Quaint as a dollhouse, St Barts' capital, GUSTAVIA, is an appealing blend of red-roofed villas and heavy-set grey-stone buildings that hug a deep, U-shaped harbour where yacht-watching over a glass of wine at a waterfront café ranks as the unofficial town pastime. A close runner-up for that title is shopping, as dozens of duty-free boutiques line the main drag, Rue de la République.
The town's historical sights can all be seen in under an hour. The architectural highlight, on the west side of the harbour, is the circa-1800 Swedish Wall House, which is now a restaurant. Next door is Place Vanadis, named after the last Swedish military vessel to leave the island after the 1878 French repossession. The former storehouse now contains the Musée Territorial (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 8.30am–1pm, 2.30–5.30pm; Wed, Sat 9am–1pm; $3), a modest collection of tools, maps and assorted oddities. On the south side of the port is the intimate 1855 St BartholomewAnglican church, with sandstone facade, original marble floor and wood-shingled belfry; nearby is the church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption, with its sober stone arches. Across the street from the Anglican church, a 10-ton anchor juts skyward; found in 1981 when a tugboat accidentally got stuck on it, the iron anchor is thought to have come from an 18th-century American warship. A short walk west from both churches along rue de l'Église is Gustavia's small quiet beach, the pinkish seashell-covered Anse de Grands Galets (aka Shell Beach). At the other end of town on a promontory offering magnificent views of Gustavia and the surrounding islands are a red-topped lighthouse and the crumbling remains of Fort Gustave.