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Hope Botanical Gardens © http://hopezookingston.com/
Hope Botanical Gardens © http://hopezookingston.com/

Top Free Things to Do in Kingston

Picture of Sheri-kae McLeod
Freelance Caribbean Writer
Updated: 24 November 2017

The capital city of Kingston in Jamaica is the island’s centre of cultural activity and adventure. Like all major cities, Kingston is filled with entertainment centres, hotels, bars and clubs to cater to one’s fun-loving side. As the hub of Jamaica’s unique culture, there are also a few cultural spots that are a must-see – the best past, many of them are free.

Visit Emancipation Park

If you want to find a soothing oasis in Kingston, then Emancipation Park is the perfect place to visit. Situated in the heart of the city, it opened to the public in 2002. The lush, seven-acre (2.8-hectare) grounds provide a beautiful scenery, lined with tropical flowers and trees. Lovers of art will appreciate the beautiful Redemption Song, an 11-foot (3.4-metre)  bronze sculpture at the entrance of the park. Emancipation Park is also a popular spot for picnics, jogging, or simply having lunch or reading a book, and there is also a permanent stage where concerts and shows are occasionally held.

Emancipation Park, Oxford Rd, Kingston, Jamaica

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Emancipation Park | © Island Buzz Jamaica

Hike or camp in the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are the longest mountain range in Jamaica on the eastern side of the island. The cool temperatures and majestic scenery make it the best and most popular spot in Jamaica for hiking and camping. The Blue Mountains is also home to many cosy cottages that locals and visitors stay at to enjoy the spectacular view. There are also waterfalls, restaurants and, of course, the famous Blue Mountain Coffee Plantation.

Blue Mountains Range, Jamaica

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Blue Mountains, Jamaica | © Caribbean Cables

Climb the fort in Port Royal

The former capital city of Jamaica, Port Royal is one of the oldest and most historical cities in the Caribbean. The former home of generations of pirates and outlaws was once known as ‘the wickedest city in the West’, being the centre of illegal pirate activity. In the late 1600s, when the English captured Jamaica from the Spanish, they built Fort Charles to defend their new territory. The Fort has seen earthquakes, hurricanes, rebellions and wars and still stands today as one of the main attractions in Port Royal.

Fort Charles, Port Royal, Jamaica

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Fort Charles at Port Royal | © Jamaica Gleaner

Visit hero shrines at the National Heroes Park

The 50-acre (20-hetare) National Heroes Park is a botanical garden in Kingston and the city’s largest open space. It is dedicated to Jamaica’s seven national heroes and is the burial ground of many of Jamaica’s former prime ministers. Monuments of the national heroes are located in an area of the park called The Shrine. The National Heroes Park has been the venue for many historical events, including Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and the Smile Jamaica Concert on December 5, 1976, led by Bob Marley.

National Heroes Park, Kingston, Jamaica

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National Heroes Park | © Jamaica Information Services

Go diving in the Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon, located in Port Antonio, is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island. The natural lagoon was once called Blue Hole, but the name was changed after the 1980 film Blue Lagoon was filmed at the location. Divers have claimed the lagoon to be bottomless but it has since been determined that the enchanting body of water is about 180 feet (55 metres) deep. Go diving in the Blue Lagoon and experience it for yourself.

Port Antonio, Jamaica

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Blue Lagoon, Jamaica | © keatssycamore/Flickr

Have a picnic at Hope Botanical Gardens

Hope Botanical Gardens, also known as the Royal Botanical Gardens, is a 200-acre (81-hectare) botanical garden and park located in Kingston. It’s the city’s most popular public green space, and features lush greenery and exotic plants and flowers. At Hope Gardens, especially on the weekends, you’ll find many people laying on blankets, enjoying the scenery or having a picnic. It’s also a popular spot for couples to have romantic dates, surrounded by nature. Concerts and special events such as weddings are occasionally held here too. For family entertainment, there is also a zoo available on site.

Hope Botanical Gardens, Old Hope Rd, Kingston, Jamaica, +1 876 927 1257

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Hope Botanical Gardens | Courtesy of Hope Zoo Kingston

Learn about Jamaica’s history at The Institute of Jamaica

If you want a lesson in Jamaican history, then visit The Institute of Jamaica in Downtown Kingston. It is Jamaica’s number one free museum and an ideal place to discover more about local culture, politics and art. The institute hosts permanent and visiting exhibitions on agriculture, music, art and all things Jamaican.

The Institute of Jamaica, 16, 10 East Ave, Kingston, Jamaica, +1 876 922 0620

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Institute of Jamaica | Courtesy of Susumba