View of Singapore's skyline at night

Singapore’s skyline dazzles at night. (Photo: Marriott International)

Weekend Getaways

Explore and Experience 3 Days of Culture, Food and Scenery in Singapore

Singapore may be small, but this island city sure is mighty. This modern city marvel is renowned for its iconic architecture — from Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall in the equally magnificent Jewel Changi Airport. Everywhere you look in the city, there’s sure to be an awe-inspiring structure in view.

Towering skyscrapers make up most of Singapore’s skyline, but they stand comfortably next to refurbished shophouses that show off the city’s charming heritage. Michelin-starred establishments sit side-by-side with varied and mouthwatering hawker food. Unity in diversity among its culture and people makes Singapore stand out as everything blends harmoniously together. A far cry from the quiet fishing village it once was, Singapore, also known as the Lion City, has come a long way, with deserving accolades.

With so much to explore, discover and experience, allow yourself to be surprised by its scenery, greenery, distinctive heritage, rich culture, safety and efficiency.

As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Immerse Yourself in Culture

A woman holding a snack and looking up in Singapore's Chinatown neighborhood
It’s a delight to explore Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)

Strategically located along sea routes for passing ships to port, modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by the British, who established it as a trading station. Soon, the city grew as a lucrative trading hub attracting immigrants from China, India, the Malay Archipelago and beyond.

This amalgamation of cultures over time created a uniquely Singapore identity where diversity in language, beliefs and traditions blended into one. Keep this in mind as you visit your first stop of the day, the National Museum of Singapore. It’s the oldest museum in Singapore and is a great place to learn more about Singapore’s history.

Feeling peckish? Grab a bite at the nearby Onalu Bagel Haus, a hidden joint nestled within Singapore Management University. Here, you’ll find local and international students alike poring over lecture notes as you start your day in a less stressful way — with a bagel and a coffee.

To experience Singapore’s diverse culture and heritage, head down to the Indian Heritage Centre, which traces the history of Indian and South Asian communities in Singapore and Southeast Asia. It is also a convenient springboard to discovering the rest of Little India.

Grab lunch at Komala Vilas, one of Singapore’s oldest and most established Indian vegetarian restaurants. If you prefer some meat in your lunch, try Bismillah Biryani, a multiple Michelin Bib Gourmand award winner. Even the late celebrity travel chef and host, Anthony Bourdain, ate here and featured it in one of his travel food shows.

Then, take a ride on Singapore’s public transit system — one of the cleanest and safest in the world — to Kampong Gelam to marvel at Sultan Mosque. Soak in the atmosphere of the Arab, Malay and Bugis communities among the shops and cafés in the surrounding area and see if you recognize any street names from certain cities of the world, like Kandahar Street and Baghdad Street.

Jump back on public transport or hail a taxi to the Peranakan Museum, one of Singapore’s newly refreshed museums. Explore the cross-cultural art of this uniquely Southeast Asian community through an extensive collection of Peranakan artifacts.

End your day at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple where you can feast your eyes on the beauty of the temple that combines both the Buddhist mandala and Tang Dynasty architectural styles. Nearby, you can tuck into local food like nasi lemak (coconut rice) and prawn noodles at the nostalgic Great Nanyang Heritage Cafe or indulge in contemporary Chinese-French cuisine at Restaurant Born, one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2023.

If you still have some energy, enjoy cocktails at award-winning bar Jigger & Pony, or experience a bar that impresses with its sustainability efforts at Fura.

Saturday: Eat Your Way Through the City

A man and woman smile while looking out the window of the Singapore Flyer
The Singapore Flyer, Asia’s largest observation wheel, offers breathtaking views of Marina Bay. (Photo: Marriott International)

Singaporeans love to eat and passionately talk about food. Affordable, local cuisine in hawker centers is many residents’ everyday go-to food option. Observe the crowds and you will learn a lot about Singapore’s people, culture and palates when savoring what these street food places have to offer.

