A yellow suitcase on a white sand beach with a floppy sunhat on the handle

Planning a trip to Barbados

Discover tips and expert advice for planning your dream trip to Barbados. From what to pack to getting around, prepare for an unforgettable adventure

A Barbados flag stuck into a map of the Caribbean

All the things you need to know for your Barbados trip

Planning a trip to Barbados is an exciting endeavor filled with the promise of sun-soaked beaches, vibrant culture, and unforgettable experiences. This Caribbean gem offers a perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and indulgence, making it an ideal destination for travelers of all interests. From exploring historic landmarks in Bridgetown to snorkeling with turtles in crystal-clear waters, each day in Barbados promises a new and enriching adventure.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you through the essential information and top tips for planning your Barbados trip, from finding the perfect region to stay in, to insider knowledge that is essential for having a great stay on the island. Get ready to immerse yourself in the enchanting charm of Barbados as we help you craft a vacation that will create cherished memories for a lifetime, with our handy guide to some of the must-know things when visiting the island.

Barbados history

Steeped in a rich tapestry of cultures and events, Barbados boasts a fascinating narrative that has shaped its vibrant present. From its indigenous roots and European colonization to its role in the sugar and slave trade industries, Barbados has experienced a myriad of transformative moments.

To start at the very beginning of the island’s story, Barbados was formed less than a million years ago (making it an infant in geological terms), by a collision between the Atlantic crustal and Caribbean tectonic plates and the ensuing volcanic eruption. Barbados is believed to have been settled around 1632 B.C., after which, the island’s narrative ebbs and flows with a constant tide of conquerors and colonizers. Barbados passed through the hands of the Arawaks, Caribs, Portuguese, and eventually the British in 1625, who occupied the land until independence was granted in 1961.

This diverse history has very much shaped Barbados as it is today. Vast deforestation on the island to make way for agriculture, specifically sugar and tobacco plantations impacts the landscape to this day, as does the historical stain of the slave trade, which fuelled the sugar industry in the early 1800s. Plantation houses are still visitable in Barbados, for those keen to learn more about this tragic period in Barbados' history.

Today, Barbados is a vibrant and modern destination, but there are many places that visitors can go to learn and appreciate the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of its past.

St Nicholas' Abbey in Barbados


The official currency in Barbados is the Barbadian Dollar (BBD). US Dollars are widely accepted, but it's recommended to have some local currency for smaller transactions. Prices are often shown in both BBD and USD. Since 1975, prices in Barabdos have been ‘pegged’ to the US dollar at a rate of $1USD = $2BBD. It’s always a good idea to change some currency in advance of your trip so that you’re prepared bedore you arrive in your destination.

Using credit cards in Barbados

Most hotels, large restaurants, and excursion companies in Barbados will accept credit cards, but many smaller local business are cash only. Therefore, it is important to carry some dollars with you. When using a credit or debit card, many vendors will require photographic ID (sometimes your passport), as well as a signature, so make sure that you carry around ID and have signed the back of your card before you go. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, and some, but not all places will also take American Express.


While there are no specific vaccination requirements for entry into Barbados, visitors should ensure that they keep up to date with standard vaccinations for conditions such as tetanus-diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and Covid-19. Hepatitis A vaccination is also recommended when traveling to Barbados.

Do I need a PCR test to travel to Barbados?

Currently, all Covid-19-related travel precautions have been lifted for traveling to Barbados.

Getting to Barbados

Please note that travel regulations and requirements may change, so it's essential to check the most up-to-date information from official sources before planning your trip.

Visiting Barbados from the UK

Passports and Visas

British citizens traveling to Barbados do not require a visa for stays up to 6 months. However, you will need a valid passport with at least six months' validity from the date of your return.


Various airlines operate direct flights from the UK to Barbados. The flight duration from the UK to Barbados is typically around 8-9 hours.

What airlines fly to Barbados?

Several UK-based airlines fly direct to Barbados, including British Airways, TUI, and Virgin Atlantic.

Can I take a private plane to Barbados?

Take to the skies in style with your own private jet flight to Barbados. Top Villas can provide luxury Private Jets for your vacation, speak to a Travel Planner today for more information.

Visiting Barbados from the US

Flights from the US to Barbados

Several major airlines offer flights from various cities in the USA to Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI), located in Christ Church, Barbados. Flight options may vary depending on your departure location.

