Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, is the springboard to discover the country’s many wonders. Whether you’re heading south towards the Rupununi and the rainforest or to close by attractions on the coast, Guyana will not disappoint. You can use Georgetown as your jumping off point to see Dutch relics, give birdwatching a try, or look for culturally immersive experiences in some of the Indigenous villages. The city is the perfect place to get oriented to the distinct South America-infused Caribbean vibe. Two days provide the ideal amount of time to get a flavour of life in Guyana and what you can expect further from the capital.
Here’s how to explore Georgetown during a 48-hour stopover and take in the best of its iconic buildings, markets, parks and a vibrant multicultural food scene.
Morning: Get a taste of nature
Ideal Time: 2-3 hours
Kick things off with a hearty breakfast at the Terra Mare Restaurant if you’re a fan of buffets or at the Oasis Cafe if you’re looking for something more local.
Georgetown’s Botanical Garden is great to kick-start your visit. The historical gardens were established in 1877 and under the supervision of John Frederick Waby, offered an extensive collection of tropical flora to the town. The vast gardens are laid out to now include a Kissing Bridge set over a canal (also home to manatees), ponds, the Seven Ponds monument, sprawling rows of plants and trees, and a bandstand. More than 200 species of birds in this part of the city offer a compelling reason for birdwatchers to explore the gardens. There is an added charm of the zoo, which doubles as a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. Here you can get a sneak peek of the amazing wildlife Guyana has to offer before journeying further into the heart of Guyana. If you’re heading to the rainforest areas – which you should – then the thrill of seeing wildlife in their natural habitats will be superlative.
After spending the early hours of the morning in the Botanical Gardens, you can head to a less greener, but exciting part of town. The 2.6km distance to the Stabroek Market is a straight stretch from here. Take a cab (5mins) or walk 20 mins to see the vibrant market life.
Noon: Be a part of the market buzz
Ideal Time: 2 hours
Georgetown’s markets are the best way to satisfy your cultural appetite. Here you will be treated to fresh fruits and vegetables, along with local snack favourites such as bake and saltfish, tarts made with local fruits, and more. Pair that with a local juice, such as guava or mauby, or a refreshing serving of coconut water. Apart from the vegetables, fruits and things of daily use on display, the local market is the ultimate place to be a part of the local Creolese banter. Learn how the locals talk and how they interact with each other. The Stabroek Market sits under a large clock tower, adjacent to the Demerara River, and is the biggest commercial sprawl of the town. The Bourda Market is relatively smaller but big on the local vibe. You can walk around to see the fresh catch coming in from the sea, veggies displayed on shop fronts, soca music playing on music carts and the ‘jostle-shove-push’ routine of a busy market.
Enjoy fresh fruits and Guyanese snacks for a light lunch. Or head over to Maggie’s Snackette, Shanta’s -The Puri Shop, and Germans, which are local favourites.
Evening: Unwinding by the seafront
Ideal Time: 1 hour
After a packed but comfortably paced morning of activities, you may feel the need to wind down and enjoy a more serene spot of the city. Luckily Georgetown has the perfect spot for that; the Seawall. Georgetown lies at the northern edge of the country at the border of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Given that the city lies lower than sea level, the Dutch built a 280-mile long seawall that runs along most of the northern boundary of the country, including the capital. The Seawall took about 30 years to complete after work began in 1855. Evenings are brimming with walkers, joggers and those who just want to take in the view of the expansive ocean in front. There’s also a nice beach hidden behind the Marriott next to the Demerara River where locals often go to lime (to chill or hangout) and fish.
Use this as a pit stop to relax before heading out to experience the nightlife of the city. The restaurants and pubs of Georgetown lie in the downtown area, about 2km from here. It’s a short cab ride in the evenings, once the sun goes down. Be sure to look out for the yellow cabs,
Night: Explore nightlife
Ideal Time: 2-3 hours
Reserve the evening to check out the famed nightlife of Georgetown, starting with food and drinks. The Bistro Cafe & Bar, Vintage Wine Bar & Lounge and the Bottle Bar and Restaurant at Cara Lodge are among the most popular among locals. Bars like 704 Sports Bar and Hibiscus Bar also offer a great ambience with upbeat music, food and drinks, amplifying Georgetown’s after hours scene. The clubs and bars are open as late as 2.00 a.m., so you will have plenty of time to take it all in and experience the best the city has to offer.
