Flattened by an earthquake in 1907, downtown Kingston has lost most of its grand eighteenth-century architecture, and much of what remains is slowly crumbling into dereliction. Nevertheless, numerous historic buildings can still be found along Rum Lane, Water Lane and King Street, and if you peer into the most unlikely yards you can often find evidence of the intricate structures that used to proliferate here, with their fancy ironwork, marble floors, red-brick facades and wrap-around verandas. In recent years, government tax incentives have been created to encourage redevelopment of the area, although it is alleged that much of downtown has since been bought up by speculators, and the only evident development spawned from these incentives was the building of telecom giant Digicel’s flagship headquarters on the waterfront; their foundation also spent US$1 million restoring the famous Coronation Market to its former glory.

Though many locals still hesitate to walk the downtown streets, you’ll find that exploring on foot is not only the best way to get the full flavour of the area but also feels surprisingly safe. The usual common-sense rules apply, of course, but unless the violence that habitually breaks out in the surrounding ghettos spills over into downtown’s central commercial streets, there’s no reason to expect any problems. It’s not advisable to walk the streets at night in any part of the city; most Kingstonians don’t.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Jamaica features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica

In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica

Kris Griffiths takes a tour of the birthplace of reggae, following in the footsteps of Jamaica's most famous son, Bob Marley, on what would have been his 70th …

18 Mar 2015 • Kris Griffiths insert_drive_file Article
19 fantastic spots for wild swimming

19 fantastic spots for wild swimming

1. Cenotes X’keken and Samula, Mexico Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula is riddled with cenotes, natural limestone sinkholes that are perfect for wild swimming. …

04 Oct 2013 • Alison Roberts camera_alt Gallery
The best street food around the world

The best street food around the world

Jerk chicken, Jamaica When it comes to jerk chicken, there’s no beating the real deal fresh from a smoky jerk hut. Recipes are closely guarded secrets, but u…

04 Jul 2013 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month