Average flight times from the US to Barbados

New York - Barbados: 5 hours
Los Angeles - Barbados: 10 hours 42 minutes (with connection)
Miami - Barbados: 3 hours 50 minutes
Denver - Barbados: 9 hours 21 minutes (with connection)
Atlanta - Barbados: 6 hours 37 minutes (with connection)

Passport and visa requirements for US visitors

U.S. citizens traveling to Barbados need a valid passport. Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your intended date of departure. You also need a return/onward travel ticket. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for stays of up to 6 months in Barbados. However, ensure you check for any visa updates or changes that may have occurred since my last update.

Arriving in Barbados

Barbados’ only airport is Grantley Adams International Airport, located in the southeast of the island, about 8 miles from Bridgetown, Barbados’ capital. A top tip: try to bag a window seat on the left side of the aircraft when you fly in to enjoy breathtaking views of the beaches of the west coast as you land.

Grantley Adams Airport is a modern and efficient airport, which has been voted the Leading Caribbean Airport multiple times at the World Travel Awards. After customs and immigration, you’ll go through to the arrivals hall, where there is a duty-free shop, as well as transfers, taxis, and luggage porters.

View of a plane wing and engine flying over the Caribbean Sea

Getting around Barbados

Exploring Barbados is easy, with multiple ways of getting around the island, whether your hire a car of your own or rely on public transport.

Driving in Barbados

Driving in Barbados can be a unique and enjoyable experience, but it's essential to be aware of some important information before hitting the road. Here are some key points to know about driving in Barbados:

Driving Side

In Barbados, vehicles drive on the left side of the road, similar to the UK. This might be different from what some visitors are accustomed to, so it's important to pay attention, especially at intersections and roundabouts.

Minimum age

The minimum age for renting a car in Barbados is 21.

License Requirements

You’ll need to bring your driver’s license with you to Barbados in order to obtain a local driving permit. The minimum age for renting a car is typically 21, but some rental agencies may require drivers to be at least 25.

Road Conditions

Barbados has a well-maintained road network, but some rural roads may be narrow and winding. Keep an eye out for potholes, especially during the rainy season. Drive cautiously, especially on unfamiliar roads.


In Barbados, horn honks are used as a way of saying ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’, and flashing headlights is usually a signal that the driver is giving way.

Local rush hours

Rush hour periods, particularly in urban centers, are 7:00-8:30am and 4:40-5:30pm. Try and avoid driving in major towns and cities during these periods.

Speed limits

The speed limits in Barbados are generally lower than what some visitors may be used to. In urban areas, the speed limit is typically 40 km/h (25 mph), while on highways, it's around 60 km/h (37 mph). Always obey the posted speed limits.


Barbados has numerous roundabouts, and they are an integral part of the road system. Give way to traffic on the right when entering a roundabout and always signal your intentions.

Seat Belts and child safety

Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers in the vehicle. Children under the age of five must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system.

Drinking and driving

The legal blood alcohol limit in Barbados is 0.08%, and the penalties for drinking and driving are severe. It's best to avoid alcohol if you plan to drive.


Parking regulations are strictly enforced in urban areas, so pay attention to signs and avoid parking in no-parking zones.

GPS and maps

Barbados has an excellent GPS system, but having a physical map or using a reliable mapping app can be helpful.

Public transport in Barbados


Public transport in Barbados is reliable, affordable, and convenient, making it a popular choice for both locals and tourists to get around the island. The main mode of public transportation is the government-operated Barbados Transport Board buses. These buses cover most areas of the island, including popular tourist destinations and residential neighborhoods.

The buses are easily recognizable by their blue and yellow color scheme. They run on fixed routes, and their schedules are generally frequent, with buses arriving every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the route and time of day. The main bus terminals are located in Bridgetown, where passengers can board buses and find information on routes and schedules.

Public transportation in Barbados is an economical option for travelers, as the fare for a single journey is quite reasonable. Exact change is required, and there are no pre-purchased tickets or cards.


Another popular form of public transport in Barbados is the ZR vans, also known as "route taxis." These minivans are privately operated and run on set routes, similar to the buses. ZR vans are known for their lively music and colorful appearances. While they can be more flexible and faster than buses, they tend to be more crowded and may not follow strict schedules.

For visitors looking for a more private and comfortable option, there are also licensed taxis available throughout the island. Taxis have fixed rates for common routes, but it's always a good idea to agree on the fare before starting the journey.

A yellow bus and cars on a Barbados road

Regions in Barbados

Barbados is divided into 11 parishes, each with its own distinct characteristics and attractions. Here's a brief overview of the regions in Barbados:

Christ Church

Located in the southern part of the island, Christ Church is known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife. It's home to popular areas like St. Lawrence Gap, which offers an array of restaurants, bars, and entertainment options.

