Unless you’re staying in the Town of St. George or the West End, each with its own culinary and retail offerings, the city of Hamilton will likely be your first point of reference as you explore Bermuda. If you are a business visitor, you would be wise to stay in outlying Pembroke, namely in the cluster of Pitts Bay hotels and guesthouses, which offer quick access to city meetings and also cater to corporate needs and schedules.
Both the East End (St. George’s) and the West End (Sandys, including the Royal Naval Dockyard) are a 30- to 40-minute drive from the city (quicker if you hop on the westbound fast ferry, longer if you board a leisurely pink bus). Hamilton makes a perfect starting place to visit either by public transport or rental scooter, as its main routes run through Pembroke and launch you on your way to all the other parishes.
Sightseeing in Hamilton could take a few hours or several days, depending on your itinerary. Make sure to spend time poking around its boutiques and art galleries, visiting a few sights, and walking its busy streets, because drifting amid the daily hustle and bustle is a great way to get a feel for Bermudians and the way they live. You may choose to break up your Hamilton experiences by, for example, spending a morning shopping and sightseeing, then going to the beach or another parish before returning for happy hour and dinner in one of the city’s many clubs or restaurants.
Hop on a ferry—around Paget and Warwick, or to Dockyard and back—and see the juxtaposition of insurance industry towers and age-old landmarks; nowhere is the city’s skyline as dramatic as from the waterfront. In the early 2000s, contemporary glass and marble buildings popped up around the city, as business-sector demand for office space boomed. Ferry rides are also a good place to mix with locals and see the smaller islands of Hamilton Harbour and the Pembroke shore.
The city’s size means it is entirely walkable if you are able, and, though there are a few steep hills, Hamilton is easy to cover over the course of a day. If you have a scooter here, parking may be your biggest frustration; spaces are few and far between, given the city’s swelling working population. Bike theft is also a substantial problem, though rentals are not coveted like other scooter types.
A scooter tour of Pembroke Parish takes just a few hours, depending on the sights you stop to visit—and there are a few fascinating things to see, including Fort Hamilton, the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, and Admiralty House Park. Outside Hamilton, Pembroke has no ferry service, but buses serve various parts of the parish.
Hamilton and Pembroke are generally safe places to walk. Take a little more caution after dark, as bag-snatchers have been a problem in quieter regions and tourist-heavy areas around Pitts Bay and western Hamilton. North Hamilton’s retail and residential areas are as safe as any in the daytime; at night, avoid the area’s remote streets, because visitors and locals have been accosted or robbed here. Closed-circuit cameras have been installed at numerous points for security.