Kingston’s main sights are divided between the area known as “downtown”, which stretches north from the waterfront to the busy traffic junction of Cross Roads, and “uptown”, spreading up into the ritzy suburbs of Jack’s Hill and Cherry Gardens at the base of the mountains with the division lying roughly at Half Way Tree. It’ll take you a couple of days to check out the main sights downtown, and about the same amount of time to catch those uptown. Downtown is the city’s industrial centre, its factories and all-important port providing most of the city’s blue-collar employment; the law firms, stock exchange and the Bank of Jamaica are also prominent features. Uptown is different, and you may be surprised at how attractive and easy-going it feels, as suited businessmen and office workers go about their daily routines. Most of Kingston’s hotels, restaurants, clubs and shopping centres are here, and it’s where you’ll spend most of your time.
Finding your way around Kingston is pretty straightforward. Downtown uses a grid system, while uptown is defined by a handful of major roads. You’ll quickly get used to the main landmarks, and as a reliable fallback, the mountains to the northeast and the high-rises of New Kingston serve as good compass references should you lose your way, while locals are invariably helpful with directions.