St George Bermuda
The Heritage Town & Its Tour
St George, also known as the Town of St. George, is located in a parish with the same name and is the main town at the eastern end of Bermuda.
The town is steeped with history and a designated UNESCO world heritage site. This is where Sir George Somers and his men landed in 1609 after their ship Sea Venture
was wrecked at a nearby reef.
While they later continued their journey towards Jamestown, few men were left behind to retain British claim of the island. Later in 1612 the official British settlement began in Bermuda.
St. George was once the capital of Bermuda until Hamilton City became the new capital in 1815. The lanes in the town are wide enough just for horses and carriages. The roads still retain their original names, some with reference to local characters and activities such as Aunt Peggy's Lane or Printers Alley. When you come to St. George's Town, you will realize that the words like quaint and charming are just the ways how life is in this lovely little heritage town.
St George Bermuda
Take some time to wander along the narrow lanes of St George Bermuda where you can imagine yourself back into 17th century. The main streets such as Queen Street and Duke of York Street refer to the monarchs and others important to the British crown.
I am suggesting below a self guided tour of St George covering historic museums and buildings, churches, forts, beaches and other places that should give you a comprehensive flavor of the town. We have designed it after years of exploration. You may like to fine tune it depending on your own appetite and energy.
It's ideal if you can walk. You will need to budget some 3 hours plus the time you will spend at each site. You can also take a St George's mini bus that leaves from Kings Square and reach some of the places. Note that the mini bus goes along specific routes covering Ferry Reach at the western side of the parish, St. Catherine Fort at the north-eastern end and St. David's Island. So you can only plan to hop on and off for places along these routes. For further information about St. George's mini bus services, call up 441/297-8199.
As you go through the tour details below, you will get links to various important places. Check out those links for detailed information along with pictures. Also refer to this handy town map to see location of the places: St George Town Map
Let's start the St George tour
Start at King's Square
at the water front. This is the main town center and heart of St George. This was originally known as the Market Square. There is a Visitors Information Center
here. You can pick up a free pocket map if you want. You will also find detailed St George maps at the end of this page.
Kings Square, St George
Another great place to start is the Bermuda's World Heritage Center
located next to the Penno's Wharf Cruise Terminal at the western end of Water Street. It's a few minutes leisure walk from Kings Square. The center was opened in 2009 and provides an overview about the town, its heritage and historical background through diorama, interactive videos, pictures and a short film. You can also get maps and guides from here. Come back to Kings Square.
On the east side of the square is the Town Hall
which dates from 1782. It has wonderful cedar floors and ceilings. Here you can know about the past mayors of the town and see their portraits. The civic government still meets here. You will also see a "Charles & Diana" signature.
At the north-west corner of Kings Square is the Bermuda National Trust Museum
. This 17th century building was constructed by Governor Samuel Day, who arrived from England.
There is a small bridge here that you can cross over leading to Ordnance Island
, a tiny island only 9 meters offshore, used today as a cruise dock in summer months. The island was so named for the guns once kept there. This place was used once to hang prisoners.
Today Ordnance Island has two important monuments that signify the birth of British colony in Bermuda. To the left of the bridge, there is a full size replica of the ship Deliverance
, one of the two vessels that Sir George Somers and his men rebuilt after their ship Sea Venture got wrecked in 1609 and finally completed their journey to Jamestown, Virginia.
Replica of the ship Deliverance
To the right of the bridge there is a huge bronze sculpture of George Somers who is considered the founder of Bermuda. It's created by a leading Bermudian sculptor Desmond Fountain
Get back to Kings Square. There are a number of attractions around this area that tell the story of St George Bermuda starting from the early 17th century settlement to the changes that have taken place over time. To the left of Town Hall is a walkway leading to Kings Street and there are two important historical buildings.
The first is Bridge House
, an L-shaped building which is the oldest inhabited structure on the island (built in 1690s). But surprisingly it is still in a great condition.
Several governors stayed in this house during British colony days. It is named Bridge House since it's opposite a small wooden bridge that once led to the St George's Harbor
. The house is now owned by the Bermuda National Trust. It is split up into art gallery and private apartments. The art gallery displays Bermudian art and is known as the Bridge House Gallery
At the top of Kings Street is Old State House
, built in 1620s to house Bermuda's assembly. This is the oldest stone building on the island. The walls were designed to withstand hurricane and summer humidity. It was used when St George was the capital of Bermuda.
Water Street runs from Kings Square to the west of St George. It has a number of boutique shops and galleries. It looks quite strange to see modern shops housed in old buildings. As you walk along this traffic free road, you can do some leisurely souvenir hunting as well.
On the right watch out for Tucker House Museum
, the house of Henry Tucker, who was the President of Governor's council between 1775 to 1807. The Tuckers were one of the most influential families in Bermuda, the first family member having arrived in 1616. The kitchen area at the Tucker House, originally separated from the main building, was once a barber shop.
Tucker House Museum Bermuda
It was operated by Joseph Rainey, a black man who came to Bermuda to escape the worst of American Civil War. Once the war was over, he and his family returned to the US. On his return, he joined politics and became the first black member of the House of Representatives.