St. Michael

This parish includes the capital city, Bridgetown, and is the commercial and cultural hub of Barbados. Here, you'll find historic sites, shopping districts, and the island's main port.

St. James

Known as the "Platinum Coast," St. James is famous for its luxury resorts, upscale restaurants, and stunning beaches like Sandy Lane and Paynes Bay.

St. Peter

St Peter parish is more laid-back and offers a mix of charming fishing villages, rugged coastlines, and picturesque beaches like Mullins Beach and Heywoods Beach.

St. Lucy

Located on the northernmost tip of the island, St. Lucy is known for its untouched beauty and rugged landscapes, including the breathtaking Animal Flower Cave.

St. Andrew

A tranquil and rural parish, St. Andrew is known for its lush vegetation and offers opportunities for hiking and exploring the scenic East Coast.

St. Joseph

Another rural parish, St. Joseph is home to the spectacular Andromeda Botanic Gardens and offers breathtaking views from places like Hackleton's Cliff.

St. Thomas

This parish is central to the island and features verdant hills and fertile lands. Visitors can explore historical sites like the Welchman Hall Gully and enjoy the tranquility of this area.

St. George

Known for its historic landmarks, St. George offers a glimpse into the island's past. The parish is also home to Gun Hill Signal Station, a former military outpost with panoramic views.

St. Philip

St. Philip boasts lovely beaches, including Crane Beach, known for its pink sand and stunning views from the cliffs.

St. John

A picturesque parish, St. John is home to the iconic St. John's Parish Church and offers stunning vistas from places like Bathsheba and Morgan Lewis Windmill.

St Joeseph parish church in Barbados

Traveling in Barbados: what you need to know


The official language of Barbados is English, and residents tend to speak Bajan English, a local dialect which mixes English and West Indian influences. English speakers will have no problems communicating in Barbados.


Barbados enjoys a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round. The dry season lasts from December to May, while the wet season runs from June to November. Be prepared for occasional rain showers, especially during the wet season. The hurricane season in the Caribbean typically runs from June to November. While Barbados is well-prepared for storms, it's essential to monitor weather updates and travel advisories during this period. Take a look at our Best Time To Visit Barbados article for more information.

Electrical outlets

The standard voltage is 115V, and the plugs are of type A and B, similar to those used in North America.


Tap water is safe to drink in Barbados, but many visitors prefer bottled water for drinking.


Barbados does have a population of mosquitoes, which are especially active during the wet season (June through November). Remember to pack mosquito repellent to keep them at bay.

Emergency services

If you find yourself in need of medical or emergency assistancec in Barbados, the numbers for different services are:

Police: 211 Ambulance: 511 Fire: 311


Barbados has two major hospitals; the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Bayview Hospital, both in Bridgetown.

A white sand beach in Barbados with a tall ship in the water

Customs, etiquette, and laws

Barbados, with its rich history and vibrant culture, has several unique local customs that visitors should be aware of to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience. Here are some important customs and traditions to keep in mind:


When meeting someone for the first time, a friendly handshake is common.

Dress Code

While Barbados has a relaxed and tropical atmosphere, it's important to dress appropriately, especially when visiting religious sites or upscale establishments. Swimwear is typically reserved for the beach or pool areas.


It is illegal to wear any form of camouflage in Barbados, so don’t dress in or carry any items made from camouflage material.

Respect for Religion

Barbados has a strong religious community, and visitors should be respectful when visiting churches or attending religious events. Avoid wearing revealing clothing in these settings.


Tipping is discretionary in Barbados, but it's generally expected to leave a 10-15% tip in restaurants and for other services. Some establishments may include a service charge, so be sure to check the bill.

Beach Etiquette

While Barbados boasts beautiful beaches, it's important to follow local beach etiquette. Avoid topless sunbathing or public nudity, and don't leave trash behind. Respect the natural beauty of the island and its marine life.

If you’re unsure of whether a beach is safe for swimming or not, best to stay on the side of caution, as undertows and currents can be hard to spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Another thing to look out for on Barbados beaches is that you may see trees marked with red spray paint. These are manchineel trees, and they are sprayed to inform people that the white sap that they produce is an irritant that can cause blisters. Best to avoid standing under them or touching them.

Local Festivals and Celebrations

If you have the opportunity to witness local festivals and celebrations, embrace the spirit and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture. Participation is often encouraged, and it's a fantastic way to experience the true essence of Barbados.

