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Pirate history, pastel-pink Georgian architecture, artisanal rum producers and a vibrant food scene in the Bahamian capital.

The bustling city of Nassau, The Bahamas’ only large settlement, has been an energetic Caribbean hub since pirates began to spend their hard-earned loot here. It became a base for Confederate smugglers during the American Civil War and morphed into a city where 18th-century British colonists showed their wealth.

It’s now a confluence of Bahamian culture, with grand pastel-pink Georgian architecture side-by-side with craft markets, artisanal chocolate and rum producers. There’s a lively food scene that ranges from street-stalls serving grilled seafood and family-owned cafés, to Michelin-starred establishments frequented by the rich and famous.

The city has now spread to almost cover New Providence Island completely and the name Nassau has become synonymous with the island itself. One of the largest in The Bahamas, the island is surrounded by white-sand beaches and luxurious resorts. Many previously enslaved Africans settled here after the abolition of slavery, and the island celebrates its West African heritage with an annual Junkanoo carnival.

Things to see and do in Nassau

Take a guided food tour

Whether you’re after a freshly grilled seafood bite while you’re wandering the city’s leafy boulevards, or an à la carte dinner with fine wine, you’ll find a rich culinary scene to explore. There’s a focus on fresh seafood, and conch salad — a refreshing mix of onions, tomatoes, peppers and conch meat — is the national dish. Caribbean staples like rice and peas have been given a Bahamian twist and there’s a southern American influence to street food snacks that include johnnycakes, a cornbread-style flatbread.

One of the best ways to get an insight into Bahamian cuisine is to take a food tour of Nassau where you can sample a range of traditional dishes. With your guide, you’ll visit some of the hidden family-owned eateries frequented by local people and glean some recipes to try at home.

Uncover Nassau’s history and culture

Home to most of The Bahamas’ permanent residents, Nassau is the country’s historical and cultural heart. Wander the wide boulevards of the historic quarters of the city, and you’ll find clusters of Georgian-era pastel pink mansions and grand colonnaded buildings, often flanked with statues or memorials. Outside the historic quarter you’ll find even more vibrantly painted whiteboard shops and cafés, and the occasional Junkanoo shack — a community workshop where costumes for the annual carnival are made.

You can take a privately guided tour of the city’s cultural highlights to learn more about the vibrantly painted architecture, which will also include a visit to the Heritage Museum of The Bahamas, which houses a collection of important island relics and memorabilia. There’s also the opportunity to explore other facets of Bahamian culture, including artisanal chocolate production and rum distilling — a practice that started on Nassau in the 16th century.

Nassau’s beaches, keys and reefs

While Nassau is the only place in The Bahamas where you’ll get a more urban feel, it still boasts a collection of postcard-worthy beaches and several long sandy keys. Attached to its northern coast by road is the tiny Paradise Island, which lives up to its name with a range of luxurious hotels, long stretches of white sand and a golf course with views across the coastline.

Many of Nassau’s beaches attract visitors and Bahamians alike, with beach-shack bars and stalls selling freshly fried seafood. If you’re seeking a quieter stretch of sand, take a catamaran tour out to the cays and reefs off Nassau’s north coast.

Best time to visit Nassau

The best time to visit Nassau is between December and April, when the temperature is comfortably warm, and a gentle breeze keeps the humidity at bay. The sheltered position of Nassau means it’s possible to visit year-round, although there’s a chance of tropical storms between June and November. If you’re looking to snorkel, the water is at its clearest in July.

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Map of Nassau

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Nassau

    Accommodation choices for Nassau

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Nassau. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Nassau

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Nassau, and which use the best local guides.

    • Rose Island Sailing and Snorkeling
      Underwater on the reef

      Rose Island Sailing and Snorkeling

      Rose Island Sailing and Snorkeling

      Sail to Rose Island, just off Nassau’s shore, where you’ll enjoy a homemade buffet on the beach, can play volleyball, paddle a kayak or go snorkeling among a reef teeming with tropical fish.

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    • Bahamian cuisine and culture walking tour
      Fresh conch salad

      Bahamian cuisine and culture walking tour

      Bahamian cuisine and culture walking tour

      Discover The Bahamas’ culinary delicacies on this guided walking tour of Nassau. You’ll visit local cafés, family-owned restaurants and artisanal producers, with a change to meet the chefs, sample dishes and take home a selection of recipes and cooking tips.

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    • Cultural tour of Nassau
      Government House Nassau

      Cultural tour of Nassau

      Cultural tour of Nassau

      Explore the highlights of Nassau city on this half day tour with a driver and guide. You’ll visit Fort Charlotte, explore the city’s Georgian architecture and have the opportunity to shop in a traditional straw market.

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