Hamilton City Tour, Bermuda
Hamilton City is not only the capital of Bermuda, this is also the main commercial center of the island with many restaurants, hotels, shops and office buildings. However there are also many historic buildings, monuments, museums, parks, churches and other attractions that provide a glimpse of Bermuda's history and present city life.
Below I have suggested a self guided half-day walking tour of Hamilton City that will give you an all-round feel of the city and its role as the capital. In case you do not have half day time to explore the city, then in the last section you will find a short 2-hour guided tour of Hamilton which is conducted by the City Crier himself in full official costume.
Start the Hamilton City Tour
Start at the Head Office of Bank of Bermuda, which is on Front Street behind the ferry terminal. Go through the links below and get detailed information about the individual landmark or attraction along with great pictures.
Bank of Bermuda
(taken over by HSBC group since 2004 and now known as HSBC Bank Bermuda Ltd.) is one of the few high-rise buildings in Hamilton, as most of the town structures are less than three stories in height. Inside, the bank keeps a collection of rare and valuable coins dating back through Bermuda's history.
Don't miss the 1887 made 5-pound coin which caused a lot of anxiety among the British once. Since the crown that was pictured on queen Victoria's head was far too small. Many thought the queen looked ridiculous with such crown on her head. UPDATE: Sadly the bank no longer allows public entry into its head office and the coins are no longer in display. But it still remains the best point for starting the tour.
From the bank, head for Queen Street which goes north. At the junction of Front Street and Queen street you will see a metal cage called the Birdcage
. This was once used by policemen to direct the traffic that regularly comes to halt on Front Street. Traffic lights now regulate this junction of Bermuda Hamilton city.
Remember to look right as you prepare to cross the road. On the left as you walk up Queens Street is Perot Post Office
, named after the man who was appointed Bermuda's first Postmaster General in 1821. The little post office, is still very much as Perot kept it, neat and simply furnished. The building still houses an active post office. Perot himself used to deliver the mails by hand.
Just behind the post office is a building that houses:
You will find prime collections devoted to important historical documents and artifacts from the island. The public rooms are small but full of Bermudian treasures. Coins, Silver and furniture have been gathered together, including rare and valuable "Hog" money.
The house is set in gardens of Queen Elizabeth Park
that is open to the public. Here you find businessmen eating lunch, chattering school children, and a family of cats who call the place home. Perrot planned the gardens during his time at the post office, and the spot has changed very little since.
From Queens street, climb as far as Church street, a main east-west thoroughfare, named for the many houses of worship located on its two sides. When you reach Church street, take a right turn. A little way up the street on the left is the Hamilton City Hall & Art Center
, a bright white building with a painted clock on the front facade.
It now houses the Bermuda National Gallery
, built around the Watlington collection of 17th & 18th century European paintings by such artists as Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.
Right across the City Hall is the Washington Mall, a two storied shopping mall that stretches for an entire block from Church street to Reid street (Note: Reid Street is another road that runs east-west between Church Street and Front Street). The mall has all kinds of shops in it. You can even have a cup of tea at a tea stall and try a sweet roll. We would invariably stop at the Fourways Pastry Shop at the Reid Street entrance of Washington Mall. Pastries are really gourmet's delight and you can't help but indulge.
But remember, you will need to take the Reid street entrance instead of the Church street entry. Otherwise you need to cross the entire building to reach the shop on the other side. Also next to City Hall is the Bermuda Hamilton city's main Bus terminal, the hub of Bermuda's public transportation system. Buses are usually on time, clean and efficient. You will see here the boarding locations for the island's various bus routes.
Across Victoria Street from the bus terminal is Victoria park
, originally a children's play ground but later landscaped to commemorate the silver jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. Walk along the shaded path watching many kinds of trees and shrubs. The Band Stand here was set up in 1899.
Return to Church street and walk east for the Bermuda Cathedral
, 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 from the top. You can give small donation to the Church fund and climb to the top. The tower is open on weekdays only.
If you go further along church street, you will find the oldest church in Hamilton city, St. Andrews Presbyterian church
(founded in 1843), as well as Wesley Methodist church. Across Church street from here, you will see the rear part of Session House
, home to Bermuda Assembly and the Supreme Court.
