On the slow-tempo Caribbean island of Jamaica, the captivating capital city of Kingston has music at its pumping heart. Reggae beats fill the streets and legendary recording studios are open to visitors. You can soak up the sun on the white sands at Lime Cay, or head to the breathtaking Blue Mountains for a dose of fresh air. After dark, hit the rum bars and energetic dancehall clubs to experience the very best of Kingston’s vibrant nightlife.
The Kingston hostel scene ranges from brightly painted houses set amid tropical trees to rustic cottages nestled high in the mountains. If you’re looking to meet other backpackers, you can find Kingston hostels with sociable, modern dorms, hammock-filled terraces or those with a bar or café for music and dancing into the night. At most hostels in Kingston, you’ll have free Wi-Fi, and many throw in a spicy Jamaican breakfast or have a cooking area to make your own.
Kingston is a city of two halves: downtown and New Kingston. Downtown is home to a waterfront craft market and historic buildings. At the mouth of Kingston harbour is the old pirate enclave of Port Royal where you can walk the walls of Fort Charles. New Kingston is the city’s northern district with modern buildings and a buzzing nightlife. This area's centrepiece is Emancipation Park, which is filled with striking statues, tropical plants, chess players and folk musicians.
At the Bob Marley Museum, you’ll learn all about the iconic reggae master. For more culture, go to the National Gallery to see Jamaican artwork through the ages. At the busy Coronation Market, you can browse the wares and fill up on street food like jerk chicken, grilled corn and chunks of fresh mango. To chill out in lush green surroundings, head to the Hope Botanical Gardens at the foot of the mountains.
Norman Manley International Airport is 30 minutes south east of the city. Look out for official taxis with red licence plates outside the arrivals hall, or you can take the bus to Parade, in downtown Kingston. Taxis can be flagged all over town, but they are unmetered so agree your fare first. The budget-friendly network of yellow public buses will also get you around Kingston’s main sights. The Knutsford Express bus route links the city to Ocho Rios in 3 hours and Montego Bay in 5 hours.