There is a dynamic, sophisticated and markedly different feel to Port of Spain compared to the rest of the island.
The capital’s compact centre is a dramatic juxtaposition of the old and new, where traditional street traders contend with international chains in sleek new shopping centres and glinting high-rises overlook colonial-era squares. Such lavish developments have been springing up all over the city over the last 20 or so years.
Amidst this mishmash of architectural styles stand several fine 19th century buildings, from dignified churches to picturesque gingerbread houses so-called for their decorative wooden fretwork.
Affording this built-up city some much-needed breathing room is the Queen’s Park Savannah, a large open space and a great place to take a gentle walk and admire Port of Spain’s prettier side. Dotted with fresh coconut vendors, it marks the divide between downtown Port of Spain, the city’s oldest district, and the more upmarket surrounds of the upper reaches.
As the hub and original home of Trinidad’s famous Carnival, revellers parade and masqueraders flood the streets of Port of Spain in bold, colourful and vibrant costumes to the exhilarating sounds of soca, steel-pan and calypso music. Known as the “Greatest Show on Earth”, the run-up to Carnival is comfortably the busiest time of year in Port of Spain, so booking accommodation well in advance is essential if you intend to stay anywhere in the city during the festivities.