Things to do in Kingston

Kingston Itinerary

Caribbean Paradiese & Culture Hub

Duration: at least one week

Budget: $ 75 per day

Stay:  Belleh23 or Rocksteady

For whatever reason, Kingston is completely underrated as a destination and but by far one of my favorite places to be in Jamaica. The reactions were very mixed when I told people I was headed to Kingston. While some proclaimed I would love it, most told me it was too dangerous and ugly.

The location of Jamaica’s capital is picturesque, nestled between the blue mountains and the Caribbean Sea. While the city itself wouldn’t be considered a beauty by its looks, it is full of vibes, culture, and amazing people. Even though most travel guides don’t make Kingston the most attractive destination, it will reward those who look and feel behind the obvious and are willing to give it some time. To me, Kingston is Jamaica at its best!

Whenever the city gets too much, the Blue Mountains, Bull Bay, or one of the many chill river spots is the perfect getaway for a day.

  • Party 100% 100%
  • Daytrips 70% 70%
  • Culture 95% 95%
  • Activities 100% 100%

Travel Kingston and leave room for magic

The city of Kingston isn’t known for its architectural beauty, famous landmarks, or beautiful parks, but rather for the vibes, parties, and cultural events. Fortunately, Kingston never sleeps, and there is always something to do or discover. Kingston’s cool spots are not so obvious and, therefore, best located with local friends. Belleh23, world-famous dancehall heaven, is the place to place yourself to find an inspiring crowd to find the best parties and tastiest restaurants.

Follow the footsteps of Bob Marley

Bob Marley Museum 

After Bob Marley passed, his wife Rita turned the former Marly residence on Road into a Museum. After I read her biography (which I highly recommend!) during my trip and was curious to see the house for myself, it’s only possible to visit the site within a 90-minute tour, which was pretty cool but also expensive ($3000) and very touristy. Bob Marley museum is located in the posh neighborhood of New Kingston, where they moved from their first home in Trenchtown.

Trench Town Culture Yard Museum

I liked the Trench Town Culture Yard tour better as it gives a more in-depth look into the history of Kingston. Initially built in the 1940s by Central Housing Authority between 6 & 8 Lower First Street in Trench Town, the site has been restored and hosts a small museum, a cafe, and an artisan shop

Kingston 4
Kingston 3

Take Dancehall classes

Kingston is the world’s dancehall hub, and the famous parties attract dancers from around the world. So naturally, finding a dancehall teacher is easy to get your groove going!

If you are really into dancing, you’ll love staying at Belleh23 or Rocksteady. There you’ll find somebody dancing any time of the day, and you can connect with other dancers.

Aside from staying at Belleh23, you can arrange for private dance classes or join other dance events. Another place to check out is Xpression. 

Kingston's legendary nightlife

Kingston’s nightlife is legendary (even during curfew). There is no party strip, but some regular Parties are taking place weekly, like Uptown Monday, Boom Box Friday, etc. Try to make it to Dub Club on Sunday! The vibes and views are amazing. Make sure to connect with locals to know what’s going on!

You’ll find anything from very cool live events to wild dancehall parties. After curfew, the parties move to the streets, and you’ll have to be well connected to find the afterparties.

Special insider tip: I love to spend my evenings at Dubwise Cafe, right behind Kaya Herb House. The food is super tasty, the vibe exceptional, and you’ll get to listen to incredibly talented musicians live and make a lot of friends.

Here is my Kingston Nightlife guide.

General advice: Indrive is the best app to find drivers at night.

Kingston 1
Downtown Kingston, Jamaica

Downtown Kingston

Kingston, Jamaica, is much more than just the birthplace of reggae music. The vibrant downtown area is a cultural mecca and home to attractions highlighting its rich musical heritage and dynamic modern culture.

The 1960s saw the rise of the dancehall culture, fueled by several large outdoor spaces, so-called lawns where dances and sound clashes were held. West Kingston’s Inner-city Unity Lawn and Chocomo Lawn were the early stages of many prominent musicians to come. Even though many of these spaces are gone, the vibe still lives on.

