St. George Bermuda: A Complete Guide
The Town of St. George, also known as St. George's is located in a parish with the same name and is the main town at the eastern end of Bermuda. It was originally called New London. 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.
Water Street, St George Bermuda
Photo: Charles Lewis, Shutterstock
The town of St. George and Bermuda have mentions in the famous play "The Tempest" by renowned playwright William Shakespeare. The island is referred as "Bermoothes" in his play. The mention of the survival of the crew on the island even after the ship "Sea Venture" sunk and their successful journey further to Jamestown, makes the Town of St. George particularly noteworthy.
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.
Photo: Brendan Purdy, flickr
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's Harbor, Bermuda
Photo: Rian Castillo, flickr, cc by 2.0
The local population is extremely polite and friendly. You can sense the camaraderie the moment you set foot on this beautiful isle. Living standards are relatively high and poverty is rare here. Some of this is evident in the beautiful old houses overlooking the harbor that the town people live in. Amiability is the basic component of the island’s culture. Do not be surprised if some unknown gentleman flashes that friendly smile at your direction or somebody in the market wishes you a good day. This warmth that the local people exude is often one of the many reasons for tourists to go back to the island.
There are four bus routes (#1, 3, 10 and 11) that operate between Hamilton City (Central Bus Terminal) and St. George taking approximately 1 hour each way. However bus #10 and 11 are faster than the other two. All of them have stops at the Bermuda International Airport. Buses #1 and #3 go via Crystal and Fantasy Caves while buses #10 and 11 go past the Aquarium along the way. There is another bus route #6 that operates between St. George and St. David's Island. This bus can be used to reach attractions such as Carter House, St. Davids Lighthouse and even Clearwater Beach (this will require a little walk). Visit Bermuda Bus Services
for details on bus routes, schedule and fares.
During summer (i.e. mid-April to mid-November) there is a ferry
(Orange route) that operates between Royal Naval Dockyard cruise port and St. George taking 35 minutes one way. The ferry ride is scenic and offers a lovely view of the north shore of Bermuda.
There are plenty of taxis available in Bermuda and you can get taxis at stands (known as taxi ranks) or call one over phone. You can also rent a scooter
or a minicar
to get around the island. St. George's parish is connected to the mainland of Bermuda by a causeway (bridge). So while heading towards St. George, you need to cross this causeway and finally get on to Mullet Bay Road to reach the town of St. George. Bermuda International Airport is located is St. George's parish.
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.
It's ideal to explore the town on foot. 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 that serve some of the places mentioned below, but not all. The mini bus goes along a specific route covering Unfinished Church, Tobacco Bay etc. It’s available in summers every one-hour throughout the day.
1. Kings Square
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 used to be located here. It has been moved to nearby York Street. Pick up a free Handy Reference pocket map if you want.
Kings Square, St George
Photo: Malcom Manners, flickr, cc by 2.0
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 of 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.
2. Town Hall
On the east side of the square is the Town Hall
which dates back to 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.
Town Hall, St. George Bermuda
Photo: Malcom Manners, flickr
3. National Trust Museum
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. Later in 19th century it became the well known Globe Hotel. Subsequently it was taken over by Bermuda Government who converted it into a museum showcasing history of St. George and of Bermuda.
4. Ordnance Island- Deliverance, Bronze Sculpture
Cross over a small bridge from Kings Square and reach Ordnance Island
, a tiny island only 9 meters offshore, used today as a cruise dock in summer months. This 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
Photo: Jeremy T. Hetzel, flickr
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.
5. The Bridge House
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
6. Old State House
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.
7. Tucker House Museum
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.
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.
8. Old Carriage House
Across the street is the Old Carriage House
which later became the Carriage Museum
. Until the 1940s, horses and the carriages were the only mode of transport permitted along the narrow roads of Bermuda. 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, there was a beautiful collection of carriages including broughams, phaetons and runabouts. However, the carts and the wagons were later removed. The Restaurant Tempest Bistro
now runs here. You will still see the inside walls made of bricks retaining the warehouse ambience.
