Curacao has been the biggest surprise of our travels so far. We hadn’t heard much about it before going there, so we didn’t have many expectations. But WOW did it blow our minds!
There are so many things to do in Curacao, you will have absolutely no problem filling your days with adventure there. From the colors, dutch architecture and history, to the beautiful beaches, crazy blue water and the kindest people, this island is truly one of a kind. We can’t wait to go back!
Here’s what you’re gonna get with this blog:
- Best things to DO in Curacao
- Where to EAT in Curacao
- Where to STAY in Curacao
- & quick tips for your trip to Curacao!
Best things to do in Curacao
Queen Emma floating bridge
The Queen Emma Floating bridge goes over St. Anna Bay and connects the two sides of Willemstad (Punda & Otrobanda). When you walk on it you get a great view of both colorful sides of the city, and at night the bridge lights up rainbow colors!
It is a floating bridge, therefore it has to move when boats come through. Try and time it so you can see how they move the bridge – it detaches at one side and a tug boat pushes the whole bridge to the side. It’s super neat to watch! And don’t worry, when the bridge is to the side there is a ferry that takes you across the bay so you don’t get stuck on one side.
Explore Willemstad: Punda & Otrobanda
Willemstad is the capitol of Curacao and where we spent most of our time. It’s divided by St. Anna Bay into two sides of the city, Punda & Otrobanda, with the Queen Emma bridge connecting them.
Amidst the two towns there are tons of shops and restaurants, viewpoints and photo-ops. Both sides of the city have lots to offer, and this capitol city was named a UNESCO World Heritage City!
Curacao Floating Market
The Floating Market is a fleet of boats from Venezuela that make the trip to Curacao daily to sell fruits, vegetables, and more! They dock and set up shop at the same spot in Punda every day, so you really can’t miss it when you’re exploring Willemstad.
Admire the colorful buildings & Dutch architecture
Curacao is the ‘C’ in the ABC islands, so that means it is part of the Dutch Caribbean & the Kingdom of the Netherlands! You can see the Dutch influence in the architecture.
The architecture and colorful buildings make Willemstad super unique. You can definitely see why this place is called the “Amsterdam of the Tropics”!
There’s actually an old story around why the buildings are so colorful. The governor hundreds of years ago said that he got headaches from the sun beaming off of white buildings, so he ordered all buildings to be painted any color except white. Hence, the colorful buildings were born and the tradition has carried on for centuries ever since!
Bike around the island
We rented bikes for free from our hostel and biked to the beach one day. Because the roads are pretty decent and directions are fairly simple, biking is a great way to sightsee, get some exercise and get from point A to point B in Curacao!
This beach is only 4 km away from downtown Willemsted and is definitely so much more than a beach! There are tons of shops and restaurants, beach clubs, volleyball courts & more. Due to its incredible views, the stunning Starbucks here was even named as one of the “13 One-of-a-kind Starbucks across the globe.”
Note: You have to pay a small fee to go on the beach (which is standard across many of the popular beaches here) so make sure you have some cash when you go!
Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue Curacao
Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue is in the heart of Willemstad & is the oldest synagogue in use in the Western Hemisphere. The congregation dates all the way back to the 1650s and this building dates back to 1730! The floor is entirely covered in sand, which has some really neat meaning behind it. This place is definitely a must-see.
Note: Be careful of opening times – visitors can only go into the Synagogue 9 am – 4:30 pm Monday to Friday, which means you cannot go inside on the weekends.
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral
When you’re in Punda, pay a visit to the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral. It’s striking architecture and yellow color are amazing!
Taste blue Curacao
Tasting this drink should definitely be on your to-do list because surprise! Blue Curacao, the delicious orange flavored liqueur, is from Curacao! There are actually multiple flavors to try, but the blue one is the only one they export.
If you have time you can go to the factory and have a full official tour including the history and production process. Otherwise, they recently added “The Blue Experience” in Punda that showcases the process of making the liqueur, just on a smaller scale. Here you can do all the tastings, too, so we felt like this gave us enough of the experience that we didn’t need to go to the factory.