The Central Business District (CBD) is a convenient place to hop around hawker centers sampling local cuisine. Try Michelin-approved A Noodle Story for a local spin on Japanese ramen at Amoy Street Food Centre. A skip away is Maxwell Food Centre where you can sample Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, another Michelin Bib Gourmand winner. Its signature dish is a blend of garlic and chili sauce that complements the fragrant rice and deboned chicken smothered in light soy sauce, and the dish counts celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay as fans.

Taste hot-off-the-wok Hokkien prawn noodles soaked in a rich gravy at Seng Kee Local Delights, one of the many hawker stalls at Lau Pa Sat. In the evening, a section of Boon Tat Street adjacent to the hawker center is temporarily closed to vehicles, allowing satay vendors to set up shop and grill up an array of marinated meats and seafood on skewers, embracing the literal essence of the term “street food.”

All three hawker centers are conveniently located within walking distance of each other. Get there either just before lunchtime or just after to avoid the crowds of working folks, although they are great for people-watching.

After a day of eating and taking in the sights and sounds of the towering skyscrapers — look up to spot greenery cleverly grown within the buildings — and low-level shophouses full of life with food and merriment in the CBD, spend the evening at Marina Bay. Catch the captivating light and water show called Spectra at the Waterfront Promenade. Stroll along the bay and soak up the mesmerizing skyline along the waterfront.

If you are feeling hot, cool off in The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands as you walk the luxury and high-street retail shops and choose dining places. It is also where you can head to Gardens by the Bay to see its signature light and sound show, Garden Rhapsody.

For dining options, book a table at internationally known favorites, such as celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen for British fare of roasts or CUT by Wolfgang Puck, another famous chef, for succulent steaks. Or if you’d like a homegrown Singapore brand that is internationally recognized, serving both Western and local cuisine with a twist, P.S. Cafe is the place for you.

Across the waterfront is the heritage site of Collyer Quay, which consists of Clifford Pier and Customs House. Clifford Pier was once a landing point for sea passengers and a terminal for tourists and day trippers who boarded small boats and ferries to Singapore’s southern islands. Customs House was home to the Singapore Customs Police, who watched over one of the world’s busiest harbors. All this has now been preserved as a heritage site in the most luxurious of ways.

Have a drink at Kinki at its rooftop bar and admire the Marina Bay views while tasting its menu of Japanese cuisine. Or if you’d like some hearty Indonesian grilled food, dine at Nusa.

Sunday: Marvel at Awe-Inspiring Architecture

Aerial view of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay in Singapore at night
Enjoy dance, theater and music at the world-class Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. (Photo: Marriott International)

Singapore is a great place to take Instagram-worthy shots. Pose at iconic structures, take selfies at landmarks and create a cache of memorable pictures that you’ll look back at to fondly reminisce.

Start your photo collection at the awe-inspiring Supreme Court. Its spaceshiplike rooftop also serves as an observation deck open to the public. Take advantage of great photo opportunities here with Singapore’s Civic District as the backdrop. You may head into the Supreme Court to learn more about Singapore’s court system, history and architecture.

Nearby is National Gallery Singapore, which was the former Supreme Court and City Hall. Take shots on its grand staircases and marvel at this refurbished architectural wonder that has been around since 1929. Its restoration and transformation started in 2012 and was completed in 2015. Now, it houses the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian modern art.

In keeping with moving from old to modern, next is Parliament House, which is the legislative power of Singapore. Admire the architecture of this restored colonial building with a modern touch. Then, walk over to The Arts House, a 200-year-old building that was the former and first parliament house and is a national monument. It hosts multidisciplinary arts programs with a focus on literary arts.

Next door is the Asian Civilisations Museum that features Asian antiquities and decorative art. And if you’d like a breather, just outside, there are places to sit and relax along the Singapore River.

Once you’re ready for more walking, make your way to Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, an architectural icon recognized all over the world and locally dubbed “the durian.” With its cutting-edge acoustics, the Esplanade is a world-class performance venue dedicated to shaping Singapore’s art and culture scene through dance, theater and music.

End the night at Suntec City’s towering structures and mesmerizing fountain displays. Stick your right hand into the water at the Fountain of Wealth. It is said you can soak in the positive energy at the fountain by circling it three times in a clockwise direction, then placing your hand in the cascading water while you make a silent wish.

This article was created in partnership with Time Out.