close navigation menu

Hamilton

About Hamilton

With its prime location and expansive and sheltered harbor, the town of Hamilton was once known as the “show window of the British Empire.” The picturesque seaside haven was incorporated in 1793. During its early years as the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, the island’s capital was St. George’s, established in 1612, which remains the New World’s oldest continuously inhabited English settlement. As the population expanded, Governor Henry Hamilton championed moving the political capital to a more central location. And so Hamilton, with its picturesque harbor, was born.

As a base for the Royal Navy, Bermuda played an important role in Allied efforts during World War II. Among counterespionage efforts, a highly trained team secretly stationed beneath the Hamilton Princess Hotel decoded radio signals from German submarines. Further, clandestine “trappers” intercepted secret messages being conveyed by airmail when trans-Atlantic planes stopped here to refuel.

Hamilton remains the cultural and political heart of Bermuda. The vibrant port is the center of the island’s international businesses, a major tourist gateway and one of the world’s tiniest capitals.

Hamilton Lifestyle and Culture

Bermuda is graced by a distinct English flavor and pastel-hued streets. Quaint charms mingle with a cosmopolitan air here. Though Hamilton’s streets are lined with impressive, stately government buildings and the massive Bermuda Cathedral, it is a modest capital easily explored on foot.

Along Front Street, which closes to traffic each evening, charming Victorian buildings, inviting shops and a vibrant restaurant scene make for delightful harbor front strolls. During “Harbor Nights” on summer Wednesdays, colorfully dressed vendors and local musicians create a festive atmosphere along the strip and masqueraded Gombey dancers bring Bermuda’s folk art to life, honoring a tradition first brought to the island by African Caribes.

On Queen Street, constables donning Bermuda shorts direct traffic from inside the “Birdcage” while the diverse population of born-and-bred islanders, known colloquially as Onions (a reference to Bermuda’s famous mild, sweet-flavored onions), strike up friendly conversation and share island gossip.

Hamilton is also the hub of outstanding golf courses that host world-class tournaments. The island’s Bermuda Gold Cup, a sailing race, attracts avid spectators.

Hamilton Sights and Landmarks

“You go to heaven if you want to, I’d rather stay right here in Bermuda,” Mark Twain said upon visiting. Heavenly views of the turquoise waters of Hamilton Harbor are best admired from Albouy’s Point. Nearby, international yachters and busy executives mingle at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, founded in 1844 and bestowed “Royal” by Prince Albert one year later. And everywhere you turn, you will delight in the island’s world-famous pink-sand beaches.

Step away from the capital and back in time with a visit to the atmospheric, historic town of St. George’s, one of the island’s prized UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Stroll its cobblestone lanes past brightly colored colonial-era buildings, pausing at St. Peter’s Church, the oldest Anglican church in the Western Hemisphere.

For a glimpse into military history, explore the moat-ringed Victorian fortress of Fort Hamilton, or take a ferry to Sandys Parish to relive the island’s historic seafaring spirit at the Royal Naval Dockyard, which houses the Maritime Museum. Once a prominent symbol of British imperial power, the Commissioner’s House here has been spectacularly restored to transport visitors back in time.

Hamilton Entertainment and Activities

For those wishing to take in Bermuda’s rich culture and beauty, Hamilton and its surrounding parishes provide an array of activities amid magnificent island vistas.

The Bermuda National Gallery showcases Bermuda’s historic and contemporary art collections. Glimpse the work of early island artists, pieces by European masters, and African masks and sculpture, all of which reflect the country’s diverse cultural heritage.

For art in the open air, enjoy the Sculpture Garden in Queen Elizabeth Park (Par-la-Ville Park). Nearby, view the sea chest and lodestone of Sir George Somers, who survived a 1609 shipwreck, at the Bermuda Historical Society Museum.

Visit the Botanical Gardens one mile away in Paget Parish, where sublime walks lead past stunning flora to the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, home of the world’s largest collection of Bermuda-inspired art.

Stroll along dreamy pink-sand beaches at Elbow Beach, the closest to Hamilton and perfect for swimming. Or go farther afield to visit picturesque Horseshoe Bay.

To catch a glimpse of marine life, head to scenic Flatts Village and the North Rock Exhibit at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ). This remarkable facility provides a window into local marine life and coral reefs.

Hamilton Restaurants and Shopping

Hamilton offers an eclectic variety of global cuisine to please any palate. Sip a rum swizzle and try the traditional dishes of cod cakes and shark hash, or relax for a true British-style afternoon tea.

Barracuda Grill dedicates its menu to top-notch seafood and chops in an upscale ambiance. Its Bermuda Fish Chowder has been featured in Bon Appétit magazine.

Bolero Brasserie, a traditional bistro tucked down a narrow alley, offers a classic brasserie menu that is refreshed by owner and chef Jonny Roberts weekly. Enjoy fine wine and cuisine overlooking Front Street.

With stunning ocean views true to its name, Harbourfront offers an extensive menu of international dishes or a lighter menu of canapés and cocktails. By some accounts, it is the place to sample the island’s best sushi.

In the reputable shopping mecca of Hamilton, you will find choice European imports such as crystal, fine china and cashmere sweaters. Or find a keepsake from the island’s antique and collectible shops.

Front Street is the shopping heart of the island, and its offerings spread onto Queen Street and Reid Street. A.S. Cooper & Sons boasts an impressive inventory of crystal and china.

In the Washington Mall, step into Alexandra Mosher’s Studio Jewelry to peruse creations inspired by the pink sands of Bermuda. Beyond Front Street, you can explore Hamilton’s back streets for hidden gems.