Downtown Kingston is a place of history. It was founded in 1692 after an earthquake devastated Port Royal, Jamaica’s virtual capital in the 17th century. The survivors moved to what is now Kingston and were able to plan a new city from scratch. Downtown Kingston became the capital in 1872, and considerable rebuilding was needed after an earthquake and fire on 14 January 1907 that killed almost 1,500 people. Today, downtown Kingston is a bustling center of commerce and culture, with plenty of things to see and do. If you’re looking for a taste of Jamaican history, downtown Kingston is the perfect place to start your exploration.

My favorite things to do downtown


Coronation Market 

Home to the famous Coronation Market, downtown Kingston is always bustling with activity. The market is filled with stalls selling everything from fresh produce to handicrafts, and bargain hunters can find great deals on everything from clothing to souvenirs. So head downtown for an authentic Jamaican experience next time you’re in Kingston.

Kingston creative

Water Lane – Street Art

As part of the “Paint the city” street art project, downtown’s water lane has been transformed from a dull street into an hommage to Jamaica’s culture and artisanship. Along with some of the murals, a QR Code is attached. You can scan and access a detailed history of the piece and the artists involved. It’s a super interesting little street where you could linger for hours reading up, interpreting, and admiring the street art. Of course, today, many music videos are shot on Water Lane, too. 

The Downtown Kingston area is not super safe and is best visited with friends or on a tour with Kingston Creative! It is an incredible collective doing so much to showcase Jamaica’s many faces and talents. 

Kingston 5

Foodie Tour

A truly wonderful way to discover what’s happening downtown, including the best food, is by going on a food and culture tour with my dear friend Birgitta from Streetsofjamaica!

Me in front of Ibo spice downtown Kingston

Hold a vibe at Ibo Spice

Located downtown, Ibo Spice has established itself as a popular hangout spot for locals and visitors alike. I love the ital cuisine and the beautiful backyard to chill and hang out with others. 

There is also a small kiosk inside selling artisan goods. It’s my favorite place to buy handmade, Jamaican souvenirs from. 

Blue Mountains Jamaica

Explore the magical Blue Mountains

Whenever Kingston gets too hot or too much, the Blue Mountains are the place to go to breathe and relax. Just a 20-minute car ride outside Kingston, the scenery becomes lush, green, and fresh. You can either stay some days in the Blue Mountains, enjoy the view and catch some real Rasta vibes, or even head out, have some food or enjoy the view for a day. Shanty Man is by far my favorite restaurant up there. The ital food is fantastic and the view incredible!

Speak clearly and slowly as the Rasta welcoming you does lip reading. Following the mantra of” the journey is my destination,” I went on a day tour through the Blue Mountains to get to Port Antonio. I loved riding around the small roads stopping now and then to get some food and enjoy the view or cool off in one of the many river spots. 

A guide to Kingston’s beaches

Even though I LOVE to be by the water, I took a second visit to Kingston to go and see the beaches. Why? Kingston has so many things to do and discover that I never made it. Still, I also found that the beaches around Kingston are unjustly not as famous. However, I think that while the beaches surrounding Kingston may not be the prettiest in all of Jamaica, they are worth a visit! It is nice to get out of the city to relax and catch a different vibe. So, I decided to write a guide on Kingston’s beaches. There are several of them with very distinct vibes. So, if you feel like chilling a bit, check out my guide to Kingston’s beaches here!

Kingston night market

Kingston's night market

Kingston’s night market takes place every Tuesday. It’s a charming event with live reggae performances, delicious food stalls serving anything from Trini food to dumplings, and small vendors selling handmade products. The vibe is very chill and a mix between New Kingston and Reaggea. 

