A Complete Guide to Hamilton City, Bermuda
Capital of the island since 1815, Hamilton is a small, vibrant and a friendly city. It's the cultural heart and commercial hub of the island. For being the main container port in the island, city of Hamilton is also the center of shipping and trade in Bermuda. Hamilton City is located centrally in the island and in Pembroke parish facing the Hamilton Harbor (the tapering water area between Pembroke and Paget parishes).
runs along the water edge and the pastel colored facade of the buildings lining it is the first part of the city seen by the cruise ship passengers as they come to shore in Hamilton. Front Street is the life and soul of Hamilton City and center of all the main activities. This is where most of the island's glittering retail shops, great restaurants and many other commercial establishments like banks & insurance companies are located. And expectedly, this is the busiest place in the island.
Hamilton City, Bermuda
Hamilton was formally established in 1793 and named after the then Governor of Bermuda Henry Hamilton. It was then a town. For more than a hundred years before that, there were deliberations amongst the islanders about having a more centrally located area which would aid in commerce and trade. With the rise in population and the subsequent arrival of Governor Hamilton in the picture, things were hastened up. He gave his support to the local merchants and was well liked by them.
The sheltered harbor that the new location afforded, was a great boost in trade and commerce. It later became a thoroughfare for trade vessels and their goods that came from as far down south as the West Indies. With this explosion in import and export business, it was only fitting that Hamilton become the capital. In 1815 it became the capital of Bermuda which was relocated from the old Town of St. George. And in 1897, Hamilton became a City.
In the year 1852, Hamilton saw the beginning of a new kind of business opportunity present itself - tourism. The number of people visiting had reached a slump and this was mainly because lack of any decent hotel. Even cruise ships were beginning to discontinue their trips to the island for this reason. The Hamilton Hotel (what is today the City Hall car park) was then built and opened to public in the year 1854 with just thirty six guest rooms. It continued to be built upon and extended until it could accommodate six hundred guests. Unfortunately one of the largest fires of the time saw the hotel razed to the ground in the December of 1955. The direction of the wind however was such, that the rest of the city was spared.
The city of Hamilton is steeped in history and if you take the walking tours the city has to offer or even self guided tours especially in North Hamilton, you can experience a journey which takes you back in time and get a glimpse of the rich history of the city.
Today the city is 185 acres in size which is considerably larger than what it had started off as and has a population of about 1800 residents. Most of the working population here come from the outlying parishes by ferry, car or bus. The city of Hamilton is one of the smallest capital cities in the world.
Go to this Parish Map
to see location of Hamilton City.
Hamilton City is the place to stay if you want all the conveniences at one place as well as the easiest access to the rest of the island. Interestingly most hotels here are not within the limits of the city, though there are quite a number which are at a walking distance from it. There was once a few hotels that were inside the city boundaries like the American hotel and the Canadian hotel, when agricultural production used to be shipped from the port here and trade was thriving. Then there was the Hamilton hotel which got burnt down and never rebuilt.
Many great restaurants and shops are located in Hamilton. The central bus terminal and the main ferry terminal are also located here that connect to most parts of the island. And there is no better place for nightlife in Bermuda than the Hamilton City. And not surprisingly, some of the best hotels of Bermuda including the landmark hotel Hamilton Princess & Beach Club are located here as the city is the island's main business and financial hub.
There are numerous hotels of all types in Pembroke parish where Hamilton City is located including budget, boutique, mid-priced and luxury hotels. Many are within walking distance from the city center. However you won't find a beach-side hotel here. Most hotels are in garden setting or have nice views of Hamilton harbor.
A landmark hotel here is the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club - a 5 Star Luxury class hotel by the harbor side with its own marina and beach club. Rosedon and Royal Palms are two luxury class and elegant boutique hotels located in garden settings. And there are several excellent budget stays in Hamilton such as Oxford House, Sunflower Guesthouse, Robin's Nest etc.
Visit Hamilton Hotels
to know about the great hotels in and around Hamilton.
Till about the 1930s Bermudian food was mostly locally produced. However now, most of it is imported and then resold here at appreciated prices. Hence foodstuffs turn out to be quite expensive especially when customs or import duty is applied on particular items. For instance, after March until at least the fall, local lobster (which is quite expensive by American standards) is not available and if at all you find it on a particular menu, it is the imported variety of Maine or Canadian lobster. An interesting fact is that the law here bans the import of carrots.
Bermudian cuisine is ideally not for the calorie or cholesterol conscious. Restaurants and eating outlets in Bermuda have annual unannounced inspections for food standards and hygiene and most of their eating-out spots achieve high grades.
