Squeezed between the Blue Mountains and the world’s seventh-largest natural harbor, Kingston simultaneously impresses you with its setting and overwhelms you with its size, noise and traffic. This is the island’s cultural and economic heart, a lively crucible of music and politics. Like a plate of spicy jerk washed down with a cold Red Stripe beer, a visit to Kingston is essential to taste the rich excitement of modern Jamaica.
Kingston is a city of two halves. Downtown is home to historic buildings, the courts, banks, street markets and one of the Caribbean’s greatest art museums. Centered around Parade, it has a shabby charm and runs down to a bayside park. To the west lie the ghettoes of Trench Town and Tivoli Gardens, where many houses don’t have running water and the rule of law can sometimes be thin at best.
By contrast, Uptown holds the city’s best hotels and restaurants, largely confined to New Kingston, with its cluster of tall buildings around Emancipation Park. In addition to two of the city’s most essential sights, the Bob Marley Museum and Devon House, its diplomatic and commercial status assures Uptown a definite cosmopolitan suaveness. Further out, in the foothills, are Kingston’s most exclusive neighborhoods, with expansive views over the capital.
Uptown and Downtown seldom mix, but taken together they form a compelling and sometimes chaotic whole. Kingston is certainly never boring – we encourage you to jump right in.
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