Last Updated: January 2, 2017
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 the founder of Bermuda 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's Town was the capital of Bermuda until 1815 when Hamilton City became the new capital.
The lanes in the town are wide enough just for horses and carriages. The narrow roads still retain their original names, some with reference to local characters and activities such as Aunt Peggy's Lane or Printers Alley. Aunt Peggy by the way was a slave who lived for long and was known to keep a watch on the town as she sat by the window of her house and chatted freely to all those who passed by. Her house once featured in Bermuda's post cards.
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. Take some time to wander along the narrow lanes and you can imagine yourself going back into 17th century. Streets such as Queen Street and Duke of York Street refer to the monarchs and others important to the British crown.
St George Bermuda
Self Guided Tour of St George
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 need to budget some 3 hours plus the time you spend at each site. You can also take a Minibus Service
from Kings Square and serving some of the places mentioned below, but not all. The mini bus goes along specific routes covering Unfinished Church, Tobacco Bay, St. Catherine's Fort, Alexandra Battery, Gates Fort at the north-eastern end and also parts of St. David's Island. It’s available almost every 30 minutes though out the day. You can hop on and off the bus with a day ticket sold at Visitors Information Centers.
As you go through the tour details below, you will get links to various important places. Go through those links for detailed information along with pictures.
Start your tour at King's Square
. This is the town center and heart of St George. This was originally known as the Market Square. A Visitors Information Center is located here. Pick up a free Handy Reference pocket map.
Kings Square, St George
You can also start from the World Heritage Center
located next to Penno's Wharf Cruise Terminal at the western end of Water Street. It's close to St. George's ferry dock and a few minutes leisure walk from Kings Square. The center was opened in 2009 and provides an overview about the town, its heritage, many fortifications and historical background through diorama, interactive videos, pictures and a short film. From here, walk down 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 National Trust Museum
. This 17th century building was constructed by Governor Samuel Day, who arrived from England. Cross over a small bridge here and reach 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 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 here.
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 colonial 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 Old Carriage House. 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.
UPDATE: The carts and the wagons were removed. A Restaurant runs here 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. 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.
There are several other great tourist attractions including historical forts, churches and lovely beaches, mostly at the fringes of St. George. Some of them will require good amount of walk. You can use the Beach Bus Service
to hop on and hop off at several sites mentioned below, or if you like, just walk.
Take Government Hill Road from York Street. Almost immediately to the left is 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 Government Hill Road, 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.
Unfinished Church Bermuda
Continue to the right of Unfinished Church, up Government Hill Road and through the fairways of St George Golf Course
, until you reach the coast. Here you will find the lovely Tobacco Bay beach
. It's a small stretch of sheltered beach and great for sunbathing and snorkeling, although it gets a bit crowded during high season.
From Tobacco Bay, go past the sheltered inlet of Coot Pond and you will soon reach St. Catherine's Fort
(takes only few minutes of walk). The fort is located at 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 is Gates Bay and the beach here is known as St. Catherine's Beach
Another small fort known as Gates Fort
overlooking the Town Cut, the route for ships entering St. George's harbor
. It's located at the end of Barry Road where the Cut Road starts and is about 1 mile away. It's a wonderful scenic route along Barry Road. The 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.
After visiting Gates Fort, get back to Kings Square by Cut Road passing St. George's Dinghy & Sports Club.
and for something light and casual, just walk over to Gojo's Cafe
located at Kings Square and next to the Visitors Information Center. Try out the Cowboy sandwich and frappuccino. It's good and it can't get any cheaper. Another great restaurant is Tempest Bistro
at Kings Square where you can sit at the balcony upstairs and watch the activities in the square. The inside dining room is also nice. White Horse Restaurant
is also located at the Square.
Guided Tours in St. George
You can take a one hour Train Trolley Ride
in St. George. You will pass by many historical sites including British forts, churches and also beautiful beaches. An audio commentary is given explaining every site that you pass by along with its background information. You can get the tickets at Kings Square.
Heritage Walking Tours
Another option is to take a shorter guided walking tour offered by World Heritage Center known as UNESCO World Heritage Walking Tours. Experienced guides take you to the historical sites in St. George while explaining their background and other historical information.
These set tours are completed in about 1 hour 15 minutes. Other private walking tours of St. George's with certified guides are also available. Visit St George walking tour with guide
Alternatively if you want to experience St. Georges from the waters, you can row or ride around various historical sites and islands on St. George's harbor in Pilot Gigs. These boats have been imported into Bermuda from England. They are 32-foot fibreglass vessels built on the traditional models of gigs. Pilot Gigs used to go out and help the approaching ships to enter the port in Bermuda by navigating around the many hidden reefs on the waters. You can contact East End Mini Yacht Club, Convict Bay, St. George’s to book a tour on Pilot Gig.
Days: Tuesday and Thursday | Time: 10:30am - 12:30pm. Price: $50 per person.
More Attractions in St. George
At one end of Kings Square on the water edge, a hilarious historical re-enactment takes place which recreates the scenes of 18th century punishments given to a talkative lady (a nagging wench). Under the instruction of the Town Crier, a lady on a ducking stool is repeatedly dunked into the water. This re-enactment takes place at 12:30pm to 1pm, Monday through Thursday and Saturday during May to October, and at 12noon, Wednesday and Saturday in other months. If you can time it right and get back to Kings Square in time, you can witness the ducking as well.
History in Hats
Historically over the centuries, women in Bermuda wear fashionable hats made of local items such as palmettos, coconut & banana leaves etc. This has been a part of tradition & culture since ages. Visit Bridge House
between Wednesday to Saturday (12noon - 4pm) to see the collection of such fashionable head gears worn by the women of the island.
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.
Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences
(BIOS) can be reached from Kings Square by a minibus. There is an elaborate arrangement for scientists to study and research marine life here. It is located on Ferry Road.
Ferry Reach Park
Another lovely attraction near BIOS 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.
Olde Town Market
Olde Town Market
sets up along Water Street. Many vendors set up colorful stalls and offer homemade food, fresh produce, art & craft etc and there are street performers. It's like a festive celebration and a major tourist attraction.
A Sunday in St. George
Most shops and tourist attractions in the island remain closed on Sundays and public holidays. 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 a Bermudian would do. Find out how: A Sunday in St George
St. Davids is part of St. George's parish and has several attractions including lighthouse, museum, lovely beaches, reserves etc. It's a short distance from St. George's town. After lunch, take St. David's Beach Bus
from Kings Square and visit the places below (the beach bus allows hop on and hop off with the same ticket during the day):
: This is one of the oldest homes in Bermuda (built in 1640). Carter was one of the three men who was left behind by Sir George Somers when he sailed towards Jamestown so that the British could continue to keep Bermuda under its possession. Somers and his men were the first to start settlement in Bermuda in 1609.
St David’s Battery
where a fort was built. There is also a nice park here. The view is awesome.
Go to St George Town Map
to see the main attractions in St. George's town and their locations.
2) St. George's Parish
: The parish includes both St. George's Town and St. Davids, and has lot more to offer.
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