9. St. Peter's Church
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 which has been continually operated. There is a graveyard in the premises that has graves of several well known persons of the period.
St Peter's Church, Bermuda
Photo: JoeyBagODonuts, cc by sa 3.0
10. Old Rectory
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. From here, get back to Kings Square.
11. Ducking Stool
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.
For lunch and for something light and casual, just walk over to Gojo's Coffee Shop
located at Kings Square. Try out the Cowboy sandwich and frappuccino. It's good and it can't get any cheaper. For proper sit down food, visit White Horse Restaurant
located at Kings Square or Tempest Bistro
located on Water Street, a short walk away from the square.
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 Minibus Service
from Kings Square to several sites mentioned below (up to Tobacco Bay Beach), or if you like, just walk.
12. Historical Society Museum
Get onto 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.
13. Unfinished Church
Continue along Government Hill Road and you will reach Bermuda's Unfinished Church
. This is an elegant edifice whose construction began in the 1870s when the St. Peter's Church was badly damaged by a storm. But it was never completed due to infightings between the parish communities.
Unfinished Church Bermuda
Photo: Andrew Malone/flickr
14. Tobacco Bay Beach
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 sheltered beach and great for sunbathing and snorkeling, although it gets a bit crowded during high season. There is a beach bar and cafe here and adequate amenities including washrooms.
Tobacco Bay Beach, Bermuda
15. Fort St. Catherine
From Tobacco Bay, go past the sheltered inlet of Coot Pond and you will soon reach Fort St. Catherine
(8-9 minute 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. This is Bermuda's one of the most impressive forts and has a surrounding moat, number of tunnels, towers, redoubts and ramparts.
Fort St. Catherine
Inside, there is a museum showcasing Bermuda's history and military weaponry of British time. Right next to the fort is Gates Bay and the beach here is known as St. Catherine's Beach
. On the other side of the fort is another beautiful bay... The Achilles Bay Beach
16. Building Bay and Alexandra Battery
From St. Catherine's beach, walk along Barry road for about a mile. This 1 mile stretch along Barry Road is picturesque, however during summer the walk can be quite exhausting under the scorching sun. At about 0.8-mile distance, you will find a nice beach called Building Bay Beach. This beach is a good place to find colorful sea glasses. Right next to the beach is a small fort... Alexandra Battery which was built during the British days to guard the eastern water channels.
17. Gates Fort
Only about 250 meters further down, there is another small fort known as Gates Fort
that overlooks 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. 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.
Continue along Cut Road passing St. George's Dinghy & Sports Club, then on to Mullet Bay Road and get back to Kings Square (0.8 mile).
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
Haunted History Tour
This guided walking tour takes place after sunset taking the group through the old alleyways and historic sites. There will be characters dressed in period costumes playing roles of some of the famous personalities along the way and ghost-like characters appearing to give you a feel of the historic period of St. Georges. The guide narrates a story relating the characters to historic days and you get to know a lot about the island's history. Read Haunted History Tour of St. George
for detailed information.
Culture Passport X Discontinued
If you want to experience St. Georges from the waters, you can boat around various historical sites and islands on St. George's harbor. These boats of Pilot Gigs have been imported into Bermuda from England. They are 32-foot fibreglass vessels built on the traditional models of gigs. The original Pilot Gigs used to go out and help the approaching ships to enter the port in Bermuda by navigating through 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 and Things To Do
History in Hats
Historically over the centuries, women in Bermuda wear fashionable hats made of local items such as palmettos, coconut and banana leaves etc. This has been a part of tradition and 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. This beautiful parkland has forested trail and even a beach and ruins of a fort.
Olde Town Market
Olde Town Market
sets up along Water Street. Many vendors set up colorful stalls and offer homemade food, fresh produce, art and craft etc and there are street performers. It's like a festive celebration and a major tourist attraction.
If you want to delve further into the historic aura of this amazing town you can pay a visit to the Somers Garden
. Legend has it that the British seaman was so possessed with the urge to develop the island of his discovery, that his heart was later buried in this garden. There is a tombstone that you can look out for while enjoying the beautiful flowers and shrubbery in the garden.