Hope Gardens

This stunning botanical garden in downtown Kingston is a wonderful place to catch a break from the city. Hope Gardens has a rich history dates back to the 19th century when it was established as a government-owned botanical garden. It was initially known as “Hope Estate” and served as a sugarcane plantation before being transformed into the beautiful oasis it is today. As you walk through the gardens, you will come across various species of plants and trees, some of which are indigenous to Jamaica. You can also take a guided tour or explore the gardens on your own. Trust me, you will want to take your time and soak in all the beauty this place offers.

Sunken Garden

One of my favorite parts of Hope Gardens is the Sunken Garden, where you can find a variety of colorful flowers and a tranquil pond. This spot is perfect for taking photos or just sitting and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.

Orchid House

You can also stop by the Orchid House, which features over 200 species of orchids, including some rare varieties that are only found in Jamaica.

Hope Zoo

Hope Gardens is also home to a Zoo. One unique feature of the Hope Zoo is its breeding program for endangered species. This initiative aims to protect and bring awareness to these animals and their habitats. Fun fact: the Hope Zoo has been featured in popular films like “Dr. No” and “Cool Runnings.”

Farmers market Ujima Natura

If you are looking for a unique experience, I highly recommend visiting Hope Gardens on Saturdays. This is when the popular Kingston Farmer’s Market takes place. You can find an array of fruits, vegetables, and local products to try and purchase. It is also a great opportunity to interact with locals and learn more about Jamaican culture.

Opening hours: 9 am- 3 pm

Emancipation Park

Emancipation Park, located in the heart of New Kingston, holds historical significance as it was built in honor of the enslaved who fought for their freedom and the abolition of slavery. The iconic statue at the entrance of the park, called “Redemption Song,” represents a naked enslaved person with his chains broken, symbolizing the strength and resilience of the Jamaican people. Walking through Emancipation Park, you will feel a sense of tranquility and empowerment as you learn about Jamaica’s past struggles and triumphs. The park also features beautiful gardens, including the “Flower Forest,” which showcases over 500 different species of plants native to Jamaica. You can also find various sculptures and monuments scattered throughout the park, each with its own story to tell. Emancipation Park is a beautiful outdoor space and a powerful reminder of Jamaica’s journey towards freedom and equality.

Jamaican Emancipation Day

On August 1st, Emancipation Day is celebrated in Jamaica to commemorate the abolition of slavery in 1834. This day holds great significance for the country and its people, as it marks a pivotal moment in history where all citizens are granted freedom and equality. In Kingston, you can witness the vibrant festivities that take place on this day, including live music performances from local artists, traditional dancing, and delicious food stands selling Jamaican specialties like jerk chicken and curry goat. There is an annual Emancipation Day Parade, where locals dress up in colorful costumes and march through the streets of downtown Kingston. This is a true celebration of Jamaican culture and a reminder of how far the country has come since the days of slavery.

Lifeyard Eco Village

Experience the vibrant and transformative energy of Kingston at The Life Yard. This unique eco-village, created by a group of passionate Rastafarians, is a must-visit destination. Discover stunning street art, perfect for those Instagram-worthy photos. Indulge in delicious vegetarian dishes at the on-site restaurant and sip on refreshing juices from the juice bar. Engage in educational workshops that support the local children. To truly immerse yourself in this remarkable community, schedule a tour with their knowledgeable guides. Please note that The Life Yard is a residential area, so it’s advisable to visit with a companion. Discover The Life Yard at 44 Fleet St, Kingston, Jamaica.

Kingston night market

Chill at a herb house

Though my favorite Herb House to hang out is in Montego Bay, I still love the shopping experience and the vibes of herb houses. My favorite weed-shopping experience is Jacana, while I love hanging out with Kaya. Here is my full guide to Kingston’s dispersaries. 

Art Walk Festival

Explore and immerse yourself in Kingston’s vibrant arts scene by attending one of the many Creative Art Walk festivals held throughout the year.The usually take place evry last Sunday of the month. These festivals showcase the incredible talents of local artists through various mediums such as painting, sculpture, music, culinary and dance. You can even purchase unique and authentic Jamaican artwork to take home as a souvenir or support the local artists by purchasing their creations.

