14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bermuda
In the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,000 kilometers east of North Carolina, Bermuda boasts a much milder climate than the Caribbean islands. This emerald archipelago is much loved for its pretty pink sand beaches, eye-popping blue water, and relaxed British character. Colorful colonial houses line the streets of Bermuda's tidy capital, Hamilton, as well as the many quaint island villages with British-inspired names.
Reefs that sunk ships in Bermuda's clear waters offer some of the best wreck diving in the Atlantic. Snorkeling, fishing, and sailing are also popular pursuits and many well-maintained hiking, biking, and bridle trails loop through the island's nature reserves. Golfers also flock here from around the world. Thanks, in part, to its gentle summer temperatures, Bermuda has more golf courses per square kilometer than any other country in the world, many with sweeping ocean views.
Bermuda is also known for its rich seafaring history. Over the centuries, many ships met their fate along the archipelago's treacherous reefs. England claimed possession of the islands in 1609 after the English ship, Sea Venture, wrecked off the shores of historic St. George's Island, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, history buffs can explore Bermuda's maritime history at the many forts and excellent museums around the islands.
1 Horseshoe Bay
A ravishing crescent of pink sand and brilliant blue sea, Horseshoe Bay is Bermuda's most famous beach and one of it's most popular. This is a good spot for families with small children. Lifeguards patrol here from May through September and the café offers snacks, change rooms, and equipment rental. Elbow Beach, with its reef-protected bay, is another great spot for swimming, and John Smith's Bay is a local favorite with great swimming and snorkeling.
Overlooking the harbor, Hamilton is the capital of Bermuda as well as its cultural and commercial heart. Pastel-colored colonial buildings line the streets, and the city is home to Bermuda's best shopping, dining, galleries, and museums. Front Street is the busiest area of the city where cruise ships dock alongside island-hopping ferries and tour boats. Some of the most significant buildings in the city are the Bermuda Cabinet Building, the Anglican Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, and St Paul's Church, all of which date from the 1800s. Also of note is the Bermuda House of Assembly, the oldest Parliament in the western hemisphere. In the Hamilton City Hall and Arts Center, visitors can view the rotating exhibits at the Bermuda National Gallery and the Bermuda Society of Arts Gallery.
3 St. George's
St. George's Island is the birthplace of Bermuda. England claimed Bermuda after the English ship Sea Venture ran aground here in 1609. In 1612 the first settlers arrived and began life in the town of St. George, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the earliest continuously inhabited English settlement in the Western Hemisphere. The town's brightly painted stone and masonry buildings are laid out in a narrow maze of streets with names like Old Maid's Lane and Featherbed Alley. One of the town' s most important attractions, St. Peter's Church, was built here in 1612. Numerous museums in St George offer insight into Bermuda's history, including the Bermuda National Trust Museum, the St. George Historical Society Museum, and the Tucker House Museum.
4 St. Peter's Church
Completed in 1612, St. Peter's Church is the oldest Anglican church site in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere. The church's architecture is simple yet graceful and showcases architectural styles from the 17th century onwards. Composed of red cedar, the hand-carved altar is one of the oldest pieces of woodwork in Bermuda. Other highlights include the collection of silver and the baptismal font believed to be more than 900 years old. The churchyard contains many headstones, which date back more than 300 years, including those of slaves.
5 St George's Island Forts
Due to Bermuda's strategic location in the Atlantic and the town of St. George's vulnerable position, a series of forts protected St. George's Island. These forts exemplify British coast defenses from the early 1600s to 1956 and are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Fully restored Fort St Catherine contains a gallery of dioramas depicting Bermuda's history, a collection of firearms, plus replicas of the Crown Jewels of Great Britain. Constructed in the 1620s, Gates Fort is a small but strategically placed battery with views of the Atlantic, and Alexandra Battery, dating from 1840, overlooks a beach sprinkled with colorful sea glass.
6 Bermuda Railway Trail
The Bermuda Railway Trail is a good way to see hidden parts of Bermuda. This 29 km well-maintained walking and bike trail winds across cliffs, woods, beaches, and dunes along the route that belonged to the Bermuda Railway. Called the" Old Rattle and Shake" Bermuda's only train made it's first run in 1931 and was dismantled by 1948.