Best Restaurants in Curacao
This place is amazing! The restaurant is part of the BijBlauw boutique hotel (which we talk about below) and it has the most amazing atmosphere.
They have so many healthy options for both breakfast and lunch (including a ton of veg options) and we honestly enjoyed it so much that we stayed for both meals. We loved the vibes there so we posted up with our laptops between breakfast and lunch and the whole staff was super cool about it.
Gouverneur De Rouville
Gouverneur de Rouville is a restaurant on the Otrobanda side of Willemstad where you can get delicious drinks and authentic Curacao food. The most traditional dish is Keshi Yena, which is unfortunately not veg friendly but very popular at this place!
If you can, go there around sunset and try and snag a table on the front deck. There is a great view of Punda and the bridge from here, and at dusk you can watch as the bridge’s rainbow lights turn on!
Just on the opposite side of the bay from Gouverneur De Rouville is the Iguana Cafe. This place has prime real estate on the river bank and is therefore the perfect spot to grab a happy hour drink and catch the sunset. It’s also a great spot to watch as the bridge lights up at dusk!
27 bar in Punda is a super fun spot to go out for live music, drinks and late night eats. There was a great crowd there every night and the mac and cheese balls were to die for!
Where to stay in Curacao
There are amazing places to stay in Curacao on every budget! Here are our top recommendations:
We stayed at the Bed & Bike hostel and got a private room. This place was amazing and in the perfect location in Punda, therefore it definitely gets our top vote for where to stay! It had a private bathroom, TV in room, kitchen, free bike rentals and great wi-fi. The staff was super friendly and helpful, too!
The hostel scene is still pretty new in Curacao, but they’re doing it right! As a result, this is a great budget option for Curacao without feeling like you’re on a budget honestly.
BijBlauw is a truly stunning boutique hotel on the Punda side of Willemstad. It’s in a great location right in the heart of the trendy Pietermaai district and has an amazing restaurant, so if you’re looking for a cute boutique hotel, this one is for you.
Most noteworthy is the atmosphere of the hotel’s restaurant which is outdoors right on the ocean. The waves come crashing into the side of the restaurant, making it totally swoon worthy.
If resort vibes are more your style, the Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino is definitely the hot spot in town. It’s located in the Otrobanda side of town and has a private beach and all of the luxury amenities of a resort.
Curacao from Aruba
Getting to Curacao from Aruba is super simple. You just take a 25 minute flight to travel between the two islands, so if you’re going to Aruba, Curacao is such an easy stop to add to your trip – and one we highly recommend!
How long to stay in Curacao
You should stay at least 3 days if you can! There are enough things to do in Curacao to easily spend 5-7 days there.
Before we went, we read a lot of things saying you only need a day or two. While you can definitely see a good amount in a day (if you come on a cruise, etc.), we stayed 3 and wished we had a few more days. If we had longer we would’ve loved to do the Ostrich farm, the national park, more beaches & more time to just get to chill with the locals!
Getting around Curacao
Getting around Curacao was pretty simple! You can organize transport to and from the airport through your hotel or hostel, or just grab a taxi. Other than the airport, we walked or biked everywhere we went!
If you stay in the Willemstad area, or are coming via cruise ship, most of your main activities will be within walking distance. The exception is if you want to go to the national park, beach hopping on the west side of the island, etc. – then you might consider researching about the busses or renting a car!
- Papiamento is the national language, which is a combo of Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, English & French, but everyone we encountered spoke English really well!
- The only word you need to know is Dushi which is used to describe “all things good in life” – how cool is that!
- The locals are incredibly friendly!
- Weather: it got pretty hot when we were there in early January, and there were some random heavy showers. The highs and lows in the forecast only vary by 2 degrees F, so overall the weather is really pleasant!
- You can drink the tap water on the island, so be sure to pack your re-useable water bottle!
Kylie & Scott
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