From our Hotel Colony Club Inn & Suites we could easily reach downtown Nassau by public bus. The nearest bus stop was just a short walk from our hotel. Buses cost USD 1.50 each way and run at regular intervals.
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Things to know about Nassau (New Providence)
Our first port of call in the Bahamas, like many other tourists, was Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. Nassau is located on the island of New Providence and is considered one of the most important cruise ports in the Caribbean. Every day 4 to 7 cruise ships dock here and bring the many tourists to the island world of the Bahamas. The 33-kilometre-long island of New Providence is home to 250,000 people. That’s about two-thirds of the bahamas’s total population. If the giant steamers arrive here every day, a few thousand more people will be added. As a result, Nassau is a very lively town, which has a few other corners worth seeing besides the historic city centre.
Tourist Attractions & Things to Do
Nassau is relatively manageable and compact, i.e. you can explore most sights on your own and also on foot. In the historic centre of the harbour town you will find restaurants and shopping facilities as well as some houses with colonial architecture. The cruise terminal is very centrally located and you are within 5 minutes walk directly in the city center on the busy Bay Street and can start your city tour from here.
The Straw Market
On Bay Street is the world-famous straw market,which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In addition to gifts and souvenirs, there are also hand-woven straw hats, bags, shell jewelry and wood carvings. If you can negotiate well, you are definitely right here 😉 We took a short walk across the market, but didn’t buy anything.
Der Parliament Square
Further east along Bay Street is Parliament Square. The pink government buildings were built in 1815 and offer an insight into the colonial architecture of the former Nassau. Right in front of the Senate building is a marble statue of Queen Victoria, which was erected here on 24 May 1905 in honour of her birthday. The building on the right is the parliament building, the Senate meets in the central building and the opposition leader’s office is located in the left building. At the back of the Senate building is the Supreme Court, which has been sitting in the building since 1921.
The Government House
Another government building is just a few minutes’ walk away. Government House is located on Mount Fitzwilliam and is the official residence of the Governor-General of the Bahamas. The pink-and-white building dates back to 1806 and is a good example of the blending of Bahamian-British and American colonial architecture. In front of the building there is a statue of Christopher Columbus, which was placed at the front of the house in 1830.
The colorful umbrellas on West Hill Street
In the immediate vicinity of Government House is West Hill Street. Next to the Heritage Museum, which gives an insight into the history of the Bahamas, you will find a colorful umbrella skyon a small section of the road. A really nice photo motif!
West Hill Street is also home to the Graycliff Hotel & Restaurant, the oldest hotel in Nassau and a landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel is a historic villa dating back to 1740 and has 20 rooms and suites. On the premises of the hotel you will find a very nice swimming pool, nestled in a tropical garden. The hotel also has a wine cellar, which with its 250,000 wine bottles is the third largest in the Western Hemisphere. One of the oldest and most expensive wine bottles in the world, a 1727 Rüdesheim apostle wine from the Bremen Ratskeller, is also stored here.
The 66 steps of Queen’s Staircase
In the historic centre of Nassau, the Queen’s Staircase is another important landmark. The 66 steps of the stairs were carved from massive limestone rocks by slaves between 1793 and 1794 and are said to have made a direct way from Fort Fincastle to the city. Today, only 65 steps are visible, as the path leading to the steps has been paved and the lower stage is thus hidden under asphalt. The staircase was later named in honour of Queen Victoria, who ruled Britain from 1837 to 1901.
Fort Fincastle & the Water Tower
The Queen’s Staircase leads to Fort Fincastle, which was built in 1793 from polished limestone on Bennet’s Hill. The fort is in the shape of a paddle steamer and was named after the British captain Lord Dunmore – and his second title, Viscount Fincastle, who built it to protect the historic city of Nassau and its port. Incidentally, the guns that were there were never fired.
Directly behind the fort stands a white painted water tower. It was built in 1928 to maintain water pressure on the island. At about 38 meters, it is the tallest building on Nassau and has a narrow, winding staircase with 216 steps. Unfortunately, it is not possible to climb the tower as there is currently no public access.
