Barbados is one of the most exclusive destinations in the Caribbean – and while some activities may be on the pricey side there are plenty of cheap and free things to do in Barbados.
You can sunbathe on white sand beaches, explore underground caves or party at one of the most famous festivals in the world – and that’s just the start!
Read on for our round-up of affordable things to do in Barbados including options in the main resort areas as well as off the beaten track. Check out the whole guide or skip straight to the subject you’re interested in using the menu below:
- Beaches & Watersports
- Fun & Entertainment
- Natural Attractions
- History & Culture
- Dining & Nightlife
Beaches & Watersports
Laze the days away
If your idea of the perfect vacation involves long days on sun-drenched beaches, then you’re in the right place. Barbados boasts more than 70 miles of beautiful beaches, some popular with the tourist crowds and others located off the beaten track. There are two main coasts; the calm Caribbean with white sands and turquoise waters, and the wild Atlantic which has rugged shores and world-class waves. What’s more, you can visit any of them for free!
Snorkel with turtles
Families with young children may prefer the calm sea on the Caribbean side where well-known names like Paynes Bay are a hub for turtle spotting. Visit between July and October and you’ll be in time the nesting season of the friendly Hawksbill turtles that favor this area of coastline. As well as being able to spot them, you can go swimming and snorkeling with them for free. This beachfront spot is also home to plenty of great-value family accommodation.
Kick back with a cocktail
On the south coast of Barbados, St Lawrence Bay lies at the entrance to lively St Lawrence Gap. The region is famous for its buzzing nightlife and has a long strip of laid-back rum bars and snack stops. Soak up the sun before bar-hopping around the parade of beachside cafes, rum shacks and reggae-fuelled dance halls. Entry to the bay is free.
One of the most famous beaches in the world, Sandy Lane has pristine sands lapped by the calm Caribbean Sea. Located in the upmarket parish of St James, its main attraction is the luxury Sandy Lane Hotel – a playground for jet-setters and celebrities. Despite its famous clientele, much of the beach around the hotel is open to the public for free. Take a stroll along the shore and you might spot celebrities like Rhianna, Simon Cowell or Mariah Carey. If you want to stay at Sandy Lane but don’t want to fork out for the hotel, there are other more affordable options in the area.
Hit the surf
Famous for its huge Atlantic waves, the east coast beach of Bathsheba is a top spot for surfing. Here you will find the famous Soup Bowl, a major surfing spot which hosts renowned local and international surfing competitions. Aside from the surfing there are quite a few other things to do here. A handful of beach bars offer cheap eats and refreshments. You’ll also find Bathsheba Rock sitting just offshore and Joe’s Forest on the outskirts of the town – both are free to visit.
See pink sand
Located in the southeast corner of Barbados, Crane Beach is hailed as an out-of-the-way gem. It’s backed by dramatic cliffs, swaying palms and rich tropical rainforest, and is protected by an off-shore reef. The beach was originally a harbor with its name derived from the clifftop cranes that were once used for loading and unloading ships. The pink sands here are a must-see and the powerful waves are perfect for surfing and other high-octane watersports. Entry is free.
Try a range of watersports
If you prefer your beaches a little lower key, then Holetown is the place to head. Just north of Sandy Lane, it has a wide stretch of sand and calm water with safe swimming zones clearly marked out by buoys. A number of watersports outlets operate in this area offering jet skis, paddle-boarding, kayaking and sailing. There are some great beachfront villas here too, including options with their own pools.
Head to remote Morgan Lewis Beach and you will be greeted by golden sands and huge waves crashing at the shore. This beach is not safe for swimming, but it’s the perfect place for long walks, wildlife spotting and beach-combing. As you stroll along the beach keep an eye out for tropical seashells and driftwood. Trips here can easily be combined with stops at Morgan Lewis Windmill which runs daily tours for cheap prices.
Stick around for a free party
Enterprise Beach (or Miami Beach as it is also known) is located in the south coast fishing village of Oistins. A favorite with the locals, this beach gets busy on the weekends especially on Friday nights when it plays host to the renowned Oistins Fish Fry. Spend the day at the beach and stick around for the evening party which includes live music, dancing and plenty of fried fish. Entry is free and the food and drinks are cheap.
Explore a marine park
Spanning several kilometers along the mid-west coast, Folkestone Marine Park was set up to preserve precious coral and shallow areas inhabited by sea turtles. There are two areas where watersports are permitted, plus there’s a scientific zone and recreation zone where you can swim and snorkel in peace, free of jet skis and speedboats. Entry to the park is free and there’s a large snorkelling area clearly marked by buoys.