Across the street is the Carriage Museum
. Until the 1940s, horses and the carriages were the only mode of transport permitted along the narrow Bermuda roads. Almost every well-off family had a horse drawn carriage. However all these disappeared once the road rules were relaxed in 1940s and motorcars arrived in the island. At the Carriage Museum, you will find the beautiful collection of those carriages including broughams, phaetons and runabouts.
The carts and the wagons were removed. The Carriage House Restaurant
came up where the museum was once located. You will still see the inside walls made of bricks retaining the warehouse ambience.
Next is St Peters Church
. It's located on Duke of York Street, now the main route through the town of St George Bermuda. Originally built in 1612, this is the oldest Anglican Church in the western hemisphere. Just behind the St. Peter's Church is the Old Rectory
, one of the oldest private homes of Bermuda built in 1699 reflecting traditional Bermudian architecture.
Now, take Duke of Kent street north from the town center to reach a number of attractions in St George Bermuda. Almost immediately to the left is St George's Historical Society Museum
. Walk up the staircase and step into the great treasure store. Furniture, clothing and works of art are all part of the fascinating collection. Here you will find from buttons to bottles to old bath tubs. The kitchen at the back of the house is filled with authentic pieces like earthenware jars for storage, copper cups for taking measurements, iron pots for cooking and so on. The admission fee here includes tea and Bermudian banana bread.
Continue along Duke of Kent street, you will reach Bermuda's Unfinished Church
. This is an elegant edifice begun in the 1870s when the St Peters Church was badly damaged by a storm. But it was never completed. Find out why.
Unfinished Church Bermuda
Continue to the right of the Unfinished Church, up Government Hill Road and through the fairways of St George Golf Course
, until you reach the coast.
Here you will find Tobacco Bay beach
, one of our top favorite beaches in Bermuda. It's a small stretch of sheltered beach very popular with the cruise passengers whose ships dock at St George Bermuda. It's a great beach for sunbathing and snorkeling.
The first part of my suggested tour ends here. Well if you want to explore further and have more time in hand, then follow the directions below to discover some great forts and beaches before you stop for your lunch.
From Tobacco Bay, go past the sheltered inlet of Coot Pond and reach Fort St. Catherine
. You can also take a minibus from the Kings Square to the fort that runs every 15 minutes. The fort is located some 2 miles to the far east of St. George's Town. The setting of the fort on a rocky elevated land with sandy beaches on both sides is spectacular. There are strong walls rising on all sides. Right next to the fort, you will find the St. Catherine Beach
There is another small fort called the Gates Fort
that sits at the Town Cut, the route for ships entering St. George harbor
. It's located at the end of Cut Road and is 1 mile away. You can take bus #3 if you don't want to walk. Otherwise take the wonderful scenic route along Barrack Road and walk along to reach the end of Cut Road.
Gates fort once stopped suspects and enemy boats from entering the harbor. The scenery around with view of the shore line is excellent. You will also see some old guns in the fort. The fort was once used as a private house.
For authentic Bermudian cuisine, you can go for Black Horse Tavern
. It's a bit away from the center of the town and located on St. David's road.
If you have time to take a short bus ride, try Swizzle inn
located in the adjacent Hamilton parish. This is the oldest pub in the island that has created the famous island drink known as Rum Swizzle and essentially serves pub food during lunch.
If you have time and energy left after lunch, and want to explore the St. George's Parish more extensively, there are few more excellent places to go. Take bus #6 from Kings Square for St. David's island and visit St. David's Lighthouse
. It stands on the highest point of the eastern coast.
On your way back from the lighthouse, stop at the Carter House
. This is one of the oldest homes in Bermuda (built in 1640). Carter was one of the three men who was left behind by George Somers when he and his men sailed towards Jamestown, so that the British claim of Bermuda could be continued.
Your final stop as you take bus #6 back for St George is Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences
where there is an elaborate arrangement for scientists to study and research marine life. It is located on Ferry Road. Another lovely attraction close by is the Ferry Reach Park
located at the end of the scenic Ferry Road. But I doubt if you can make it on the same day. You should ideally plan for a separate half day visit to this park.
Some more areas of interest in St George
Well if your heart is still seeking for more, here are some more great interests to pursue in this lovely town of St. George later in the afternoon or in the evening.
is a shopping and dining complex located along the Water Street dock area. You will enjoy going around the many boutique shops, picking up souvenirs and other unique items from the island, and then finally end the day with a dinner on the harbor side.
If it's a Tuesday and your ship is docked at St George, then you can plan to come back later in the evening for the St George Market Nights
held at Kings Square. Many vendors set up colorful stalls and display homemade food and art & craft, Gombey dancers take to the streets and much more. It's like a festive celebration and a major tourist attraction.
Most of the shops and tourist attractions remain closed on Sundays. However if you happen to be in Bermuda on a Sunday, you can still have a refreshingly different time at St. George and spend the day the way Bermudians do. Find out how: A Sunday in St George
Map of St George
Here is an interactive Map of St George Parish
. You can zoom and move the map around to see great details including streets, attractions and main places of interest in the entire parish.
About the Parish, Attractions & Activities
As I mentioned at the beginning, St. George's Town is part of a parish with the same name. The parish covers a lot larger area and has plenty of hotels, restaurants, attractions and activities all across. To know about them all, check out St. George's Parish
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5) Bermuda Activities
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