York St, St. George, Bermuda. Phone: (441) 297-1532
Visit St. Davids
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. You can take bus #6 from St. George's Town or a taxi to get there easily. Here are the top attractions in St. Davids.
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 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.
Clearwater Beach: an excellent beach that is popular to both locals and tourists alike.
Fun in the water
Apart from the quaint old world charm that this little town of St George has to offer, it also has on its platter a variety of waterway tours and fun adventures should you be game for one, or you may choose to simply sunbathe relax and watch the marine life if you are seeking a quiet waterway tour.
The K.S Water Sports located on King's Square has a plethora of fun water activities and tours on its menu. You have a choice of jet ski tours, snorkeling and swim adventures or even boat rentals or charters (if you are in a small group) for a tour along the coastline. Most of these packages come with a tour guide who will not only take you to the best places you can see by water, will also customize your tour as per your requirements.
8 Kings Square, St. George
Open daily 9:00am - 6:00pm
African Diaspora Heritage Trail
Although this historic town does dabble you in a fair share of a tryst with the past, if you wish to delve deeper into the town's history of slave trade, the African Diaspora Heritage Trail is your best choice. As you must have noticed, a substantial percentage of the local population are of African origin. Many of them are actual descendants of the black slaves who were brought into the country back in the eighteenth century. The visiting points as designated by the UNESCO as part of the slave route project, include the Tucker House museum, Pilot Darrell's Square, the Slave and Free Blacks graveyard in St. Peter's Church and so on.
Visit the African Diaspora Heritage Trail
for more on the interesting history of this beautiful island and also to chart out the best course to tour an experience which takes you back to the time of English colonial rule and the legacy of slavery. All in all, this is an enriching experience which will leave you with a sense of humility and of course a bag full of great stories to take back home.
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
Shopping in St. George is more about the pleasant experience that it offers than the selection of goods that it has in comparison to the capital city Hamilton, where the assortment is more sturdy. You will see a mild difference in the way the local shopkeepers set themselves apart in the goods they sell and how they look. Besides, the relaxing ambience that one experiences in Somers Wharf, St. George's main shopping hub, more than makes up where they lag in selection. Go through Somers Wharf Shopping and Dining
for a complete shopping guide at Somer's Wharf..
The Island Style Bermuda Gems and Jewelry, if gems and jewelry interest you whether you are looking for that statement piece to add to your collection or simply want to browse through the island’s palate in jewels, Davidrose Jewelry is one stop you should not skip. The beautifully crafted unique pieces are designed by the husband and wife team- David and Rose. Their pieces typically draw inspiration from the island itself. For instance one of their very famous designs is called Bermuda Triangle.
There are also sunrise and sunset inspired pieces, cocktail rings, designs which pay homage to the national flower- Bermudiana and the long tail bird which visits the island as the harbinger of spring and designs that reflect their nautical history. Bermuda’s unique hues like aqua, turquoise and pink are used in abundance. One of these would certainly be a keepsake for life !
20 Water Street, St. George. Phone: (441) 293 7673
Open Monday through Saturday 10:00am - 5:00pm
Lili Bermuda Perfumery (The perfume studio workshop) offers a unique experience. It’s also a great way to carry the memories of this beautiful locale back home... capture the scent of the island in a bottle! Housed in a quaintly old fashioned but newly renovated building you can stop at the perfumery of Lili Bermuda at Stewart Hall in the heart of St. George’s where you can concoct your very own customized perfume under the guidance of an ace perfumer.
The workshop is conducted in small groups and uses corals, flowers and other natural products from the island itself. You can learn about the history of the mix and educate yourself on various types of natural essential oils and fragrances. You can have a certain number of trial formulas before finalizing on one finished blend you want to keep for yourself.