Things to note
Most non hotel restaurants are closed on public holidays. You can contact them before visiting to find out if they are open on a specific day/time. Hotel-owned restaurants however remain open on Sundays and public holidays.
Dress code- no eating outlets have a specific dress code for breakfast and lunch though for dinner some dining venues might expect their male patrons to be dressed formally in jackets/ blazers and women in appropriate evening attire. It is a good idea to inquire on the same when you make a call for reservations at a certain restaurant.
You can look out for Early bird dinners (if you are willing to eat dinner between 5.30 and 6.30pm) if you want discounts on your dinner bill.
Gratuities- most restaurants add 17 percent to the bill as a standard practice
Smoking in public places including bars, restaurants and hotels on the island is an offence.
Kosher / Vegetarian-only food restaurants are not there on the island though vegetarian dishes are available on the menu or restaurants can make one on request. you can contact at (441) 291 1785 which is the small Jewish Community of Bermuda for advice on kosher food.
Payment here is only in Bermuda or US dollars and no other currency is accepted. You can find out before dining at a particular restaurant which international credit cards are accepted. Travelers checks are not accepted.
There are a number of restaurants on Front Street having balconies with wonderful view of the Hamilton harbor which looks spectacular at night when the lights at the banks are all illuminated. While you dine or take a drink, you can watch the boats anchored on the harbor and the busy street right below. Of course there are plenty more eateries, cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants at several other places in Hamilton including at Reid Street, Washington Mall etc.
Visit Hamilton Restaurants
to get a list with reviews of almost all the well known restaurants & bars in Hamilton & Pembroke parish, and then choose the one you like.
Food Tour is a great idea to sample local and authentic fares of any destination and also gives you an opportunity to explore and learn interesting facts about local cuisine, culture and people. There are food tours in Hamilton (walking or by minibus) covering delicious traditional and international food and drinks tasting from seven different food venues in the city. The tour guide further enhances the trip by filling you in on the quintessential historical, architectural and cultural facts about the places you cover, making it a rather enriching experience.
At the west end of Front street you will find the Visitors Service Center
located next to the Hamilton ferry terminal. Here you can collect useful pocket maps and brochures for free showing you the main tourist attractions in Hamilton and rest of Bermuda.
While you can enjoy most of Hamilton attractions on foot, you can also avail a carriage ride - there is nothing more romantic than a horse drawn carriage
taking a stately route of Hamilton City. Horse carriages are usually available on Front Street or you can book a ride in advance.
Another good option is to take the Train Trolley ride
with audio commentary. The train trolley moves on wheels and takes you past various tourist sites within Hamilton and completes a circuit... this is a good way of seeing the city in a short time and learn about the main landmarks. There are of course buses (leaving from the Central Bus Terminal on Washington Street) that can take you to various points within the city and the outskirts in Pembroke parish as well to all other parishes in the island.
Bermuda is a small island but is packed with opportunities to explore, delve, dive and gather experiences to last a lifetime. You are on an island holiday so it goes without saying that you must make the most of the water activities that it has to offer and Bermuda has plenty on its things to do list. Boat tours are a great way to admire the beautiful coastline and explore the breathtaking scenes, marine life, coral reefs and other smaller islands around the city.
Apart from the sightseeing there are several water sports that you can indulge in like snorkeling and scuba, surfing, windsurfing and kayaking, sailing, jet-skiing, shipwreck diving and fishing tours. There are also glass bottom boat tours, sunset cruises with one of a kind hospitality on the vessels that is so unique to the island's culture.
During March-April you can do a whale watching boat tour too. Watching the majestic creatures in the vast Atlantic is a sight to behold. Around this time, thousands of humpback whales migrate to the North Atlantic waters from the Caribbean for feeding. You can take an organized boat tour and head into the open waters of the ocean where you can watch the gigantic mammals either from the deck or through glass bottomed vessels. The Island Tour Center runs one of its office in Hamilton... they are an operator that organizes whale watching tours. The BUEI also has now started These tours on weekends and Wednesdays. Go through Whale watching in Bermuda
Places To Visit
The city of Hamilton is a tourist's paradise as it offers umpteen opportunities of exploration. The city boasts of quaint architecture, edifices, museums and churches in one breath. There are also forts and war memorials which take you down the lanes of history. There are also cinemas, hotels, restaurants and bars with beautifully landscaped gardens, markets, beaches and plazas.
Here are the top places to visit in Hamilton City:
Located in Church street, you won't miss this bright white building with a painted clock on the front facade. It houses the Bermuda National Gallery
having collections of 17th & 18th century European paintings by such artists as Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.