7 Royal Naval Dockyard
The hub of the Somerset Island area is the Dockyard, the Royal Navy's home in Bermuda for more than 175 years, now with a multimillion dollar cruise ship dock. Built by slave and convict labor in the 18th century, these historic naval buildings have been converted into restaurants, shops, and craft studios. The Dockyard's focal points are the Clocktower Centre and the impressive Bermuda Maritime Museum, set in the body of the fort and encompassing the beautifully restored Commissioner's House circa 1823. The Bermuda Craft Market sells handicrafts made on site, while the Bermuda Arts Center at Dockyard rotates exhibitions of local art. Visitors can also watch potters and glass blowers at work in their studios. Also in the Dockyard, the popular Dolphin Quest educational program gives visitors a chance to interact with these friendly marine mammals.
8 Bermuda Maritime Museum
One of the most popular attractions at the Royal Naval Dockyard, the Bermuda Maritime Museum, inside Bermuda's largest fort, features seven bastions and eight historic exhibit buildings tracing the island's fascinating history. Shipwrecks, battles, whaling, yacht racing, and maritime art are just some of the topics on display. On the museum's upper grounds, visitors can tour the 19th century Commissioner's House replete with authentic period furniture and exhibits on Bermuda's military and social history. Take the time to wander the ten acres and enjoy panoramic views of the island, as well as the sheep grazing on the grounds. Museum visitors can also watch the dolphin encounters in the Keep Pond at Dolphin Quest.
9 Crystal and Fantasy Caves
At Bermuda's Crystal and Fantasy Caves, visitors venture 37 meters below the earth's surface to view a subterranean lake and impressive crystal formations. Walkways on floating pontoons thread through the cave and provide a great vantage point to peer at formations rising from the depths of the pool. Gazing above, visitors can admire the many beautiful stalactites and crystallized soda straws descending from the cave's ceiling. A state-of-the-art lighting system illuminates the formations, and informative guides share details about the caves' history and geology.
10 The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo
In quaint Flatts Village, Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ) contains one of the world's oldest aquariums as well as more than 300 birds, reptiles, and mammals from island habitats. The exhibits are organized by geographical area with a focus on island ecosystems such as Australasia, Madagascar, and the Caribbean. Conservation is a key focus, and some of the animals are part of captive breeding programs for endangered species. The Aquarium features more than 200 species of fish and marine invertebrates from Bermuda's marine ecosystems including live corals and large species such as black grouper, sharks, marine turtles, and harbor seals. Between the Aquarium & Zoo, the Bermuda Natural History Museum contains interactive and audio-visual exhibits on Bermuda's geology and ecology. A scenic coastal walkway surrounding the complex provides impressive views of Flatt's Inlet and Harrington Sound.
11 Spittal Pond Nature Reserve
Bird watching points, hiking trails, and wildlife-rich wetlands are highlights of Bermuda's largest protected area, Spittal Pond Nature Reserve. The well-marked trails within this 60-acre-reserve skirt the windswept coastline and wind through forested areas offering a range of diverse habitats for plants and animals. Birders may spot more than 30 species of waterfowl - especially during the migration season. Spittal Pond is also the location of the original Spanish Rock carved by a shipwrecked Portuguese sailor in 1543.
12 Gibb's Hill Lighthouse
The 35 meter-high Gibb's Hill Lighthouse is one of the world's oldest cast iron lighthouses. Ascend the 185 steep steps for spectacular 360-degree views of the Bermuda shoreline and the Atlantic. Lucky visitors may even glimpse migrating whales during the spring. On the way up, landings provide scenic rest spots and display information on the history of the lighthouse.
13 Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art
Tucked in the lush Botanical Gardens, the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art showcases a vibrant collection of more than 1,200 pieces of Bermuda-inspired art. Rotating exhibits display the works of local artists and the permanent collection includes pieces by such luminaries as Georgia O'Keeffe, Winslow Homer, and Albert Gleizes. The museum features two main galleries, a gift shop, and café.
14 Wreck Diving
The treacherous reefs that made sailing near Bermuda so dangerous centuries ago create a haven for divers today. Wrecks abound here. In fact Bermuda has more shipwrecks per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Known as the "Wreck capital of the Atlantic". Bermuda is also one of the few places where you can dive wrecks dating from the 1600s to 1997, and some lie in less than nine meters of water making them easily accessible for snorkelers. The Cristóbal Colón, a luxury Spanish liner sunk in 1936, is one of Bermuda's most famous sites. In addition to the excellent wrecks, divers will find well-preserved reefs, caverns, swim-throughs, and mini walls teeming with marine life in crystal clear waters.