Drinking age

The legal drinking age in Barbados is 18. It is illegal to consume alcohol in public places other than licensed establishments.

Care for wildlife

Barbados has strict laws protecting its wildlife and marine life. Disturbing or harming turtles, coral reefs, or other protected species can lead to fines and legal consequences. If you find a turtle nesting site on a beach, it’s important not to disturb it. Instead, report your finding to the Barbados Sea Turtle Project and let the experts protect and care for these beautiful animals.

Duty-free allowances

In general, visitors are allowed to purchase 1 liter of portable spirits or wine as duty-free.


As of 2010, smoking is illegal in fully or substantially enclosed public spaces in Barbados.

View of Bathsheba Beach in Barbados

Best time to visit

As with the rest of the Caribbean, the best time to visit Barbados is during the northern hemisphere winter, specifically from December through March. This will give you the most glorious weather, as well as being a busy time for events and festivities. For an in-depth exploration of the best time to visit Barbados, take a look at our comprehensive month-by-month guide to the island.

What is the food like?

Barbados food is delightful. Flavors of fresher-than-fresh seafood, tropical fruits, grilled meat, and local spices intermingle with international fare in a cuisine that’s sure to tantalize even the pickiest of taste buds. Take a look at our guide to Barbados restaurants and food for more information.

Best souvenirs to buy

Barbados offers a delightful array of souvenirs that capture the essence of the island's vibrant culture and natural beauty. Here are some popular souvenirs to consider bringing back from your trip:

Rum and rum cake

Barbados is known for its exceptional rum, and you can find a wide variety of locally produced brands and flavors. Consider purchasing a bottle of Mount Gay Rum or Doorly's Rum, both renowned for their quality and taste. One of the most popular ways to take a taste of Barbados rum home is in a delicious local rum cake, one of the island’s most sought-after souvenirs.

Artwork and Crafts

Local artisans create beautiful artwork and crafts that reflect the island's heritage. For something unique to take home from your travel, look for handcrafted pottery, wooden carvings, and colorful paintings that capture the tropical landscapes and culture of Barbados.

Bajan Hot Sauce

If you enjoy spicy flavors, Bajan hot sauce is a must-buy. Made from local peppers and spices, it adds a delicious kick to your meals and makes for a unique and flavorful souvenir.

Tamarind Balls

One of Barbados’ most unique flavors is undoubtedly tamarind balls, a hugely popular confection among locals on the island with a surprising amount of health benefits. If you’re into unique local flavors, definitely pick up a bag or two to remind you of your island vacation, as you won’t find anything quite like them elsewhere.

Banks Beer Merchandise

Banks Beer is the iconic local brew in Barbados. Consider getting a Banks Beer t-shirt, hat, or beer glass as a fun and practical souvenir, particularly for the beer fan in your life.


Barbados is home to talented jewelers who create exquisite pieces using locally sourced gems and precious metals. Look for unique and beautifully designed jewelry as a special keepsake.

Bajan Seasonings and Spices

Bring the flavors of Barbados home by purchasing Bajan seasonings and spices. You can find blends for fish, chicken, and other dishes that will transport you back to the island with every bite.

Aloe Vera Products

With its sunny climate, Barbados is the perfect place for aloe vera cultivation. Look for aloe vera lotions, gels, and other skincare products to soothe and nourish your skin after days of sun exposure.

Souvenir stall with hats, sunglasses and jewelry on a white sand beach

Barbados packing list

Packing is one of the most important parts of preparing for a vacation, so take a look at our exhaustive list of the best things to pack for an unforgettable Barbados vacation.

Beach essentials

It’s a fair bet that much of your time in Barbados is going to be spent on the island’s incredible beaches, so you need to pack a good amount of beachwear to keep yourself cool and comfortable on the sand and in the sea.


Possibly the most essential part of packing for Barbados is a good swimsuit or three - something that you can lounge by the pool in as well as splash about in the sea.

Cover up

A great cover up will take you from the beach to the barm as well as protecting you from the midday sun rays.

Mask and snorkel

Barbados has some of the finest snorekling in the Caribbean, so don;t miss out because you forgot to pack your gear.

Beach bag

Keep all your items together and keep the sand out.

Waterproof gadget bag

Another layer of protection for your gadgets and gizmos, a waterproof pouch gives you peace of mind that your gear is protected from the sea and any rain showers.

Microfiber towel

Quick drying and easy to pack, a microfiber towel is a must-have travel item if you’re planning on spending any time in the water on your vacation.


