 5 distinct regions. There’s the glamorous west coast, also dubbed the ‘Platinum Coast’ on account of its pure white sands and pretty beaches, which are lapped by calm sparkling waters and overlooked by swanky resorts and villas. Then there’s the south coast which is less exclusive and more heavily developed with big beach hotels, water sports centres and buzzing towns with lots of bars and nightlife.
The east coast is distinctly different from the rest of the island – tranquil and unspoilt with rugged coastal scenery and powerful Atlantic waves crashing onto windswept beaches. The interior of the island is rich with rolling countryside and is also home to some compelling sights such as vast sugar plantations, botanical gardens and underground caves complete with stalactites, subterranean streams and underground waterfalls.
Last but not least, there’s the capital Bridgetown which is not especially scenic but it’s home to some great shopping malls, a cruise ship port and a handful of important historic sites like the Barbados Parliament Buildings and the Garrison Historic Area, which was recently added to Unesco’s World Heritage List.
The best places to stay
Barbados accommodation options span the gamut from cosy 2-bedroom condos in Christ Church in the south, to palatial properties in luxury west coast resorts like St. Peter near Speightstown and St. James, where you’ll find top golf resorts like the Royal Westmoreland, a regular host of the PGA European Tour Seniors tournament, and Sandy Lane, the host of the World Golf Championships World Cup in 2016.
All condos and vacation homes are just a stone’s throw from the beach and most homes come complete with beautiful indoor and outdoor living areas, private swimming pools and access to resort facilities. You can check out some of the best places to stay in Barbados here.
British Airways offers 12 non-stop flights a week from Gatwick to Barbados. Virgin Atlantic also offers weekly flights from Gatwick and Manchester, with a new direct service from Heathrow to Barbados launching in December 2017.
In the winter months Thomson also offers charter flights to Barbados from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham, and Thomas Cook from Gatwick and Manchester. The airlines fly into Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport. From there, transfers to the south coast take around 15-30 minutes, and to the west coast around 40-60 minutes. You can take a taxi from right outside the airport to your south coast accommodation for around £15 or to the west coast resorts for around £30.
Know before you go
- Language: English & Bajan
- Flight time: 8 hours 30 mins from London
- Time zone: Eastern Caribbean Time (GMT-4)
- Currency: Barbados dollars (BDS$)
- Health requirements: No vaccinations are required
- Visa requirements: No visa is required if you’re visiting from the UK
- Locals laws: No topless sunbathing and no camouflaged clothing
- Getting around: Taxis, bus or car hire (drive on the left)
- Tipping: A 10% service charge is typically added to your bill at restaurants and bars. Additional tipping is at your discretion, the standard rate is around 10%
- Emergency numbers: The British High Commission – 001 246 430 7800; police – 211; fire – 311; ambulance – 511
- Foreign travel advice: Gov.UK
- Tourist information: Visit Barbados
If you’re thinking of booking a Barbados holiday and you need advice on the best places to stay then contact us today. Additionally, our dedicated concierge team can arrange any added extras you need such as great-value car hire. You can see all of our Barbados villas and apartments here.