The Fort Charlotte
In Nassau there is another fortress, Fort Charlotte, which we also looked at. It is located about 1.5 kilometers west of downtown Nassau on a small hill and is the largest fort on the island. The fortress has a trench, dungeons, underground passageways and 42 cannons that were never fired during an altercation.
The fortress was also built in 1788 by Lord Dunmore and was named after the wife of King George III. From the fortress you have a beautiful view of the western end of the port, but you can also see the cruise ships that have docked in the port of Nassau. The central part of the fortress – Fort Stanley – and the western part , Fort D’Arcy – were added later. They do not belong to the original fortress. When we were here, not a single other tourist was here, although some cruise ships had moored in Nassau that day. All the better, then we were able to take photos undisturbed during the walk over the fortress grounds. By the way, a ticket costs 5 USD per person (plus taxes).
A visit to Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre
The Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre is the first and only zoo in the Bahamas. From our Hotel Colony Club Inn & Suites, it was only a 10-minute walk until we reached the entrance. The zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except for Christmas and New Year), and costs USD 18.75 per person.
Originally designed as a nature reserve by Jamaican horticulturalist Hedley Edwards in 1937, the site has evolved over the years into a tropical garden, conservation centre and zoo. In the 1950s, he brought in the endangered Caribbean flamingo from the Bahamian island of Inagua and developed a very successful breeding program in the Ardastra Gardens. Over time, they also began training for the birds to perform in front of visitors. The World Famous Marching Flamingoes are still the highlight of the zoo. They walk freely around the facility and you can experience them up close.
In 1980, the gardens were bought by Norman Solomon, who had an absolute passion for wildlife and conservation and therefore wanted to integrate more animals into The Ardastra Gardens and establish a small boutique zoo. In the meantime there are 135 animals, among others peacocks, parrots, lemurs, pigs, rabbits, turtles, iguanas, snakes. Every day there is an interactive program for visitors, where you can feed Lory parrots by hand or watch the famous flamingos march in a parade.
More sights in Nassau
In the city centre of Nassau there is the Pirates of Nassau, a museum dedicated to the life and time of the pirates in the Bahamas and those who fought against them. For rum lovers, visit John Watling’s Distillery, located on the historic Buena Vista Estate estate in downtown Nassau. The distillery is open daily and offers free tours of the property.
The Hotel Atlantis & Paradise Island
The Hotel Atlantis is certainly THE landmark of Nassau and a visit is definitely part of a sightseeing program. If you want to know more about how to get to the Hotel Atlantis and what else you can do on the offshore island “Paradise Island”, then take a look at our travel report.
A map with all the sights of Nassau
In the following map on Google MyMaps we have drawn the most important sights of Nassau.
Starbucks Global Icon Island Mug of from the BahamasWe are collecting the Starbucks Mugs from the cities and islands we visit on our travels. Unfortunately, not every city that has a Starbucks store with an own mug. But if the city has an own mug we like to collect them as a souvenir. We only collect city mugs from the "Global Icon Series", which was released in 2008. You can see our complete collection here: Starbucks - Our collection of Mugs from the Global Icon Series
There are currently several Starbucks stores in the Bahamas, e.g. in Freeport on the Grand Bahamas or in Nassau on the island of New Providence. And this is the cup of the Global Icon series.
All travelogues from the BahamasThe Bahamas have been on our bucket list for a really long time. And this year we had found a relatively good and cheap flight offer to combine the Bahamas with a few days in Florida afterwards. On our trip we visited different islands on the Bahamas in 9 days and these are our travel reports:
Things to know: Travel Guide for the Bahamas, Tourist Attractions & Things to do
Travel Planing: The Bahamas and Florida & our flight to Nassau
New Providence: Tourist Attractions, Things to Do & Photo spots in Nassau
New Providence: Hotel Atlantis & Paradise Island
Exumas: Flight to Great Exuma Island & Hotel in George Town
Exumas: Beaches & Sting Rays feeding on Stocking Island
Exumas: The swimming Pigs of Big Major Cay
Exumas: Swimming with the nurse sharks of Compass Cay
Long Island: The Stella Maris Resort & our Kayak Tour
Long Island: Self guided tour around the island by car
Long Island: The swimming Pigs at Dove Cay
Long Island: Diving in the underwater world of the Caribbean