Officially established in 1692, Jamaica’s capital city of Kingston has a ton to offer world travelers. Whether you’re into music, history, or beautiful natural scenery, you’re sure to find something to do in the sprawling metropolis of Kingston.
Located on the southeastern coast of Jamaica, Kingston is actually the largest English-speaking city south of the USA. If you only have a few days to explore this significant Jamaican city, it can be quite difficult to decide what you should see first. In order to help you out with your vacation planning, you’ll find a list of the top seven things to do in Kingston Jamaica below.
Top 7 Things To Do In Kingston Jamaica
1. Bob Marley Museum
Besides sprint runner Usain Bolt, there’s perhaps no more famous Jamaican around the world than singer/songwriter Bob Marley. Born in 1945, Marley was instrumental in bringing reggae music into the mainstream. His positive message of peace and tolerance has inspired thousands of fans all around the world.
Although Marley passed away in 1981, his legacy lives on in the hearts of millions of his fans. One great way to learn more about Marley’s life and legacy is to visit the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston. This museum, which actually used to be Marley’s recording studio, houses numerous photos, personal belongings, and other artifacts from Marley’s brief life. There are even a few bullet holes still visible on this building from a failed murder attempt on the singer’s life.
Plan to spend at least two hours in this fascinating museum dedicated to one of Jamaica’s finest. Definitely put this world-class museum on the top of your list of things to do in Kingston Jamaica.
2. Port Royal
Do you watch Pirates of the Caribbean almost every day? Do you fancy yourself a real buccaneer? If so, then head on over to Port Royal. Way back in the 17th century, Port Royal was known as the “richest and wickedest city in the world.” Pirates plundered a whole lot of booty and built up one of the wealthiest cities in the Caribbean with their ill-gotten loot.
The most famous pirate was without a doubt Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688), who stole tons of money from Spanish vessels and eventually bought himself a few sugar plantations. All was going well for the pirates that partied here until June 7th, 1692. That’s the day a devastating earthquake struck Port Royal. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of this once prosperous city. Although most of the ruins are reconstructions shortly after the 1692 earthquake, these structures are still well worth your time.
The main treasures in this region include Fort Rocky, Fort Charles, and Saint Peter’s Church. There’s also a museum located nearby that goes through the history of this remarkable area. Port Royal is one of the best things to do in Kingston Jamaica, especially for those out there with a deep affection for the tales of haughty English pirates. However, if you’re just looking for Jack Sparrow, then you should book a trip to Disney World instead.
3. National Gallery of Jamaica
For an interesting perspective on Jamaica’s long history, check out Kingston’s National Gallery of Jamaica. Here you’ll find artwork from the pre-colonial period all the way through to today. The earliest artworks found in this museum include works by Taino Indians.
To support contemporary Jamaican artists, the museum has hosted the annual National Visual Arts Exhibition since 1963. If you are fortunate enough to visit this museum during the exhibition period, you’ll get free entry to all the exhibits. Art lovers should really put this museum on the top of their list of things to do in Kingston Jamaica.
4. Hope Botanical Gardens
Nature freaks can chill out with a leisurely stroll through Kingston’s Hope Botanical Gardens. At 200-acres, the Hope Botanical Gardens is officially the largest garden the entire Caribbean. Hope Botanical Gardens was named in honor of Major Richard Hope, a British colonizer who arrived with both William Penn and Robert Venables in 1655. One famous part of this garden is the
One famous part of this garden is the Senna siamea grove located right by the main entrance. Visitors can take in many wonderful blue mahoe trees here, which are the official national trees of Jamaica. Once you take a relaxing walk through this natural area you’ll realize why Hope Gardens is one of the best things to do while in Kingston Jamaica.
5. Devon House
George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire, built his elegant Devon House in Kingston in 1891. Originally, this mansion was around 51-acres. Today, however, the property is only around 11-acres in total. A small fee will allow you to take a guided tour in this posh Georgian-style mansion. Visitors learn all about what life was life for the upper-crust during the Victorian Era as well as Stiebel’s amazing success story.
Stiebel was the son of a German-Jewish merchant and a black housekeeper. Most of Stiebel’s fortune came from shrewd investments in Venezuelan gold mines. If you don’t want to tour Devon House, you can visit the park, ice cream shop, and restaurants on this property without purchasing a tour guide ticket. Both the history and various attractions around Devon House easily make it one of the best things to do while in Kingston Jamaica.
6. Blue Mountains
Any hikers reading this article should definitely plan a day trip to the Blue Mountains. Not only is this mountain range the longest in all of Jamaica, it also has the country’s highest peak at 7,402 feet. People who reach the Mountain Peak of Blue Mountains claim that on good days they can see as far as Cuba.
Less experienced hikers should consider looking into joining a guided tour group. There are numerous slippery streams to navigate in certain areas of this mountain range. Also, the hike up Blue Mountains is quite steep, so be sure you’re physically fit for this adventure. If you are ready to hike the daunting Blue Mountains, you’ll certainly be rewarded with stunning views of Jamaica’s natural scenery.
7. University of the West Indies – Mona
History buffs might enjoy a quick stroll through the University of the West Indies (UWI) campus in Kingston. University organizers in the 1950s chose this particular site to build their university in due to its historical relevance. The building that now serves as the University Chapel was actually a rum store in the 18th century. There’s also an aqueduct on campus that used to carry water throughout this plantation area.
For those interested in World War II history, you might know that Kingston served as a wartime camp for the British. There was also a civilian internment camp built here in 1943. Many of the buildings used to house refugees are now being used as lecture halls and laboratories for the university’s professors. The well-preserved historical structures on this ultra-modern university’s campus make it one of the best things to do in Kingston Jamaica, especially for history fans.
As you can see, there are a ton of things to do in Kingston Jamaica. Whether you want to explore Jamaica’s rich culture or take in the island nation’s world-renowned scenery, you can find a way to experience what you’re looking for here. Unfortunately, you might not be able to hit all of these hot tourist areas in just one short trip.
If you only have a few days, you really need to prioritize what you are interested in seeing in Jamaica’s capital. Take another quick look at our list of things to do in Kingston Jamaica and then choose what you’d most like to see.