The Peppercorn Ceremony
If you are planning your trip to the island around the end of April this is one event you would not want to miss. It gives you an insight into the rich history of the country and witness firsthand how much their customs and traditions are valued by the local population. A full- fledged ceremony complete with parades, military style music, town criers making formal introductions and high ranking government officials and dignitaries in attendance, this also gives you a taste of the royal undercurrents which is all pervasive in Bermuda. Read about Bermuda's Peppercorn Ceremony
If you are planning a visit to the island around November and December, you will experience the delightful festive atmosphere all over the town. The National Trust yearly Christmas Walkabout brings out the spirit of the season in its full glory. Enactors dressed in period attire roam the streets which are beautifully lit with candles. Historic homes open their doors and welcome the general public and carols are sung on the roads. The aura and magic in the air makes you travel back in time and gives a feel of the town’s classic past.
The festive mood sets in from late November when the whole town is decorated with lights, holiday special shopping areas are set up with live music and sumptuous local fare. King’s Square especially comes alive with Santa Claus landing there bringing with him Christmas galore. It becomes a particularly joyous event for children with local group dance performances, bouncy castles and an interaction with Santa himself.
Experience Christmas service in the hushed confines of the oldest Anglican church in the Western Hemisphere- St. Peter’s Church
. Christmas Eve is celebrated here with a traditional service, carol singing in the light of 70 candles. If one can prolong the trip a little longer and wish to welcome the new year, King’s Square is the place to be in. It becomes a hub of wholesome entertainment with live entertainment, native gourmet and the famous onion drop. Revellers get to watch a giant onion drop as the clock strikes twelve and heralds the new year. Know what onions signify to Bermudians
This charming little town is unique in its own way as it not only offers a wonderful insight into its rich roots, a pleasant shopping experience in a tropical ambiance, but also has an interesting (though not very compendious) variety of culinary delights to offer. If you’ve had a long tour of the town or are famished after that extended shopping stint (it always extends beyond the time and budget you’d factored in) it is your cue to head straight to one of the many dining venues St. George has to offer.
There are several great sit and dine restaurants in St. George such as Tempest Bistro (offering excellent French and Caribbean cuisine with harbor view), the stylish Griffins at St. George's Club offering great steaks and seafood, the landmark White Horse Tavern offering great Bermudian cuisine and Wahoo's Bistro specializing on seafood. There are also several casual eateries at St. George such as the tiny Gojo's that offers great fish sandwiches and coffee at a cheap price, and is a locals favorite.
There are hotels and cottages with spectacular views, awesome service and amenities that can make your stay here very pleasant and memorable. You can stay at the beautiful one or two bedroom cottages at the St. George’s Club on Rose Hill and enjoy the picturesque views it has to offer. A 10 minutes ride from the airport, the hotel is also in close proximity to the Somers Supermarket and St. George’s harbour.
Another wonderful accommodation in budget category is Aunt Nea’s Inn. You can enjoy a wonderful stay at this old historical building which has been completely renovated and yet maintains its old world charm. Only 2 km from the airport and very close to restaurants and attractions.
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.
Visitors' Reviews and Comments
Pam Carlson (July 2017)
Could you please tell us if the ferry from the Dockyards will still be running on November 8 to St Georges. We are coming in to the Dockyards on Celebrity Eclipse that day. If not could you give us information on how to get there. We would like to see St Georges.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) July 2017
Winter schedule will come into play starting October 30, 2017, so Dockyard-St. George ferry won't be available on November 8. You can take ferry from dockyard to Hamilton and then bus #10 or 11 for St. George (#1 and #3 also serve St. George but will take longer time).
Cindy Wagner (June 2017)
I am interested in any local tours we can access from the pier where the Oceania cruise ship docks. We will be in St. George on Aug 17 and 18th., Is there transportation on the pier or can we walk along the waterfront to restaurants, etc.? Thank you.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) June 2017
Hi, you can easily walk to most places within St. George's town, alternatively you can take a horse carriage ride or a Train Trolley ride to see the landmarks of the historic town. There are also minibuses available (from Kings Square) to places like Unfinished Church, Tobacco Bay Beach, Fort St. Catherine, Gates Fort etc as well as to St. Davids. Guided walking tours of St. George are also available.