Address: 17 Church Street, City of Hamilton, Bermuda.
Located at the City Hall, It displays and sells creative artwork like paintings, sculptures and photographs of local artists. City Hall is often busy with performing arts like theatrical plays, orchestral performances, dance & recitals etc. Many international acts are also performed here. The Bermuda society of arts is also known as The People's Gallery.
Address: City Hall, 3rd Floor, 17, 11 Church St, Hamilton, Bermuda
Close by, there is the Bermuda Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, consecrated in 1911 after a fire destroyed the previous edifice in 1884. The style is early English, with a tower rising 143 ft. and provides a nice view of Hamilton city.
Address: Church Street, Hamilton City, Bermuda.
This Catholic church was built in 1932 to replace a smaller church and now boasts of the largest weekly attendance in the island.
Address: 29 Church St, Hamilton, Bermuda
It's only a few minute walk from the shops and restaurants of Hamilton. The institute is involved in marine research, and has great ocean exhibits and artifacts.
Address: 40 Crow Lane, off Eastern Broadway, Hamilton City, Pembroke.
Located behind the Hamilton ferry terminal, it has a nice park having a great view of Hamilton harbor and ideal for relaxing.
Address: Point Pleasant Road, Hamilton, Bermuda
An attractive city park. Other than many types of trees and shrubs, there is also a beautiful band stand here imported from Scotland.
Address: Behind the City Hall and the Main Bus Stop Terminal of Hamilton City.
Victoria Street | Cedar Avenue, Hamilton, Bermuda
This is a beautiful city park on Queen Street. It has many shaded trees, great walkways and wooden benches.
Address: 9 Queen Street, Hamilton, Bermuda
This is the newest addition to the recreational space on Front Street and located beside the ferry Terminal. A great place to relax, have snacks & beverages.
Address: Front Street, Hamilton, Bermuda
This is where Bermuda's Parliament sessions are held. It also has the Supreme Court in the ground floor. It is worth a mention here that Bermuda's Parliament is the oldest in the British Commonwealth.
Address: 21 Parliament Street, City of Hamilton, Bermuda
Cabinet Building is where Bermuda's cabinet sessions are held with all the ministers and key officials.
Address: 105 Front Street, Hamilton City, Bermuda.
Cenotaph is a replica of the monument in Whitehall, London. This is a memorial for the war heroes who died in the world wars.
Address: Cabinet Grounds, 105 Front Street, Hamilton City, Bermuda
A memorial at the Cabinet Office grounds east of Cenotaph dedicated to the Bermudians who served during the first and second world wars.
Address: Cabinet Office Grounds, East of Cenotaph, 105 Front Street, Hamilton City, Bermuda.
Perot Post Office is on Queen street and named after the man who was appointed Bermuda's first Postmaster General in 1821. The little post office is still maintained much like the way Perot kept it... neat with simple furnishing.
Address: 11 Queen Street, Hamilton.
Barr's Bay Park is a nice waterfront area overlooking the Hamilton harbor and has great historical significance. This is where the slaves from the ship Enterprise disembarked in 1835 and became free for ever.
Address: Pitts Bay Road, Hamilton, Bermuda
This metal structure was once used by Bermuda police to regulate traffic at the junction of Front Street and Queen street.
Location: Junction of Front and queen streets.
A landmark in Hamilton City and located close to the Hamilton Ferry Terminal, the bank once had a rare collection of coins that were on public display. It is now part of HSBC Group and is one of the largest commercial banks in Bermuda.
Happy Valley Road from Kings Street leads to Fort Hamilton which was built in 1889 to protect the Hamilton harbor. Today it offers spectacular harbor views, especially when cruise ships are in port.
Address: Happy Valley Road, Hamilton City.
If you happen to be in Bermuda between June to November, visit the City Market in Hamilton which is set up on Saturday mornings. Smalltime Vendors sell vegetables and all kinds of homemade food. You can sample many items including Bermuda honey, banana breads, lemongrass creams and more. It's a great place to meet the locals and feel what a typical Bermudian market is all about.
The city offers greater avenues for shopping than any of the other locations on the island. However customs duty rates on all imports here is much higher than even USA, UK or Canada. Hence these goods that are brought into Bermuda are not duty free to either locals or visitors. Thus though Bermuda is a beautiful place to visit, it is not exactly a shopper’s paradise. You can of course purchase nice products from Bermuda or around the world here with standard prices in outlets with branches in Hamilton, St. George and Dockyard.