With so much sunshine bouncing off the water and the white sands, you’ll be glad of a good pair of sunglasses to protect your peepers.


Mixing and matching is the way to go for vacation packing, particularly if you’ve got a limited luggage allowance. A wardrobe mostly consisting of neutral tones, such as black, white, browns, and tans, will allow you to wear any top with any bottom. If you want to jazz up your outfit, a splash of color by way of a scarf or bag is a fun way to inject some character into your ensemble. Our villas and rental include washing machines and laundry facilities, so you can pack light and wash clothes as needed.

Lightweight cotton tops

Something cool and floaty is the name of the game for staying comfortable in Barbados.

Moisture-wicking tops

Modern technical fabrics are ideal if you’re going during Barbados’ hottest periods, absorbing very little water and keeping you cooler and drier.

Lightweight bottoms (shorts and/or skirts)

Shorts are ideal for day to day exploring, although longer garments covering your knees are also a good option if you’re planning on visiting places of worship.

A light jacket or hoody

Cold weather is virtually unheard of in Barbados, but even so, evening breezes off the Caribbean Sea can call for a light layer.

Packable rain jacket

Especially during the wet season, a packable jacket will help to keep you dry when unexpected showers hit.

Evening wear (dresses, smart shirts, light trousers)

If you’re planning on heading out on the town, a nice set of evening clothes are always a good option.

Long trousers for hiking

If you’re planning on taking on some of Barbados’ epic walks, then long trousers are a must to protect your legs from undergrowth.


There’s nothing more important than comfort when it comes to holiday shoes! Opt for well-worn, flat, supportive shoes that you can walk for miles in and are comfortable in the heat to get the most out of your Barbados experience.


For city strolls and beach days, sandals are the best form of footwear for Barbados. Pack with comfort in mind, or take a couple of pairs, one for daytime and a dressier pair for evenings.

Flip flops

For getting from your villa to the poolside or skipping across the hot sand, flip flops are essential.

Walking shoes

Something sturdy for walking or hiking is a good idea if you’re hitting Barbados’ trails.

Enclosed day shoes

For city explorations or adventures around the island, a pair of sturdy but comfortable enclosed shoes, such as sneakers or pumps.


Tech has become an indispensable part of travel, and you’ll want to ensure that you have got everything you need to document your trip, entertain yourself on the flight, and keep in contact with loved ones back home.


Sure, you’ve probably got a camera on your phone, but it’s worth taking a separate camera if you want to capture the amazing sunsets, seascapes, and sights around Barbados.

Spare batteries

Where your camera goes, spare batteries should also go, as you don’t want to run out of charge just as you come across the most breathtaking view.

External battery

Not an essential, but if you’re using your tech whether it be your camera or your phone a lot on your trip, and external battery pack can be a lifesaver.

Spare memory cards

If you don't have a way of downloading your pictures on the go, a few spare memory cards will ensure that you never run out of space.


A phone is pretty much essential for many travelers nowadays, for staying connected, finding your way around or snapping some shots.


Keep your tech charged up (don’t forget plug adaptors).

Action camera

Action cameras such as GoPro have become an indispensable travel companion for those who like to partake ina adventure activities. These tiny, lightweight cameras can accompany you on any sort of trip, from diving to hiking and everything inbetween.


Getting stuck into a good book is something that many people only get the chance to do on vacation, so load up your tablet or e-reader and save yourself a lot of weight in your luggage.


Shampoo and Conditioner
Suncream (make sure it’s a high SPF, both waterproof and sweat proof!)
Face wash
Shower gel
Wash cloth
Shaving razor and foam
Contact lenses or glasses
Paracetamol and any other medication needed
Insect repellant
Tooth brush and Tooth paste

Other essentials

All those little extras that are worth their weight in gold, and absolutely need to be in your suitcase before you leave!

After sun/aloe vera gel

If you find yourself getting caught by the sun, aloe vera gel or after sun, especially if kept in the fridge, is just the soothing balm your skin needs.

Travel documents (passport, visa if required, drivers license)
Scarf or shawl

A superhero of savvy packers, a wide scarf or shawl can be used for so many purposes: a towel, a sarong, a head cover, a blanket, and so much more.


For filling out forms, taking details, or even a game of noughts and crosses on the plane, a pen is so easy to pack and essential in so many scenarios.

Mini umbrella
Accommodation Information
Car Rental Information
An open suitcase on a bed with neatly packed vacation items including shoes, hats, a camera, and clothing