Walk down Parliament Street to reach the front of the building. Sessions House dates from 1819. Bermuda's parliament is the oldest in British Commonwealth and is still modeled after its predecessor in London. The annual opening ceremony and regular sessions are open to visitors who can sit in the public gallery to watch the Speaker preside over the legislative deliberations. Supreme court can be viewed while in session through out the year.
The home of the Bermuda Senate is further down Parliament street at Cabinet House
(built in 1833). The building has welcomed a number of world leaders to its meeting rooms, including Sir Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy.
The ceremonial sword of state, mace and oar are kept here and used at the opening of the parliament, held each year in early November. By the way, Bermuda Senate has no legislative powers and is rather more like a debating forum.
Outside the Cabinet building is the Cenotaph
, which commemorates Bermuda's dead of the two world wars. The monument dates from 1920. Its design is based on the one in London White Hall. Remembrance day
in Bermuda is held on 11th of November each year, when silent homage is paid to those who gave their lives.
If you still have time, from Front Street take a 10 minute walk up the steep incline of Kings Street for Fort Hamilton
which was built in 1870s to protect the harbor and to create a line of defense for the naval base to the west.
With many canons and ramparts and a beautiful lush moat around the fort, it offers a spectacular views of the Hamilton landscape and the shoreline.
Well you can either end your tour here, or if you have some more energy left, then try another great attraction. However, before that have your lunch. Visit Hamilton Restaurants
to find out the restaurant of your choice and convenience.
After lunch walk towards the east of Front Street which becomes the Eastern Broadway. Veer right into Crow Lane. You will see Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute
in a few minutes. This institute has helped us enormously to understand the mysteries of the ocean with its exhibits and has great collection of artifacts. They have recently added several interesting sections before the 35th America's Cup including one with large screen simulation of the sea to explore the various marine creatures of deep ocean. Spend some time here before calling it a day.
See Hamilton Map
for all the main roads leading to the important places within the city.
2-Hour Guided Free Tour of Hamilton City with Town Crier
If the previous self guided tour looks too long and tiring for you, then here is another option. The Town Crier of Hamilton City Ed Christopher organizes a free walking tour between April to October. Ed has been the Town Crier since 1994. His initial duties included greeting the Queen of England and Duke of Edinburg when they visited Hamilton City. The walking tour starts at the steps of City Hall located on Church street at 10:30am, Monday through Friday, and is completed in about 2 hours.
You will find the town crier elaborately dressed in his full official costume in a black and gold robe, white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hat. He will also carry a hand bell to draw your attention as he shouts "Oyez, Oyez!" The town crier leads the tour while narrating the history and culture of the city.
There is no set route and on different days he may choose different routes along various historical streets of Hamilton. There is no need for reservation. You can simply land up before start of the tour and join the group. However minimum 8 persons are required for the tour to take place.
Update May 2018: The Town Crier has introduced a 2 and 1/2 hour Shopping Tour on Thursdays in summer where he takes visitors to shops such as TABS, Davidrose Jewellery, Della Valle Sandals, Alexandra Mosher Studio Jewellery, Lili Bermuda etc that stock Bermuda inspired products.
In case you want to make reservations, you can call up the Administrative Office of Hamilton at 441/292-1234. It is also possible to book a private group tour with the Town Crier. If you wish to do so, contact him directly: Phone: (441) 293-3622; Cell: (441) 777-9738; Email: [email protected]
(Updated: March 31, 2017)
April 1 through October 31: Town Crier Walking Tour of Hamilton departs from City Hall, 10.30 am, Monday through Friday. No charge.
Update September 2014: The Town Crier Ed Christopher has recently won trophies in a Town Criers competition held in England. Many town criers from all over the world joined the competition.
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Visitors' Reviews & Comments
Wendy Stares (April 2013)
Arrived at the City Hall April 15 2013 to have a free 2 hour walking tour with the town crier ...who was a NO SHOW !! It was stated in the tour guide book for things to do in April 2013. Arrived a half hour early also there was a woman from France and a Swiss gentleman and myself from Canada. Not good advertising for tourists or for Bermuda itself. When I asked where he was they couldn't give me an answer.
I had to catch a ferry early from Hinsons Island to arrive well ahead of the set 10:30 time. The very least they could have done was give we three tourist a free coupon or discount to use while we are here. I feel someone should be told regarding this error. As a travel agent I sent many clients to Bermuda and hope they do not run into what happened to me in Hamilton today !!! Perhaps Bermuda is only interested in the mass numbers of cruise tourist?