A Travel Guide to a Weekend in Bermuda (From Toronto)
Are you looking for a quick beach weekend getaway? Why not escape to the pretty island of Bermuda? Only a couple hours flight from Toronto, with a time difference of 1 hour, Bermuda is easily among the most accessible of the North American islands. Most would assume it’s part of the Caribbean, but it’s not. Bermuda is a tiny island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, close to North Carolina. Here’s everything you need to know about the perfect weekend in Bermuda. (Updated: December 2022)
How to Get to Bermuda
Most international and national airports have flights to Bermuda. New York City, Toronto, and Hamilton all have quick and cheap flights to Bermuda. We took advantage of flying out of Hamilton Ontario, a much smaller international airport than Pearson in Toronto. Wherever you are flying from take advantage of securing a window seat because as your plane descends into Bermuda you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the deep turquoise waters and limestone cliffs. The island’s beauty is definitely a natural draw with its pink sand beaches and pretty pastel-coloured buildings, making this a romantic couples’ getaway.
Bermuda is made up of 170 islands that form a fishhook-shaped landmass, stretching 40 km in length and just over a kilometre wide. Bridges and causeways connect seven main islands where approximately 70,000 islanders live and work.
To get a lay of the land and explore the best things to do in Bermuda, think of the island’s three regions. There’s St. George’s in the East End, the capital city Hamilton in Central Bermuda, and the Royal Naval Dockyard in the West End.
When to visit Bermuda
Generally, March to October is the ideal time to plan your long weekend in Bermuda. The best time to visit is March or April when the weather becomes warm enough for the beach. Maybe not the best months to visit are January and February when it’s still relatively cool and rainy and, August when it’s hot and extremely humid.
Popular times to visit are in March when the Bermuda International Film Festival attracts many to the island. And in April, the Bermuda Kite Festival fills the skies over Horseshoe Bay Beach with kites in all colours and shapes.
Weekend in Bermuda
Top Things to Do in Bermuda – The East End
The East End is often referred to as St. George. This area was established by English settlers in 1612. With its rich architectural and military history, it has earned a spot among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here are some of the top things to do in this area.
St. Peter’s Church
St. Peter’s Church is the oldest continually operating Anglican church outside Britain itself. This church was established at the same time as St. George’s in 1612.
The graveyard which surrounds the church has been filled for centuries with two notable exceptions, the Governor (equivalent to Prime Minister or President), Sir Richard Sharples and his executive aid, Captain Hugh Sayers, were buried after their 1973 murders. An area to the west was reserved for burying black slaves. During your weekend in Bermuda, make sure a visit here makes it on your list.
The Unfinished Church
The Unfinished church is a Gothic ruin. It represents all that’s left of the building that began in 1874. The church was never finished for various reasons, mainly because of a disagreement over funds to continue to build or restore St. Peter’s Church after it was badly damaged by a storm.
When a hurricane in 1926 destroyed the roof and floor, the work stopped and it was left as is. ; as a preserved historic monument. Today, The Unfinished Church is preserved as a historic monument and the site can be rented for events. Even though this picturesque ruin is closed off, you can still peer in to see those amazing limestone archways. It’s worth adding it to your list of things to do in Bermuda.
The historic town of St. George
Wander through the historic town, home to cute little shops, cafes and restaurants. Stroll through Somers Garden, where you will find one of my favourite moongates on the island. Moongates are of Chinese origin and are thought to bring good luck to those who pass through them. You’ll find these Bermuda moongates all over the island, and a fun thing to do in Bermuda is to seek them out.
Fort St. Catherine
Fort St. Catherine is a coastal artillery fort at the northeast tip of St. George’s Island. Now a museum, you can tour the fort and learn about its role in history as it was used first by the Bermudian Militia and then by regular Royal Artillery units from 1612 into the 20th century.
Lili Bermuda Perfumery
Visit the historic Stewart Hall where the perfume is made on-site since 1928 from the island’s flowers. Here you can take a tour and learn how perfumes are made.
Twice weekly, on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, Stewart Hall hosts a classic English high tea. Indulge in a quintessentially British pastime of enjoying the tiered trays of finger sandwiches, tiny cakes and petits-fours, plus scones with clotted cream, honey, and jam. Click here for more information.
During the Ice Age, 1.6 million years ago, much of the earth’s oceans froze, sea levels dropped and rainwater seeped into Bermuda’s limestone, creating hidden caves.
The legend goes that in 1907, a pair of young boys were playing cricket and lost their ball. When one went to retrieve it, he found himself inside an expansive underground grotto. In 1908, Mark Twain was reportedly the first to visit Crystal Caves, named for the rock formations lining its walls.
As part of a guided tour, you’ll walk along a boardwalk suspended over the clear waters while your guide explains the geologic history of the site. Then, they’ll turn out the lights so you can see just how dark it might have been in 1907.
Visit a hidden Gem in Bermuda
Next to the Walsingham Nature Preserve, and just around the corner from Grotto Bay, is the Blue Hole Park. It’s known as a great destination for swimming, cliff jumping, and cave exploring. This is considered a hidden gem and a top thing to do in Bermuda.
Travel tips: Snorkeling at Cooper’s Island Reserve is the best place to go
Top Things to Do in Bermuda – Central Bermuda
Central to Bermuda island is Hamilton. It’s the country’s capital city often referred to as simply the “town” by the locals. Hamilton is the business and financial hub of Bermuda. Aside from tourism, the island’s biggest industry is finance and insurance.
