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Government House Nassau

Cultural tour of Nassau

Quite the contrast to The Bahamas’ secluded coves and long stretches of untouched sand, its capital, Nassau, is a frenetic city of markets, street-vendors and shopping arcades. On this small group tour, you’ll spend a morning or afternoon exploring the city with a driver and guide.

You’ll start at Fort Charlotte, an 18th-century stone fort that guards Nassau Harbour, for views across the city and the rest of New Providence Island. You’ll then descend into the city itself, touring the brightly painted array of Georgian architecture that litters the city, with highlights including the pastel-pink Parliament House and the lavish colonnades of Government House.

It’s then a short drive to downtown Nassau on Bay Street to visit a straw market. The traditional craft of straw weaving was once important for making fishing traps and baskets, but now you’ll find the busy market caters to more decorative straw crafts — and there’s time for you to pick up some hand-crafted souvenirs if you wish.

Your driver and guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you to Fort Charlotte to start the tour. Named after King George III’s wife, it was never used — which is good news considering the site was designed so the barracks are in the line of fire from the fort’s own cannons. You can stroll around the dungeons, moat and underground tunnels, and climb to the top of the barracks for views across the city.

It's then a short drive down into central Nassau, where you can admire the Georgian architecture that lines the city streets. You’ll see the pink Parliament Square buildings with their vibrant green shutters, and the Parliament Building which is flanked by an enormous statue of Queen Victoria. There’s also an opportunity to stop by the Government House, which is now the residence of the Governor-general of The Bahamas and stands proudly on Mount Fitzwilliam.

You’ll continue on to a former colonial jail and Gregory’s Arch, a rather unassuming stone arch which was built in 1849 to separate the predominately European city of Nassau from Grant’s Town, a settlement of previously enslaved Africans.

To finish, you’ll head to downtown Nassau, visiting the Nassau Straw Market. While this was once where fishermen picked up their straw traps and baskets, it’s now become a showcase for a more elaborate form of straw craft. The tightly packed stalls showcase a range of hand-woven straw goods, including slippers, bags and hats. Your guide can explain how the craft has developed and suggest some of the best vendors if you wish to do a little shopping.

At the end of the tour, your driver will return you to your hotel.

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Audley Travel specialist Olivia

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