Get away from it all
The peaceful northeast coast is the place to go if you want to get away from it all. The clifftops here are perfectly located for unparalleled views of the beaches and sea below. Cove Beach in the scenic parish of St Lucy has soft golden sands and backed by swaying palms and casuarina trees. You have to hike down rugged cliffside paths to get there but its worth the effort for the beautiful beach that awaits.
Do a bit of everything
Accra Beach on the south coast is one of the most popular and diverse beaches on the island. It’s backed by a bustling boardwalk and is easy to get to as it’s on the main bus route. The southern end is great for families with its shallow lagoon area. For livelier surf the main beach has bigger waves that are ideal for watersports. This beach is situated in the southern parish of Christ Church where you will find a wide range of affordable accommodation.
Fun & Entertainment
Party at a free festival
The Caribbean’s most famous festival, Crop Over attracts visitors to Barbados from across the globe. Kicking off in May and running through August, it’s heralded with a sun-soaked (and rum-soaked) party extravaganza. The main festivities feature live bands and dancers in elaborate costumes who parade through the capital city of Bridgetown. Kids’ parties, stage shows, competitions and other revelry are all part of the line-up. Best of all, entry is free.
See expert chefs in action
Held in late October, the Barbados Food & Rum Festival celebrates the best of the Caribbean’s culinary offerings. Local chefs and mixologists are joined by international food and drink experts for a week of fun and insightful culinary and beverage experiences. Expect cook-offs, seminars, food and drink pairings, demonstrations and 5-star dinners served in top restaurants. Some events are free to attend.
Watch a crab race
Celebrating the importance of the island’s fisheries and fishermen is the annual Oistins Fish Festival. Held every Easter, it attracts more than 30,000 people to the scenic fishing town of Oistins. Visitors can sample a variety of delicious fish dishes, and also watch events like cook-offs, music shows and crab racing competitions. Entry is free.
Visit a market
Visiting one of the many local markets is a great way to get a feel for local life and stock up on cheap produce. Most are free to enter, so the only cost is what you buy while you’re there. You’ll find fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, arts, crafts, clothing and souvenirs. Most markets also lay on free live music and other entertainment. Cheapside Market, Holders Farmers Market and Graeme Hall Farmers Market are all great options to check out.
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Get your jazz on
Each October, the Barbados Jazz Excursion showcases some of the most well-known jazz musicians in the world. Typically held over Columbus Day Weekend, it features music performances, island excursions and a golf tournament. The main events are ticketed by you are likely to find impromptu music performances happening around the island, some of which you can see for free.
Sample some rum
It’s renowned as the birthplace of rum so it would be a shame not to try the tipple while in Barbados. Tours of Mount Gay Distillery (the oldest working distillery in the Caribbean) take you through the fully operational rum-making headquarters and around the surrounding estate. You’ll learn about the history of Mount Gay and have a merry time tasting a selection of its finest rums. Tours start from as cheap as $20 per person. Entry to the on-site shop is free.
Go window shopping
Love designer brands but don’t want to spend? Then why not treat yourself to a spot of window shopping instead? Located on the glamorous west cost, the upscale Limegrove Lifestyle Center is home to designer shops like Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Hublot and Breitling. Once you’ve had you window shopping fix, relax with a coffee at one of the upmarket cafes or kick back with a cocktail at the bar.
Watch the sunset
You won’t be hard-pushed to find a place in Barbados to watch the sun go down. The Barbados Boardwalk is located just south of Bridgetown and is one of the best places on the island to watch the sunset. Entry to the boardwalk is free, and there are numerous places where you can perch for a free front row view. The Boardwalk is lined with restaurants and bars should you decide to spend some of your vacation pocket money.
Picnic at a park
A picnic is not only a lovely way to spend an afternoon, it’s also a great option if you’re looking for something cheap to do. Just about everywhere you turn in Barbados, you are bound to come across a park or garden that offers cheap or free entry. Whether it’s a humble patch of flowers in front of a chattel house or a glorious forest where you’re likely to meet indigenous residents like green moneys, there are plenty of places for a picnic.
Explore underground caves
One of the Caribbean’s greatest natural wonders can be found underneath the central uplands of Barbados. Harrison’s Cave is a magnificent underground cave system, home to ancient stalactites and stalagmites as well as pools of crystal clear water and flowing streams. In addition, exhibits and interactive displays for adults and children alike have been strategically placed for visitors to enjoy. Tram tours run daily and prices start from as cheap as BDS $25.
Spot exotic wildlife
If you appreciate nature but don’t fancy venturing into the jungle, then a day at Barbados Wildlife Reserve is a must. Meandering brick paths wind through four acres of rich mahogany forest where the animals roam freely. Take a relaxing stroll and you’ll see many animals including green monkeys, giant turtles, deer and iguanas. The park is located at Farley Hill in the parish of St Peter. Entry is BDS $30 adults/$15 children – that’s pretty cheap for a full day of fun!