These festivals not only promote the arts in Kingston but also provide opportunities for you to interact with the locals and learn more about their way of life. You may even get a chance to have a conversation with the artists themselves, gaining insight into their inspiration and creative process. So join in on the lively atmosphere of the Creative Art Walk festivals – it’s an experience you won’t want to miss while in Kingston!

Me at carnival in Jamaica

Join in for the many festivties in Kingston

There is always something happening in Kingston, giving you a very authentic glimpse into Jamaican life and culture.

Reggae month

If you happen to visit during February, you’ll be in for a treat as it is considered “Reggae Month” in Kingston. This month-long celebration of Jamaica’s most famous music genre includes concerts, exhibitions, and performances from some of the biggest reggae artists in the world.

Jamaican Carnival

Another event not to be missed is the Kingston Carnival, a colorful and lively parade that celebrates Jamaica’s vibrant culture through music, dance, and costumes. This annual event takes place in April and attracts both locals and tourists alike.

Emancipation Day

For those interested in learning about Jamaica’s history and heritage, be sure to visit during Emancipation Day on August 1st. This national holiday commemorates the abolition of slavery in Jamaica and is marked with parades, concerts, and cultural events throughout the city.

Independence Day

Independence Day is another important holiday in Kingston, celebrated on August 6th with a grand parade and fireworks display. This day marks the anniversary of Jamaica gaining its independence from British rule in 1962.

Kingston Food Festival

For all the foodies out there, Kingston also hosts an annual Food Festival in October. This event showcases the best of Jamaican cuisine and offers a chance to taste traditional dishes and local delicacies from street vendors and restaurants.

Grand Market

And for a truly unique experience, check out the Grand Market celebrations during Christmas time, where the streets of downtown Kingston come alive with music, food, and shopping.

Go on a day trip

There’s no denying that Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, is a vibrant and exciting city with plenty to do, see, and experience. But did you know that it’s also an excellent starting point for exploring some of the island’s most stunning sights? With a short drive from downtown Kingston, you can find yourself hiking through the breathtaking Blue Mountains, tasting locally grown beans on a coffee plantation tour, or lounging on a beautiful beach. For a luxurious escape, opting for a day trip to Strawberry Hills is an excellent choice, complete with stunning views, delicious cuisine, and refreshing drinks. And if you want to dive deeper into Jamaica’s culture, the Rasta School of Vision provides a fascinating opportunity to learn about Rastafarianism’s principles and practices. In short, whether you want to explore the outdoors, indulge in luxury, or immerse yourself in Jamaican culture, there’s something for everyone with the many day trips from Kingston and things to do in the city itself.

P.S. My favorite partner for a day trip is, without a doubt Streetsofjamaica!

Day trip Kingston
Me at carnival in Jamaica

Take in the view from Reggae Mountains

One of my favorite things about Kingston is its picturesque setting between the sea and Jamaica’s Blue Mountains.

The so-called Reagge hills lead away into the Blue Mountains. I love going up there to enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful view over Kingston.

Skylinelevels and Dub Club are two iconic spots to take in one of Jamaica’s stunning views.

Skylinelevels hosts a wonderful dinner event in cooperation with Kamilia’s Kitchen every first Sunday of the month, as well as live Reggae events. It’s an iconic hotspot for Reggae music, and many of the popular artists performed there.

Kamilia’s kitchen is open every Friday to Sunday for full dining.

Dub Club is the place to be on a Sunday evening. The view is stunning, and the vibes are energetic. It is a true hotspot for the Reggae lovers.

Learn Patois in Kingston or online

Patois is such a passionate, direct, and powerful language. When traveling Jamaica, basic knowledge of Patois will open worlds for you. My dear friend Rushan started giving online and in-person classes for $ 40 per hour. Give it a try before you head to Jamaica. I promise you, it will change the way you move around and feel here.

my friend russian teaches Jamaican patois

Practical travel tips for Kingston & Jamaica

Which language is spoken in Jamaica?