Unlike in the Caribbean island, no off the shelf duty free liquor is available here. However don't let these dampen your spirits and you can definitely looses your purse strings a little bit as the city does have a great avenue for shopping for a variety of goods, vintage pieces, perfume, jewellery, fashion, local art and craft and other island souvenirs.
Hamilton City is the main shopping center in Bermuda. Most of the renowned stores of the island have their main branches in Hamilton. Many of these shops are located on Front Street, and also on Reid Street, Queen Street and Burnaby Street. Quite a few are located on Court Street as well in north Hamilton. Also, do not miss out on the small roadside stalls on the narrow alleyways of Front Street that sell many kinds of small gifts, souvenirs and knick knacks.
There are also several shopping malls in Hamilton housing many types of boutique stores. The most popular ones are the Washington Mall (Between Church Street and Reid Street), Walker Arcade (between Front Street and Reid Street), The Emporium (on Front Street and east of the Flagpole), Bermudiana Arcade and Windsor Place (both off Queen Street).
The shops in Hamilton are usually open between 9am to 5pm (Monday - Saturday). On Sundays and public holidays, most of the shops remain closed. On Wednesdays during the Harbor Nights, many shops on Front Street, Reid Street and Queen Street remain open until 9pm and some beyond.
Like most visitors here, if you are looking for a little bit of the magic of the island to carry back home, you can visit Alexandra Mosher Studio Jewellery(Address: 5 Front Street, Hamilton, Bermuda, Phone: 441 236-9009). Their jewellery designs are inspired by the island's very own flora and fauna, art, architecture and culture which makes you remember your amazing stay here.
For gifts and souvenirs you can head directly to Brown & Co (Address: 35 Front Street , City of Hamilton, Phone: +1 441 279 5443). An all encompassing department store on the island, Brown and Co. is an exclusive provider of The Body Shop products, Thomas Sabo Jewellery and a wide range and variety of exclusive products under one roof. The Hallmark Department and the Book Mart here are the island's largest gift and book shops respectively. It also has a wonderful cafe that overlooks the Harbor. They are one of the few stores in Bermuda who keep their doors open on Sundays.
Having visited the island and not trying on the quintessential Bermuda shorts, is like having a piece of the puzzle missing. The English Sports Shop (49 Front street, Hamilton, Phone: 1 441 295 2672) has been home to the very original Bermuda shorts since the year 1918. From ties, linen jackets and classic polo shirts to the iconic Bermuda shorts in an assortment of fun and classic colors, the store makes a great stop for fashionable men and ladies.
Harbor Nights provides a unique and fun opportunity to shoppers looking for authentic art and craft items with the island's finest artists coming together to display and sell their finest works.
Check out Hamilton Shopping Guide
to know about most of the well known stores in Hamilton city, items they sell, location, address and contact information of the stores etc.
Activities & Entertainment in Hamilton
Between May to September on Wednesday evenings, Front Street is lit up and becomes a bustling festive venue. Many vendors on their colorful dresses set up stalls & sell various items including homemade food, artwork & craft, and many other articles. Gombey dancers
take to the street with bands playing loud music. Visitors, locals and kids all flock around and chat with each other.
It's a great occasion to get the island's original flavor. During the Harbor Nights, you can also see the Beat Retreat Ceremony
where Bermuda Pipe Band and Corps of Bermuda Regiment, march along the Front Street in full military dress to recreate centuries-old ceremony.
As the sun says adieu for the day, the city ushers in yet another facet of its many sides. Front Street in the city of Hamilton opens up the doors to a plethora of nightclubs, lounges, bars, restaurants and music venues. Whether you are a nocturnal person or not, the captivating night life of Hamilton city is all it takes to draw out anybody out of one's shell.
There are plenty of options including nightclubs, bars & pubs, and also performing arts like ballet, pop/rock & musical concerts that are organized at different venues in Hamilton, more so during the summer months. Front Street itself is full of cafés, Jazz clubs, sports bars, nightclubs, and venues many of which have live bands and dancing during high season. All of these usually operate until late night.
There are several venues to pick from. Whether it’s the live entertainment at The Pickled Onion with a glass of cocktail or a weekend evening at the Bermuda Bistro At The Beach with lively dance, quiz, food and drinks in plenty and the highlight- five giant screens featuring a current sport ... you can just soak in the camaraderie around you and enjoy to your heart's content. Then there is Cafe Cairo which the name suggests has an Egyptian theme complete with hookah, dance and cuisine. The main attraction here is the open terrace overlooking the Hamilton Harbor. Visit Bermuda Nightlife
for complete details.
The club organizes monthly musical events at the Spanish Point Boat Club. They bring in local talents as well as overseas performers to hold the club nights usually on the first Saturday of the month. The nights are open to both members and non-members. Check out the above link for details about the event.