Morning: History hopping
Ideal Time: 3-4 hours
Start your day off with breakfast and a sampling of local coffee from Java Coffee Bar & Bistro or the Coffee Bean in preparation for a fun-filled day taking in the sights. Georgetown’s historical relics can be explored in a single day. Sign up for a heritage city tour with Wilderness Explorers or another local operator to pack in a lot in a few hours. Local anecdotes make the tour more interesting. The Lighthouse, the 19th century St. George’s Cathedral, St. Andrew’s Kirk, colonial buildings in the centre of town and the streets that are home to all the political action, are all highlights of the heritage city tour. Of these, the Umana Yana building and the 1763 Monument (also known as Cuffy’s Memorial) are especially interesting. Pay special attention to the canals and sluices that keep the excess rainwater out of the town. Consider visiting a museum en route between sites. The Walter Roth, National Museum and Museum of African Heritage offer a window into the natural and political history as well as the native way of life of the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana.
Even though this day will seem a little packed, there’s often plenty of time to travel 40 minutes from town to see a fascinating sugar plantation and factory. You can grab lunch on the way at Cara Lodge or the Herdmanstan Lodge. The ambience in these heritage hotels makes for an ideal stop for a midday respite
Alternatively, if tasting fine rum is your thing, then skip the visit to the sugarcane factory and instead head to the Distillery that produces the iconic, El Dorado and Banks brands.
Noon and Evening: Seeing the estate life
Ideal Time: 2-3 hours
Guyana was once home to thousands of acres of sugar plantations, a major agricultural success for the country. The Dutch showed special interest and developed a massive commercial operation during the years of colonial rule in the country. In fact, Guyana’s political history has always been intertwined with sugar plantation and the workers. Now, only a handful of estates are still functioning, however they remain veritable keepers of history. Visit the Uitvlugt Sugar Factory on a tour. Depending on your timing, you can witness the harvest season and see thousands of kilos of sugarcane being transported via canals, from fields to the factory. Many of the people working here are second or third generation families who have worked on sugarcane plantations for over a century.
Getting back to town may take up some time, especially while crossing Demerara Harbour Bridge – the fourth longest pontoon bridge in the world at 6,073 feet. But rest assured, you’ll be back in Georgetown to relax at dinner, and try one of the popular restaurants of the city.
Night: Sampling Guyanese flavours
Ideal Time: 2 hours
Georgetown has a well-established culture of eating out. Due to the different ethnicities that live in the country, the food is a reflection of this diversity. There are a number of special options in Georgetown, including Terra Mare at the Marriott, which is known for seafood, Maharaja and Aagman for Indian flavours, Grand Coastal for Amerindian food, and Backyard Café. If you order ahead, Chef Delvin Adams of Backyard Café can whip up fusion fare to include Indian, Guyanese and Continental flavours.
After a 48-hour introduction to Georgetown – it will much easier to understand and enjoy the legendary wildlife and birding spots, Amerindian culture and a cool Banks beer wherever you go in the country.
Top 5 Tips
- Book a meal in advance at Grand Coastal for Amerindian food nights or at the Backyard Café for Guyanese delicacies made to order.
- Book a heritage walk with www.wilderness-explorers.com and ask for David Bose to be your guide.
- Call a taxi rather than hailing one on the road, if you’re planning on spending late nights outside. See our safety guidelines here.
- Dress for tropical weather – light and comfy clothes, with walk-friendly footwear.
- Book your hotel well ahead of time if you’re planning on visiting during the major festivals of the country. See the list here.
Travel Better with Guyana: Guyana is working hard to conserve its vibrant wildlife and ecosystems and protect its culture and heritage. We realise that it is often difficult to understand how you can support these aims and make a difference when you travel. That’s why we’ve set out to help you by creating Visitor Guidelines For Sustainable Travel. All passionate globetrotters, curious culture seekers and bold adventurers are encouraged to do all they can to leave a positive impact on the people and places you visit in Guyana.