If you're after the quintessential Caribbean holiday, you couldn't do much better than Barbados. Particularly popular with Brits, the island is steeped in colonial history which, combined with a vibrant modern culture, makes for an amazing holiday that manages to be both lively and relaxing. Barbados has all the picture postcard features of a Caribbean island with palm trees, beautiful sandy beaches, azure blue warm waters and lush tropical scenery, but it has a wild side too. The east coast is fully exposed to the power of the Atlantic, giving it an altogether different look and feel. In short, it's easy to see why Barbados attracts half a million visitors every year.>
Direct flights to Barbados are available from a number of UK airports, including Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, through Thomson Flights, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. You can also find cheap flights to Barbados departing from different UK airports such as Newcastle and Cardiff if you opt for indirect, but these flights are often more costly than the direct route, strange as it may seem! A direct flight from the UK will take about eight or nine hours.
Barbados's only airport, Grantley Adams International, is about ten miles east of the capital city, Bridgetown, in the south of the island. You can get from the airport to Bridgetown easily, by taxi or bus. Taxis with an 'Authorised Airport Taxi' badge adhere to official fares, unlike private taxis. In any case, neither use meters so it's best to agree on a price before setting off. Buses travel between the airport and Bridgetown every hour.
You can get to most places on the island easily by bus. The blue buses with a yellow stripe are government-operated public buses and yellow buses are run by private operators, but all buses charge the same fare, which is B$1.50 to get anywhere on the island. You also shouldn't have a problem finding a taxi in popular tourist areas. They're marked with a 'Z' on the number plate and usually a taxi sign on the roof. Otherwise you might wish to hire a moped; just watch out on some of the more treacherous roads. Tourists also often hire bicycles in Barbados which is enjoyable because in most of the more popular areas, the terrain is fairly flat.
If you'd like total freedom for getting around Barbados, we'd recommend that you hire a car for your holiday. Barbados car hire differs from many Western destinations as you're unlikely to find agents for the major global car hire companies there, but plenty of independent companies instead; despite the variety of providers though, prices don't tend to vary much. Most of these companies won't have booths at the airport but will be happy to delivery your car there or to your hotel.
Barbados's peak season is between mid-December and mid-April, which is when the beaches will be at their busiest and getting to Barbados will be at its most expensive. It's popular at this time of year for good reason though; getting away from winter in the UK is a major draw, and plus you'll get to experience festivals like the Holetown Festival and the Barbados Jazz Festival! The 'low season' is considered to be from July to November. The weather will be just as beautiful as in the high season but prices will be much lower. If you don't want to pay over the odds, grab a cheap flight to Barbados in low season!
Barbados is a small island that's crammed full of places to stay. The fashionable west coast is the most expensive location for holidays in Barbados with its classic Caribbean feel. If you're looking for the west coast experience on your holiday to Barbados, you should head for Speightstown where the beaches are just as beautiful but the hotel prices a little more manageable. Those looking for a cheap package holiday in Barbados should aim for the south coast where there's a wider variety of cheap Barbados hotels.
Along the west coast of Barbados, coral reefs fringe the shoreline which makes snorkelling and scuba diving extremely popular. In Bridgetown you can wander in National Heroes Square and tour the distillery of Mount Gay Rum, the oldest rum in the world. History buffs will also love the Barbados National Museum in the capital. St Lawrence Gap is arguably the centre of the south coast scene with a vast array of bars, restaurants and nightlife.
The east coast of Barbados is a surfer's dream, with strong Atlantic waves that shaped the imposing cliffs on the shoreline. The Silver Sands resort is one of the windsurfing and kite surfing capitals of the Caribbean, and further south you can find two of the most stunning beaches on the island, Crane Beach and Foul Bay. The latter is more popular with Bajans than tourists, so pay a visit if you're looking to beat the crowds and to experience a piece of the authentic Barbados lifestyle.
In the centre of the island, away from the glamorous west coast and the developed south, the terrain becomes really unusual. Underneath rolling hills are Harrison's Caves, a three-mile-long limestone cavern with beautiful rock formations and underground lakes. Around the lush green hills you can also explore the little villages and sugar plantations dotted here and there for a taste of Barbados's colonial history.
There are all sorts of events happening in Barbados in 2013 and 2014, from cricket to film festivals. Why not visit in February to catch the Holetown Festival, or the Barbados Windfest in May, a three-day wind and kite surfing competition? Bridgetown is the place to be in the summer, with the biggest street fair of the year on Spring Garden Highway in July and Kadooment Day in August which is simply one big street party.
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