Jamaica is the land of amazing travel treasures — from their beautiful waters, original music, and great cocktails to their perfect summery weather. But before you check-in at your all-inclusive resort, why not explore Jamaica’s capital, Kingston?
Kingston, Jamaica may not be as famous to the tourists compared to the beachside locations in this country, but this city has plenty to offer.
If you want to get in touch with the roots of Jamaican culture, then staying at Kingston will definitely do the trick.
Here are 13things to do in Kingston, Jamaica to jumpstart your trip.
- 1. Tour the Port Royal
- 2. Hang out at Life Yard, Kingston
- 3. Hike the Blue Mountains
- 4. Relax at Strawberry Hill
- 5. Visit the Devon House
- 6. Wander around the Hope Botanical Garden
- 7. Go bar hopping in Kingston
- 8. Get to know reggae at Bob Marley Museum
- 9. Shop at the Coronation Market
- 10. Learn about Jamaica’s art at the National Gallery of Jamaica
- 12. See the Jamaican wildlife at Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park
- 13. Grab a picnic at Holywell Recreational Park
1. Tour the Port Royal
Start of your Jamaican trip with a tour to the “wickedest city in the world”.
Think about pirates, cannons, and treasure chests — Port Royal is the pirate and shipping capital of the Caribbean during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Blackbeard, Captain Henry Morgan, and Calico Jack visited Port Royal on many occasions to seek refuge from the enforcements while gathering their supplies for their next voyage.
When you visit this place, you’ll see that most of the city is under a few meters of water, still intact and preserved along with hundreds of sunken ships of various sizes.
Check out Fort Charles, the only forts of Port Royal to survive the 1692 earthquake.
Sites like St. Peter’s Church and Old Naval Hospital are also a must to visit.
While you’re there, why not indulge in the freshest seafood the Caribbean has to offer?
2. Hang out at Life Yard, Kingston
Get a good glimpse of the culture of Kingston by spending an afternoon at Life Yard.
This multicultural eco-village created by young Rastafarians aims to provide a positive change in their community to regenerate parts of downtown Kingston from gang problems.
Community artists gather around the whole street with colorful and uplifting murals perfect for getting your Instagrammable pictures.
Here is a nice video from YouTube that takes us on a tour of Kingston, Jamaica.
Join the different youth projects and activities by visiting their restaurants, homework clubs, media and educational support, and workshops.
3. Hike the Blue Mountains
Get in touch with nature and explore this hiker and camper’s paradise. This mountain range starts at Kingston and extends to the Caribbean Sea.
There’s a lot to explore when hiking the Blue Mountain. Get to see the indigenous species that can only be found within this region.
Visit the Rastafarian village, Maroon heritage sites, and take a dip in one of the many natural springs and waterfalls located within this mountain range.
Don’t miss to taste the famous Blue Mountain Coffee, which is arguably the best-tasting coffee in the world.
It’s also one of the most expensive coffee beans because the demand is incredibly high, but the export supply is limited.
This coffee is unique to its taste with its mild flavor and almost no bitterness present.
4. Relax at Strawberry Hill
While you’re at the Blue Mountain, why not drop by at Strawberry Hill for a nice relaxation time?
This 18th-century coffee estate turned boutique hotel is one of the must-try destinations for anyone and a staple who stays at Kingston. Strawberry Hill is your perfect Kingston getaway that balances nature and luxury.
Try out their incredible spa where they offer a variety of services. A coconut hydro-scrub massage is a great way to end your hiking trip!
5. Visit the Devon House
Devon House is one of Kingston’s heritage sites and greatest landmarks. Tours are available which will guide you around the property and inside the house.
Their Mansion Tours include having a taste of their local delicacies like ice cream from Devon House I Scream, gourmet patty from Devon House Bakery, chocolates from Chocolate Dreams, and refreshing coconut water from Coco Raw.
Devon House is also an architectural dream with a beautiful combination of the Caribbean and Georgian architecture. The antique pieces that this property houses are one of the best pieces ever curated.
From being a mansion of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, the Devon House became an open property for anyone in Kingston to visit, shop, dine, and relax.