See a sinkhole
One of the island’s top-rated attractions, Hunte’s Gardens sits in a sinkhole about 150 feet deep and 500 ft across. A geological curiosity formed by a massive landslip, the crater has been turned into a garden where colorful plants cascade down the slopes, and the sides are terraced with coral stone walls and intricate pathways. Centrally located in the lush hills of St Joseph’s, the gardens are open daily from 9am – 5pm. Guests can explore the gardens, spot local wildlife, and enjoy refreshments at the on-site cafe.
Whale watching might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Barbados but yes, there are humpback whales around the island at certain times of the year. Adult whales travel to the warm Caribbean waters in the winter months to mate or give birth. You’ll be able to spot them and their babies from around November right through until April. A great place to see them is from the clifftops at the Animal Flower Cave in St Lucy. The Cave is open for tours and has natural rock pools, a coral floor and sea anemones.
Take in the tropical blooms
The Andromeda Botanic Gardens in Bathsheba were started by horticulturalist Iris Banochie who won many awards for her gardening skills. Iris travelled the world looking for new plants, and more than 1,200 species can be found in the gardens. Now owned by the Barbados National Trust the gardens are open for daily tours. Stroll along winding paths taking in the tropical blooms, towering trees and island breezes. The small Balcony Cafe is the spot spot to enjoy refreshments, also be sure sure to browse the gift shop which sells colorful arts and crafts. Entry is BDS $30 and free for children.
History & Culture
Visit the Parliament Buildings
At the heart of the capital city of Bridgetown are the beautiful buildings which form the seat of the Parliament of Barbados. Consisting of two stone-block neo-Gothic-style buildings, the Parliament Buildings are designated as UNESCO-protected properties within the World Heritage Site of Historic Bridgetown. When the building is free, it’s possible to take tours of the clock tower and assembly building. There’s also a museum where you can learn about the island’s extraordinary history. Entry is BDS $10 adults/free for kids.
Shop for handicrafts
Pelican Village is St Michael is a quaint little shopping center packed with cheap arts and crafts shops. Here you can buy beachwear, accessories and a variety of handicrafts created by skilled artisans from all over the Caribbean. Stock up on cheap souvenirs then head over to one of the on-site restaurants for affordable drinks and bites.
Discover a sugar plantation
Located on the west coast, St Nicholas Abbey is a restored plantation house with a museum and rum distillery. Colonel Benjamin Berringer built the house in 1658 and it is one of only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the western hemisphere. Take a tour through the house to admire the grand architecture and furnishings. You can also explore the steam mill and rum distillery where the estate’s signature rum is produced. Tours run from Sunday – Friday and cost BDS $45 adults/$20 ages 5-12/under 5s go free. Entry to the gift shop is free.
See where George Washington stayed
It’s a little known fact but an important part of the island’s history that George Washington visited Barbados in 1751. He was 19 years old at the time and traveling with his ailing half-brother Lawrence Washington who was hoping the tropical climate would improve his health. Located on Bush Hill, the house has now been converted into a museum. Start by viewing a film in the small theater then join a guided tour around the house and gardens. Tours cost just a few dollars and are free for under 5s.
Spend a day a national park
Like an undiscovered ruin in the jungle, the remains of the great mansion on Farley Hill are overgrown with trees and vines. Built in 1850 by Sir Graham Briggs, the house was used for the entertainment of royalty including King George V and other notable royals. Sadly in the mid 1900s the house destroyed in a fire. Its remains and the surrounding estate now form the Farley Hill National Park, an ideal setting for a picnic or day of hiking and exploring.
Join a free hike
Thanks to its natural beauty and warm climate, you’ll enjoy some fantastic walks in Barbados. Getting out and about on a walk is one of the best ways to discover the island, from its lush forests to its flawless beaches. You can join any one of the free 3-hour guided hikes that run several times a week (though a donation to the Barbados National Trust is appreciated). There are a range of difficulty levels, from the milder 6-mile Stop ‘n’ Stare to the tougher 12-mile Grin ‘n’ Bear. You can see a schedule of the walks here.
Tee off on a top golf course
Whether you’re going for a hole-in-one or just fancy a casual game, you’re in the right place. Barbados is a golfer’s paradise. The Royal Westmoreland course is a regular host of the PGA European Tour Seniors Tournament, and Sandy Lane hosted the World Golf Championships in 2016. You can stay at any one of the conveniently located condos or villas nearby – prices start from pretty cheap.