The downtown is where you will find the nice boutique shops in pretty pastel-coloured buildings facing the waterfront. Grab a coffee or a rum swizzle and go for a stroll. If you’re looking to bring back something from Bermuda there’s no better place to go than the Island Shop. Choose from ceramics, textiles and linens, glassware, and melamine printed with signature island-inspired designs, usually in lime green and royal blue.
Art Gallery Tour
A highlight not to be missed for your weekend in Bermuda is visiting the pretty pink Hamilton Princess & Beach Club Fairmont Hotel. This contemporary hotel is full of artwork, including curated pieces from some of the legendary names of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and René Magritte. The hotel almost operates as a large art gallery space, where you can roam the interior and gaze upon the Pop to Post-Modernist artwork.
Bermuda Botanical Gardens
For your weekend in Bermuda, another thing to do is to visit Bermuda Botanical Gardens. Established in 1898, as part of an effort to protect and cultivate native and endemic flora, like the Bermuda palmetto and cedar trees.
Wander through the exterior grounds through the rose and hibiscus gardens. You’ll also find it is where the locals bring their dogs to walk on the extensive grounds.
Top Things to Do in Bermuda – The West End
The West End often referred to as the Royal Naval Dockyard was the UK’s largest naval base in the Atlantic. That was until it went out of use in 1995. Today, it’s home to shops like Dockyard Glassworks and the Bermuda Rum Cake Company, Dolphin Quest and Snorkel Park.
The West End is really why everyone comes to Bermuda, it’s where you will find the iconic pink sand beaches. And, they didn’t disappoint.
Horseshoe Bay Beach
If you’re only to visit one beach during your weekend in Bermuda, Horseshoe Bay Beach is it! The most iconic beach in Bermuda with its long stretch of pale pink sand against the deep turquoise water is definitely a vision. As you walk the coastline you will come across dramatic rock formations and secluded coves.
This area offers some of the best snorkelling or deep ocean dives. Some estimates put the number of shipwrecks along the reef surrounding the island at around 300; with new ships being continually discovered. Click here for Blue Water Divers to learn more.
Travel tips: Walk or bike a section of the Bermuda Railway Trail, an 30 km trail that crosses the island offering you some of the best views of the east coast.
Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse
The best part of heading up to Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse is the view! Built in 1844, it offers panoramic views of the entire island, and out to the Atlantic Ocean.
What makes this lighthouse unique is that it’s one of the few lighthouses in the world made of cast iron. Climb the 185 steps to the top for those views!
Best Beaches in Bermuda
For your weekend in Bermuda, here are the best beaches for you to plan your visit.
- Horseshoe Bay – the most iconic beach in Bermuda
- Warwick Long Bay – is known as the longest beach in Bermuda
- Jobson’s Cove – is a secluded beach only accessible from the walking trail from Warwick Long Bay Beach)
- Elbow Beach – a smaller more secluded beach with pink sand
- West Whale Bay Beach – in late winter or early spring you may be able to spot humpback whales during their annual migration
- Church Bay – is known for its snorkelling inside a fish tank
- Tobacco Bay Beach – is known for its rocky limestone formations and nightlife hotspot
- Astwood Cove – is in a remote stretch only reached by a steep trail
- Shelly Bay – is the best beach for families due to the shallow water being safe for kids to swim
Transportation in Bermuda
Non-Bermuda residents can not rent cars. That leaves you with two options to get around the island – a scooter or a Twizy. Any guesses on what we did? A Twizy is a fun way to zip around the island. Because Bermuda is a self-governing British colony, this means they drive on the left side of the road.
Instead of conventional rental cars, Bermuda offers a fun and eco-friendly fleet of two-seater electric vehicles perfect for zipping around the island. Rental locations can easily be found in the 3 regions, pick the closest one to your hotel.
Where to Eat in Bermuda
- Barracuda Grill is recommended for their outstanding upscale seafood- its iconic fish chowder is the most popular menu item.
- Swizzle Inn—Bermuda’s oldest pub—so stop in for a Rum Swizzle, the island’s national drink.
- Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio, with panoramic views of the harbour. This restaurant’s most famous order is a fish sandwich and a Dark ’n Stormy.
- Dine at one of 3 stand-out restaurants: 1609 bar and restaurant, Crown & Anchor or Marcus in Hamilton Princess & Beach Club Fairmont Hotel. Foodies will recognize the name of Top Chef’s very own Marcus Samuelsson.
- Bolero Brasserie is a restaurant that is only known to locals as it’s a bit off the beaten path.
- Devil’s Isle Cafe is a specialty coffee shop with a healthy brunch and lunch menu.
Where to Stay in Bermuda
- Hamilton Princess & Beach Club A Fairmont Managed Hotel. Overlooking Hamilton Harbour, this luxury waterfront hotel boasts an infinity pool with Hamilton Harbour views and floating sun loungers; multiple on-site restaurants, Crown & Anchor, 1609, The Duchess Coffee Shop and Gelato Bar and a Beach Club.
- Cambridge Beaches Resort and Spa. This luxury Bermuda resort features 4 private beaches and rooms with tropical views. The resort offers a full-service spa, tennis court, putting green, croquet lawn, 2 pools, watersports centre, restaurant, bar, and room service.
- The Loren at Pink Beach. Get the celebrity treatment with world-class service at this 5-star resort which offers rooms with sea views, restaurants, pools, bars and a private beach area.
- Or, do your own search here, using Booking.com for the best rates.
As a holidaymaker…
Travel to the island for the perfect weekend in Bermuda. Its beautiful turquoise water, pink sand, and pretty pastel-coloured buildings make Bermuda a romantic and relaxing couple’s getaway. With a growing restaurant scene and a ton of luxury properties, a trip to Bermuda is a hidden gem. It’s the perfect Canadian escape, for a bit of fun in the sun.