English is the official language of Barbados, however you may hear the local Bajan creole spoken as well, a combination of British English and West African languages that are usually only spoken in informal settings.
Seafood features heavily in Bajan cuisine, and the national dish is flying fish served with cou-cou, a staple made from cornmeal blended with okra, tomatoes, onions and peppers.
Other typical dishes include conch fritters, plantains, breadfruit, coconut bread and that Caribbean mainstay, rice and peas.
Barbados is reputed to be the birthplace of rum, and there are over 100 rum shops on the island in which to sample this famous tipple; Mount Gay is the oldest and best-known blend.
There is a sophisticated restaurant scene, with high-end venues offering everything from contemporary Italian to Asian fusion. You will also find plenty of more rustic eateries serving hearty homegrown fare.
Tipping in Barbados is discretionary and should reflect the service you have received, however, a service charge of between 10 to 15% is typically added to your bill in hotels and restaurants.
The Barbados dollar (BDS$ or BBD) is the national currency and is pegged to the US dollar.
Barbadian bank notes are issued in the following denominations: 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars, and coins are minted in 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents and 1 dollar pieces.
You will find that US dollars are accepted across the island, and most shops and restaurants accept major credit cards and travellers' cheques.
Barbados has a modern telecommunications infrastructure with the latest in digital technology and fibre optic systems, so staying in touch is not a problem.
High speed internet is widely available and there's no shortage of WiFi hot spots on the island.
The phone code for Barbados is 246 and to dial from the UK is 00 1 246.
Suggested clothing and other items
Barbados is in the tropics, so cool casual cotton clothing is recommended, and if you're planning on dining in some of the more formal restaurants, men should pack a shirt, tie and jacket, and women a smart dress.
It does tend to get cooler at night, so it's also worth popping a jumper or wrap into your suitcase.
Please note that it is against the law to wear camouflage clothing in Barbados (including children) and to carry items made out of camouflage material. These will be confiscated and not returned.
On the first Monday in August, the island celebrates Kadooment Day (meaning 'big occasion' in Bajan), which is the grand finale of the Crop Over celebrations, and originally signified the end of the sugar cane harvest.
During this time there is a fantastic party atmosphere with lots of street carnivals taking place.
- January 1st - New Year's Day
- January 21st - Errol Barrow Day
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- Whit Monday (50 days after Easter)
- April 28th - National Heroes' Day
- May 1st - Labour Day
- August 1st - Emancipation Day
- firtst Monday in August - Kadooment Day
- November 30th - Independence Day
- December 25th - Christmas Day
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
When to go to Barbados
You’ll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Barbados.
9 hours (direct)