Travel Guide Curacao Willemstad



Waterfront Willemstad

Waterfront Willemstad

© Utrecht

Willemstad is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands Antilles. It is located on the island of Curacao and has about 125,000 inhabitants. It is both the cultural and economic heart of the country and many tourists visit the city and the island, mostly on package holidays. The central part of the city with its typical Dutch colourful colonial building style is placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The city also boasts a wide range of accommodation, restaurants and several casinos.




  • Punda - The historic city centre, today the main destination for tourists, has lots of shops and restaurants.
  • Otrabanda - Residential neighbourhood just across St Annabaai from Punda, connected by the Queen Emma bridge and a ferry. The rif fort and mega pier are on Otrabanda's side of St. Annabaai. Some restaurants and fast food joints line up on St Annabaai, lots of shops targeted at locals can be found along Breedestraat.
  • Scharloo - Scharlooweg, between Van Radersstraat and Bargestraat, was the main avenue of Jewish merchants at the end of the 19th century.
  • Brievengat and Gosie - Residential neighbourhoods at the northern end of Willemstad.
  • Buena Vista - Gasparitu - A residential, suburbian district built for employees of the refinery.
  • Santa Maria - Residential neighbourhood between Hato airport and the refinery.
  • Suffisant - Residential neighbourhood between Santa Maria (to its west) and Brievengat (to its east).



Sights and Activities

The Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour is placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Here, the Dutch established a trading settlement at a natural harbour on Curaçao in 1634. Willemstad developed continuously over the following centuries and nowadays the modern town still has some fine historic districts whose architecture reflects European urban-planning concepts as well as styles from the Netherlands and even from the Spanish and Portuguese colonial towns with which Willemstad engaged in trade. Therefore, Willemstad makes for a great excursion if you want to get away from the beaches and diving which the islands are most famous for.



Events and Festivals

Curaçao Heineken Regatta

Sponsored by a mega-brewer, the Curaçao Heineken Regatta is a fun, sporty high season event in late January. The international regatta sets off from Willemstad and goes over three days. While sailors race for a substantial dollar prize, on land are beach barbecues and parties.

Curaçao Restaurant Week

A great event for tourists in the low season, Restaurant Week sees hundreds of restaurants in Curaçao partake in the offering delicious three-course meals at a great value. The event spans over a week and is the perfect opportunity to taste Curaçao cuisine without breaking the bank.

Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival

This two-day North Sea Jazz Festival in Piscadera Bay is the most high profile jazz festival in Curaçao. It features visiting artists from around the world who perform at the World Trade Center grounds, to the west of Willemstad. Along with jazz is a week of soul, hip hop, and R&B, leading up to the main event on August 31.

Amstel Curaçao Race

A mini Tour de France on Curaçao, the 50-mile long (80 km) Amstel Curaçao Race is run at the beginning of the high season in November, and usually attracts some big names in cycling. From Willemstad, the peloton goes around the island, with presentations at the Lions Dive & Beach Resort.




Willemstad and Curacao have pleasantly warm and slightly humid weather year round, but with a constant breeze from the Caribbean sea it never feels too hot. Rainfall is modest compared to the islands more north in the Caribbean but some rain falls from November to February, with the driest period from March to June. Temperatures are around 28 °C to 30 °C during the day and 23 °C at night, with June to November being a bit warmer.



Getting There

By Plane

Curaçao International Airport (IATA: CUR, ICAO: TNCC) has connections to neighbouring countries, nearby South American cities, North America and Europe. Airlines operating at this airport include American Airlines, Arkefly, Continental Airlines, Dutch Antilles Express, KLM, Lufthansa and Thomsonfly. Dutch Antilles Express connects all islands within the Netherlands Antilles.

By Bus

Since Willemstad is the capital of Curacao one can take a bus from any part of the island.

By Boat

Cruise ships moor either at Otrabanda's mega pier or at the entrance to the harbor. All mooring locations are within easy walking distance to the main tourist attractions.



Getting Around

The main tourist destination, the district of Punda, can be covered on foot easily (and much faster than by car).

Regular buses are cheap but they don't serve many points in Willemstad.

Shared taxis are inexpensive and flexible about the route they take. The main shared taxi spot in Punda is just behind the floating market.

Regular taxis are expensive, renting a car is usually the cheaper option if one wants to visit the various beaches in and around Willemstad.

While it is possible to get to all places by bicycle it is not advised for inexperienced riders since dedicated bike lanes are rare, cars tend to speed and the always blowing wind and slight but long elevations can be strenuous for untrained people.





The Scuba Lodge is a small scale family hotel, located just 5 minutes walking from the central part of Willemstad. It has a small pool and great snorkelling just in front of the hotel. Rooms are good value and breakfast (additional) is fantastic.


View our map of accommodation in Willemstad



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Accommodation in Willemstad

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Willemstad searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


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This is version 12. Last edited at 12:38 on Aug 30, 18 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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