6. Wander around the Hope Botanical Garden
The Hope Royal Botanic Gardens is a great destination for taking an afternoon off. These 237 acres of the property contains three different themed gardens and a zoo.
This garden is one of the largest botanical gardens in the Caribbean. You can also buy an assortment of plants with over a thousand different species including fruit trees.
For their themed gardens, the Sunken Garden is one of the major attractions for visitors because of its manicured lawn space in a semi-enclosed garden which is perfect for a great photo shoot or an event space.
Other attractions include the Orchid House, Coconut Museum, and their zoo.
7. Go bar hopping in Kingston
There’s no such thing as too much partying in Kingston, Jamaica. You’ll never even have a boring night in this city with the abundance of bars and clubs. Being the Rum Capital of the world, expect that Kingston will have one of the best nightlife in the entire Caribbean.
The party life in Jamaica is different from bar-centric parties in other countries. At Kingston, expect to party with the whole block.
You’ll see sound systems with giant speakers stacked on top of each other, blasting music all throughout the street. Bars and clubs are all over where you can just get in, order your drink, and move on to the next one.
The key to enjoying the stereo war nightlife in Jamaica is to start late at night and go on into the early morning. Make sure to try some of the iconic Jamaican drinks like rum and tropical cocktails. If that’s not your thing, then Jamaicans are pretty serious with their beers too.
8. Get to know reggae at Bob Marley Museum
An obvious destination for reggae fans and the curious about the Jamaican music lifestyle, the Bob Marley Museum is one of the top favorite destinations at Kingston. Here, you’ll learn all about Bob Marley’s life, his music accomplishments, and his role in activism.
You can book a tour at their official website where you’ll have the opportunity to tour his home and the legendary Tuff Gong recording studio.
9. Shop at the Coronation Market
The Coronation Market is one of the largest farmer’s markets in Jamaica. You’ll have no problem getting your Jamaican goodies here as most of the vendors speak English— a sometimes rare scenario when you’re in the Caribbean.
This market is coined as the “stomach” of Jamaica where almost half of the country will look like they shop here. Get the best deals on your souvenirs, crafts, knickknacks, at fresh fruits and vegetables.
For tourists, it’s better to at least hire a guide or as a local beforehand when going to the market to get the advantage of the best stalls in the market.
If not, you’ll just need the patience and expertise to weave through the vendors and buyers.
10. Learn about Jamaica’s art at the National Gallery of Jamaica
The National Gallery of Jamaica showcases the different art periods of the country with their five permanent exhibits and temporary ones. This is the largest and the oldest public art gallery in the country which started in 1974.
Check out the current exhibits at their official website. The museum also provides gift and souvenir shops, research facilities, educational tours, and a café.
12. See the Jamaican wildlife at Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park
With around 100,000 acres of tropical rainforest, the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is considered as the lungs of eastern Jamaica.
This is the country’s only national park and was established as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Here, you’ll get to see more than 800 species of native plants and hundreds to thousands of resident and migrant birds.
The Mountains National Park will definitely be your nature escape at the hustle and bustle of Kingston.
This place also played an important role in Jamaica’s history where the escapees of enslaved Africans built their own settlements until they fought and gained their independence. Now, they serve as a refuge and a conservatory for all wildlife.
13. Grab a picnic at Holywell Recreational Park
Not so far from the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, the Holywell Recreational Park is relaxation at its purest. Surrounded by lush forests, panoramic views, wide picnic areas.
Use one of their barbeque pits and gazebos for a great DIY get together lunch or explore many of the tourist attractions that they offer. You can visit their Children’s Discovery Zone or take a tour at their coffee farms.
If you want to spend a night at this park, they have three on-site cabins for rent. Each one is complete with a living and dining room, a kitchen, bathroom, and a covered porch. If you’re all about that camping life, you’re free to pitch a tent on the park’s grounds.
By visiting Kingston, you’ll realize that Jamaica is not only about its amazing beaches. They’re all about fun, community, and offering the best that they have to travelers and tourists like you, and Kingston is definitely the place to experience that.