The official language is English, but you'll also hear Jamaican Patois spoken throughout the country. It's a colorful and vibrant mix of English, West African languages, and Spanish influences. Don't be afraid to interact with locals and try out some basic phrases in Patois - they'll appreciate the effort and you may even learn a thing or two.

What is the offical currency in Jamaica?


The Jamaican dollar is the official currency and is accepted everywhere on the island. However, US dollars are widely accepted as well, so it's always a good idea to have some cash in both currencies. You can easily exchange your money at banks or ATMs throughout the city. Just be aware that the exchange rate may vary, so it's best to check before making a transaction. Also, don't forget to tip - it's customary in Jamaica and greatly appreciated by service industry workers. So make sure you have some small bills on hand for tipping at restaurants, bars, and hotels.

What is the best time to visit Kingston?


The climate stays pleasant all year round. It might rain a bit more during hurricane season from June to September, but you still won't get bored on rainy days!

Kingston is home to many festival and events, so if you want to check them out, plan your dates accordingly.

Is Kingston safe for travelers?


Downtown Kingston is not the place to just stroll around without knowing anybody. Uptown Kingston is much safer and easier to move around. Generally speaking, Kingston is not the place for walking anywhere after dark, and its best to move around with a driver you know.

Public Transport in Kingston, Jamaica


Route Taxis are the way to move around Jamaica. Official route taxis have a red license plate. In MoBay, you'll see the route they are catering to written on the doors. Route taxis are the cheapest and most flexible way to move around. Just be careful to enter/exit on the route. Otherwise, you'll be charged as a charter taxi. In Kingston, the Route Taxis are not as obvious, but they drive the most prominent streets and honk to let you know they are available.

Public Bus: The stop for buses to leave from downtown. I couldn't find a schedule. They seem to go more frequently than the Knutsford.
Knutsford: Leaving from from the downtown station, Jamaica's luxury bus connects more significant destinations. Be aware that the time stated refers to calculated driving time and not the actual time to reach a destination. Adding to the driving time are stops and bus switches which are not apparent when buying the ticket. Due to Covid, there are fewer buses than usual, so buying the ticket online is better.

Can I drink tap water in Jamaica?


Even though Jamaica is considered a third-world country, it provides the best water quality in the region. You are, therefore, safe to drink tap water. This is especially true in the cities. However, if it makes you feel uneasy, bring a water purifier.

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?


Tourism leakage: Jamaica is a tropical paradise that's adored by tourists worldwide, but it has a problem that's hidden from sight - tourism leakage. This phenomenon refers to the loss of revenue that occurs when international hotel chains capture a large chunk of tourist dollars, leaving very little money behind to benefit the local economy. If you're among the millions of visitors who flock to Jamaica every year, there's a simple way to help mitigate the effects of tourism leakage: support Jamaican-owned hotels, shops, and restaurants. By doing so, you can put your money where your heart is - and give the people of Jamaica a chance to thrive. So don't be shy about seeking out local businesses on your next vacation. Your decision to keep tourism dollars within Jamaica could make a world of difference.

Beach access

While Jamaica is known for its beautiful beaches, there have been some issues with access to these public spaces. In recent years, many resorts and private properties have restricted access to certain parts of the beach, making it incredibly difficult for locals to maintain their life and right to the sea. Support public beaches and say no to all-inclusive tourism!


Make sure to bring a foldable food container and cutlery with you! The amount of waste caused by food sold on the street is incredible.


Make sure to protect Jamaica's marine life and bring reef-friendly sunscreen!

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Jamaica

As you see, there are plenty of things to experience in Jamaica. To come fully prepared, check out my packing list for Jamaica, which includes everything from eco-friendly toiletries to sustainable fashion and even the coolest travel gadgets!

Traveling Jamaica?

Jamaica Itinerary

Things to do in Jamaica

No matter how often you return to Jamaica, you will never get bored!