Catch a game of cricket
Cricket is the national sport of Barbados and you can catch a game almost any time at the Kensington Oval near Bridgetown. The stadium is a world famous hub for cricket. It hosted the World Cup in 2007 and has seen many other notable local and international games. Free guided tours run every 30 minutes from 9am until 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. They begin at the security booth on President Kennedy Drive.
Go the the races
The historic Garrison Savannah has been the home of horse racing in Barbados since the 1800s. Officers of the British regiment who were stationed in Barbados used the parade ground for racing against each other and the locals. Today, race meets are spread over three seasons; January- April, May-September and November-December. General admittance to the races is BDS $10 per adult and free for children under 12.
Win your skipper’s weight in rum
Round Barbados Sailing Week is giving crews a chance to win their skipper’s weight in rum if any records are broken in the Mount Gay Race. For skippers this is a dream come true with its golden opportunity and excuse to indulge during the festive season for some serious fattening up. During the week (which kicks off January 17) there’s a party vibe throughout the island with crowds of locals and visitors flocking to the best vantage points to watch the races. Spectating is free.
Watch a car rally
Watch international rally drivers go head-to-head with local talent in the adrenaline-pumping Sol Rally Barbados. Kicking off at the end of May, the event features an action-packed weekend of rally car racing through the island’s backroads. Led by some of the fastest drivers in the world, this event attracts thousands of spectators, plus there are some serious after parties to enjoy. What’s more, it’s free to watch.
Compete in a swim
Each November, Carlisle Bay in Bridgetown welcomes swimmers from all over the world who come to take part in the Barbados Open Water Festival. Swimmers of all ages and abilities are invited to take part in five days of swimming, including social swims as well as 1.5K, 3.3K, 5K and 10K races. The fun event raises funds for the Variety Children’s Charity. Entry fees are between $5-$30 while some events are free to take part.
Dining & Nightlife
Dine out for cheap prices
Dine out at some of Barbados’ best restaurants for discounted prices using the Re-Discover Barbados dining plan. Dozens of top-notch restaurants are offering delicious 3-course meals including wine, tax and gratuity for just $50 USD per person. You can also save 10% off your lunch bill at many participating restaurants. All you have to do is book directly with the restaurant and request the Re-Discover menu when making your reservation and ordering. See all participating restaurants here.
Drink at a rum shack
Of the hundreds of rum shacks in Barbados, John Moore Bar is quite possibly the most beautifully located. The main bar room to the front faces the west coast road, and makeshift tables at the back overlook a stretch of stunning untouristy beach. Located in Weston and with a bus stop right outside, this drinking hole is open daily from 9am – 11pm and offers rum punch and beer for just a few dollars.
Party on the beach
For a cheap but fun-packed night out, head to Harbour Lights in St Michael. A large open-air nightclub, it backs on to the beach and lays on parties galore. Expect live music, limbo dancing, fire eating, acrobats and lots of customer participation. On weekends, it’s more of a conventional club with DJs and dancing. This nightspot s pretty popular with the tourist crowds but is good fun and great-value.
Dine by the sea
Not as big as its neighbours (but that’s actually one of its charms) is scenic Mullins Beach. This is a great place to spend a day relaxing with family or friends whether that be paddling in the calm waters, renting a sunlounger or dining by the sea at one of the casual restaurants along the shore. Guests staying at Royal Westmoreland Resort have access to the beach club at Mullins Bay which offers a full dining and drinks service.
Make the most of happy hour
Most of the bars in the lively St Lawrence Gap area offer happy hour and cheap drinks deals. A favourite is Cafe Sol, a lively margarita bar which has a fun but not too rowdy vibe. Happy hour is nightly from 5-7pm and again from 10pm-midnight. The bar also serves Mexican food and lots of cocktails other than margaritas.
Dance to reggae music
Reggae fans should check out the Barbados Reggae Festival, a 4-day music extravaganza featuring a range of top local, regional and international artists. The festival is usually held in April and includes beach parties, boat parties and the favorite Reggae On The Hill which takes place at the historic Farley Hill National Park. Entry is ticketed and prices start from $60 or cheaper if you buy them in advance.
Tempted to visit Barbados?
Top Villas offers a wide range of condos and villas perfect for Barbados vacations. Book with us and not only will you get beautiful accommodation at great prices, you’ll also benefit from amazing round-the-clock customer service plus access to a wide range of travel extras such as car hire, airport transfers or help with arranging a romantic experience.
How to book
Follow the simple online booking process and you can secure your Caribbean vacation rental instantly without any phone calls or fuss. It’s easy to check availability, get a quote and book instantly online. Alternatively, submit an enquiry and the team will get straight back to you.