There are couple of nice movie theaters in Hamilton City (Specialty Cinema and Liberty Theatre) that show latest Hollywood movies and sometimes European and Caribbean movies as well. These are also the venues for the well known Bermuda International Film Festival. Check out the link above to know about the theaters and their locations.
Bermuda Musical & Dramatic Society
stages regular plays in Daylesford Theater
located on Washington Street, one block north of City Hall. There is also a bar in the premises.
Old Colony Club in Hamilton is open to local and expat members. The club holds regular musical evenings. Folk music often takes center stage. Location & Contacts: 5, Trott Road, Hamilton, Pembroke. Phone: (441)296-6362
There are plenty of sporting and other recreational activities in Hamilton City and its surrounding Pembroke parish including Tennis, Health & Fitness centers, Fishing, Horse Carriage rides, boat tours, Scuba Diving and lot more. Check out the above link to get detailed information.
The best way to explore the City of Hamilton and its outskirts is by taking a self guided tour on foot and explore the places yourself. You will need half a day to full day depending on how much time you want to spend at the places. Below I have shared a link to a detailed self guided tour which you can follow... it covers almost all the important attractions in Hamilton including Perrot Post Office (office of the first Post Master in Bermuda), National Library, Historical Society Museum, City Hall & Art Center, National Library, several lovely parks, historic Fort Hamilton and lot more.
If you are unable to spend half a day in Hamilton, there is a section in the guide which gives you information about how to take a 2-hour free guided tour with the Town Crier. Apart from the many trophies that the Town Crier of Hamilton, Ed Christopher has won, there is the prestigious Magna Carta Trophy that he won in July, 2018 at Helmsley, United Kingdom, beating many other international town criers. he also won the award for the best dressed town crier.
Read: Guide to Hamilton City Tours
for complete details of self guided and guided tours of the city covering all its important tourist places. These are walking tours. However, you can also take a horse carriage (from Front Street) or a bus to visit some of the places if you do not want to walk to all places.
And if your legs are tiring and you need some rest, or you have your family and kids with you who need to relax, have some snacks & beverages, then check out the Parks & Places to relax in Hamilton
Unlike the rest of Bermuda, Hamilton City has some roads which have disabled friendly sidewalks. The Bermuda Tourism Authority (Ground Floor, Global House, 43 Church Street, Hamilton, Phone: 441 292 2023) provides factual information for the disabled. It issues a "Blue Book" which serves as a traveler's manual to Bermuda. There is a separate manual called "Accessible Bermuda booklet" which can be requested by disabled visitors.
In the City oh Hamilton, places like the Bermuda Visitors Services Center (on Front Street, near ferry terminal), City Hall, Bermuda National Gallery etc have facilities for the physically challenged with a curved disabled access outside and then with the help of an elevator access to all the floors inside. City Hall has taken more initiative for the disabled than any other organization here and has at least 9 by Permit Only Handicapped Parking. There are other facilities too in the city that makes it wheelchair friendly like pedestrian crossings with pavements/sidewalks. The two biggest banks here have ATM cash machines low enough. Also the Cathedral of the most Holy Trinity is accessible.
The Hamilton Ferry Terminal also has provisions for wheelchair bound visitors to travel by ferry. There are several restaurants in the city which are disabled friendly and are accessible to visitors in a wheelchair, like The Terrace (55 Front Street City of Hamilton); Red Carpet Bar and Restaurant (37 Reid Street, Hamilton); Port 'O' Call Restaurant (87 Front Street) etc.
Here is a Hamilton City Map showing you the main streets leading to all the important places and attractions within the city.
Check out Hamilton Weather for a forum discussion about the weather conditions that you can expect in Hamilton.
Hamilton Location Map
There are many bus routes that go out from the central bus terminal at Hamilton City, reach out to different parts of the island and return. The central bus terminal is located at Washington Street near City Hall & Art Center, Phone: 441/295-4311. There are also public ferries that connect Hamilton to several docks around the island including the ferry dock at Royal Naval Dockyard. The Hamilton ferry terminal is located next to the HSBC Bank Head Office at the western end of Front Street.
Visit Bermuda Bus Services
and Ferry Services
for routes and schedule details. There are taxi stands outside Hamilton Princess Hotel. To call a taxi from a Hamilton based agency, dial 441/295-4141 (for Bermuda Taxi Radio Cabs) or 441/292-4476 (for Bermuda Industrial Union Taxi Co-operative).
2) Check out Pembroke
to know about the areas surrounding Hamilton City.